Gears of War 3 E3 2010 Preview

By Garnett Lee, Jun 21, 2010 11:00am PDT QUICKTAKE: A fun way of seeing things from the other side without disrupting the narrative flow of the single-player campaign, the new Beast co-op mode lets players become Locust creatures and take down successive waves of COG soldiers.

Developer Epic Games brought a new multiplayer mode for Gears of War 3 to show at E3 2010. Beast Mode turns the table, giving gamers a chance to play from the Locust side of a firefight. This five-player co-op mode features a progression through waves of COG soldiers. With each one cleared, the next enters with a little more firepower. For the E3 demo there were a total of four waves but that number will vary in the final game. We also got to play with increasingly powerful Locust in the demo but when the game comes out only basic Locust will be available at first--kills and support actions during play will earn points to unlock higher level Locust.

This unlock system, working with the variety of abilities and attacks of the different Locust, holds a lot of potential for encouraging team play. One of the first Locust I tried out was the ticker, a beetle-like creature that scurries up on its prey and then explodes. On my own, the soldiers pretty easily killed me before I could get in range to detonate. But if I waited for them to engage one of our heavies, I could work around to get in position while they were preoccupied. And then when I took a turn as a berserker I knew it was my job to get out there and soak up the bullets.

In this regard the combat started to take on the feel of an MMO with distinct roles to be played and a need to orchestrate them to be successful. While that's true of all team-based shooters in a broad sense, the twist of playing as Locust creatures opens up the breadth of possibilities. In addition to the feral Locust like the ticker and berserker, there's also ranks of more humanoid, weapon-toting classes to choose from. Advanced groups could include a mix like the beserker-ticker combo, with a wretch darting around causing confusion, a grinder boomer unleashing a withering hail of fire from his mulcher, and a kantus providing support with their secondary ability to revive fallen comrades. Playing around with all the potential combinations and their related tactics should make Beast Mode in Gears of War 3 more than just a mirror version of Gears of War 2's Horde Mode.

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