Gears of War 3 looks like it will be another blockbuster hit when it’s released exclusively on the Xbox 360 this September. On the last day of E3, I was treated to a closed door demonstration of the campaign and Horde 2.0 mode.
I was ushered into small theater with a group of journalists and loyal Gears of War fans. Executive Producer Rod Ferguson set the scene for our preview. Set two years after the events of Gears of War 2, the human population on Sera has been forced to band together for survival. The Locusts have been dealt a crushing blow, but the planet is being torn apart by the Lambent infection from below the surface. Savage Locusts who are disillusioned with the leadership of the Locust Queen Myrrah have also taken the the surface in an effort to ensure their own survival. The last remaining COG have assembled a massive floating aircraft carrier that is slowly navigating the dangerous waters of Sera populated by fierce Lambent Leviathans.
The demo began with a Leviathan attack on the floating city. Marcus, Dom, and the rest of Delta Squad (now including Anya Stroud) rushed to the upper decks of the carrier to ward off the attack. Marcus led the team to a storage locker that contained one of Gears 3′s newest weapons – the Silverback powered armor. Brandishing a rocket launcher on one arm and a machine gun on the other, the Silverback packs a heavy punch. Anya took control of a Silverback and opened fire on the glowing eyes of the monstrous Leviathan. Fellow Gears took cover behind the Silverback and opened fire as well. The combined firepower of Delta squad was too much for the Leviathan to handle and it submerged to escape. A radio call from Cole offered a solution for defeating the Leviathan for good. Once the Leviathan surfaced, Marcus and the team lead it to the front of the carrier where Cole and Baird were ready for it. A cargo container of Lambent Tickers rained down on the Leviathan and it eventually sunk dead into the sea.
When the cutscene ended, the demo shifted to Cole’s point of view a few minutes before the Leviathan attack. Players will now be able to control other Gears characters during the campaign to see the battles for survival from all sides. Cole’s squad, which included Baird, Sam Byrne, and Jace Stratton fought through a group of Savage Locusts to reach the cargo container filled with Tickers. The battles started at the entrance to a bridge overlooking the waters of Sera. Here, Cole obtained a new weapon unveiled exclusively at E3. The new handheld Vulcan turret actually works best when manned by two players. The first player operates the Vulcan and the second player feeds ammunition into it. With two players working together, the Savage Locusts were torn to shreds on the bridge. After all of the ammo was finally depleted, Cole picked up a Oneshot and took out the last of the Savage Locusts. The campaign portion of the demo ended with Cole and the rest of his squad pushing the container of Tickers over the side of the bridge onto the Leviathan.
For the second part of the demo, a group of developers from Epic Games showed us the newly revamped Horde mode entitled Horde 2.0. In Horde 2.0, five players work together to fight off waves of enemies to see how long they can survive. New enemies include Lambent and Savage Locusts as well as a boss for every tenth wave. While the battles are more fierce, the Gears are better equipped to handle things. Kills earn money for the Gears which can be used to upgrade fortifications and purchase new ammo and weapons. Humans can now build barriers to slow down the incoming enemy waves and build automated turrets as well as manned turrets to increase their odds of survival. Every barrier and turret can be upgraded multiple times to increase their effectiveness. Players can also purchase a Silverback to unleash on enemies. Teamwork is paramount to survival in Horde 2.0 and players can now share ammo and trade weapons with each other.
Once a game starts, players have 30 seconds to pick up ammo and build fortifications before enemies start appearing. Enemies are randomized, so gamers can expect a unique experience every time they play horde. The team from Epic demonstrated the new fortification system by immediately building barbed wire barriers and upgrading them all the way to laser fences before the boss appeared. One of the devs spotted a group of Corpsers approaching from the back of the map and marked them for all of his teammates to see. The automated turrets came in handy and started wearing down the Corpsers before the devs began to fire upon them. Some Corpsers began attacking the laser fences. Once the first fence was destroyed, other Corpsers began burrowing underground to ambush the well armed Gears. A group of Boomers appeared after a few Corpsers had fallen from the devs’ combined firepower. After a few minutes, the devs cleared all the enemies from the boss wave with the aid of a well utilized Silverback.
The intensity of Gears of War 3 has been ramped up significantly for all game modes. From campaign to Beast mode to multiplayer to Horde 2.0, gamers look to be in for an adrenaline packed experience from the final chapter in this epic series…no pun intended.
Gears of War 3 releases September 20, 2011 only on the Xbox 360.