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What To Expect From The Gears 5 Next-Gen Upgrade

With the Xbox Series X right around the corner, fans are now getting more information about upgraded Xbox One games. Gears 5 is one such title that'll enter the next generation with significant upgrades, and in an interview with IGN, developer The Coalition finally started spilling some beans.

Mike Rayner, technical director at the studio, said next-generation upgrades for Gears 5 only took two weeks because the game already supported high-end PCs. In terms of the visual upgrades Gears 5 fans will see, Rayner named space global illumination – an Unreal Engine feature that allows natural light to bounce off everything in a space — and contact shadows. The Coalition detailed how contact shadows will affect Gears 5 in a video demonstration. The technique allows every object, even the smallest pieces of debris, to have accurate shadows. The Coalition promised that "every crevice in the world is shadowed properly." 

The Coalition also said the speed of the Xbox Series X will upgrade visuals in the open world. Sometimes small objects don't get the same fidelity, or they pop in and out, when players are running or driving across a large open space. Rayner said that objects in Gears 5's open world will have high resolution textures, which was not possible on less powerful hardware like the Xbox One. In fact, he said open world graphical issues may be a thing of the past.

"These types of things are just a non-issue. In the future I think you'll be able to see – not that I should talk too much about future stuff – you're going to see the types of open-world games that just simply wouldn't have been possible in earlier hardware," Rayner said.

Rayner mentioned the in-game cinematics will get an upgrade as well. These cutscenes will run at 60 frames-per-second (FPS) instead of 30 FPS.

Speaking of FPS, multiplayer modes in Gears 5 will see a boost on that front as well. Previously, multiplayer ran at 60 FPS. Now players can use their Lancers to saw each other in half at a speedy 120 FPS. Of course, this was already possible for the PC version, giving those players an advantage against opponents on Xbox One. While console players can choose not to play against PC players in Gears 5, however, Xbox One owners won't have the same luxury when it comes to playing with Xbox Series X players. Rayner doesn't seem too worried about it, though.

"You can get the best hardware in the world, but ultimately it's the player skill, that's ultimately going to dictate how you're going to do," he said.

The differentiation in frame rate will continue being a point of discussion as more and more games start to integrate cross-play like Gears 5 has. 

On top of these technical upgrades, Gears 5 will have a flurry of new content as well. Keeping with multiplayer, Zoë Curnoe — principal lead producer for Gears 5 – discussed the game's fifth multiplayer Operation. The concept of characters being tied to specific classes will be eliminated. This will allow players to apply any class to any character. Curnoe also said The Coalition wants to start adding more maps to each Operation release.

For the single-player side of things, a New Game+ option will give players an incentive to start another campaign playthrough. New Game+ will feature two difficulty settings: "Inconceivable" and "Ironman." The latter will challenge players to play the campaign without dying once, according to Curnoe. New Game+ will also include new achievements, the ability to start the campaign with previous upgrades, quirky mutators like big head mode, and new skins.

One of the more interesting additions is the inclusion of Dave Bautista, otherwise known as Batista, in the game's campaign. For some backstory, Batista started a social media campaign to play as Marcus Fenix in a potential Gears of War movie. As a result, The Coalition gave the famous pro wrestler a multiplayer skin. In Gears 5's next-gen update, Batista will creep into the main campaign and completely take it over. When launching Gears 5 on the Xbox Series X, players can equip the Batista skin to replace Marcus' model and voice lines with Batista's.

Gears 5 released in 2019 to generally positive reviews. It may get even better when the optimized version releases with new content and visual upgrades next month on Nov. 10.