Gears of War 3 will feature four-player co-op for the first time in the series, and Epic Games' charismatic Cliff Bleszinski used E3 to show it off. He was joined by fellow Epic man Rod Ferguson on stage to play as familiar characters Marcus and Dom, as well as two new female characters, Anya and Sam.
The demo was set in Anvil Gate, a leafy, green environment that features a base where the Gears were aiming to regroup. Unfortunately, standing between them were a bunch of angry Lambent enemies--mutated versions of the famous Locust from the other games. The E3 demo began with Marcus awakening from some sort of trauma to find the rest of his team laying down surprising gunfire.
One enemy could be seen ripping off a human limb and beating the corpse with it--signaling the level of threat to Marcus and the rest of his team. We watched as the co-op players swapped weapons with each other, and in one cool moment, Marcus took a hostage, attached a grenade, and kicked him forward into other enemies.
The highlight was the Lambent Locust, though, who would come out of the ground, breathing fire, releasing small creatures, and using their multiple limbs to toss huge objects around. The Lambent Beserker threw a car at Marcus that he then used for cover, but he wasn't able to stay still for long because the Beserker would charge at him, forcing him to time his roll to the side.
Racing to the human base, the team managed to regroup with more Gears--what looked like seven members in total, including more female soldiers. They thought they were safe, but the Beserker jumped over the fence and down onto the camera, signalling the end of the demo. Bleszinski teased a new gameplay mode called Beast, saying, "We think you're gonna like it." We'll be sure to drop by the Microsoft booth tomorrow to find out more.
[UPDATE] After seeing the press conference demo up close and personal, we were able to glean some more in-depth information about a few elements in particular.
First off, those nasty lambent creatures that burst through the ground like huge, writhing tentacles are called lambent stalks. This is how the lambent deploy their troops, and they do it in grisly fashion. As we watched, large bulbous orbs formed on the side of the stalk and sloughed off, bursting when they hit the ground and releasing a lambent locust solider. They can also spew out tiny crablike creatures called polyps that spread the lambent mutation. We saw a lambent stalk tear a locust soldier in half; one can only imagine what happens when one of these polyps gets its claws into a locust, or a human for that matter.
Secondly, we got a bit more info about some of the weapons on display. The demo showed off the new bayonet lancer charge that essentially makes the roadie run a deadly maneuver. We also saw a locust soldier wielding a digger launcher, which is a burrowing weapon that can bypass cover positions with ruthless efficiency. And at the end, when the Gears made it into the "safety" of the fort, the massive doors were closed by soldiers in new Silverback mech suits, powerful exoskeletons that no doubt pack a punch in combat.
Gears of War 3 will feature new characters that fans of the novels and comics will be familiar with, including Jace, and will see familiar characters evolve and devolve as the stress and ravages of war continue to take their toll. We also heard a bit more about Beast Mode, which puts players in the role of the Locust trying to kill the Gears. From the small, chittering Tickers to the monklike Kantus to the towering Berserker, players will see the war from a nasty new angle. We'll have more on Beast Mode after Microsoft's E3 Showcase tonight, so be sure to check back soon for our hands-on impressions.