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Gameplay – Movement and Combat Roadmap

Kait executes a Swarm Drone

As we mentioned in this week’s What’s Up, we’re committed to hot-fixing and improving the game wherever possible.

With the Gnasher being a major part of our core combat roadmap, we’re taking the opportunity to address some immediate feedback in response to yesterday’s change that we feel will bring further refinement to the new direction for the Gnasher.

With the tuning released yesterday, the range in which the Gnasher was outputting notable amounts of damage was having a couple of gameplay impacts:

  • The value of using the Lancer / Snub at mid-range was reduced compared to keeping a Gnasher out and continuing to engage
  • The ability to use movement skillfully at mid-range was slightly hampered, which slightly over indexed the balance of defensive play vs offensive play

In order to address these two key points, we have made a couple of small changes to the Gnasher tuning from yesterday that we think is the best balance of the last two tuning sets:

  • Adjustment to the damage falloff to addresses a small, but sensitive area that extended the 2-shot range by about 60 units.
  • A slight reduction in pointblank damage (525 from 550)

Latest tuning is in green.

These changes will maintain the viability of two shot Gnasher play, including defensively on players pushing for the one shot, but allow for the mid-range to breathe a little more – both in using movement to close the gap and in optimizing your choice of weaponry for the situation.

The slight reduction in point blank damage – the area just outside the damage multiplier gib range – maintains the impact of landing hits just outside Gnasher range, while allowing for a little more survivability in team-fire situations.

We believe this should be the final refinement needed to bring the Gnasher into just the right place, but we’ll continue to listen to your feedback and assess the gameplay impact to determine any other tweaks that may be needed.

Thanks for all your feedback yesterday. Let us know what you think!

Starting with TU3, we adopted a new philosophy for movement in Gears 5. We believe Gears is at its best when it feels responsive, supports a variety of playstyles and allows for a greater demonstration of skill.

In Gears of War 4, we believed that a fair and balanced game meant making movement that punished people for errors. This hampered our ability to improve the game as our focus was on making sure that every move had heavy consequence rather than its combat potential. This philosophy was adopted in the early development of Gears 5. At launch, it was a very slow, deliberate game that heavily punished you for any mistake. The impact of this slower meta was a game that was less fun to play, while preventing a diversity of playstyle to emerge.

Our goal, with the new movement designs and weapon tuning, is to support more options for both close and mid-range play. We have already rolled out some changes using tuning while other that require time to develop the code changes.

We wish that we had gone this way for launch, we didn’t. We feel that changing direction now will ultimately be the best thing for the long term health of the game, with funner minute-to-minute gameplay and added depth to master.

The first phase is to raise the viability of strafing play for both short range combat and mid-range dodging to give more defensive options when someone is pushing you.

Instead of raising the overall speed, we increased the movement acceleration to get to the top speed faster. This means that moving left and right will change directions faster to improve the meaningfulness of strafing.

The second change was to increase the backwards movements speed. While not completely the same as forward movement, it is now a little faster to allow for players to navigate the close-range combat more deliberately.

Summary of Numerical Changes

  • Base walk acceleration increased by 50% (2000 -> 3000)
  • Backward movement speed increased 15% (changed from 75% to 85% of forward / lateral speed)
  • Roadie run speed increased 5% (1.6 – 1.666)
  • Slide to cover speed increased 3.5% (2.1 -> 2.1667)
  • Cover slip speed boost increased 3.5% (.5 -> .52) to match outgoing roadie run speed
  • Roadie run to shoot delay decreased by 25% (.22 -> .2 seconds)

With the increase in strafing responsiveness, we needed to balance bouncing and running to ensure the felt smoother and more consistent by adding a small speed increase for slides (3.5%) and roadie running (5%). We reduced the relative impact of the speed boost so the initial speed coming out of a cover slip matches the slide speed and then slowly blends to the roadie running speed. This mechanic has been in previous games – where it was much faster. To give you some comparison, the Gears 4 slide speed was 690 units per second and the current Gears 5 one is 650 units per second.

We know there are two main areas that still need addressing:

  • The legacy melee-speed boost exploit which will be fixed in TU 4.1 coming next week.
  • People can currently accelerate from cover too quickly when standing still. We are deploying a client change in Operation 3 that will only allow the speed boost when you are sliding into cover from a roadie run. If you are stationary in cover, and ambush someone using a slip, you will only move at regular movement speeds.

We have already updated the Gnasher to bring the gib range in and reduce the close-range damage. We have also increased longer range ‘poke’ damage so that you can chip away at a target as they are charging, dodging or retreating. This makes the Gnasher more versatile and at the same time, requires more timing / aiming close range to get a kill.

Given the slightly faster movement speed, this will mean that charging players will need to close more distance to get the gib and give defending players more time to chip away before they get close.

As of Thursday February 20th, we have deployed further revisions to this tuning based on early feedback. We think that the philosophy has landed well, but the specific values need a few tweaks.

  • Pointblank Damage: 550 (was 500)
  • Poke damage: 200 damage with full spread when @ 1000 uus (was 100 damage). This makes 9-10 shot kills closer to 4-5 shot kills when @ 1000uu (10m).
  • Increased Gnasher ammo capacity on spawn to 30 rounds from 18

*For reference, a player has 600 health in Gears of War.

The intention of these changes is to increase the viability of multi-shot Gnasher play. Point blank damage – the amount you hit an opponent for just outside of gib range – is now raised to make two shotting more consistent.

This is complimented by an increase to the viability of using the Gnasher to poke damage with a double increase in damage per pellet at longer ranges.

Finally, the Gnasher bullet reserves (the amount of ammo you start from spawn with) has dramatically increased to allow players to focus on using their shots and clip management for reloads rather than overall ammo management.

For details on the first changes made last week to the Gnasher, head here.

Rather than making each action punished with a delay, we want to move towards a system that provides trade-offs. Instead of having a wall-cancel cooldown as we’ve had since Gears of War 4, we will introduce a short slow down on slides following a cancel. The more you cancel, the more you will reset the slowdown. The slow down will fade off quickly. This means that if you use longer slides, i.e. more efficient with your cancels, you will be able to move faster and evade better. If you cancel too much, you will make yourself more of a target. We will take time to tune this value to feel natural and intuitive. The point isn’t to remove hyper-bouncing anymore, just make it a trade-off. If you can find the best rhythm of sliding, you will have the most combat potential.

As part of our making it feel more responsive process, we are re-evaluating all the shooting delays in the game. These are primarily in place to make network play fair; however, we may have errored too much on the side of fairness and taken out some of the ways to play. We will be revaluating to see if we can balance the fairness. Until we go through this, we can’t say exactly which ones we will change and exact timing.

We will also be looking at making the delays anisotropic, e.g. different in different directions. Rolling forward will have a greater shooting delay. Rolling sideways and backwards may have different delays as well. The back-a is defensive move. Rolling forward we don’t think should be as powerful. Right now, there is only a single number to tune.

Once we feel the movement and Gnasher tuning are in a good place, we will do another pass on most of the secondary weapons as we evaluate their effectiveness against the new movement and Gnasher. We currently are looking at the Snub, the Markza and the Flashbang, but may look at others over time. We won’t commit to final changes until after the rest settles.

We see Gears 5 as a living game. We want to keep changing it until we find the best overall game. This will mean some rough spots, but in the end, we think that the game and the players deserve it.

As always, we appreciate the feedback and look forward to seeing you online.

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