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Terrible Logic You Just Can't Ignore In Gears 5

After a three-year wait after Gears of War 4's alarming cliffhanger ending, Gears 5 is finally here. It should be said right up front: it's an absolutely fantastic game, one that turns all the military-dudebro posturing of the previous games into something bigger, more horrifying, and distressing, even poignant, while still delivering all the chainsaw-wielding, head-exploding mayhem fans have come to expect. And at its heart is Kait Diaz, dealing with a heritage that would drive even the hardest soldiers insane. It's a fantastic experience. But no game, no matter how pristine or beloved, is above scrutiny. And oh yes, Gears 5 is worth some scrutiny.

For all the things Gears 5 does right, and does powerfully, there's still a few things about its plot that should make anyone make a Tim Allen Home Improvement noise. That's not to say the game won't still be fantastic when this is all over. But questionable? Definitely.

Oh, and suffice to say, this one's gonna be chock full o' SPOILERS.

Was Kait getting any sort of help for her debilitating headaches?

When Gears 5 starts — and we mean literally, the first cutscene in the game — Kait is already having all sorts of funky dreams about the Swarm, coupled with crippling headaches that are affecting her at the worst possible times. In her defense, that's kinda to be expected when you just had to put a bullet in your partially assimilated mom not too long ago. Hardened soldier or not, that's gonna mess you up some. What shouldn't be expected? How we see Kait deal.

What we don't see is any sort of treatment or acknowledgement of the problem until it's far too late. Kait's not in therapy, she's not talking out her problems, we don't even see her take the Gears equivalent of an Advil. Instead, she's actually back in the field, still dealing with the exact thing her nightmares are about. She's basically a walking time bomb, and it's kinda bonkers that the COG actually allows her to head back to the front.

Does the Hammer of Dawn in Gears 5 not have failsafes?

So, fun fact time: in our very real world, a weapon of mass destruction such as a nuclear missile is protected against accidental activation by a thing called a Permissive Action Link, or PAL for short. Most folks who've seen a movie know the simplest version of this, the fact that two people have to turn a key and/or confirm a passcode in order to use the weapon. But its more complex functions have to do with disabling a device after activation, overriding the current command. 

Which brings us, of course, to the Hammer of Dawn malfunction that wipes out Settlement 2. Once it becomes clear the Hammer has malfunctioned and is just firing at random, the fact that there wasn't an immediate chain of action to disable it in seconds is absolutely baffling, even if Baird's initial panicked commands didn't work. And if the COG didn't have that kind of countermeasure in place, maybe, just maybe, they shouldn't put deadly lasers in space just yet.

So, JD just got to keep his job in Gears 5?

Even as terrible as the Hammer of Dawn misfire turned out to be, at the very least, Baird can be says he didn't agree with the command being given. JD, on the other hand, has no such excuse. Aware of the risk of firing the incomplete Hammer, he told Baird to fire anyway, and the result cost a LOT of lives. And that's hot on the tail of the revelation of a little incident sometime back where JD gave an order to fire on unarmed protesters.

The result of his negligence? Well ... not a whole lot, actually. Somehow, after causing the deaths of civilians and a spotty service record, something that typically results in an instant court-martial in most real-world scenarios, JD's biggest consequence is having to grow a gnarly beard.

Also, for those just tuning in, JD's own father, Marcus, got charged with the same thing, choosing to abandon his post and save his father, which resulted in losing a military stronghold. Marcus went to prison for that. But JD gets to grow a beard. Right.

There are a whole lot of unfinished conversations in Gears 5

By comparison to most Gears of War plots, Gears 5 is less about setting up a major threat and having the COG knock it down than generally showing the uglier side of fighting a war, even a war with a very clear good guy/bad guy dynamic. But even with that in mind, there are enough loose threads here to knit a quilt. 

During the course of the game, Marcus and JD never get to finish a conversation about his recklessness, which JD could've probably used before he decided to fire a malfunctioning satellite weapon. Fahz never gets to fully describe the circumstances under which JD ordered his troops to fire on innocent protesters, something we're pretty sure Kait and Del would've liked to know. Jinn and her goons show up just at the start of Act 4 to arrest Delta Squad, but she never fully lets them in on what her plans for Kait were after they were arrested. And perhaps biggest of all, Reyna only shows up for 30 seconds to kill one of your squadmates, and never makes a pitch to Kait whatsoever on why exactly she should give in to her birthright, something she probably would've gotten to do if she weren't so busy making you choose whether JD or Del gets to live.

Why would Kait not want to control the Swarm?

So, apparently, Kait can control the Swarm, as long as she's connected to their hivemind. Now, granted, that led to a pretty big problem when the Warden got involved, one that ended up killing Oscar, which is probably a big reason why Kait wouldn't want to be connected to the hivemind. And yet, real talk: the risk is probably worth it. We see almost immediately from Act 3 onward that Reyna getting reconnected to the hive basically results in an uptick in intelligence, one that only gets stronger the more they fight the COG. We're not sure just yet what exactly Reyna's endgame is, but Kait's is pretty clear, and Kait got access to the hive that Reyna didn't with Niles' machines.

As we end up seeing, it's her resistance and unwillingness to develop her connection organically that stops her from being able to overtake the Swarm. If nothing else, being able to kill all the ugly suckers with her mind is an option that, likely with some help from Damon Baird Industries, she could've probably developed into something useful. Instead, we've got an abandoned laboratory and a Swarm that now has a new queen. There's a missed opportunity there.

How is Reyna even still alive?

When last we left Reyna, Kait's tribal leader and mom, she had just asked her daughter to put a bullet in her head to keep her from being assimilated into the hive. So, that begs the question of how exactly she's still up and running and full of tentacles at the end of Gears 5.

This posits two equally ugly scenarios. The first is that nothing connected to the hive ever truly dies, and the very process of being assimilated means some sort of immortality. Granted, there's some precedence for that, since that's exactly how we got the Swarm to begin with, with the Locust going into some sort of hibernation, but that took something close to 20 years to accomplish, while Reyna was pretty spry after about a year.

The other option, however, is that Kait didn't do her job too well. Given how much Reyna was suffering and also her lineage, that's possibly the worst mistake Kait could've ever made. Not going for the double tap has led to Reyna becoming the Swarm's new queen.

Was nobody going to tell Kait and company about the Kraken?

Despite being behind a constant eight ball, the COG and the nomadic forces have some pretty good equipment for knowing when attacks are coming, when something is in danger, and tracking potential threats across their territory, which makes the fact that everybody was somehow surprised when a giant skyscraper-sized megaworm shows up utterly baffling. 

As a reminder, these things are huge enough that there's literally an entire village out in the frozen tundra that's made out of a riftworm's carcass, and the Kraken is, apparently, bigger than that. The ground shook for a few killzones prior, knowing this thing was on its way, and yet no one, not Paduk, not Baird, knew it was coming. Meanwhile, a cargo train carrying a rocket? Oh, they're all very on top of that. A skyscraper sized worm burrowing beneath the desert should've triggered earthquakes hours in advance, let alone when the ugly sucker actually shows up right on the COG's doorstep for the final boss battle. 

How much does the COG spend on reconstruction every year?

This is probably something that applies to all the Gears games, really, but it's worth noting in this one in particular just how pretty everything looks. We'll call this "the Angel Grove problem." Just think about any potential real-world disaster, especially in a highly populated place, and imagine the nightmare that cleanup becomes in nearly every single instance. Now imagine that cleanup process happens more than once every few months to every few years. 

Forget the military budget these folks have, how do they even find the money to keep rebuilding fancy art deco buildings and memorials when there's a higher-than-50/50 shot it's gonna get shot by the Hammer of Dawn in a couple of weeks? How and when do they find the time, man-/mechpower, and money to even bother having structures that aren't built to withstand the organic equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane destroying everything week after week? That goes double for Oscar's Riftworm village, which apparently gets raided once a week. 

Why is there only one Mega Mech in Gears 5?

If anybody in particular helped turn the tide of the final battle at the end of Gears 5, it's the Cole Train showing up in one of the COG's big beautiful Mega Mechs to take out a Swarmak hand to hand. Which kinda makes one wonder, "Why aren't there more of these?"

At the end of Gears 4, Marcus had managed to finagle four of these things to raid a Swarm base in a dam far away from civilization. Presuming the COG has the resources to keep outfitting armies of infantry from now 'til infinity, surely it's a little cheaper to maybe put together a few more badass mechs to just step on any Swarm that dare even get within a COG perimeter instead of messing around with guerilla warfare.  Sure, we're probably getting into "why don't they just make planes out of the same stuff as the black box" territory, but it's getting harder to ignore that the COG doesn't know how to spend resources properly.

What exactly was Reyna's play in Gears 5?

At some point after Kait's little psychic encounter at Niles' laboratory, Reyna wakes up, gets the Swarm a little smarter, and makes a go at attacking New Ephyra for the diabolical scheme of ... what, exactly?

One of the truly deep-seated problems with Gears 5's big blowout finale is the fact that Reyna shows up for all of two minutes, then vanishes, despite the whole game feeling like it's leading to a legitimate showdown between Kait and her mom. But, if not to recruit or convert Kait, what exactly were the Swarm trying to do? The COG's seat of power is a lofty goal, but if the Swarm is hooked up to Reyna's mind, surely she had to know doing any sort of real, lasting damage to the COG wasn't going to be possible. If it was, she'd have sent literally every Swarm to the city. Frankly, it all comes down to the Swarm being bastards for bastardry's sake, and given Reyna has far more legitimate reasons to be angry with the COG, just like Myrrah did, not even letting her give a bloviating speech about endless corruption makes the whole assault feel like a waste of Reyna's time.