We recently went hands-on with Gears of War 3’s relentless multiplayer mode and emerged both surprised and impressed at all the obvious changes. Epic is absolutely aiming to create a more brutal, violent, strategic and oddly accessible experience this time around, and from our short time with the game, we get the sense that they might have succeeded. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the new weapons, modes and features offered up when the game finally launches next year.
OneShot: This weapon can kill anything with one shot, but it features a highly visible laser sight and a very narrow field of vision.
Grenades: All grenades now detonate on impact. Players can plant a grenade on a meat shield and kick him back into a crowd before he explodes. New incendiary grenades explode on the ceiling and rain down fire damage . Strategically, this could be used to cut off a narrow area of escape.
Pendulum Lancer (AKA: Retro Lancer): In Gears canon, this is the OG lancer they used when humans fought humans, but it wasn’t strong enough to kill Locust. Hence the invention of the chainsaw lancer. But Epic’s gone against canon to make the game more fun. Now if you do a roadie run that is 4-5 steps long, you give out a rebel yell and impale your target, lifting them in the air.
Shotguns: The Sawed-Off is insanely powerful (liquefying, in fact) at extremely short range, and it has a large area of effect, so you can take out more than one person at once. The reload time is incredibly slow, however, meaning that if you miss, you are now chainsaw fodder.
The Digger: A little creature that digs through the ground and kills the first person it finds. It flushes people out of cover. It makes noise and it’s slow, so you have to pay attention to avoid it.
Mantle Kick: If you and an enemy find youselves on either side of a piece of cover, you can now execute a mantle kick in which you’ll dive over the cover, kick your opponent back and have a moment to put a few rounds into his soon-to-be corpse.
Tac/Com: This function will highlight all teammates and enemies on the battlefield, even through walls, but will withhold your ability to shoot.
Spotting: Players can now non-verbally mark the positions of enemies with a giant red flat so that their teammates can identify and flank the target. Just press the “Y” button and the red dot will hover above your enemy’s head for three seconds, visible to all your teammates.
Executions: Where executions used to be too risky and time-consuming, you now get XP. There are weapon-specific executions that are incredibly graphic and you have to earn them through gaining XP. If you haven’t earn that weapon’s execution, you default to the regular one.
Capture the Leader: Now, thankfully, the leader can’t die. Before, nobody wanted to win a game because the leader’s job was essentially to run and hide, but now the leader is more actively engaged in the battle and can trigger a brief scuffle with those who are attempting to capture him, allowing a few seconds for teammates to eliminate the threat.
King of the Hill: Players now don’t have to stay in the ring, and the ring moves on a timer.
Team Deathmatch: Teams get 20 communal lives. Once you’ve used up 15 of the lives, the match turns into Warzone and there are no more spawns. If you are sucking hardcore, they will put more time between your respawns to slow down the use of lives, and they will also start spawning you with a buddy to help you out.
The experience system in Gears of War 3 now consists of Ribbons, Medals and Titles. Ribbons demonstrate short-term victories – i.e. you were the MVP of the match or outclassed a higher-ranking player, etc. Medals are earned over long-term achievements, such as killing 50 people with a sniper rifle. And Titles will identify you and your preferences on the battlefield.
There is now an event calendar to make gamers aware of upcoming double XP weekends or weekends where all the characters have giant heads and tiny bodies, or other hilarious mutators.
Gears 3 also introduces Beginner Assistance. If the game searches your HD and finds no achievements for Gears 2 multiplayer and it knows you’ve never played Gears 3 -- and if you go online and you really suck at the game – it will turn on beginner assistance mode. You get double health and extra damage, and for the next 10 kills it slowly weans you off of it. Once you’ve had 10 total kills, beginner assistance is turned off and you can never use it again. Hopefully, this’ll encourage noobs to jump in headfirst.
Technically speaking, to eliminate any host advantage, there will be dedicated servers all over the world that’ll keep the games running uniformly fast. There is still peer-to-peer connectivity built into the multiplayer, so in 10 years when the servers are offline, gamers will still be able to play. Turns out, Epic’s been secretly testing these dedicated servers on Gears of War 2, so you may have already played on one without knowing it. And lastly, to get you in the game quickly on low population matches and long wait times, you can start a game right away against bots that’ll slowly be replaced by people as others join the fight.
There will indeed be a beta sometime next year. However, Epic is not yet sure how they will choose who gets into the program...Many thanks to Morgan Webb and Michael Leffler for braving the chainsaws to bring back all this intel!