Welcome back to What’s Up, your weekly look at all things Gears.

Here’s What’s Up this week!

  • Hammerburst will be pickup only in Core beginning with the March Update
  • Get a first look at the upcoming Competitive Beta 2.6
  • Season 2 Rewards are rolling out today
  • Card Companion update launched with Destroy All Duplicates and more!
  • Armored Kantus Gear Pack returns this weekend

Coming Up In Gears of War 4

  There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the Year of the Dog Horde Event, but today (Thursday, February 22nd) marks the last day that you can grab the Midnight Omen Enforcer or Boomshot from every complete run of the playlist. Make sure you get some time in tonight if you want to grab either of these sweet skins.

Speaking of skins, there’s still daily weapon skin rewards to collect just by logging into Gears of War 4. Pick up a new Year of the Dog Weapon Skin every day until March 1st.

The Future of The Hammerburst

We’ve heard the fan feedback around the Hammerburst in Core and the impact it can have on matches – especially those where a team full of players have it equipped.

While we think the Hammerburst is in a good place in terms of its role as a potent longer range rifle, we agree that it becomes overly effective beyond it’s intended purpose when in the hands of multiple players.

So, beginning with our March Update, the Hammerburst will no longer be a loadout weapon in Core Tuning! Instead, you’ll now find the Hammerburst as a secondary pickup weapon on a variety of maps just like the Markza, Boltok, Overkill and Retro.

We feel this is the best way to keep the Hammerburst a viable weapon that adds to the meta of the game, while limiting the amount of players on a team who have it at their disposal. We’ll provide a complete list of the maps where the Hammerburst will appear, along with any weapon swaps that entails, with our March Update announcement.

Quit Penalty Update

Last week, we launched a number of changes to punish quitters and AFK players more severely along with outlining our future plans for new Credit based penalties.

We are introducing these updates incrementally to monitor the response and impact to our players to make sure every action we take is a step forward. Based on the initial feedback, we’ll be introducing further changes this Friday, February 23rd to our Rejoin feature.

As getting back into the game can sometimes take time, we’ve decided to increase the Match Rejoin window from 5 minutes to 7 minutes. This allows more leeway for users to get back into the fight and reinforce their team back to full strength.

We’ll continue to monitor these changes and listen to your feedback as we think about the next steps in combatting quitters.

Armored Kantus Pack Returns

The Armored Kantus Pack is back in the store this weekend! 

Season 2 Rewards

Season 2 Rewards have begun to roll out today incrementally. Over the next 7 days, more weapon skins will appear from each set depending on your placement.

In order to address some reported missing skins, we've set up an official support thread to claim missing skins that will be open until March 4th. We will not be able to guarantee missing Weapon Skin Rewards beyond this point. If you feel you are missing any Season or Challenge Reward Skins, please post here.

Competitive Beta 2.6

The time has come to bring about the next phase of the Competitive Beta!

For those of you who don’t know, the Competitive Beta is a special tuning variant that allows us to test updates to the Competitive Tuning outside of the main ‘active’ Competitive Tuning. We’ve been incrementally testing changes to gather feedback on their individual impact to the overall Meta.

We grabbed Ryan Cleven (Multiplayer Design Director) to provide some insight on what to expect from the next round of the Competitive Beta:

Hey Ryan! We’re about to move into the next phase of the Competitive Beta. What’s the focus for this phase?

Ryan Cleven: This phase, we’re putting the focus primarily on the secondary weapons. We’ve also looked a little bit at the centerline weapons to see if we can bring more strategies with a few small tweaks.

There were a few weapons like the Enforcer, Overkill and Dropshot that we didn’t see people working into many of the strategies for Escalation. We felt that there was an opportunity to open up new strategies and play styles with slight tuning changes to the secondaries – so we playtested the changes internally until we felt that there were potential new opportunities without breaking the game.

So with that in mind, how are each of those Secondary Weapons changing with this Competitive Beta?

Ryan Cleven: The Overkill is being tuned to be a much stronger defensive weapon, pushing it more towards its design as a support shotgun - often replacing the Lancer for the player that picks it up. We’ve reduced the pickup ammo count from 16 to 12, but in turn have significantly increased its effective range. We’ve also added it to the centerline list, so, like the Longshot, it can be placed as either a centerline or off-centerline weapon.

With the Enforcer, we’ve tweaked the weapon to allow players to close more kills. It has 10 more rounds in the magazine, which gives the player a little bit more opportunity to down close range enemies. It has also a slight buff in headshot damage to give it a greater diversity in skill effect.

The Markza has been rolled back to an earlier version, where we have re-enabled the headshot kills and also added one extra round into the magazine.

The Dropshot has had another round added to the ammo capacity on pickup – up to four from the previous three. We feel that this puts it on par with the two round Boomshot for potency. The Dropshot still retains a distinct character, but it is now a weapon that is much more important to fight for.

How do you feel it will impact the Escalation Meta?

Ryan Cleven: The goal of these changes is to make team composition matter. We’ve seen that some teams have really mastered the core mechanics of Gears and have really got a lot of their rotation strategies dialed in, so we wanted to add one more layer of skill that teams have to adapt to.

This means that placing a secondary weapon, keeping track of it, and then adapting your rotations based on the current situation will all be important skills for teams to learn. We hope to see teams develop specialized strategies to push or counter certain secondary placements that will create room for new, exciting strategies for both players and viewers alike.

When do we plan to introduce these as the final Competitive settings?

Ryan Cleven: As with our usual process, we will be introducing these changes into a Beta developer playlist and in private match under Competitive 2.6 so players can give their feedback. We’ll also be looking for feedback from teams as they scrim with the settings.

Once we feel confident in this direction, we will move the tuning into the regular competitive tuning. We also want to be mindful of our esports events and not change the defaults too close to a large event.

We’re still locking down a final date for when we’ll go live with the Competitive Beta playlist and update to the ‘Competitive Beta’ tuning option in Private. Stay tuned for news along with full patch notes for the release.

Got questions about these changes? We’ll be streaming with Ryan Cleven this Friday, February 23rd at 3pm PST to discuss the changes live on stream! Join us at live.gearsofwar.com

Card Companion Update Live

Early this week, we launched an update to our GearsofWar.com Card Companion with some great quality of life features!

  • Destroy All Duplicates
  • Create Multiple Cards
  • Scrap Multiple Cards

Try it here now! For more details, head over to our last week’s What’s Up.

Museum of Community Glory

Horde fans have been out there tearing through waves of Pouncers in the Year Of The Dog Event to get you some top tip videos!

Without further ado, here’s the best top tips video we received on how best to tackle the Year of the Dog Event.

Aeonz provides a per-Class strategy breakdown on how to conquer Year of the Dog!

Aeonz will be receiving a whole host of Gear Packs as a thank you for this great video!

Next week, we’re dedicating the Museum of Community Glory to a special few who found some of the most elusive Easter Eggs in Gears of War 4. If you haven’t seen these yet, you’re in for a treat.