Gears 5 officially releases Tuesday but is out now for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, who are likely happy to see that Gears 5 doesn't have loot boxes. That doesn't stop the game from having microtransactions, however, that many are finding slightly confusing.
There are three systems in place for Gears 5 players to get their hands on loot: Iron, Supply Drops, and Scrap. The iron currency system in particular is giving players a hard time, as it is used to purchase cosmetics for multiplayer and can also be bought for real money.
Iron is earned in small amounts by playing the Gears 5 multiplayer, and it unlocks the same types of cosmetic items players get when they open a Supply Drop in Gears 5, but they are not part of the same pool. The catch is that Iron can be purchased through the game's digital store using real money. Iron is worth about one cent per unit at the starting price, so for example, 500 Iron costs $4.99. This means the Iron acts as Gears 5's premium currency, but it can also be earned in the Tour of Duty mode.
Tour of Duty acts like a Battle Pass for Gears 5. It is a free season-based system that dolls out rewards based on a set of challenges like surviving a certain amount of waves in Horde mode or killing a certain number of a given enemy type. Every three challenges completed and the player ranks up, earning them a reward such as a brand new item or Iron.
The first time players can unlock Iron through Tour of Duty is at hitting the rank "Officer II" or level 24 . At that level, the reward is 100 Iron. The amount of Iron increases as players hit the levels where it is listed as the reward, but receiving the currency is still a rare occurrence, even for the most committed Gears head.
The biggest issue with the system overall is how the items are locked to one drop pool or the other. Gears 5 players who really want all the cosmetics can't just play a lot and hope for the items they want. Eventually, they will have to earn or purchase Iron to get premium items, which isn't spending money on random loot boxes, but it's not ideal either.
Gears 5 releases September 10 on PC and Xbox One, but is available now in for Xbox Ultimate Game Pass subscribers.