Gears of War 3 Multiplayer Beta hands-on

Epic just put out Bulletstorm, but they’re already shifting gears (knowing wink) to focus on its next huge 2011 title. With Gears of War 3’s release date set for September 20, the only thing to keep rabid Gears fans sated until then is the promise of the fast approaching open Beta. Though no date for the launch has been made (rumors suggest it will start in mid-April around GoW3’s original release date), it was complete enough for Epic to invite the press to have an early taste of what’ll be include in the public multiplayer action. After GoW bigwig Cliff Bleszinski and Epic Games Executive Producer Rod Fergusson briefed us on the game, which included a fan-pleasing surprise appearance by the voice of Cole Train Lester Speight, we got down to business.

Above: Epic also revealed the box art last night

All the classic components of Gears gameplay were intact: a deliberate pace, lovely gore, diving for cover, chainsaw dismemberment, all of it, and it was only improved by the changes we saw, like the new match types. We sat down with the altered Team Deathmatch mode, as two teams of five blasted away at each other until all their respawns were depleted, which is when it turns into an elimination mach. The fresh settings added extra tension to the standard online mode, as instead of counting kills, your pool of lives slowly depletes, ratcheting up the pressure with each death.

Even if the gameplay’s core is the same, the new weapons littering the maps changed things very quickly. An early favorite was the Sawed-off Shotgun. Insanely powerful as long as you’re extremely close to your opponent, one blast is an instant, gratifying kill. Of course if you miss that shot you’re left with an especially long reload time for the weapon’s one bullet, which will leave you open for a Lancer chainsaw, as one of our opponents learned last night.

Above: Cole Train saving the day with the Sawed-Off

A little later we got our hands on the Digger, which launches an underground explosive that burrows, Bugs Bunny-style as Bleszinski put it, toward an enemy that might be in cover and explode all up in their business. We also came across the Incendiary Grenade which drops fire on your foes, the dreaded One-Shot that can reduce an unlucky target to pink mist, and our late favorite, the Retro Lancer, which replaces the chainsaw with a more low-tech bayonet.

Above: The Incendiary Grenade doing its thing

As you gain experience with those weapons, you unlock specific finishing moves that are amazing to see, such as cutting someone’s throat with the Retro Lancer’s bayonet, or ripping off the arm of downed foe and beating them to death with it. Another cool combat addition is the ability to tag a captured foe with a grenade and then kick said combatant at their unsuspecting friends.

Above: Cole Train and his Thrashball uniform/golden Retro Lancer combo are the unofficial mascots of the beta

Other new touches we detailed before were there too, such as the ability to place a marker on an enemy in your sights, which easily communicates to your team who needs a quick lead injection. We also appreciate the convenience of being able to change weapon loadouts while respawning, as well as more subtle differences, like the changing trigger placements during active reloads. Even with just an hour to play around with it, the whole thing felt simultaneously fresh and familiar, which is exactly what we wanted.

Read on for a rundown of the maps we played…


  • Yeager1122 - February 27, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    This sounds pretty good! Loving the new weapons.
  • CoktorBloktopus - February 27, 2011 4:26 a.m.

    sweet i hope the multiplayer works better than the last two games never could get into a game might have my internet though it is pretty bad.
  • linsinYY - February 26, 2011 1:27 p.m.

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  • soccerclownking - February 26, 2011 1:49 a.m.

    at that last picture i can perfectly hear Cole Train yelling, "WOO!". I kind of wish i got Bulletstorm so i can play the beta, but it looks like i'll just have to wait until september.
  • jackthemenace - February 25, 2011 10:04 p.m.

    Aww, i so wish i had bought Bulletstorm instead of just renting, if not only for the Gears 3 beta! D: Gears has some of my favourite online, even if everyone ALWAYS votes for execution -.-
  • gatorfan122394 - February 25, 2011 9:10 p.m.

    ^and by that I mean that fact that they made up a fake sport
  • gatorfan122394 - February 25, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    the whole trashball thing is pretty lame. should have just left cole's past unexplored
  • AntistasMetroid - February 25, 2011 2:57 p.m.

    i see it but only after u said it. nice work tank! now im excited for another game i cant play yet! no but really good info. i'll vote old town only because you demand it...
  • Manguy17 - February 25, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    am i the only one who sees a phallic image in the thrashball map?
  • Kipper - February 25, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    @ UberNoob Because he's a former Thrashball player, of course. The uniform is an unlockable skin.
  • UberNoob - February 25, 2011 6:34 a.m.

    Why is Cole in a football uniform?
  • RebornKusabi - February 25, 2011 5:25 a.m.

    I missed out on getting the Epic Edition of Bulletstorm because I picked up Marvel vs. Capcom 3 instead. I really wanted to play this beta but I thought, since every f*cking thing else has gotten pushed back, that Bulletstorm also got pushed back as well. Meh... if there's still Epic Editions available then I'll pick it up since I really wanted to play this as well lol
  • KaiokenKid - February 25, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    lol, so because im a gold member I get the same beta bulletstorm people get? lol, get shit on I guess.
  • iJizzLots - February 25, 2011 1:58 a.m.

    Tasteful front page picture Stay classy Henry
  • g4m3rk1dd - February 25, 2011 12:27 a.m.

    $@&# i totally forgot about the gears 3 beta...that was half the reason i wanted to buy bullet storm...
  • Fiirestorm21 - February 24, 2011 11:45 p.m.

    Pretty much the only 360 release I'm looking forward to this year.
  • Hullonotna - February 24, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    Looks pretty cool. hows the host system?
  • Lionzest7 - February 24, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    I like the direction they're taking with this rather than what they did with gears 2. Shield glitching, slow matchmaking, junky gametypes, host advantage, chainsaws going through shotgun blasts, these all could've been avoided in gears 2. Also the new shots and gameplay modes look decent
  • RenegadePixel - February 24, 2011 11:29 p.m.

    Looks good, look forward to checking it out seems like it could be a good one, but at the moment, Killzone 3 for me. check out my gaming blog guys, greatly appreciated!
  • oneshotfinch - February 24, 2011 11:10 p.m.

    In my mind, I always read Hank's articles in his voice.

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