Seriously? Seriously! Meet the sadist behind Gears 5's brutal achievements

By Sean Carey,
Those Gears 5 achievements are quite the grind, aren't they? Only the most determined of players will ever unlock every achievement from the base game of Gears 5, let alone from all the title updates that have been added since its launch. Seriously 5.0 was already tough enough with its requirement of 20 Re-ups, but with the Operation 4: Brothers in Arms title update, new PvP achievements such as Absolute Carnage (requires dealing 100,000,000 damage in Versus) and Nothin' but bits! (kill 100,000 players in Versus) are a whole new level of pain... or pleasure, if that's your sort of thing. Either way, to have any chance of unlocking these achievements, you're going to need to spend a significant amount of time on the Gears grind. When the Operation 4 achievements landed, we were surprised to see such harsh requirements, so we reached out to the man responsible for making you play Gears 5 for hours on end. Andy McKenzie, senior multiplayer progression designer at The Coalition, explains more about Gears 5's achievements and the design process behind them.

Gears 5 MPXP changes

McKenzie says that he's primarily responsible for designing the achievements in Gears 5, but does work with others across the development team to see what can be implemented. "I'll work with designers who are specialists in each area of the game to ideate, and then work with engineers who program the various different parts of the game to see how best we can push the design of the achievements." McKenzie continues, "I find it best to work with the experts as they know their areas of the game so well that they often have the best ideas or know how we can include something special without crazy amounts of work." According to McKenzie, there are a few achievement hunters on the team at The Coalition who have shaped some of the game's achievements. One former team member in particular was apparently vital in the making of the Gears 5 achievement list. "Nobody was more important to the process than our former community manager, Liam 'Octus' Ashley." If you've been active over on the Gears forums or on the Gears subreddit, you'll probably recognise the username TC Octus, who kept everyone up to date on everything Gears. "He is a seriously passionate Gears fan combined with an achievement hunter, and his input was invaluable."

While a lot of work goes into designing these achievements, you can bet whatever The Coalition dreams up is going to be significantly more work for players. Gears 5 launched over a year ago, and looking at our statistics, only 34 tracked TA users have managed to unlock the full 132 achievements Gears 5 currently has. Four others had also completed the game before more achievements were added. This is out of over 212,000 people, by the way, so some of you need to start seriously pulling your socks up (myself included).

Gears 5 Horde

Some of the more difficult achievements are born out of the development process. According to McKenzie, Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight, which requires you to complete an Escape Hive without firing a shot on Master Difficulty, is a favourite of the team which was created while playtesting and balancing the game mode. "We really love this achievement because we feel it truly captures the spirit of mastering the new Escape mode in Gears 5. It was something the dev team tried to ace a lot during development, and we knew players would be much better at it than we were. We wanted to challenge them to do something tricky that both felt true to Escape mode and captured that satisfying feeling of accomplishment that goes with a good achievement." Looking at the global unlock percentage for the achievement, we see that only 0.09% of Gears 5 players have popped it. On TA, 1.12% have unlocked Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight, which is just under 2,500 people. There is no question that this is a tricky achievement and for the few that have managed to unlock it, it probably felt very satisfying to see the notification appear on-screen.

There is some method to the madness, though. It's not purely about creating a challenge for the most determined of players. McKenzie says that achievements need to be accessible to players of all skill levels, but does recognise the need for the odd achievement here or there for the hardcore Gears fan. "It's very important that we create achievements that cater to all types of players, which is why some achievements might be perceived as easier to achieve than others, while others are more challenging for more experienced players." Data is also taken from achievements which "plays an important role in the entire development process." New features and content are then used to shape achievements, which are primarily used to encourage players to explore the new game modes or features added to the game.

Gears 5

So what can we expect from Gears 5 in the future in terms of achievements? Well, for those of you who were hoping for some respite from the grind, we have bad news for you. McKenzie tells us we can expect a range of difficulty in future achievements coming to Gears 5. "There is a real art to making sure [achievements] are satisfying to complete even when they are quite challenging. Gears has a strong history of this — the 'Seriously’ achievements, for example — and is a balance we looked to continue with Gears 5 and will maintain in future updates."

Whether you love or hate the Gears series' achievements, it looks like the ethos behind them won't be changing anytime soon, and the Gears grind will forever be a thing achievement hunters will have to grapple with if they want that 100% completion accolade. There is something ominous about one achievement that's been bugging me since launch, though. The Seriously achievement in Gears 5 is called Seriously 5.0 - Chapter 1, which suggests there could be a Seriously 5.0 - Chapter 2 somewhere down the line. What would the requirements for a Chapter 2 achievement entail? More re-ups? Probably. More crazy PvP achievements? It's possible. Complete the game's campaign on the hardest difficulty without using a controller and using your mind to telepathically will the character forward? I wouldn't put it past McKenzie and his team at this point.

May The Coalition have mercy on us all.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Hey, I’m Sean! I joined both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies as a staff writer in 2019. I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series and love a good narrative adventure. Most evenings you’ll find me failing to get a win in Call of Duty: Warzone.