I feel like this is truly a momentous occasion. I think you should commemorate it with a full Ocelot Write UpTM for each entry in the series.
Oh God, this is that peer pressure they always talk about, isn't it? I suppose I can't back out now
But first I've been playing... well, I've basically been playing the DMC5 demo over and over, but I managed to tear myself away from it long enough to play through Gears of War 4, which I thought was pretty fun.
I'm peripherally aware that there's a whole Gears of War expanded universe out there of books and comics, and I know that stuff had started trickling into the games by the time Gears 3 rolled around and featured a ton of new characters I'd never heard of before. I've been on both sides of that situation, and I feel like there's never a good way of doing it. When comic characters started turning up in Gears and Assassin's Creed I just felt left out, whereas when Kahlee Sanders from the Mass Effect books popped up in ME3 I just felt like such a corporate drone for having bought all their dumb cross-media material and clapping like the trained seal I was. From what I understand the same sort of stuff starts happening in the Halo series at a certain point, too, so we'll see how that goes.
Gears 4 starts with a clever little recap of the history of... the planet they live on in Gears land, where you play through little snippets of historical battles as various nameless soldiers. The first one has you fighting "Indies", who at first I thought were Locust wearing armour but then I realised must actually be humans, and that this particular historical war must have been fought before the Locust ever dug their way out of the ground on Gears Planet. Y'know, I have no idea what the lore of Gears is. I don't know if Earth is even a thing in Gears, to be honest. Anyway, eventually you skip ahead to what I think they said was 20 years post Gears 3 and you play as Marcus Fenix's son J.D., who I feel like must be older than 20 but Gears character proportions make it impossible to tell.
J.D. Fenix and his friends Del and Laura Bailey shoot a bunch of robots, then some monsters called Swarm, then after a little while the Locust come back and so does old grumpy Marcus, and it's all a bit of face shooting fun. The writing strikes the same "lol memes" tone as Mass Effect Andromeda, to the point where the entire game feels like an extended hack comedy skit running through all your favourite Reddit vernacular.. The only thing this game loves more than network-sitcom-esque jokes is teasing dramatic reveals of characters and things you remember from the older Gears games (drink every time a character says "I know someone who can help us..." and almost looks directly into the camera). I don't know if I've ever played a more painfully self-referential ourobouros of a game.
But the thing is that Gears has always been an unabashedly stupid game about meatheads screaming all the time and shooting giant worms, so pivoting to idiots saying memes at eachother while shooting giant worms isn't as jarring a departure from the norm as Andromeda was from my beautiful boy Mass Effect. Gears 4 is really short, has some gorgeous graphics and art design, some absolutely ridiculous setpieces, and ends with you and Laura Bailey getting into Gears of War Megazords to just kill everything in the entire world:
And I'm pretty OK with that. I'm also pretty happy that Gears 5 seems to have Laura Bailey as the main character, because J.D. really left no impression on me in 4.