Gears 5 won itself piles of praise from critics and fans alike for its evolving campaign formula, which added wide-linearity to break up the corridor shooter gameplay. As solid as the multiplayer seemed on the surface, at events, and during the game's limited access periods, the live service has proven to be anything but solid.
Many of Gears 5's casual fans might have moved on from the game already to single-player games like The Outer Worlds or bigger multiplayer titles like the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Gears of War's most dedicated fans, however, are getting the short end of the stick right now.
Gears 5 like many of Microsoft's multiplayer offerings (and multiplayer games in general in 2019) is a live service game, complete with incentives to continue playing, atop a promise of free content drops on a regular cadence. The post-launch plan for Gears 5 includes free maps, new playable characters, and skins to earn, among other things. But since the game's launch almost two months ago, the service has been marred with poor stability, which has led to a wave of alleged unfair bannings, and general user discontent.
After weeks of silence, Gears 5 community manager known as Octus provided an update on the game's subreddit, which has been charged with negative feedback since a few days post-launch.
As part of our continued post-launch support, we are committed to continually improving Gears 5's online experience. We know you have concerns, and we want to improve our transparency around our ongoing development work to address your biggest topics of feedback.
Our Development Team is already hard at work on resolving several priority issues, which we've listed below. We recognize that these issues have significant impact on your Gears 5 experience, and we're prioritizing them by the degree of negative impact they have.
Dealing with the issues below are our top priority – but this list does not include any new features or smaller fixes also in development. As these issues progress, will provide more details – including timing – to keep you informed. Thank you for all of your support and feedback since release. Our team care deeply about tackling these issues as soon as possible. We'll be keeping you updating you regularly moving forward with any detail we can provide.
To start with, The Coalition is prioritizing server stability above all else, removing the temporary bans for "quitting" in standard playlists since it was unfairly banning users who had been disconnected as well. The Coalition is also working to implement fixes to the ranking system, which have been providing inaccurate rewards that don't reflect a player's performance. Matchmaking quality to improve ping times and also general balance tuning is also on-going.
You have to wonder why it took The Coalition so long to begin addressing the community's concerns here, which have doubtless compounded some other aspects of negative feedback surrounding the game.
Paid DLC as progression
In a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, general progression comes from earning weapon attachments and other similar bits of gear that helps you tailor your playstyle. Gears of War is a different beast, where weapons are fixed quantities. To keep people feeling rewarded for play, Gears 5 is crammed with cosmetic skins and character models that can be earned through gameplay over time. Problematically, though, The Coalition incentivizes people to cheat the progression mechanics using real money, which can allow you to bypass the grind, undermining the value of the system at large.
The Coalition knowingly creates this contention, forcing players to opt-in to grinding modes they may not enjoy in order to unlock specific characters or, alternatively, spend some money. It's not difficult to unlock the characters, but being forced to choose between spending time or spending money on top of a $60 premium title feels egregious, especially considering the challenges don't stack per character unlock.
On top of that, some of the biggest "additions" as part of Gears 5's live service has been insanely overpriced marketing tie-ins with the Terminator franchise. Twenty dollars will net you access to a couple of characters from the upcoming Terminator Dark Fate, one skin of which has been accused by the community as offering a gameplay advantage, due to the small size and dark tone of its model.
The Coalition has yet to address the community's negative reaction to these monetization schemes, but I hardly feel like they've earned the right to begin price gouging given the quality and content spread of the service thus far.
Pro League who?
Finally, did you know the Gears 5 esports league has started? You'd be forgiven for not knowing, given that Microsoft and The Coalition have done approximately zero marketing for it. Indeed, the last press release I received for anything Gears and esports related was back in July 2019, which begs the question: how serious is Microsoft about this, really?
It's utterly unfair to expect esports pros, from players to casters and other staff to invest their time and effort in Gears esports, while The Coalition and Microsoft does zilch to support it.
What's going on here?
Gears of War is a pillar franchise for Xbox Game Studios, sitting alongside the likes of Halo and Forza, and to see it operated in such a haphazard way is frustrating even as a casual fan of the franchise. Is The Coalition stretching itself too thin by committing to these lofty goals? Are they distracted by other projects? Either way, it's unfair to everyone who remains invested in the game and franchise at large to be treated so casually.
What do you think? Are the complaints justified? Hit us with your Gears 5 experiences in the comments.