It's been a while since Gears 5 released but there's a brand new campaign expansion so let's see what the Hivebusters are all about.
Hivebusters is a story-driven mini-campaign that follows the stars of Gears 5's Escape mode: Keegan, Lahni, and Mac. Keegan is a typical stubborn by-the-book old soldier while Lahni thinks critically of each situation and Mac tends to rush in guns blazing with his lack of patience and rookie attitude. Because of this, the trio makes for one varied and interesting group of soldiers and it's intriguing to see how they'll handle each situation that comes their way. More often than not, they work together brilliantly as they get out of sticky situations and team up to take down imposing threats. The resulting story and gameplay dynamic is intertwined seamlessly to create one gripping and exciting campaign. Plus, seeing the few characters grow as individuals throughout the short time that you'll adventure with them is a nice treat that makes the grueling journey well worth it in a narrative sense. It's pretty surprising that this is merely DLC.
Aside from the story, the situations that you'll play through are memorable, action-packed and an absolute blast to experience. Whether you're floating down a molten lava river on a huge steel door, fending off hordes of monsters as you wait for an escape helicopter, stomping through a village in a mech, sliding down cavernous tunnels while shooting at a snatcher that abducted your friend, or descending floors in a creepy abandoned laboratory; you won't believe what they packed into the Hivebusters expansion.
You'll also come across cool weapons as you progress like a cryo cannon that you can freeze enemies with and nifty traps such as lava pockets that you can shoot to ignite group of enemies in a fiery blaze. On top of all that, the characters have unique Ultimate Abilities that you can activate whenever they're charged which allows you to replenish ammo, stun monsters with a special attack, and erect a temporary shield. These help give the gameplay a more tactical feel and should be familiar to anyone who played Horde mode.
Gears 5: Hivebusters features a great deal of replay value because you can enjoy the chaos with up to 3 players either online or locally. Cooperating adds a layer of personality to each character as opposed to having your teammates controlled by the AI and it's also a ton of fun to take down the monstrosities that are dotted around the campaign with a couple of friends. As you progress, you'll also uncover a wealth of collectibles that are tucked away in nooks and crannies that help to flesh out the world of Gears 5 as well as Hivebusters' specific setting of the mysterious Galangi islands. So, re-playing the missions either alone or with friends can be rewarding stuff.
Finally, my biggest complaint about Gears 5: Hivebusters is that although its characters are distinct and have strong personalities, they're not really fleshed out all that much. I would have loved to see more back-story about how they turned out the way they are and what made them decide to become soldiers but there really isn't much here. The only character that has a touch of complexity is Mac but he remains fairly typical and, to be frank, I still found him rather unlikeable even after his history is revealed. There's also a strange part of the story that involves some mythical beast and I found it to be quite out-of-place in a Gears game. Some people may enjoy this aspect of the story but I thought it was a bit too fantastical even for an already over-the-top futuristic sci-fi shooter.
Gears 5: Hivebusters is a must-play for any fan of the series. From its dire situations to its jaw-dropping combat scenes, it's hard to pull yourself away from the action-packed campaign and once you've completed it, you'll gladly play through it again.
- + Action-packed campaign full of memorable sequences and epic moments
- + Great fun with up to 3 players
- + Cool weapons and Ultimate Abilities
- - Characters aren't as fleshed out as I was hoping they would be
- - One part of the story is slightly too fantastical and feels out of place