While Gears Tactics will force you to restart a mission (or from a checkpoint) if a main character like Gabe or Sid dies in combat, your randomly generated squadmates are pretty disposable, and can very likely die if surrounded and left unattended. Don’t worry, though. New recruits are added to your recruit roster after every mission, and often with enough free skill points that you can get them in fighting shape without much hassle. They’ll leave after a couple of missions, so make sure you add them to your actual roster.
Overwatch is Super Important
Overwatch is one of your best tools of defense, allowing you to place cones of vision over the battlefield from your unit’s position. The range and width of that cone will depend on their class/weapon type. Snipers have thin but extremely long cones, while scouts and their shotguns have short and wide cones. Overwatch is less about getting a kill and more about denying an enemy the right to move through a space, giving you the positioning advantage. Locust use overwatch incredibly often, and are very fond of trying to pin down your units with one or more cones.
Usually, you should try to avoid place multiple cones over one specific area, as both units will fire if an enemy moves through the cone. At best, it’s overkill, and you’re wasting a shot. But if you’ve got a grenade-launching boomer waltzing through your front door, no one could really blame you.
Chain(saw) Those Executions
Every time a unit executes a Locust enemy, every other member of the squad gets one extra action point. Play your cards right, and you can string together a series of downed enemies that one or two units can mop up with an execution, giving everyone else the resources they need to close in on any enemies left standing.
Your Scout is Your Ultimate Flanker
The shotgun-wielding scout class can seem a bit useless at first, but ultimately is one of the more important roles during heavily offensive missions. With their cloak and sprint ability, they’re easily your best flanker, so give them some solid armor, let your other units hold the frontline, and get in close with that short-range damage. Even better, the scout’s proximity mine ability can help deny the enemy room to evade your fire. Just be careful you don’t get cut off from the rest of your squad and get knocked down.
Height is Your Best Advantage
Out of all the factors that affect your gun’s accuracy, height above the enemy is easily the most impactful. That said, Gears Tactics is a flatter game than XCOM 2. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some elevated structures. You’ll find some abandoned Gears bunkers with second levels, and the occasional bombed-out house with a conspicuously intact ladder on the side, but a lot of fights end up being about simply outflanking enemies on a flat surface. If you’ve got the opportunity to use height to your advantage, use it.
Invest in Healing Abilities Early and Often
Thankfully, Gears Tactics doesn’t make you wait for units to heal their injuries between missions, unlike XCOM, which would put them out of commission for weeks at a time. That said, make sure you have at least two support units who can perform basic healing functions with the stim, group therapy, or healing patch abilities. Main character Gabe Diaz is a support unit, so he’s an obvious choice, but you’ll have to recruit a second support unit later on. It’s entirely possible to get through a lot of missions without someone there to patch you up on the field, but not having one makes things exponentially more difficult, considering how long some missions can go on for.
The stim ability (one of the first support abilities you can purchase) can also be upgraded to revive a downed friendly unit, even from afar.
Grenades are Your Best Friend During Large Shootouts
Surprise: Grenades are a great way of clearing out groups of enemies who’ve decided to (foolishly) cluster together. The raw damage they do is enough to kill melee units like the wretches or the tickers, but is usually enough to also kill the basic hammerburst drone units, if it’s close enough. Weakened grenadiers and disciples should also be destroyed with a grenade.
Besides just that damage output, grenades are also effective for knocking enemies out of cover or interrupting their own overwatch cones or a sniper’s pin ability. Support units will by default start out with a stim grenade ability (which heals 100 damage on any friendly units it hits), but can also have their grenade slot switched over to a basic frag or a more powerful frag obtained from a loot box.
Be Mindful of Status Effects
There’s a ton of possible status effects in Gears Tactics, some from friendly units, lots from enemy units, and some from weapon or armor mods. Effects like “crippled” will halve your movement range, while “dazed” will interrupt your overwatch cones and prevent you from using your special abilities. “Poisoned,” which is usually obtained if you kill a disciple Locust unit at close range, reduces your damage output by 75% for two turns. Be aware of what statuses are impacting your ability to get the mission done. This is easy enough as toggling the Tac-Com feature on with the R key and hovering over any friendly or enemy unit.
The Snub Pistol’s Disabling Shot Can Make or Break Fights
While you’ll be doing the majority of Gears Tactics’ combat with your primary rifle, every character comes equipped with a trusty snub pistol that should be familiar to any Gears of War fan. The most important feature of the snub pistol is its disabling shot ability. If it lands (and usually the pistol has somewhat higher accuracy at close to mid-range, the disabling shot will interrupt an enemy’s overwatch cone, allowing your pinned squadmate to continue the fight. A frag grenade is more useful if you’ve got two Locust putting overwatch cones down on the same area, but a snub pistol works great on one. Unfortunately, it’s cooldown is eight whole turns, which is a short eternity in this game.
Slide Into Cover
One thing Gears Tactics absolutely nails is Gears of War’s sense of heavy, deliberate movement. Remember how good it feels to slide into cover in a mainline Gears game? Gears Tactics lets you do the same thing, even if your three action points would normally only carry you to a few feet in front of that cover. You can preview whether or not you’ll be able to slide into cover by hovering over the cover. If the line stretches all the way to the cover and the shield icon shines blue, you’ll slide into it like a 400lb COG soldier on a Slip N’ Slide. If the line doesn’t fully extend and the shield is grayed out, it’s just out of reach, so look for cover elsewhere unless you want to be exposed.
There’s Lots of Loot in Gears Tactics
Every mission will reward you with some new weapon mods or armor pieces, but almost every mission (including side missions) will feature two to three loot cases placed around the mission map. These cases are pretty easy to find, as they show up even if the fog of war covers whatever else is there. You’ll recognize them by the colored circle surrounding them. It’ll cost you an action point to open them up, but usually this isn’t a hassle outside of scavenger run missions that push you to keep moving forward.
Even better, when you’re equipping weapon mods or armor in the barracks menu, you can get a readout of which gear is being currently used and swap it if you like. If a side character isn’t going on a mission, do they really need that +40 damage scope? Might as well nab it for this particular adventure.