Gears 5 exclusive skins will give completionists a headache

Microsoft has dropped Gears 5 for Xbox One and PC, the latest and greatest of its gritty in-house shooter. Delivering a gripping single-player campaign and wealth of multiplayer experiences, it's a high-value package brimming with content. And with regular updates expected for the months ahead, Gears 5 puts cosmetics central to player progress and expression.

With an elevated role for vanity items in Gears 5, it's hard to miss the high volume of cosmetic content locked to external purchases and promotions. Microsoft has cooked up an overwhelming lineup of deals around the game's launch, making the full collection near impossible to obtain — unless you're a U.S. citizen with a ton of time and money to spare.

Every facet of Gears 5 promotions features unique cosmetics and tracking them proves challenging. We've been rounding up all skins available under the latest installment for guides, and even with hours of research, assembling a cohesive roundup is a headache.

Start with the Gears 5 Collector's Edition exclusive to GameStop, compiling Ultimate Edition Halo: Reach and Terminator Dark Fate packs, alongside a unique Jack paint job. You'll need to have preordered the game from Microsoft, Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart to cover those exclusive Lancer designs too. Microsoft's icy Gears 5-themed Xbox One X packs a Kait variant also available with the Gears 5 Xbox One controller and an additional console-only Jack skin. Don't forget exclusive two cosmetics spanning the Gears 5 Razer peripherals and three with the Seagate Xbox Game Drive — but 2TB won't cut it with just one, you need the 5TB drive for the three-piece set.

Pick up some treats with four packs of Gears 5-marked Chips Ahoy cookies and five Rockstar Energy drink cans, but visit Circle K and Walmart for two exclusive drops. Avoid that $210 AAPE by *A Bathing Ape collaboration hoodie via $20 AAPE Pack in-game. But you don't get an AAPE red banner, so pick the collection's cheapest $55 hat instead. Oh, and throw in two action figures and a life-size Gears 5 Lancer replica too. Hanging in there?

The result is a total of $1,775 when purchasing the cheapest items to complete the set. That's a hefty investment for any digital product, let alone cosmetics with no gameplay consequences. We're not even touching on microtransactions, where most games catch flak for controversial business practices.

In reality, high-priced skins have little harm on the Gears 5 community, and there's no obligation to collect them all. But looking at the broader landscape, Microsoft has cooked up deals to the point of confusion, with overlapping bonuses and overwhelming retailer exclusivity. Even with substantial research, I'm still not 100 percent confident I've caught every skin among the noise. Just don't set out to collect the full Gears 5 skin set – even with the cheapest routes, you're in for a serious shopping spree.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.