April Update Weapon Tuning

Since the launch of Gears of War 4, we’ve watched Gears fans play tens of millions of Versus matches - and during this time, we've been gathering data, watching streams and listening to your feedback to determine our next steps for tuning the balance of Gears 4.

Today, we’re excited to announce major weapon tuning changes coming very soon in the April Update for both Core and Competitive! To give you a heads up on what to expect, we sat down with Ryan Cleven (Multiplayer Design Director) to explain and outline all the upcoming changes in this new tuning update. Read on for all the info.

Core

Ryan Cleven: Core tuning is all about giving the Gears player a choice in how they play, enabling a variety of different playstyles to compete in a less team-centric environment.

Our goal for the Core tuning in this update is to really balance the starting weapons and clarify their roles. This means we’re looking to make each weapon perfectly suited for its range – focusing the Gnasher at close range, the Lancer at mid-range, and the Hammerburst at long range. We’ve also made some additional changes to make sure that core Gears combat has space to breathe in every game.  

A quick note on some of the terms, the words ‘Short’, ‘Medium’, ‘Long’ ranges are rough descriptions of range. Every player will have their own way to describe range. We encourage everyone to try these changes in game to understand the feel of the weapons.

Reminder: Core Tuning also applies to Social.

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Gameplay Changes

  • Weapon respawn time increased to 60 seconds (was 30s)

  • Vault stun time increased by 15%

  • Yank stun time increased by 25%

Ryan Cleven: In Core, we found the current weapon respawn times of 30 seconds were influencing both the basic Gears battles and one-on-one duels a little too often – especially when it came to the use of explosive power weapons. By doubling the time between weapon pickups, there should be more opportunities to turn the tide naturally.

In addition, now that CCC has really become part of the core dynamics of Gears, we wanted to tweak some of the risk & reward. With the Vault and Yank being difficult to land on opponents, an increase to the duration of the stun provides a clearer and more balanced reward for a player who lands an un-countered CCC move.

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Gnasher Changes

  • Close range damage falls off 25% faster

  • Active reload effect time decreased to 5 seconds (was 8s)

  • Active reload cooldown time increased to 11 second (was 8s)

Ryan Cleven: Following our change to the mechanics of the Gnasher in the March Update, as well as feedback from Core players, we’ve now reduced the damage for Gnasher shots that land between close and mid range. This results in a Gnasher that still has the punch you expect at close range, but a reduced effectiveness at distance compared to pre-March Update.

In addition, we’ve also made getting the benefits of an Active Gnasher a weightier decision – with a much reduced effect time and increased cooldown time, deciding when to use your Gnasher active is a critical part of your close-range game.

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Lancer Changes

  • Lancer damage increased by 5%

  • Headshot damage decreased by 10%

  • Magazine size decreased to 40 (was 50)

  • Total ammo capacity reduced to 400 (was 500)

Ryan Cleven: Given the Gnasher change, the relative strength of rifles has been increased so this change brings them back in balance. The previous Lancer was pretty close to where we wanted it to be, but we felt like it was too flexible. It could be used in almost any circumstance and didn’t really have much of a weakness. To make room for the other weapons and make a meaningful choice for your loadout weapon, we reduced the damage by taking a little from the headshots and putting some of it back into the general bullet damage. We’ve also decreased the size of the magazine to give other players more of an opening against a Lancer if their opponent doesn’t land all their shots.

The Lancer will now be a weapon with more consistent damage per second whether you’re battling it or using it, making it a more reliable and understandable mid-range rifle.

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Hammerburst Changes

  • Damage increased by 8%

  • Headshot damage increased by 3%

  • Stopping power increased per bullet by 33%

  • Close range stopping power modifier decreased by 60%

  • Medium range stopping power modifier increased by 7%

  • Long range stopping power modifier increased by 400%

  • Weapon recoil per shot decreased by 25%

  • Magazine size increased to 27 from 21

Ryan Cleven: The Hammerburst is something we’ve wanted to update for a while to really bring it into its role as a long-range, precision rewarding rifle in your starting lineup.

All of the changes in this update are focused on that ethos – the weapon now kicks less, while dealing a small increase in damage than before, but at the same time, we have shifted where the stopping power is strongest. The Hammerburst no longer deals much stopping power close range, so if your opponents get closer, you’ll be under pressure to switch weapons. The additional stopping power at distance means Hammerburst users have a bigger window to support a teammate by punishing an opponent caught out in the open if they maintain accuracy. It really sets it apart from the now mid-range focused Lancer.

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Buzzkill changes

  • Magazine increased to 15 (was 10)

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Retro Lancer changes

  • Damage decreased by 5%

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Competitive

Ryan Cleven: Competitive Tuning is all about top-level play and, most importantly, enabling teamwork to shine while maintaining a high bar for individual skill.

These settings bring our weapons more in-line with that philosophy, by taking into account online and Pro player feedback to create the best team centric tuning set possible. We also had to address the role of the secondary weapons placed on the map. Some of them were being too dominant while others were rarely used.

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Gameplay Changes

  • Respawn time for secondary weapons changed to 90 seconds (was 60s) – weapons affected:

    • Enforcer

    • Hammerburst

    • Markza Mk1

    • Boltok

    • Retro Lancer

    • Overkill

  • Vault stun time increased by 15%

  • Yank stun time increased by 25%

Ryan Cleven: In Competitive, the secondary weapons have a strong role to play in the meta of the game - especially in consideration of the gap in power these weapons have over the Lancer and Gnasher. The quicker respawn time meant that these weapons were up too often which were prevented teams from being able to form meaningful strategies or counters, which is now addressed with the new respawn time.

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Gnasher changes

  • Short range damage reduced by 3%

  • Medium range damage multiplier increased to 15% (was 12.5%)

  • Long range damage multiplier increased to 7.5% (was 5%)

  • Active reload effect time decreased 5 seconds (was 8s)

  • Active reload cooldown time increased to 11 second ( was 8s)

Ryan Cleven: We heard the feedback from our Competitive players that the damage over distance for the Gnasher dropped too steeply. This resulted in the Gnasher giving us the Gnasher-dance battles we wanted, but was sometimes difficult to predict or felt inconsistent with the damage drop off at range. These changes focus on addressing that while also reducing short range damage slightly to compensate for the Gnasher Barrel change, bringing Competitive Gnasher’s close range damage near to where it was pre-March Update.

As with Core, we’ve also updated Gnasher actives to be a weighter more purposeful decision than before by increasing the cooldown time and decreasing the effect time.

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Lancer changes

  • Magazine size decreased to 40 (was 50)

  • Total ammo capacity reduced to 400 (was 500)

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Hammerburst changes

  • Headshot damage increased by 3%

  • Stopping power increased per bullet by 33%

  • Point-blank Range stopping power modifier decreased by 60%

  • Medium Range stopping power modifier increased by 7%

  • Long range stopping power modifier increased by 400%

  • Magazine size increased to 27 (was 21)

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Boltok changes

  • Active Reload rate of fire bonus decreased to 125% (was 200%)

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Retro Lancer changes

  • Damage decreased by 9%

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Markza changes

  • Headshots no longer kill DBNO targets in execution rules

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Thank you for all the time, feedback and thoughts all of you have shared with us over these past 6 months. We’ll continue to be monitoring the game, listening to our fans and looking at our data to provide the best tuning possible for Gears of War 4 Versus.

Stay tuned for news on the April Update coming soon!

TC