Instead of featuring a traditional season pass like its predecessors, Gears 5 has opted for a battle pass called Tour of Duty. The Coalition will now be dropping post-launch content through season-long events that switch the rewards every three months. The good news is that it’s totally free. The bad news, though, is the terrible grind and reward design.
Beginning with the rewards themselves. The ongoing debut season of Tour of Duty offers eight recycled skins from the campaign, which is unacceptable. Those desert and arctic sets, including the highest-level gnasher weapon skin, are hardly anything to boast about. They are not what players were expecting when The Coalition was touting exclusive rewards. In addition, Tour of Duty currently gives away 500 Iron — premium currency of Gears 5 — every season. Any worthwhile item in the shop costs 1,000 Iron at least, meaning that you’ll have to grind two seasons (or six months) to afford a single, impressive skin.
Next are the challenges that must be completed to earn stars for progression in Tour of Duty. Strange as it is, there’s a limit to how many challenges can be done each day. Anyone thinking of putting in a weekend-long grind needs to change their plans. You can only do three daily challenges, after which you have to wait for the counter to expire. The system doesn’t even accept basic experience points that you earn after completing daily challenges to level up. The Coalition clearly wanted players to play through the entire season, which is an abhorrent design choice.
Then there are the medals, the second way of progressing through Tour of Duty. These are long-term and can only be completed over the length of the season. The best part of medals is that they have their own set of rewards but since they take too long to complete, you’re unlikely to get them all by the end of the season. Even trying to bag every medal is pushing the grinding concept to the sheer limits. Not to mention that some medals are a bit too difficult to attain.
To summarize, Tour of Duty is a free way to grind rewards in Gears 5. However, the way it’s designed is to prohibit players from putting in too much time and unlocking the rewards fairly quickly. So what if you just decide to take out your wallet and purchase the skins directly from the shop? Note that a single skin costs $10 with a set of skins hovering above $25, and like mentioned above, most of them are similar to what’s already available in the game. Gears 5 coming in as a full $60 purchase shouldn’t be treated like a free-to-play game by The Coalition.
If you’re still interested in Tour of Duty, completing daily challenges might take up to six weeks to unlock all of its rewards. The medals, though, are a different story. You might be able to complete some of them by the end, but it’ll take a long time.
Gears 5 is about to leave its early access period for an official release on Xbox One and PC. Hopefully, the developer will make some changes to Tour of Duty in order to lessen the frustration.