Gears of War 3 Beta Preview

We find out what maps, modes, and weapons will be included in the upcoming Gears of War 3 beta.

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Now that you've already marked your calendar for the September 20 release of Gears of War 3, you can join in on the multiplayer beta in April on dedicated servers. No date has been set just yet, but if you've already purchased your Epic Edition copy of Bulletstorm, you're guaranteed in, and you also get an exclusive flaming lancer. At the Gears of War 3 preview event in San Francisco, executive producer Rod Fergusson announced that an exclusive gold lancer would be available via the beta and that it would be yours to keep if you meet the requirement of 90 matches played and 100 kills. For those looking to run around in Cole's thrashball outfit, it can also be yours to own when the retail game comes out if you play 83 matches (70 to unlock, 13 more for yours to keep).

If you haven't read the latest hands-on update on the game, where we got to play through all the new modes and maps, as well as toy around with the weapons, you can do so right here. But for the beta, there will be three of the six multiplayer modes to play across four maps, which haven't been determined yet. The supermarket level Checkout and the Thrashball stadium map are definitely included, but Epic Games is leaving it up to you to vote for the other two maps that will be included in the beta. These include Mercy, Old Town, and Overpass and Trenches. You can check out the official Gears of War 3 Facebook page to vote. Below is a rundown of what to expect.

Modes included in the beta:

King of the Hill - Now, it should be obvious how this one is played, but this time around, the mode has been combined with Annex and given a clearer rule set. The UI has also been simplified, so determining where and who your targets are will be easier. The ring moves around the map as well, to keep you on your toes.

Capture the Leader - This mode is a combination of Guardian and Submission, with some tweaks. Depending on whose side you're on, you will either aim to capture Chairman Prescott or Queen Myrrah and then hold on to him or her as long as you can. Everyone here is armed with one smoke grenade, which forces your opponent to drop the meat shield that he or she is holding, so use it wisely. The leader isn't useless either; he or she can see through walls to help coordinate his or her teammates. You can now use the left stick to spot enemies, which helps tremendously.

Watch your back!
Watch your back!

Team Deathmatch - While all the modes are fairly intense, Team Deathmatch can get really hairy once you start to run out of respawns. Each team is assigned 15 respawns, and if your team is the one eating those up, the next time you spawn, you'll likely appear next to a teammate so that hopefully you won't die as quickly.

Fergusson also mentioned some gameplay changes that might help you avoid picking up a weapon when you're really trying to raise your teammate. By tapping the X button, you will be able to help your buddy, but now, you have to hold X a little longer for a circle to appear to grab a weapon. The same mechanic has been applied to the Y button where a tap is a good old-fashioned curb-stomp, and if you hold it, you'll get to pull off a long execution (assuming you've unlocked it for that particular weapon).

New/modified weapons:

One-Shot - If you can get someone in your line of sight, all that's going to be left of him is a red mist. It's not very discreet, so once you hear the sound, you better find something to hide behind.

Sawed-off Shotgun - The shotgun tends to be a favorite among players, and the new double-barreled gun can not only take out a single opponent in one shot, but it can also take out up to three if they are clustered together. You have to get close--like up close and personal close--for this to work. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair, right?

Incendiary Grenade - Aah, grenades are always good in a pinch. Especially the ones that explode on impact.

Digger Launcher - The "nom nom nom" weapon fires a digger that burrows underground and eventually jumps out at its target, like a really fast and vicious mole.

Yeah, baby! Gold lancer bling can be yours if you play the beta.
Yeah, baby! Gold lancer bling can be yours if you play the beta.

Retro Lancer - While you can't use a chainsaw to halve your enemies with this, you can definitely surprise enemies by skewering them in the back. You have to charge first though, so it's easy enough to dodge in close-quartered combat. But if someone's not paying attention…

Hammerburst - Iron sights have been added to the hammerburst, so you can use the right stick to get a better view.

If you've been itching to play some Gears of War 3, you will get a chance to once the beta begins in mid-April. The game will ship on September 20, exclusively on the Xbox 360.

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