Gears of War 3 is coming out later this year, but until then you will have to play the Multiplayer BETA. This is available right now for Bulletstorm owners and people who have pre-ordered the game and been lucky enough to get a BETA code with the preorder from selected retailers.
The Gears of War 3 BETA features 4 Multiplayer maps from the full game including Thrashball, Old Town, Checkout and Trenches. There are also three game modes available: Team Deathmatch, Capture The Leader and King Of The Hill
In all honesty, the Gears 3 BETA is amazing. It’s everything that should have been in Gears 2 and more. Not only is it completely LAG FREE (from what I’ve played) due to dedicated servers (yes, no more host advantage!). But also the gameplay has been improved to the stage where I don’t want to put the controller down. With the new XP and ranking system the BETA can get very addictive very fast. You earn XP for practically everything: 10 Headshots, Kill Streaks, 50 Kills with Shotgun, Killing someone with an object from the environment. Anything and everything will give you something towards hitting that next level.
In the BETA you also have the possibility of unlocking some stuff that will carry across to the full game. If you play 50 matches you will unlock Cole Train in the BETA and then play a further 10 matches with him will unlock him in the full game. The same applies to the Retro Golden Lancer, play 90 matches and unlock it, then get 100 kills with it for the full game unlock. These two unlocks are definitely something that when carried across to the full game will be unique that nobody else can unlock unless they played the BETA. The game also has Medals, and other character unlocks that will tie into your ingame name. At the moment I am a Gnasher Artisan (unlocked by getting 200 kills with the Gnasher shotgun) and this will appear below your name in a title. Others including Medic, Active Reload and Pyro.
Don’t worry about not having access to many weapons in the BETA as most weapons are playable (apart from Hammer of Dawn, Boltok Pistol and a “retro turret“) and they seem a lot more balanced than they did in Gears 2. You can no longer do the one two kill with the shotgun (beat then shoot). Getting a kill comes down to skill and not how good your connection to the host is. The new Retro Lancer joins the Hammerburst and the Lancer as starting weapons. But no chainsaw this time, the Retro Lancer has a spine impaling bayonet on the end so you can charge around the battlefield jabbing people through the stomach and waving them about in the air.
The maps in the BETA are also quite varied. I found that originally I didn’t like one map (checkout) but as the BETA went on, I liked it more and more. And now it’s my favourite map. The maps included are:
Thrashball – Thrashball puts you in the arena of Cole Trains football team, although it’s in a pretty rough state. With a huge flaming raven on one side this map features some awesome interactive map features. The main being the scoreboard dangling over the arena. Not only does it display the scores that both teams are on, but you can also shoot it down to flatten some unlucky person standing under it.
Old Town – Based on an old town, this map features a grand bell tower and about 10 chickens that frantically run around clucking (that is until you kick them). No environmental changes happen but the addition of a Torque Bow/Longshot mean that cover is vital. With short winding corners forcing you to watch your back after every turn.
Trenches – Trenches is a really unique map. With a powerful weapon (the oneshot) up at the top of a long hill and some long viewpoints. This map is definitely one for Hammerburst users. But watch yourself, because half way through the game, the map will suddenly become extremely dusty and you won’t be able to see anyone who isn’t stood right in front of you.
Checkout – Checkout is the smallest of the maps included in the BETA. When first playing this map, I used to hate it. I had no idea where I was and I couldn’t find anywhere to stand that wouldn’t involve me getting shot from all angles. After a while, I found an effective strategy, where to run at the start of the match, what gun to use. And now I absolutely love this map and would say it’s my favourite in the BETA. You’ll find if this comes up as an option in the lobby, a majority of people will always choose this.
Of course, whatever map your playing on, you will always start by roadie running to where you feel more comfortable or to one of the power weapons such as the Longshot or Torque Bow. And maybe even the Boomshot.
When it comes to game modes, I would say the ones featured in the BETA are so much better than the traditional Warzone/Execution game modes featured in the first two games. No longer do you have to wait a full round after dying before you can respawn as now the Team Deathmatch mode has you respawning every 3-15 seconds. The same goes with CTL and KOTH.
Overall my view of the BETA is amazing. Epic Games have really done a fantastic job at making a stable, fun and truly gorgeous third game in the Gears Franchise. And I will tell you something, I cannot wait for the finished game because it’s going to change what we think of online gaming forever.