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In This Month's OXM: Dedicated Servers Coming to Gears 3
Gears 3 Multiplayer Beta Inbound!
Subscribers to Official Xbox Magazine are due for a nice surprise in their mailboxes very soon. In one hell of a cover story, the mag details its findings from a recent trip to Epic HQ in Cary, NC, for an in-depth preview of Gears 3 multiplayer. Among the litany of revelations: In addition to a swath of online code improvements, we’re bringing dedicated servers to Gears of War 3 to drive a balanced, optimized, and thrilling online experience for Gearheads everywhere. For the full scoop on Gears 3’s dedicated servers, new match types, and more, check out the latest issue of OXM, arriving in mailboxes now and due on newsstands soon!
InfoYou read that right—a multiplayer beta is in the works for Gears 3, giving you and scores of other Gearheads an opportunity to test-drive 2011’s biggest game before release. “What modes will the beta include?” you bellow, shaking your fist at the sky. “What new weapons will I employ in my tyrannical march toward competitive online domination?” Easy, friends! All will be revealed in due time. Sit back, speculate with your fellow fans on the official Gears forums, and keep your eyes on gearsofwar.com for more details.
Gears 3 will include true host migration, meaning that if the person who started the game decides to quit (probably because you're beating them too badly), the game is designed to seamlessly choose another player to control the game without skipping a beat.
Peer-to-peer voice chat will also be handled by the servers,
Heading off what Epic anticipates could be some bandwidth limitations in the newest version of Xbox Live. Social matches like the ones introduced in Title Update 6 will be back in Gears 3 and will use the same method of filling in blank spots in the roster with AI bots
Persistent parties will now be a part of the Gears online experience, allowing you and your friends to move between games and modes without having to disband and re-gather after your matches end
And Epic will even be storing your Gears of War 3 profile information on its own servers to prevent some of the file corruption that has occurred in Gears of War 2
Although there's no precise date set for the beta just yet, Fergusson says it's scheduled for early 2011.
Despite the obvious advantages of dedicated servers and public betas, neither will necessarily make it easier for inexperienced players or series newcomers to get sucked into Gears online. So Epic has gone back to the drawing board and streamlined the multiplayer modes
WeaponsGuardian and Submission have been merged into a single mode called Capture the Leader. At the beginning of each round in this mode, each team is assigned a leader, and your mission is to grab the enemy's leader and hold him or her for 30 seconds. There are no capture points, just you and your captive as the clock ticks down. As an added twist, the captive has the opportunity to struggle every few seconds by tapping the B button. Time it right and you could throw off your captor's aim at a critical moment, or, if he's already wounded, do just enough damage to break free. In Capture the Leader, leaders also have enhanced tactical/communications capabilities that allow them to see enemy positions by holding down the left bumper
The new King of the Hill is a hybrid of Gears' current King of the Hill mode mixed with Annex. This one's based on capturing and holding ringed areas that rotate around the map at timed intervals. Enter the ring, and hold it as long as you can in order to milk points out of it. The spawn locations move as well, to prevent players from camping
The modes that have always typified that hold-the-front philosophy in Gears of War's competitive multiplayer are Warzone and Execution, each a slight variant on the typical deathmatch scenario. Both are back in Gears of War 3, but they're not in the spotlight. The marquee mode is now simply called Team Deathmatch, described as typical team-vs-team multiplayer combat with a Gears twist.
Each team begins with 20 lives, and they gradually dwindle to zero as team members are killed and re-spawn. The last team standing gets a point, and the first team to score two points wins. There are no locked spawn points, so it's impossible to camp in an open area with your back to one, unless you want a bayonet in your back.
No new Gears game would be complete without an arsenal of ridiculous weapons. The Pendulum-era Lancer is a particularly brutal beast. Essentially a machine gun with a nasty looking bayonet clamped to the barrel, it's not as accurate as the modern Lancer, but it has a bit more stopping power. Hold down the B button for long enough while moving with the retro Lancer equipped, and your character will break into a deadly roadie run. Whoever gets in the way will find himself dangling from the end of your weapon, impaled on a foot of steel.
Rather than simply choosing between the Hammerburst and Lancer rifles as your preferred starting weapons, Gears of War 3 throws the Pendulum Lancer in the mix, too. And now you can also choose between two default shotguns, the returning Gnasher and the punishing new Sawed-off.
Destined to be both one of the most loved and hated weapons in Gears 3, the Sawed-off is slow, clunky, impractical and altogether awesome. Once you learn how to use it correctly (get in 50% closer than you think you need to), you'll be absolutely hooked on its amazing splattery goodness.
The only other new weapon that comes close to its ridiculousness is the Oneshot, the angry, menopausal mother of all sniper rifles. It weighs a ton, only has one zoom level and makes a godawful whining noise when engaged. It leaves you totally exposed, it's hard to aim, and it broadcasts your intention to fire with a yellow-to-red laser sight similar to the Torque Bow. But, like the Sawed-off, it's a joy to kill with.
In addition to introducing these the new weapons, Epic has gone back into the sandbox to play with some of the existing favorites. The Hammerburst now has an iron-sights zoom that makes it even deadlier at range. The Gorgon burst pistol has been re-named the Gorgon SMG and fires as an automatic now, suddenly making it the go-to gun for meatshield wielders. Grenades can still be tagged to surfaces, but the Ink grenade and the new Incendiary grenade no longer give off warning beeps when thrown. By the time you see one, it's probably already too late.
Those grenade descriptions may have made your mind start spinning with all the applications for Horde battles, but so far Epic is still staying fairly silent on what's in store for Horde. It'll be back in Gears of War 3, with some "fundamental changes," says Fergusson. But beyond that, nothing new has been announced.
XP & Ribbons
New leveling system, which is leaps and bounds above what was patched into the second game last year. Everything you do, from reviving teammates to holding capture points, will gain you XP, which raises your level. But now, instead of being a meaningless number, your level will lead you to in-game rewards.
In addition to the overarching XP system, there are also new hooks built into Gears of War 3's leveling. Ribbons can be earned for doing things in matches like getting 5-kill streaks, drawing first blood, killing your nemesis and reviving a set number of teammates. Medals are mini-achievements that carry over from match to match and include things like getting a certain number of headshots or becoming an expert with a particular weapon. That, in turn, ties into Titles, which you earn for becoming specialized in certain areas. So if you're a slick enough sniper to earn a title for being an expert with the Longshot, you can actually append a special title related to that onto your in-game character.
Even better, your progress with all these little incentives is constantly being compared to that of your friends. So as you rank up with the shotty, you'll see little pop-ups telling you how you compare to your buddy. And that's not the only reward for getting good with guns.
Gears of War 3 Multiplayer Interview
G4TV Talkabouts: Gears of War 3 Multiplayer
MP Video 1
MP Video 2
A Look at the Multiplayer Maps of Gears of War 3
Screens & Pictures
OverHead Map Views