I like Gear of War, I like Gears of War 4. It’s been long enough since the last one that I was happy to go back to the series and see how they justified unending the series. Gears 4’s campaign was fun, mixing some cool new elements with the familiar, then it ended with a sequel baiting fizzle. I still liked it though. It was after finishing that I moved onto the only other mode of the game I enjoy: Horde. Because Gear of War competitive multiplayer can go straight to hell.
Dubbed Horde 3.0 by Microsoft, this new iteration of the game mode built on Gear 3’s improved Horde and introduced classes and more customisable defences. It made it so players could build on their classes and gave Horde a progression it never had before. It was great in theory, in practice though Gears fell into a familiar micro transaction hell.
In recent times there are so many offenders of this, games charging their players after already having them pay a full £50 or more to play the game in the first place. It happened last year with Halo 5; a game that, by all rights, shouldn’t need to be squeezing pennies out of their player base, but all the same charged players for not just cosmetic items, but for basic functions of the game.
The biggest pull of Halo 5 was its new Warzone mode; taking a lot of inspiration from MOBAs. The mode was fun but hampered by one big flaw, all the the weapons and vehicles came in the form of consumable cards that had to be bought in blind packs if you wanted to compete at all. It made players like me feel like I didn’t want to waste cards if the game was already on its way into a losing cause. So what’s the point in playing if I’m constantly holding myself back from actually playing how I want to. To top it all off, the boxes were pretty ridiculously priced, far too expensive with both in-game currency and with real money.
Back to the point at hand though; Gears has a similar problem. Like Halo, it sells all of its cosmetics, as Gears 3 did before it. But Gears is also keeping its progression behind a pay wall as well, which has turned me away. Not enough to put overprices character and weapon skins behind these blind boxes, also giving them a false sense of scarcity, now basic character upgrades have to be unlocked in the fashion too. Characters have a level, but that is just an indicator of how many abilities you can equip at one time, to actually get these abilities you need to cross your fingers and open your wallet.
Sure, you could just keep playing games and earn enough of the in-game currency to buy boxes, but that’s just part of the problem. My big issue is that you have no control over what items you get out of them. For example; no matter how much you want to play and build up your Engineer class, if all the skills you’re getting is for the sniper, you quickly find yourself being railroaded into playing a certain way because your powerful abilities have been randomly award to a class you don’t really want to play. While you might never get the abilities you actually do want.
This bothers me and it bothers Gear’s famously unsavoury and vocal player base. I’ve had experiences with people sending me voice messages, ordering me to not play a Sniper, because they’re playing one. I tried to explain that, in normal difficulty, it hardly matters as long as we had a scout and an engineer, which we did. That didn’t do it for him and he, and his two friends, abandoned the game after 3 waves. Thing is, thanks to random chance, I have a very powerful sniper class, and basically nothing for any of the other classes. I don’t especially want to play a sniper, but I’ve been pushed in that direction, and I get shit for it.
It’s a very odd decision to me, and while it might not matter to most, the only mode I want to play now is Horde and thanks to these changes they’ve made to inconvenience their own game, I find myself not wanting to play it anymore. In the end though, Microsoft already got their money from me, and even if I don’t buy their boxes/ packs/crates, a lot of people will. So Microsoft don’t care that I might put down their game and never play it again. They got what they wanted.