What's Up – January 13th 2020
Welcome to What’s Up, your weekly update on all the latest news, game updates and more in Gears 5 and beyond.
Here’s What’s Up in Gears this week:
- New Character Kantus challenges
- Operation 2 bundle owners receive Kantus FREE
- Estimated Time to Match Matchmaking Update
- New Simple Omen option and Omen improvements
- Weekly Store Update
Last Week’s What’s Up
We wanted to start this week’s What’s Up with an apology.
Last Monday, we had to cancel a planned What’s Up due to critical changes to our Title Update release schedule. We hadn’t announced any dates of our Title Update publicly at that point, but the internal intention was for a release in the first two weeks of January.
The team discussed the Title Update at length on Monday and ultimately made the call to re-schedule the release to allow us to include some fixes that we felt were too important to delay until the next TU. Given the entire What’s Up was focused on Title Update 4, we made the call to cancel the post entirely.
We know you expect a What’s Up every Monday between 11am PT – 3pm PT and we’re sorry about the last minute cancellation.. The TU has been submitted for certification and will be coming out next week. Stay tune for a complete list of patch notes on next Monday.
Now, with that past us, let’s roll on to What’s Up this week in Gears.
New Villain: Kantus
Our fifth and final character of Operation 2 – the Kantus – is set for release this month as part of Title Update 4!
The Kantus model, like the Locust Drone released in December, has been rebuilt from the ground up to look the best he ever has, ready for you to take him onto the battlefield in Core or into the action of Arcade.
In Arcade, the Kantus is a mirror of Lizzie Carmine bringing the following abilities and loadouts into the fight:
- Passive: Hot Footed – Taking damage makes you move faster for a brief time
- Loadout: Lancer, Talon, Smoke
- Weapon Tree: Shock Grenade (2), Gnasher (4), Dropshot (6)
- Skull Bounty: Multi-kill Eliminations
As with all Characters, the Kantus will be earnable through his craftable Totem and unique associated challenges.
Kantus Totem Challenges
- Earn 60,000 XP playing Versus, Horde or Escape with the Kantus Totem equipped
- Get 300 Eliminations with Locust Weapons with the Kantus Totem equipped
- Revive 75 Teammates with the Kantus Totem equipped
- Get 100 Assists in Versus with the Kantus Totem equipped
- Complete 6 Acts of Escape on Advanced difficulty or above with the Kantus Totem equipped
The Kantus Character can also be purchased separately for 500 Iron or as part of the Operation 2: Free For All bundle ($19.99 USD) in the Store beginning with the release of Title Update 4.
Operation 2: Free For All Bundle Update
Anyone that purchased the Operation 2: Free For All bundle will also have the Kantus automatically added to your inventory for FREE once the Kantus has been released with TU4!
And if you haven’t purchased the Operation 2 bundle yet, the Kantus will be added to the bundle with no increase to the price.
On top of the backend work still underway to continually improve our matchmaking experience, Title Update 4 will introduce a new front-end Estimated Wait Time feature to Gears 5!
By introducing this new feature, which will provide a rough estimate of the search time before finding a match per playlist, we hope to help our players make informed decisions about what they want to play and when based on wait times.
“Yeah right” we hear you cry, remembering the Estimated Wait Times on Gears 4 which – fundamentally – were flawed calculations for anyone outside of a higher population region. We know.
Well, we’ve got some good news. Our Estimated Wait Time in Gears 5 is based on a new set of calculations (mostly).
In Ranked, each playlist should show an accurate picture of how long it will take to find a match per playlist based on the results of your closest data center (ie. the estimate will be accurate to your region unlike in Gears 4).
However, this is a feature in development which we’re going to roll out over time. Calculating Ranked is much different to both Social and PVE, which at the launch of this feature, will differ in the quality of prediction comparative to Ranked.
In PVE, wait time accuracy should be slightly better, but lower population areas may see a lower than accurate estimate.
Social is much more complex which means it’s currently using the same calculation process as Gears 4, due to the way the playlists are aggregated together. This means users in lower population areas will likely see a broader-time estimate.
The good news is this is only a temporary side effect of getting the feature launched and further improvements are in the works to deliver accurate search time predictions for Social and PVE via future server-side updates.
For those of you eagerly waiting for Phase 3 of the Matchmaking Updates, our team is heads down on this next phase of improvements. We know this is important to you, but it’s also important we get these right – thank you for your patience as we complete the work. We’ll hopefully have updates on this sooner rather than later.
Free For All
We’ve been looking into your reports of Free For All increasing in wait time since its removal from the Featured Playlist slot, and we have noticed a slight player count impact / wait time increase since its removal (in case you didn’t know, FFA is permanently available under Quickplay).
This week, we’ll be returning FFA to the Featured Playlist tab for the next week in order to give FFA the spotlight until our next event coming with TU4.
In the short to medium term, we have plans in motion to better feature Quickplay FFA in the Multiplayer menus. We’re still assessing what impactful changes we can make server-side vs a title update, so we’ll keep you apprised of any changes once we’ve locked some decisions.
On top of Quickplay, as you know, we also have plans to bring Free For All to Ranked Play.
We’ve been testing the Ranking System in Free For All and discovered some issues in the way the Ranking System operates in a 1 person team Ranked environment. Resolving these issues is going to take some time, so to make sure we get this right, we’re shifting Ranked FFA to the launch of Operation 3 to make sure we do this right.
On the topic of Ranked, the Ranking System all-up is a huge priority for the studio right now. We’ve heard your feedback and our initial improvements late last year were the beginning of that process.
The good news is the team is putting in significant work to deliver a meaningful and impactful overhaul. However, this is taking some serious development time due to the scope of the changes. . This is something we’ll be talking about as development unfolds to give you a clearer picture on what we’re working towards.
New Omen Updates
In case you missed the news, Title Update 4 will include new updates to the Omen including an additional option for players – the Simple Omen.
Learn more about the improvements to the existing Omen (Immersive) and the new Simple Omen in our in-depth blog.
Let’s talk about last week’s Weekly Store.
Firstly, we want to apologize for the very last-minute notice regarding the Store remaining the same last week. As mentioned in our introduction, the Monday change in our TU deployment plans had some knock on effects – one of which being that the TU contained content for last week’s Store.
The team re-assessed potential Store updates for the Tuesday, but in the end, a call was made on Tuesday to leave the store as is. This resulted in the last-minute notice that we know was frustrating, and something we try to avoid at all costs.
One of the things we heard loud and clear last week was a desire for something different in the Store rather than nothing. With our TU due next week, we’re using this as an opportunity to bring back some past Character Skins for one week only!
All this week’s returning Character Skins (except for Lt. Fahz) were previously released at higher Iron prices before our latest round of reductions. For this week’s Store, we’ll be running a sale on these Character skins to make them available at our current prices for Character Skins based on their rarity since release (750 for Epic, 500 for Rare).
With that said, here’s this week’s Store along with a few highlights on some of our favorite skins this week:
- Islander Lahni Character Skin – 750 Iron (Sale: Was 1000 Iron)
- Quartermaster Keegan Character Skin – 750 Iron (Sale: Was 1000 Iron)
- Delivery Driver Mac Character Skin – 750 Iron (Sale: Was 1000 Iron)
- Winter Armor Marcus Character Skin – 750 Iron (Sale: Was 1000 Iron)
- Cardboard Shepherd Character Skin* – 500 Iron (Sale: Was 800 Iron)
- Skeleton Suit Kait Character Skin – 500 Iron (Sale: Was 800 Iron)
- Inside Out COG Gear Character Skin* – 500 Iron (Sale: Was 800 Iron)
- Lieutenant Chutani – 500 Iron
*Reminder: Purchasing a Character Skin does not include access to the Character. Use of Character Skins requires the base Character to be unlocked before associated skins can be used.
Our team have been hard at work on improvements we know you care about, and we still have plenty more to come next week with our full TU4 update notes and some changes to Icebound (oooh).
Over the coming weeks, we’ll have more news to share on what to expect over the coming months as we work towards Operation 3 this Spring. We know you’d like to see a Roadmap and we’re working on it.
See you online and Happy New Year!