A humbling road to failure and a final farewellApril 25, 2021
I picked up Gears POP! in 2019 along with many other players when it launched onto mobile. In fact, over 75,000 of you on TA have unlocked an achievement in the game, and ultimately felt the sting of failure at some point. My experience has always been of a casual nature, picking up the game every few weeks to have a battle or two, realising I’m not as adept at military strategy as I might like to think, and dropping the game again. Over the course of the game’s life, these small bursts of gameplay led me to pick up 41 of the game’s 45 achievements. Not bad going, and sitting me comfortably above the 75% completion rating I’ve recently been trying to achieve in my games — if you look at my profile, you’ll see it’s very much a work-in-progress across my game collection.
Of the remaining achievements, one that had pained me the most was my inability to reach the highest league (Gold), and I was always a couple of hundred COGs away each season. But the gaming gods apparently heard my cries for mercy. On March 10th, I nabbed myself the League Legend achievement due to the requirements being lowered. The next day, I popped the Major achievement for attaining level 20. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, some dignity was swallowed on those days. But I was victorious, and with my head held high, I reminded myself that “it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning.” I’m starting to think that Gears POP! was designed to just fit with every decent quote out there. I’ll need to refrain from writing a quote list, even though it feels natural when discussing this emotional roller coaster of a game.
I should have been content with my 43 achievements. Content in the fact that I had just earned an achievement that had sat out of my reach for so long. But I was hungry, and when news came that Mediatonic was releasing the last update to the game on April 15th, I started to feel the burn of desire deep within me. The update would make securing my last two achievements significantly easier… at least that’s what my overly confident brain was telling me. April 15th came and went, and I began to focus, I studied my last two achievements — Pin-nacle 4 and Seriously Pop! — over the weekend and I was confident in my ability to lock these achievements down, so set to formulating my battle plan for the week ahead. And so, when Monday came around, I gritted my teeth and clenched my jaw as I set out on my road to success. Unfortunately, though, that road wasn’t leading me to success, rather to the grave of defeat.
I began my journey knowing that at the bare minimum, I still needed to win 385 more versus battles, so that was where I’d start. I used a counter-rotation as my pin setup: Start the round with Snub Soldiers and/or the Lancer Gear to capture lanes. Once the middle points had been captured, use Augustus Cole to make a push on a tower with support from the Drop Pod, keeping Fahz Chutani, Savage Grenadier, Frag Grenade, and Nemacysts as support when necessary. It was simple, quick, and pretty effective, propelling me forward and allowing me some small amount of hope. During my battles climbing the leaderboard ranks, I fought many worthy opponents, one of the most memorable of which was against our very own TA member, Pigimus Prime. He used a loadout that gave me a constant beating from Grinders, Boomers, and Tai Kaliso. I managed to just about pull off the win, but it was close all the way through. Monday was a good night, and I was feeling good about myself, but the problem I faced was getting the wins in good time. I ended Monday with only ten wins under my belt, nowhere near where I wanted and needed to be, so when Tuesday evening came, I dug deep and dived in.
This unfortunately was the end of my success story, because from Tuesday I dived into a well of failure, feeling the bitter sting of defeat after defeat. Even after dropping COGs, I was still getting pummeled in every match. You see, I came in to finish the game at the same time as many veteran Gears POP! players, and coming up against them was just disheartening, so by Thursday it became too much of a chore for me to continue. I’m not very good at Gears POP!, that’s the long and short of it. I could tell you that it’s the game’s fault, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I loved every moment I had with the game, as frustrating as it was at times. I will be sad to see it go. If you plan on attempting to finish the game over the weekend, I wish you the best of luck, and ask that you remember Denzel’s words as you go about your business.
The last week of playing Gears POP! has been an enjoyable yet humbling experience, showing me that even when the odds have been stacked in your favour, there are no shortcuts to success. That, I guess, is something we can all benefit from learning.