Gears Tactics Guide: Essential Starter Tips For The Gears Of War Spin-Off

Here are some tips to help you overcome the challenges you'll find in Gears Tactics for PC, which is out now on Xbox Game Pass.

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If you're more used to the reflexive third-person shooting of traditional Gears of War games, then the methodical turn-based strategy of Gears Tactics may seem unfamiliar and difficult. This series spin-off--which is exclusive to PC for now--models itself on the unforigiving tactical formula of the infamously difficult XCOM games, so failure is to be expected. Fortunately, you're not completely out of luck, as we've come up with a few essential tips to help you strategically rip apart the Locust horde with ease.

For more about Gears Tactics, be sure to read our full review. The game is out now on PC through the Windows 10 Store and Steam, and it's free through Xbox Game Pass for PC.

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Now Playing: Gears Tactics - 7 Crucial Tips To Keep Your Units Alive

Not All Cover Is Created Equal

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Even if this is your first turn-based tactical game, you probably already know that your units should always be in cover. As you advance and flank your enemies, ensure that your soldiers are safely tucked behind a low or high wall before you end your turn.

Keep in mind that low and high walls have different properties. You can shoot over low cover, but you aren’t fully protected from a frontal attack. High cover gives you full frontal protection, but you can only target enemies at the corner of the wall.

You should also be wary of destructible, wooden cover. It will break after one shot and will knock your unit back. Think carefully before you move your units, as one bad move can quickly result in a game over.

Executions, Executions, Executions

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Every unit has a set number of action points that dictate how many actions they can carry out each turn. These actions include moving, firing, throwing grenades, and using abilities. However, every time you get an execution, each of your squad members get an extra action point. This means that as long as you keep scoring executions, you can prolong your turn. A few well-timed executions can change the tide of battle.

To get an execution you need to first down an enemy by shooting them until they drop to their knees. Though, if you do too much damage to an enemy, it will die right away. Regardless, once you're near an enemy who's on their knees and is low on health, switch to your pistol to execute them.

Overwatch 101

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If you're familiar with XCOM then the term overwatch should be a familiar concept. For the uninitiated, it allows a unit to hold an angle and shred an enemy that moves within or into that unit's line of sight. Overwatch is instrumental when it comes to defense.

Typically, setting up overwatch is the last thing you want to do in any given turn because it will eat up all of a unit's action points. In addition, it's important to note that friendly fire is very much a thing in Gears, so we don't recommend setting up overwatch directly behind another unit.

On the other hand, if an enemy unit's overwatch is giving you a hard time, you can use the Vanguard class's disabling shot to stun them. It's never easy dealing with overwatch from the opposing side, so lean on this particular strategy to dismantle their defense.

Classes And Skill Trees

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Each unit--both friendly and Locust-y--has a specific class. Cog classes come in the form of sniper, support, vanguard, paragon, and heavy. Each class has different abilities, standard weapons, and customizable skill trees. We recommend digging through each class's skill trees to see how you want to customize and develop them across your squad. If you don't like how one of your soldiers turned out, you can use respec tokens which can be acquired throughout the game as you complete missions.

Pay Attention To Locust Classes

Surprisingly, traditional Locust classes and enemy types from the Gears of War series translate pretty well to the strategic framework of Gears Tactics.

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Drones are your common Locust soldiers. They are fairly weak, utilize ranged attacks, and love setting up overwatch.

Wretches can't take a lot of hits either, but they will rush your units and claw them. Because their movement is fairly predictable, overwatch can work wonders. Or, if you're near a group of them, a well-placed grenade can pop them like water balloons.

The Grenadier is a shirtless Locust that carries a shotgun and takes quite a few hits. Like Wretches, they will rush you, but if they manage to pin a unit down, they are much tougher to deal with.

Lastly, Sniper Drones are Drones with a lot more range. If you can, we recommend taking out these pesky units first.

These are only a handful of the enemy types you’ll go up against, so pay particular attention whenever a new one is introduced. You'll always want to be on your guard, as carelessness can be more easily punished when fighting unfamiliar foes.

Loot Boxes (Minus The Microtransactions!)

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Gears Tactics may not have any microtransactions, but it does have supply crates that contain weapon attachments, armor, and cosmetics. You can earn crates by completing secondary challenges or finding them on the battlefield. Grey boxes offer common loot, blue ones offer rare, and purple ones legendary. While we do recommend going out of your way to collect these crates, be smart about when you choose to do so. Rushing for these crates early on can get you killed.

Weigh The Risks Of Side Missions

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Although Gears Tactics is structured like your average Gears game with Acts and Chapters, occasionally you will be able to embark on a side mission. Many of these optional missions come paired with different gameplay modifiers, so be sure to check your mission intel before you choose a squad. Compared to main story missions, they're fairly straightforward and offer decent rewards. But one thing to know is that your units can only go on one side-mission per Act. This means you may want to think twice before setting out on a mission stacked with only heroes.

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