Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: People Can Fly
Gears of War: Judgment Season Pass holders were able to get their hands on the first full-fledged multiplayer DLC this week in the form of a Call to Arms pack. While the Haven map and Execution game mode were added recently for all users, this is the first bit of paid DLC available for the game.
The map pack includes three new multiplayer maps called Terminal, Boneyard, and Blood Drive. Does that last one sound familiar? That’s because it was a Gears of War 3 MP map. In fact, not only is that map re-done for Judgment, but Boneyard is extremely similar to Mausoleum, a map from the original Gears of War. Nobody has come right out and said that Boneyard is meant to be a remake, but they’re remarkably close in look and format. And there are some minor differences with Blood Drive, it certainly feels and looks bigger, but if two of the three maps featured in your first bit of DLC are based on or inspired by previous maps, that’s sort of a hard pill to swallow. Especially since the game launched with a lot less than fans were expecting to see on the multiplayer side of things.
The new game mode, Call to Arms, is essentially Gun Game, popularized for consoles by Call of Duty, and something that PC Counterstrike fans are going to be instantly familiar with. This is a Free-for-all mode that has you advancing to a new weapon every time you earn a kill. The first to 20 wins the match, with the final weapon being the cleaver, meaning you’ll need to get nice and close for the win. This is the best addition to the game via the Call to Arms pack, and does a good job of showcasing the weapon variety found in Judgment, and ends up being something you’ll want to play over and over again.
As far as the actual maps go, despite being remake heavy, I do enjoy them. Blood Drive was a great map in Gears 3, but certainly seems less confined here. I suppose you could be upset about that change, but it at least forces those familiar with the map to approach it differently. For Boneyard, I certainly have some affinity for Mausoleum, so I don’t mind the callback. Boneyard is certainly bigger in a number of ways though. There are lots of wide open spaces surrounding the center of the map with the central structure, and a number of easy to find weapon pick-up spots, with cover all around the edges of the map.
The final map, Terminal, is an Overrun mode only map. That’s disappointing, despite my enjoyment of this mode, as the game could certainly use this fresh blood for the competitive multiplayer. But as far as Overrun maps go, Terminal is certainly becoming my favorite. I didn’t have much opportunity to play it, it rarely shows in the rotation and as of yet there’s no separate DLC playlist for Overrun only. But the scant few games I managed were enjoyable, and there’s enough variety to the map layout that it puts the other maps for Overrun to shame.
Speaking of playlists, I’d like to harp on the way Gears of War: Judgment is currently handling its DLC playlist in general for competitive MP. I didn’t jump back in when Haven launched, so that was new for me, but why in the world are regular maps being rotated through the DLC playlist? I have no desire to play Gondola or Library again and again if I’m clearly choosing the DLC playlist. Common sense would state that I want to play the new maps available, not the old. Seriously, it’s pretty ridiculous.
All in all, I found Call to Arms to be a decent enough map pack despite feeling like somewhat lazy. You’ve got two MP maps that are outright remakes or homages of existing maps, one of which was available in the entry prior to Judgment. And one Overrun map that’s all but impossible to see right now for season pass holders, since the majority of people playing Overrun do not seem to have the map. And then there’s the Call to Arms mode, which is legitimately fun and a good addition, but is also not a particularly unique mode in the world of shooters.
Call to Arms might be worth it if you’re still actively playing Gears of War: Judgment online. But if you’re looking for an excuse to jump back in because the initial offerings didn’t excite you, I don’t think there’s enough to this DLC pack to warrant the purchase