What’s Up – September 12th 2019

What's Up Gears of War September 12th title image, with stat cards shown in the background

Welcome back to What’s Up, your weekly drop of Gears news, updates and developer insights. Here’s What’s Up this week in Gears:

  • The Next 6 Months of Gears 5
  • Characters in Gears 5
  • Addressing your biggest Week 1 Feedback topics
  • Gears 5 Stats on the Web
  • Gears 5 Help Desk Launched

But First…

We wanted to start this What’s Up with a thank you to those of you who played last weekend.

The launch of Gears 5 has been overwhelmingly successful, with huge volumes of players jumping into the game in a short space of time. 

The flipside to that success is that our launch far exceeded even our Tech Test numbers, and exposed some service issues that only emerge at the massive scale of players we had in our game encountered.

Our team worked incredibly hard to resolve said issues as quickly as possible, and as of Sunday, our services are in a great place. So from everyone at The Coalition, thank you for your patience and support during our launch.

If you didn’t catch it, we sent all Early Access players 5 days of Boost and 600 Scrap as a token of our appreciation for bearing with us. We still have some issues we’re working on, including the following:

Campaign Progression / Collectibles / Achievements

Some users who played during the service disruptions have been hit by an issue that can impact Campaign progression, collectibles not registering and achievements not unlocking due to progression not being tracked.

We began a rollout for this issue yesterday evening (September 11th) and it may take up to 24 hours to fully complete. Thanks for your patience while we got this resolved.

Horde Progression Catch-Up

So far we have resolved all Versus and Escape progression issues (Tour progress, XP, Character XP, Skill Cards) but Horde progression turned out to be a bit more complicated

In the near future, we’ll be rolling out a catch-up for missing Horde progression from during the downtime. Stay tuned for updates on @CoalitionGears.

What’s Next for Gears 5

A roadmap showing the plans for the first 6 months of Gears 5, detailed in text below

Earlier this week, we released a first look at the next six months of Gears 5 (shown above). Gears 5 post launch will have far more content than we’ve ever had.

What is an Operation?

Our post-launch support is defined by Operations – each lasting 3 months. We are currently in Operation 1, and Operation 2 will begin in December.

Every Operation kicks off with a major content update that can include new Versus modes, new maps, new Escape Hives, new Map Builder Tiles, major features, new Characters to earn and more.

Inside each Operation is Tour of Duty in which  you can earn cosmetic content via Seasonal Medals and Active Tour Challenges. If you want content from a Tour, you’ll need to earn it before the next Operation because – once that Tour is done – then so is the content inside of it.

Operation 1: Launch

Our Launch Operation is live now, running until Operation 2 launches in December.

Every Tuesday, we’ll drop new cards into the Supply pool and add a featured Escape Hive to master with your Hivebusting squad. Work for those leaderboard placements, because rewards are up for grabs in both the Featured Escape Hive and Ranked Playlists (with weapon skins up for grabs during certain weeks).

Every Tuesday also marks the refresh day for the Weekly section of the Gears 5 Store. Previous items will be vaulted and a new limited-time suite of content will be introduced for the week.

Beginning in early October, weekly Special Events will arrive in Gears 5 for both Versus and Horde to provide fresh ways to experience Gears MP – look out for old favorites like OSOK and some new surprise playlists too.

Later in October, we’ll be releasing new Characters to earn including a new COG Hero with Ultimate abilities and Skills for Escape and Horde!

Operation 2: December

Our second Operation kicks off this December with a huge drop of free content including:

  • Versus Modes
  • Multiplayer Maps
  • Characters including COG Heroes
  • Tiles for Map Builder
  • New featured events
  • New weekly Escape Hives
  • New weekly Supply Drop content

As with Operation 1, we’ll also continue providing new weekly content with Escape Hives, Leaderboard rewards to earn, supply content and special events. Stay tuned for more info on Operations 2 closer to its launch later this year.

While Operations are our major content drops, Title Updates will take place regularly between Operations as we continue to refine and improve the game based on your feedback.

Characters in Gears 5

Squads of Swarm and Cog stand off on either side facing each other.

One of the pieces of feedback we’ve seen most this week is around playable Characters in Gears 5 Multiplayer. What a Character represents is drastically different in Gears 5, and we wanted to re-clarify what to expect from our post-launch plans for Characters.

Definitions

In Gears 5, a Character is their identity – for example, Fahz, RAAM or Swarm Sniper are all considered Characters.

A Character Skin is a version of that Character that looks different from their usual look – for example, Scarred JD is a Character Skin for JD.

COG Heroes

Almost any COG team Character released will be a COG Hero.

COG Heroes come with their own Ultimate and passive Abilities and Skills all of which give them a unique playstyle for both Horde and Escape. This creates continually new gameplay experiences for both modes through the eyes of your favorite characters, themed to their distinct personality within the Gearsiverse.

In Arcade, Heroes have their own loadout, passive abilities and weapon trees. You can also use them as a cosmetic only choice in all other Versus modes.

Swarm Team

While the Swarm team characters are not playable in Horde and Escape, they do get their own Arcade loadout, bringing passive abilities and weapon trees into battle.

As you would expect, you can also use your favorite Swarm characters to represent you in the rest of Versus.

Post-Launch Support

With the exclusion of Halo: Reach Ultimate Edition and Terminator: Dark Fate Characters, all future characters – both COG Heroes and Swarm characters – can either be earned through gameplay or  purchased directly – whatever you choose!

Characters will be also earnable forever once they are introduced, so even if you miss an Operation, you can always go back and earn the characters that matter most to you.

We know you’re itching to play some of the characters from Campaign and classics from previous Gears games. Just remember that with our focus on gameplay-based characters – each with their own unique playstyle, Ultimates and Skills – we need to develop those features and ensure they are well balanced before they are ready for release.

Look out for some of your favorite characters, and over time, they’ll be back and better than ever. If you want to know more about Characters, check out our Characters Explained blog.

Week One Feedback

Since Gears 5 launched, we’ve seen the feedback begin to flow from fans around the world. With our services now operating, our attention has firmly turned from stability to continuing to improve the player experience.

Here’s some of our top tracked feedback so far:

Ranked Execution

With Gears 5, our goal is for Ranked Playlists to offer a focused, quality lineup of Ranked Modes that can support fair skilled-matching, quick times to match and low as possible ping times between players.

At launch, we omitted Execution as a Ranked Playlist due to its popularity in Gears of War 4, where it was the least played playlist in the roster by a significant margin (other than Warzone, until it’s subsequent removal). We’ve since heard from passionate Execution fans that you want a dedicated Ranked playlist in Gears 5 for Execution.

We’ve heard your feedback and have decided to give our Execution fans the chance to prove it deserves to stay as a Ranked playlist – beginning later today!

Before you get TOO excited, we do have a couple of caveats. The main caveat for the playlist is we’re going to monitor its popularity – so, we are committed to keeping Ranked Execution around till at least the end of Operation 1 with us monitoring data and feedback to determine if it’s delivering on the experience we expect.

Secondly, since it was not planned as a Ranked Playlist, Execution will not contribute to certain Ranked medals – like Diversity – nor will it have Medals specific to the mode added to this Tour. Broader MP objectives and Medals will still count as expected in the mode.

Division Skill Points

Our Divisions Ranking System is a complex cloud-computed algorithm that defines your Skill based on the rest of the population, using a huge number of data points to accurately determine your Skill Level.

We’ve seen a few anomalies in reports from the post-match flow breakdown of your Skill Points changes – such as quitters on either the opposing team or your team having a major impact per round. Our team is looking at these reports and the system all up, and we’ll keep you apprised of any tuning changes we make to further improve the system.

We’re also working on putting together a detailed Divisions Explained post that will give a comprehensive overview of Divisions and answer a number of your burning questions – look for it in the coming weeks.

Re-Ups

The in-game player profile card is shown, with a metallic flair around the level number and roman numerals XVII
Image shown for example purposes only – not from actual gameplay build

We know that for many a Gears gamer, Re-Ups are an important part of showing your dedication to the game – but right now, they feel pretty opaque and rarely visible.

Our UI team have identified some issues causing Re-Ups flairs to not appear as intended (see the image above for how one at Re-Up 17 should look) and we’re working on getting it resolved. Re-Ups gain more ‘flair’ as you progress through the ranks, becoming increasingly elaborate and bodied every 5 Re-Ups.

In addition, with Tour being the main way to get earnable rewards in Gears 5, Re-Ups give one reward per Re-Up – a blood spray at Re-Up 1, and an individual weapon skin from the Desert Camo collection for every Re-Up after that.

We hear your feedback on what Re-Ups mean to you, and we’re discussing about potential ways to improve the Re-Up experience.

Tour of Duty Time

In the Tour of Duty Panel, we show the number of days remaining until the next Leaderboard Rewards day for Divisions and Escape.

It’s become very apparent it does not read this way, and instead makes it sound like Tour of Duty ends in X days which has caused a lot of confusion out there in the community. To be clear, Operation 1 (and the current Tour of Duty) ends in December.

We’ll be updating this in a future Update with much clearer messaging to give you a better picture of where you are in the Operation timeline.

Gameplay

We’ve seen many a passionate post on gameplay feedback on a variety of topics over the past week and we wanted to set some expectations.

With a game launch, it’s important to let the game settle in to its natural flow as mechanics and balance are put to the test. In addition, we need to allow time for us to gather enough data to provide a broader picture of gameplay, which when combined with feedback, provides us with true intel on how the game is playing.

We’re gathering your feedback to pass to the team to track during this time, so please do keep it coming – we just want to set expectations that any gameplay tuning is unlikely within the next few weeks.

Gears 5 Stats

A number of Stars Cards are shown, showing player progression on Versus, another on Horde and another on a Horde Map

We know you love to see your Gears 5 stats, which is why we’re excited to unveil our Gears 5 Stats feature on Gears5.com!

Gears5.com stats let you check out your key stats on the web and see how you match up against the world. Even cooler, each stat is represented with a customizable card that you can export and share at any time – showcase your Escape mastery with the world, or brag about your new Divisions placement in style!

Check it out now at Gears5.com/Stats

Gears 5 Support

Right before launch, we changed the way we offer support for Gears titles to our new Help Desk at Support.GearsofWar.com.

This Help Desk includes a constantly updated list of hot questions or issues to provide quick solutions to your problems. If any of the Help Desk articles don’t resolve your issue, you can submit a ticket at the bottom of the page. This is the ONLY way to get official Support for Gears 5, so please use our Help Desk.

Here’s our top articles for commonly asked questions this week:

Due to the huge volume of tickets around launch, response times may be lengthier as we get through all the tickets as quickly as possible. We will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Signing Off

For all of us on the team, it’s been truly special to see an incredible response to our game and we hope you love it as much as we do.

Launch really is the first step on the long journey ahead for Gears 5, and with the game out in the wild, we get the pleasure of walking that journey side by side with our amazing community.

We’ll be back with a new What’s Up every Thursday. Now if you’ll excuse us, we want to get back to playing Gears 5. Don’t judge.

See you online,

TC