Over the years only a select few mobile games have caught my attention. Even fewer have held it.

Sure, I was quite hooked on The Simpsons: Tapped Out for a year or so, it was my first mobile title and it gave me something to do when I was otherwise staring at a wall.

Then Pokemon GO released and that’s been a roller coaster with several ups and downs.

But while it’s still too early in the games life to tell, I’m fairly confident in saying that Gears POP! will be a regular daily run on my phone for quite some time.

The main menu of Gears POP!

In Gears POP!, players obtain characters, projectiles and fortifications (known as ‘Pins’) through in-game crates either by purchasing them directly with the premium currency known as Crystals or by winning matches online.

If a player wins a match, they are awarded a crate that has a cooldown timer before it can be opened. This ranges from as little as two hours to upwards of ten based on the rarity of the chest, but players can bypass the waiting period by spending a small amount of Crystals.

I feel it’s important to note that at the time of this writing I haven’t spent a dime on Gears POP!. That’s not because I’m opposed to their method of monetization but because I haven’t felt like I needed too.

In fact, the in-game store seems relatively laid back compared to some other mobile titles. Players can buy Crystals with real money, or use their existing Crystals and coins to snag some bulk counts of pins to help level up their game.

Since it’s release last Thursday, I’ve killed my phone around five or six times just from playing Gears POP! and I never once felt like I needed to throw some change in the machine to get a better experience.

A look at one of my pin decks.

To anyone who has played Halo Wars 2’s Blitz mode the gameplay basics of Gears POP! will feel familiar. I’ve also been told it’s similar to another mobile game, Clash Royale, though I’ve never played it and cannot verify that statement.

You hold a hand of four pins from your deck, each with it’s own power rating and you play pins that march down the lane to try and attack your enemies outposts (a set of turrets) and the main enemy who hides behind cover at the back of the lane.

Every so often, you have an ultimate ability that can be cast to try and help turn the tide of battle.

An example of the playing field in Gears POP!

Each game has a timer of three minutes, with a potential forty-five seconds of overtime if the timer reaches zero while the scores are tied. In the last minute of the match the rate of which power regenerates is doubled allowing players to throw out more units to try and spam their way to victory.

The player who successfully destroys the most of an enemies base, or eliminates the enemy leader all together earns a shiny new lootbox (if you have space, you can hold up to 4 at a time) and ‘cogs’ that serve as a matchmaking rank.

As you amass more cogs you’ll be promoted to the next tier of matchmaking through various arenas and leagues. Each arena holds new pins that can be found like The Hammer of Dawn and Skorge in later levels.

If you lose a match, your cogs will decrease, but in my current playtime I’ve found that a victory often nets way more cogs than a loss subtracts so you don’t feel quite as frustrated when you hit an unfortunate losing streak. Though this likely changes the higher up the ladder you go.

But traditional versus matchmaking isn’t all that Gears POP! has to offer.

In-Game Crews allow players to chat and play CO-OP Horde.

The famous Gears of War CO-OP mode Horde is also available.

To play Horde a player needs to join an in-game crew and then host or join a match by using a ‘Thumper’ which is an item awarded from crates that provides Horde levels of various difficulty with rewards ranging from coins to ‘Epic’ level Pins.

Unlike traditional Horde in the mainline games which takes two to three hours to complete a full run of fifty waves, Gears POP!’s Horde mode often takes between two to five minutes to fully complete. These matches are quite fun with a friend and provide a respectable level of challenge on some of the harder Thumpers. Though I’m unsure if it’s intentional or not, at the time of this writing players are able to earn most ‘Versus’ achievements in the CO-OP Horde mode as well.

Xbox Live Achievements are supported in Gears POP!

That’s right. Gears POP! has actual Xbox Live Achievements built in to the game.

An example of the Horde mode working for Versus achievements is the “For Sera” achievement that is awarded for eliminating an enemy leader with the Hammer of Dawn – which I earned by burning up General RAAM with a friend during a traditional three wave Horde mode!

To earn Xbox Live Achievements, players need to link their existing Xbox Live account. Gold isn’t required to play online or earn achievements so it’s recommended that anyone wanting to snag some sweet gamerscore link their account.

You also get the added benefit of cloud saves and being able to utilize cross-progression between devices which is great for anyone like me who plays the game on mobile and Windows 10!

Daily bounties reward players in-game currency.

Daily bounties also refresh every twenty-four hours giving players the opportunity to net some extra in-game currency each day just for playing. This includes the premium Crystal currency, though admittedly, the amount is rather low so most players would simply use them to open crates early.

In conclusion, Gears POP! is a fun way to get a short burst of Gears fun regardless of where you are. The game is simple enough that anyone can pick it up, while also providing a certain level of strategy that allows players to outmatch their opponents.

Seriously, drop those Shepards behind Cole Train and watch the magic happen.

While I’m sure the game won’t be for everyone, I must implore that anyone who is a Gears fan or happens to be looking for a solid time killer, give the game a shot. Maybe you’ll be draining your phone battery several times a day too!

Lastly, if you need some friends to play Horde with feel free to grab a space in the ‘Panic Nation’ or ‘Spawn Point’ crews while slots are still open!

You can download Gears POP! at the following links: