Gears of War 3 beta arrives April 18

Epic Games' upcoming shooter entering trial phase on Microsoft's console next month for owners of the Bulletstorm Epic Edition; debuts on Xbox Live on April 25 for GameStop preorders.

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In December, Epic Games announced it would bundle access to the Gears of War 3 beta in Epic Edition copies of People Can Fly's Bulletstorm. Later, it was revealed the start date for the trial would be sometime in April. Now, gamers have a definitive date to circle on their calendars.

Right in the back. That tickles!
Right in the back. That tickles!

Owners of the Epic Edition of the warmly received Bulletstorm can enter the multiplayer beta for Gears of War 3 beginning on April 18. They will have access to the game's Team Deathmatch mode playable on four maps: Thrashball, Checkout, Trenches, and Old Town.

The beta will become available to the rest of the community beginning April 25 via preorder at specialty retailer GameStop. Gamers who reserve online will be e-mailed a download key redeemable via Xbox Live, and those who preorder in-store will be handed the token.

Over the course of the beta, two additional game modes--Capture the Leader and King of the Hill--will be added. The Gears of War 3 multiplayer trial will last three weeks and will be curb-stomped on May 15.

Gamers who play the Gears of War 3 beta will earn exclusive content that will be transferred to retail copies when the game launches this fall. These items include the Flaming Gnasher Shotgun, a Gold-Plated Retro Lancer, a Thrashball Cole character variant, and others. For the full list of beta unlockables, check out the Gears of War 3 beta breakdown.

In addition to announcing a firm schedule for the Gears of War 3 beta, Microsoft also announced that Gears of War 3 will arrive in three distinct editions when it is released on September 20 worldwide. The third-person shooter will arrive in Standard ($60), Limited ($80), and Epic ($150) editions.

For more on the upcoming shooter's beta, check out GameSpot's most recent hands-on preview of the Gears of War 3 beta.

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