Ever since the launch of Gears of War 4 in early October, there have been misgivings amongst players about the gear pack system. Much like Halo 5, Gears 4 offers random packs containing various items therein (Cosmetics, XP boosts, lobby emblems, ETC) that can be bought either with in-game currency or real-life money. Though such a system could work, The Coalition’s iteration is rather anti-consumer in practice due to a harsh pricing system: the most expensive “elite” pack contains purely cosmetics with one item being of rare rarity or better (epic or legendary), and that will run the player 3500 credits. To put this in perspective, a fully played multiplayer match will net an average of 40-60 credits, with 500 credits being awarded for every five levels the player gains (there are also credit boosters that give 25 – 50 credits for certain accomplishments and XP boosters which boost leveling rates). These packs can also be bought at a hefty $4.99 a pop, which is rather exorbitant when an elite pack only promises a rare or better when all characters are either epic or legendary rarity and a massive pool of weapon skins means that chances of the player getting what they want are sharply reduced.
Of course, a largely diluted pool of possible prizes is never a great thing, but the issue is only made worse by the fact that none of the cosmetics can be unlocked through any means outside of rolling the dice on a new pack. That means no more rewards for beating campaign, leveling in multiplayer, or achieving medals in various multiplayer feats.
Now, Gears of War 4 has a new type of pack (or rather, bundle of packs) called the “Run the Jewels airdrop,” featuring the rap duo of the same name as multiplayer characters and skins for all weapons based on their logo and aesthetic. Unlike the core pack types, this bundle cannot be bought with in-game currency. Rather, this airdrop will run the player a cool $19.99. In all honesty, I was perfectly fine with this; if nothing else, I at least the contents were guaranteed. At first I was elated with my purchase, I got to play El-P and Killer Mike in Gears of War and listen to their color commentary while I ripped the swarm to shreds. However, my experience was soured when I discovered that both of these characters were simply pre-existing models with the heads replaced. Specifically speaking, El-P uses Commando Dom’s body and Killer Mike uses Armored Cole’s.
At this point, it’s hard to tell who should be more disappointed at this revelation. On one hand, Run the Jewels has been working closely with The Coalition, and to have the commemorative characters based on their likenesses be nothing more than a new head on a recycled body must have been a disappointment to them on some level (assuming of course they have been told this during production or have noticed it themselves). On the other, players spent $20 on a bunch of re-colored weapons and two heads on old characters (plus commentary). But perhaps the worst part of this is that characters from promotions don’t show up in the select screen unless you have them, meaning that by the time most people will realize the striking similarities between characters, it will already be too late.
This begs the question, what is The Coalition’s gameplan? With so many elements playing against the consumer, one has to wonder if this was simply a series of poor calculations or a deliberate milking of Gears‘ notoriously loyal fanbase.
Hopefully, The Coalition will come to their senses and remodel their whole system and make packs more easily obtained as well as having them be more likely to carry rarer cards. Even at that, I’m sure many players would be willing to shell out a clean $10 for their favorite legacy character, so why not do that instead of making them toil away at RNG in hopes of one day obtaining it?
Regardless, such a system, though not inherently terrible, is proving to be more and more anti-consumer; but in the words of Run the Jewels themselves: “everybody’s doing it.”