Take a trip to Old Town as we conclude our look at the multiplayer maps in the upcoming Gears 3 beta.
The Gears of War 3 online multiplayer beta launches on April 18 for Bulletstorm Epic Edition owners, and those who pre-ordered Gears of War 3 from participating retailers get in a week later, on April 25. The beta kicks off with Team Deathmatch on four maps: Thrashball, Checkout, Trenches and Old Town. Each map will give Gears fans a different taste of what to expect from the final multiplayer experience. Some are tight and intense, while others are wider open and more tactical.
We recently sat down with Epic Games' Jim Brown and Wyeth Johnson to talk tactics, strategies and secrets for each of the four Gears of War 3 beta launch maps, and we'll be rolling out info on them all week long. If you're looking for more info, head over to our Gears of War 3 Beta FAQ for details on the beta dates, requirements, unlockables and rules.
On the surface, Thrashball looks like a long distance pot-shot paradise, where teams square off at either end and edge their way toward one another. In reality, though, the action happens at the sides of the map, especially at the concession stand at the top of the stairs. According to Epic, teams that own the mulcher on their way to claiming concessions can dominate the match. But that doesn't mean the team stuck on the field doesn't have any options.
There are two grenade spawns on Thrashball, which should make for some explosive action on the stairwells. And see that scoreboard looming overhead? As the match goes on, it'll drop down a few notches, until finally a well-placed shot from below can cut it loose entirely. On the downside, it'll crush anyone beneath it and prevent access to the power weapon (torque bow or digger laucher). On the plus side, the downed scorebard can provide much-needed cover for a team that's trapped on the field.
Check out the video above for a closer look at the ins and outs of Thrashball.
Like Thrashball, Checkout is set in the Cole Train's home town of Hanover. The action here will take place in an abandoned department store, ruined by war. There's a ton of cover on Checkout, and teams will gravitate toward the sides of the map. On one side, there's a mulcher machine gun protected by three low walls. On the other, there's a sniper rifle/digger launcher behind a raised platform. The team that goes for the sniper should also grab and hold that platform, where the frag grenades spawn.
Look for players to go into Checkout with the new sawed-off shotgun, which devastates enemies at extreme close range. Pro tip: If you head up onto the grenade platform and crouch in the far corner, you're out of range of anyone with a sawed-off shotgun on the ground below. Gears of War 3 introduces a spotting function that's new to the series, and Checkout is a great place to put it to use. Epic told me that in their internal playtests, on this map especially, the team that spots the most usually wins.
Trenches is just plain nuts. Epic's Jim Brown told me the layout of this map is a cross between a U and a T. That alone should make you want to try it out, just to see what it does to your brain. Modeled on an above-ground Locust mining camp, Trenches is a tight network of tunnels and blind corners. But it's also surprisingly vertical. The crane platform in the center of the map houses a mortar, and most of the fiercest fighting will probably happen here.
Those skirmishes will be complicated by the placement of the new Oneshot sniper rifle at the top of the opposite rise. It's a beast to operate, but it's deadly and well worth fighting for. The Oneshot's destructive goodness will only get you so far, though. There's a sandstorm environmental effect that blows through Trenches, bringing visibility down to about zero. At that point, it's best to drop what you're doing, whip out your shotgun and just start spraying and praying. Take a look at the video above for a detailed look at Trenches.
Epic is bringing a bit of color into Gears of War 3, and Old Town really shows that off. But don't get so distracted by the reds, greens and blues that you forget to watch your back. Old Town is a tricky map with dead-end alleys, strategically placed power weapons and a lot of elevation change. Your instinct might be to rush the middle of Old Town (killing chickens along the way), but the sides of the map are where the goodies are.
Teams will probably square off over the sniper rifle/Torque bow and Boomshot/Digger launcher. Epic told me the weapon drops and map layout were designed to keep teams moving. You'll definitely want to watch out for flankage here. Grab your weapon of choice, stick with your team and move from cover area to cover area. Hit the play button above to watch a video walkthrough of Old Town.