Gems of War celebrates the holidays with a major update on Xbox One

Christmas has come and passed, bringing a fair number of new Xbox One owners along with it. Many of those owners will be looking for new games to play, including those of the free to play variety. And one of the very best free games for Xbox One is Gems of War from 505 Games.

Gems of War is a puzzle-RPG in which players collect cards, form a team with those cards, and head to battle against other players. This week, Gems of War for Xbox One received a major patch that significantly improves card sorting, inventory management, and much more. Read on for our detailed impressions and screenshots of the new changes!

Gems of War Xbox One update

Gems of War Christmas week update at a glance

The latest Gems of War update clocks in at a download of nearly two gigabytes. It hasn't received official patch notes just yet, so we've compiled all known changes in this handy list. Be sure to leave a comment if you find anything I missed!

  • Main menu: News icon added, Defend and Invade consolidated into new PvP icon, armor bonuses now displayed beneath hero level
  • Cards: Troop rarity represented by stars and card color, creature type and Kingdom symbol displayed on card. These changes apply to battles as well.
  • News: Message of the Day (generally related to current timed event) is displayed. Patch notes are not displayed, unfortunately.

Gems of War Xbox One update

  • Hero: Mana masteries displayed on main Hero screen. Masteries alternate between Hero's innate stats and Guild bonuses. All Hero submenus have been given new looks. New Difficulty and Collection options added to the Hero menu, but can't be selected yet.

Gems of War Xbox One update

  • Troops menu: Players can now properly assign a team for every Kingdom. Number of troops displayed on-screen boosted from four to ten, although some text on cards is nearly unreadable. New tabs at top: Hero displays hero weapons; Bonuses does nothing yet. Filters option allow greatly expanded card sorting and filtering.
  • PvP: The new PvP screen displays the player's Invasion and Revenge stats. Invade, Revenge (formerly Defend), and Defenders options relocated to PvP screen. Players can now select teams and pay 50 gold to Scout enemy teams before battle.

Gems of War Xbox One update

  • Arena: Players can now purchase Arena troops with gems.
  • Bug fixes: At least one bugged Task has been fixed ('Have mastery level 10 in three mana types'). We'll have to wait for an official list to learn the rest of them.

Gems of War Xbox One update

Update highs and lows

Out of all the changes in this update, the new Troops menu is by far the most welcome. Before, troop/card management was a total chore because we had so few sorting options. Now you can alphabetize cards or sort them by rarity or level, all of which provide incredibly useful when building teams.

Gems of War Xbox One update

Console Gems of War players who were hoping for new Kingdoms to conquer will be disappointed that no new Kingdoms were added in this patch. I believe the Steam version has two more Kingdoms than Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Hopefully those Kingdoms will come sooner rather than later.

Also, the changes I'd most like to see – PvP opponents' levels being more clearly displayed, and Guild members' Gamertags being displayed – are nowhere to be found. We'll keep pestering the developers on those points.

Gems of War Xbox One update

Plays Gems of War and join the Windows Central Guild!

Gems of War is a deep and addictive puzzle game featuring endless hours of single-player content as well as online guilds and asynchronous player-versus-player battles. Along with Warframe, it's one of the very best free to play games on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Fans of puzzle games definitely won't want to miss it.

Joining a guild filled with active members and then actively donating Gold yourself is a huge part of long-term success in Gems. If you'd like to join the Windows Central Guild (Xbox One only) and you're willing to donate daily , send a message with your character name and level to EastX on Xbox Live. We'll get you in!

To find out more about Gems of War, read our full review and Achievement Guide. We'll see you on the battlefield!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!