The Coalition announces a test weekend for Gears of War 4 competitive crossplay multiplayer, allowing PC and Xbox One players to play together in Versus mode.
One of the main selling points of Gears of War 4 is its PC/Xbox One crossplay. During its E3 2016 press conference, Microsoft was keen to promote the feature, explaining that the game's campaign co-op, Horde 3.0, and its multiplayer would all allow PC and Xbox One gamers to play together. What this crossplay wouldn't include, however, is competitive multiplayer.
Now, it seems that Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition has changed its mind, announcing plans to "evaluate the potential of a more permanent crossplay solution in the future." The developer aims to get PC and Xbox One gamers playing together in Versus mode, rather than just Private Matches.
As part of this evaluation, The Coalition will be running crossplay tests for Gears of War 4's multiplayer this weekend. Between Friday, December 2 and Monday, December 5, Gears of War 4 players across PC and Xbox One will be offered extra XP for match completion (1500 XP for a win and 750 XP for a loss), as The Coalition encourages as many players as possible to provide feedback and help it to test the viability of crossplay competitive multiplayer. A Social-type playlist including Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Dodgeball will be available, with a maximum squad size of five and all maps included.
While The Coalition admits that "what comes next after this hasn't been decided," the developer does call this test "an incredibly important first step in the process." The developer also explains that it won't be making any "changes all of a sudden" based on the data and feedback collected.
Undoubtedly, balancing will be a big focus area for the developer if a more permanent solution is put in place in future. The Coalition previously stated that Gears of War 4 is balanced for controllers first, over mouse and keyboard, and that multiplayer is also balanced differently on PC and Xbox One.
PC players have the ability to choose whether they play with a mouse and keyboard or a controller (though it's unclear whether PC players will have to play with a controller in order to take part in crossplay). Gears of War 4's lead multiplayer designer Ryan Cleven told IGN that "we make sure that the two groups, when they're playing competitively online, they aren't actually playing with each other," but obviously if this is set to change then the developer's approach to balancing will need to change too.
But despite this Gears of War 4 test being just that - a test - it further highlights the effort from Microsoft and its first-party development teams to bring the PC and Xbox One gaming communities together. Microsoft has come under fire for 'abandoning' it PC gaming base in previous years but moves like this, as well as the Xbox Play Anywhere program, put players on both platforms as equals.
Source: Gears of War