It's a strange thing, this Gears 5 benchmark. Unlike other in-game benchmarks, which simply play the same scene over and over again, the final third of this one sees our beefcake heroes Kait and Del take on a bunch of Swarm in an icy blizzard - and the variance in their AI-driven shooty tactics means the result of their wintry battle is different every time I run it.
And that has been quite a few times, now, as I've been trying to work out how I can get my ancient R9 270 card to run the game at a decent speed. Over the repetitions, I've become quite invested in their unending struggle, to the point where I've decided to chronicle it with some screenshots. Yes, that's right: it's time for another round of 'Weird Things I Notice While Benchmarking!'
Watching Kait and Del go through the motions over and over again, I was reminded of the time Matthew and I got stuck trying to take down one of Gears 5's late-game bosses when we were playing in co-op. We'd load up the scene again and again, dashing into cover before taking out the Juvie on our left, then the Juvie on our right, all the while desperately trying to take down a huge, player-eating Snatcher beast at the same time.
Thankfully, Del and Kait aren't having nearly as tough a time with this set of Swarm as we did in that horrible boss fight - they usually win, in fairness. But the way they try out new things and take different approaches to counter the same set of enemies over and over again feels very much like there really are two people controlling these muscly idiots from afar. Some of the things they end up doing are so utterly bananas that they seem as if they could only have been conceived by the mind of a desperate, sleep-deprived human who just wants to get this part of the game over and done with so they can finally go to bed (yes, it took us until gone 1am to defeat that punk-ass Snatcher, what of it?).
Sometimes their cover gets blown, other times they decide to break cover altogether and, heaven forbid, stand up to shoot their enemies (a move that's always to their detriment), and there's even the odd occasion where they completely fail to notice the grenade-packed Popper charging towards them, which means that both of them end up getting a load of explosion shoved down their thick, muscly necks. It's like watching a strange kind of Auto Chess, only here I don't have any control over what the pieces end up doing.
But don't take my word for it - let's take a look. This is how things usually play out. Kait and Dell run into cover, stay there and shoot everything that moves. The Hopper gets stopped in its twitchy, sickly tracks. Like so:
What's this, though? He's broken through the front lines! The hivemind has seen through our... I mean, their, tactics and come up with its own counter-strategy. Quick! Get that Gnasher out, Del, and show it some lead.
Sometimes, this works and the day is saved...
...others, sadly, it gets a whole lot messier.
It's not often one of them bites the dust in this benchmark - it usually ends before there's any real carnage, sadly - but this one was occasion that left Del scrambling around on the floor begging for assistance. Which is fine, provided Kait hasn't decided to wander off and go all lone wolf on him.
Occasionally, though, Kait's rogue tactics pay off. Just look at this master stroke of perfectly-timed environmental destruction.
Other times, the environment decides it wants in on the fun and takes matters in its own hands... or, err... sticks? Either way, errant tree branch coming through!
This has only ever happened once so far (mostly because it probably shouldn't have happened at all), but I'd be lying if I didn't spit out my tea when it took even our resident Hopper by surprise as it tried to take another run at poor old Del.
Then again, it would appear that Del struggles with the concept of staying out of trouble just in general, because man alive this is probably the worst example of 'being in cover' I've ever seen.
Luckily for him, Kait's a kind soul at heart and decided to bail him out this time with some retreating cover fire, although not before Del lost of couple of blood-spattered muscle chunks as punishment for his noob error. Yes, Del, you hang that head in shame, you silly beefcake, you.
Del also has trouble staying out of the line of incoming sniper fire...
Especially when he forgets about that darn Hopper again...
Sometimes, though, both of them are just hopeless and literally everything gets destroyed by either the Hopper, particularly heavy sniper fire, or just their own incompetence. It takes quite a bit to shatter those icy, conveniently waist-high blocks of cover - especially in such a short amount of time, but I've got to hand it to the Swarm. They sure know how to end on a high note.