Console and PC players can share the blood-soaked joy in the latest GOW
Gears of War 4 is now live across all platforms, and it's a major moment for Microsoft in its drive to bring PC and Xbox closer together.
First, the game. The series made central to its gameplay the old Duke Nukem mantra that bullets, blades, and banter solve everything, and not much has changed.
The new GOW4 story moves on 25 years from GOW3, inserting us into longtime hero Marcus Fenix's dysfunctional family life on post-war COG-controlled Sera - which is about to go even more badly wrong.
You play as his son, JD, with new comrades Del and Kait, in battle against a new enemy, the Swarm - introduced without explanation of how they arose after the destruction of the Lambent and Locust and a fair degree of question over are they/aren't they related.
The story rattles through swiftly, with major plot points including the fate of Marcus, conflict against the dystopian COG, and of course countless bloody battles against new Swarm foes.
The same combat mechanics and overkill weaponry from the previous games dominate, alongside stacks of new weapons and some new cover-based melee and close combat attacks that prove useful with the Swarm enemies happy to fight up close amid destructible cover.
Co-op allows you to bring friends into the story missions and we love the return of split-screen 2-player co-op for when - shock horror - you might have a mate round the house.
Horde co-op mode returns with updates, and there are numerous new multiplayer modes like Arms Race alongside classics like King of the Hill.
Overall, although you can rip through the campaign a little too quickly, it's a fantastic update which is a ton of fun and re-cements the franchise as a prime member of Xbox roster of games that PS-only owners wish they could play.
It's the first episode in the series wholly from Microsoft Games/Black Tusk's The Coalition studio - no Epic Games involvement this time round after it sold the rights to Microsoft to ensure it remains an Xbox exclusive.
In fact Microsoft have done more than that, and allowed PC players too to share the experience using the new Play Anywhere function so you can close your Xbox and continue the game uninterrupted on a Windows 10 PC, and vice versa, using the same purchased copy of the game.
Quite aside from gameplay, this will be a prime feature of Xbox and PC games going forward. For the near future it will be Microsoft Studios games only that allow this, but expect other studios to get access soon.