7 Gears Tactics tips to help you conquer the battlefield and combat the Locust

Gears Tactics tips
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Some Gears Tactics tips will help you with such a challenging and fast-paced strategy game. You'll need to utilise all of the skills and abilities in your Gears' arsenal to get through it alive. To help you complete your mission, we've assembled these Gears Tactics tips to help you get the most out of your squad and the tools made available to them throughout the game. 

It's worth remembering that Gears Tactics is an aggressive turn-based strategy game. You don't want to sit back, instead you need to always be moving and building forward momentum. Most of these Gears Tactics tips are designed to help you get your head around that strategy, because to do anything else would invite chaos to your playthrough. 

1. Keep using executions to gain more action points

gears tactics action points

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Grizzly executions are a staple of Gears of War, so their inclusion in Gears Tactics was a no brainer. They are also integral to success, particularly once you start slamming into the mid-to-late game difficulty spikes. Each unit in your squad comes with a basic number of action points that control your movement, shooting, and skills. Should you use an execution move on a downed enemy, each member of your squad will receive an extra action point. It encourages aggressive play, pushing you to get on the offensive. If you're in the habit of nailing executions at every opportunity you'll be able to extend the length of your turn and the actions your units can take within it, and it's possible to wipe the battlefield of enemies entirely in a turn if you can get into a good cadence of shooting, executing, and pushing forward.

2. Upgrade all your units so you have something to fall back on

gears tactics unit upgrades

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Having played through the campaign, I know all too well just how punishing Gears Tactics can get – particularly when it comes to those boss battles that close out the Acts. It's key then, that you don't forget to level up your units. And no, I'm not just talking about the Hero units like Gabe and Sid. You can find and recruit new members of your team throughout the game and I'm going to recommend that, rather than leaving the majority on the sidelines to focus on your favourites, you should rotate them in and out of side missions regularly to ensure they are getting levelled up. The last thing you want is for a Corpser to wipe out your only Heavy and Scout units, leaving you with some level 2 scrub recruits as the game shifts its gears. 

3. Invest skill points carefully and focus on maxing out what works for you

gears tactics skill upgrades

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Gears Tactics has five set unit classes – sniper, support, scout, vanguard, and heavy – which carry their own unique weapons and abilities. Each individual squad member also comes with their own skill trees that you can level up with points earned through successfully completing missions and killing enemies. Each skill tree has four prongs, which will allow you to specialise your classes. Realistically, you'll only be able to invest in two prongs of the skill tree, so you should spend some time early on trying to work out what skills are integral to your preferred playstyle and aim to hit those first. As a recommendation, you're going to want to max out the Surgeon specialisation first for Support, Commando for Scout, Assault for Vanguard, and Hunter for Sniper. Once you've mastered one specialisation, you can then aim to push through into another side of the skill tree. If it all goes horribly wrong, you can always use respec tokens to reset your unit and try again. 

4. Bullet penetration can kill multiple enemies so line up those shots

gears tactics bullet penetration

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Gears Tactics doesn't really make this clear, but it is possible to kill two enemies with one bullet. Yup, bullet penetration is present and accounted for, and it is possible to smash through enemy lines with some well placed shots. This works for all weapons too, so while the Gnasher is great for crowd control and interrupting multiple enemies grouped together, the Lancer can hit a couple of Locust if the sightlines overlap favourably. I will say this, though, I discovered that this mechanic was in the game after one of my Heavy units laid down what should have been suppressive fire only to find his bullets rip through enemies and absolutely nail one of my Vanguards who was out of position and vulnerable. Friendly fire is not that friendly at all. 

5. Cover can save action points but be aware of the protection it provides

gears tactics cover

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Waist-high cover is as important to Gears of War as the ultra-violence, so of course the cover system made its way into Gears Tactics. If your movement ends in cover it'll take the action point cost of the movement down – a smart incentive to get you locking into cover and working those flanks. It's worth noting that not all cover will provide the same protection or opportunity. Low cover will let you fire but only provide minimal protection from a head on attack, while high cover will keep you safe but severely limit your firing opportunities. Keep all this in mind while you're plotting your route across the battlefield and be wary of wooden objects – taking cover behind these seems like a good idea until it shatters upon the first impact from a bullet, leaving you susceptible to attacks for an entire turn. 

6. Don't be afraid to start over at a checkpoint if things go bad

gears tactics checkpoints

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Gears Tactics is brutal at times. The first third of the game is, in particular, a bit of a nightmare if you make some bad investments in the skill trees and fail to pick up any good equipment in the game. Thankfully, Gears Tactics checkpoints regularly – take advantage of it! If you're feeling overwhelmed, if you can see your squad taking a beating in a turn with no way out, or if you're not having a good time, there's no harm in taking it back a turn or two with that checkpoint system. 

7. Get your head around Overwatch as it can provide a huge advantage

gears tactics overwatch

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal is the Overwatch system. It lets a unit exchange action points for anticipation, laying down a cone that will obliterate any enemies that should attempt to move through the zone or take an action within it. The wider the cone, the less accurate your shots will become, so it's wise to set up overlapping Overwatch zones at the end of your turns. This is great for holding down positions, although it's also an easy way to push enemies into favourable locations and positions on the map. Oh, and if you're feeling pinned down – yes, Locust can and and will use Overwatch against you – remember that the Vanguard class has a special ability called Disabling shot on their sidearm that will interrupt enemies employing the tactic. 

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.