Don’t go the way of Carmine
I played a ton of Gears Tactics over the course of the last two weeks, and I loved it so much that I’m about ready to go back for more. The endgame Veteran missions are starting to wear thin — the only thing I’m really chasing is randomized Legendary loot — so I’m considering firing up a new campaign. Do I go with Insane difficulty or Ironman on Intermediate? (Go straight to hell if your kneejerk reaction is to say “Ironman on Insane.”)
Perhaps this requires a little explanation. Ironman mode is a tactics staple because of XCOM. In Ironman, everything you do is permanent. The game saves after every action which makes it impossible to save scum. You have to live with whatever outcome you’re given. If that means your favorite soldier was killed on the battlefield, there’s no resurrecting them. There’s only bodybags.
In researching Ironman, I came across this broad-reaching tips guide from PC Gamer. Apparently, losing one of the named heroes on Ironman in Gears Tactics will force the game to instantly end the campaign. That makes sense considering Gears Tactics is a story-driven game and Ironman is meant to be the most unforgiving mode of them all. If the protagonist is dead, the story never happens.
Still, it’s a stark contrast to the way XCOM handles it. In XCOM, there are no hero characters. You’re an unseen commander directing all the troops. If someone dies — yeah it sucks — but there’s a roster of replacements who maybe aren’t as skilled or well-equipped, but who are ready to pick up a gun and take up the fight.
In my review, I noted how Gears Tactics‘ reliance on defined characters to tell a story kept me shying away from using all the secondary troops that I rescued along the way. Why should these other guys get the credit when the COGs I know could be filling their XP bars? It’ll be the inverse in Ironman. Let them soak up the bullets and keep the main characters far away from the fray. However, it’s worth mentioning that Gears Tactics requires you send certain heroes on each mission. There’s no dodging their involvement. Even more brutal, there’s no option to cut bait and evac the hell out of there; there are story objectives to fulfill and that means every mission has to be seen through.
Ironman is always super risky, but Gears Tactics adds a wrinkle that can spell ultimate defeat because of just a few unfortunate missteps. If the purest distillation of Ironman as a concept is “you have to live with the consequences,” then I guess Gears Tactics‘ spin means the bad guys win if the good guys die. Love it or hate it, it’s consistent and it ups the ante. Actually, maybe I’ll take the coward’s way out and tackle Ironman on Beginner.