I've been playing Gears of War 4 for a few dozen hours now and a good portion of that time has been spent waiting for the game to find someone to play with. At first, I thought it was simply that I was playing the game earlier than most people. So I waited for the early release date, when folks who bought the Ultimate Edition would be able to play. It was still slow then, so I thought, "OK, let's not make any judgements yet until the game is fully out." That was on Tuesday and, lo and behold, nothing has improved.
Whenever I search for a match in any mode, from KOTH to Dodgeball and everything in-between, the game will always tell me that finding a match will take at least three minutes. If I'm lucky, that estimate is correct. Most of the time, though, I found myself waiting anywhere from five to 10+ minutes just to get into a match. Adding insult to injury, Gears 4 would often make me wait only to put me in a match that wasn't even full. The game would then proceed to not populate that match with bots or new players, meaning that I was forced to play out unfair three vs five rounds where my failure was all but guaranteed. I couldn't leave these matches early without incurring a leaving penalty. Sometimes, the game would get stuck on "loading map" for 15 minutes, but it wouldn't let me back out without having to quit the game entirely.
I'm not alone here. The official Gears of War forums have a thread with 40+ pages of users reporting matchmaking issues, including failing out of matchmaking altogether and slowness to find matches. Anecdotally, friends playing the title have told me they're experiencing the same thing, as have some Twitter followers. The glacial matchmaking doesn't seem to be an isolated issue.
Yesterday, developers the Coalition announced that there might be some server wonkiness due to an update that was supposed to help remedy the problem:
There will be some server disruption for a short time as our Title Update and server-side updates roll out. Thank you for your patience.
— Gears of War (@GearsofWar) October 11, 2016
...but it wasn't just a few hours of jankiness. Matchmaking took forever no matter when I tried it yesterday. I reached out to The Coalition but had not received a response at time of writing. Playing online has been really frustrating thus far because of this issue, and it's a big bummer, because the game itself is otherwise fun to play.