The ‘Gears of War’ series ranked


The Xbox 360 did not get its first killer application, “Gears of War”, until Nov. 7, 2006, two weeks shy of the console’s first anniversary.

The system launched on Nov. 22, 2005, with 18 games, none of them considered a “killer application” — or a game so good a consumer would buy the console just to play it. 

“Gears of War” is an Xbox exclusive third-person shooter created by Epic Games. Upon its release, the game was praised critically and sold well. From there, more games in the series were released, the most recent being “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition,” a remaster of the original, on Aug. 25. In celebration of this release, I am ranking all the games before it.


4. “Gears of War: Judgement”

The fourth entry and a spin-off, “Gears of War: Judgement” takes place before the events of the first game. Developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games, this game focused on one of the series’s side characters, Damon Baird. This game really tweaked the Gears of War formula.

For the storyline, each chapter could have modifiers applied to them — such as only using a specific weapon — in order to add extra challenge and variety to the game.

A new competitive mode called OverRun was added to the game. This added classes to the multiplayer, or characters with specific looks and abilities. OverRun was a cool new addition to the franchise, but it is hard to say if it was popular enough to be included in future installments of the series.

The core multiplayer was also changed but was poorly received, as too much of the classic gameplay was altered. It did not feel like a Gears of War game anymore and it is the major reason why it is at the bottom of the list.

3. “Gears of War”


The game that started it all. “Gears of War” became the definitive third-person shooter and popularized the idea of cover-based shooters.

Starring Marcus Fenix and his three squad mates, they embark on a mission to help their government stop the invasion of a subterranean monster-like race called the Locust.

The game really stood out because of its fantastic visuals, gore, intense action and dark setting. It put the Xbox 360 on people’s radars like no game before it.

Furthermore, it put together a high-quality, competitive multiplayer experience no other game had.

In its day, “Gears of War” was a fresh take on shooting games. However a few noticeable factors did not age well, such as having its terrible checkpoint system.

2. “Gear of War 2”

The second installment in the series took what was successful in the first game and cranked it up a notch.

Picking up where the previous story left off, it was bigger, darker and had more memorable moments. The multiplayer also returned in a similar fashion.

The core gameplay was tweaked with improvements to movement, and each weapon had its own gory execution move.

The biggest addition was Horde Mode, where one to four players worked together to stop increasingly more difficult waves of computer controlled enemies. It was fun, addictive and would go on to create a trend in the gaming industry.

The significance this mode had was enormous; every shooter after it needed to have its own version of Horde Mode. The term itself is now a known phrase in the gaming industry because of “Gears of War 2.”

1. “Gears of War 3”

This game represents the franchise at its peak.

The developers at Epic Games created their most complete and entertaining entry of “Gears of War” yet.

Up to four players could now play the story mode together, previously allowing only two. A new enemy for players to fight was added to the situation, a parasitic race called the Lambent which can posses other races and control them. While not as fun as fighting the Locust, this new enemy added variety to the game.

Multiplayer was revamped, creating the most accessible and least strict experience the series had seen. A new Team Deathmatch mode was not as punishing to new players and was instrumental in making the game more open to players. This helped lower the game’s learning curve, which turned people away from previous entries.

An upgraded version of Horde Mode added boss fights to the end of each 10th wave and allowed players to fortify sections of the map to defend themselves.

It added another fun side activity called Beast Mode, which let players finally take control of the Locust and fight against computer controlled human enemies. Each Locust character had its own set of abilities and roles; while not as innovative as horde mode, this provided an enjoyable distraction.

To top it all off, “Gears of War 3” had the smoothest and most varied movement and control in the series to date.

“Gears of War 3” is the best of the series.

Grant Meyer can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @GrantMeyerDE