One of the highlights of the Xbox Spring Showcase in San Francisco last week was perhaps unexpectedly so. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition has just been released for Windows 10 PCs, and while that's nice, that's not the main reason it stood out for us. Instead, it was the fact that it was playable in 4K at the event, using some pukka PC rigs and massive Ultra HD monitors.

And we particularly liked the customised Gears thumbsticks and direction pad on the Xbox One Elite controller we were using, to boot.

Having completed Gears of War when it was first released for Xbox 360 almost a decade ago, and then spent considerable time with the remake on Xbox One last year, we're fully au fait with the talents of a game that stands up as well in gameplay terms today as any peer.

The Ultimate Edition's completely remade graphics and cut-scenes impressed us greatly on console and had us gagging for Gears 4 even more than we were previously. However, that was before we saw what the game could look like with PC specs to the max and 4K visuals beaming out of a large display.

At 3840 x 2160 it is, quite simply, stunning.


We've presented screengrabs in the correct resolution in our gallery above, albeit converted to JPEGs and the resolution dropped to 72ppi for smaller file sizes, but it's only when rolling do you get an idea of the impact of the new Ultimate Edition lighting engine and the amount of detail on show.

Of course, we could say that about many games presented in 4K - Grand Theft Auto V, for example, is truly magnificent. But we have to remember that, at its core, Gears of War is a relative old-age-pensioner in gaming terms. Let's just say it scrubs up well.

It uses DirectX 12, which was a massive focus at the Spring Showcase, as the Xbox team were keen to stress that Xbox One and Windows 10 will be seen very much as part of the same strategy going forward.

And part of why its higher resolution worked so well for us is that not only was it running in 4K, it was doing so at an unlocked frame rate.

Of course, that can sometimes see the rate drop below acceptable levels, but while we didn't have an fps counter running at the time, not once did we see anything that was less than completely smooth - above 60fps we suspect, although we'd check for sure if we had more time with the game.

That was in campaign mode. We didn't get to play any multiplayer.

We have to admit that we also played the game in the form we were most comfortable with - using the aforementioned customised Xbox One Elite controller - but it is possible to also play with keyboard and mouse now that it's made the transition to PC.

First Impressions

Last year, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition set an all-new benchmark for HD remakes of older titles. It didn't just slap on upscaled graphics and remastered textures, every aspect of the game were recreated. Even the audio was rerecorded or remastered in many instances - including the musical score.

It made us see a game we've adored in the past in a new light. Even new controls, that felt more like the advanced options added by sequels, were enhanced and improved.

Now the Windows 10 PC version has gone one better to effectively make the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition: Ultimate Edition.

And that it retails for just £22.99 adds the icing to the cake. Superb.