E3 2010: Gears of War 3 Beast Mode Hands On - Turning the Tables
Written Thursday, June 24, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take control of a blind hulking goliath that definitely doesn't win points in the brains department? No, I'm not talking about getting behind the reigns of David Blunkett, not even I'm that harsh, I'm actually talking about the Gears of War Berserker. In what is a turn up against the books, Epic turned up at this year’s E3 to show off their new Gears of War 3 mode, Beast, and whilst Valve were certainly heralded for their brave move with the Left 4 Dead Versus mode, I have a feeling that Beast will be just as big a hit for Epic. In a nutshell, it's Horde, but you're the Locust... Mind blowing, right? Okay, maybe not, but it is certainly one of the most addictive modes I've played since... well, since Horde.
Unlike its COG-flavoured brother, Horde, Gears of War 3’s Beast mode not only lets you step into the shoes of the standard Locust – the same way that you do in the game’s multiplayer – but it actually lets you choose from a large subset of the different variations... even the brand spanking new enemies. That means that each of the characters you can select have strengths, weaknesses and special abilities – whether it’s the Kantus’ revival of downed comrades or the Berserker smash. It’s not just a case of everyone picking Berserkers though and stomping the opposition out of sight. Far from it. Not only do you have to unlock the later levels of more advanced Locust by progressing further, but you have to carefully manage the tokens that you get as well – a Ticker and a Wretch are obviously cheaper to buy than a Mauler or a Grinder.
Much like the Horde mode though, as you progress further, the harder the opposition will get, as you start off fighting against the lowly Scavenger COG, before working your way up to start taking down Marcus, Dom and co. Not only will the famed COG activate security systems and automated turrets around the level, but the pesky buggers will also take advantage of Mech suits dotted around the map and cause a nuisance by taking up position on the static gun turrets.
On show at this year’s E3 was a single solitary map, Mercy, which brought with it a handful of waves to battle through. The Mercy map was an outdoors map set in an open courtyard with the almost obligatory Gears of War fountain in the middle. It was an asymmetrical map with plenty of vantage points on either side with more than its fair share of cover and COG turrets on either side, with a small, shallow interior on the lower side. As far as maps go, it was your standard Gears of War fare with nothing too outrageous, although like the recent screenshots, it was a little bit more colourful... oh, and a lot prettier as well.
Let’s get on to the bit that you all probably care about the most... the Locust; how effective they are and what sort of cool things you can do with them.
In the lowest tier of beasties you get to take control of the Wretch and the Ticker. The Wretch is your standard fodder enemy who needs to stay out of the open and take the COG by surprise. Devastating up close, but getting up close and personal is the tricky part. The Ticker on the other hand is a personal favourite and is a little quicker on his feet. Granted, they can’t take much lead before they explode, but if you can right on the COG’s toes and pull the trigger, their suicidal blast is devastating and a direct hit is a one-hit kill.
Slightly more expensive on the tokens front are your traditional Grenadier Elites who come equipped with a shotgun and a handful of grenades – they can even rip off the arm of a downed COG combatant and beat them to death with it as their execution move – and the Kantus, who have the extra ability of reviving your teammates from a distance, thus making him a valuable addition to your Locust line-up. Then there are your Armoured Kantus, who may be mostly bulletproof but seemed to pale in comparison to the other Locust, and your Serapedes, who are new to the Gears of War universe and are underground centipede like creatures that has an electricity charged attack.
At the top of the Christmas tree – but not the angel on the top – are your Boomers: the Mauler, the Grinder – with the devastating mini-gun – and the new Savage Boomer. Whilst it’s fun to run around and swing the Mauler’s flail and use their shield to creep closer to the COGs and spray bullets with the Grinder’s chain-gun, they both come second best to the new Savage Boomer. A giant of a beast, the Savage Boomer is armed with a Digger Launcher, which fires projectiles that burrow underground until they meet their intended destination and explode. Particularly useful against turrets and COG hidden behind cover, in fact, extremely useful in any combat situation.
The pinnacle of the Locust enemy types is the Berserker and there is nothing more satisfying than charging through the COG frontline and smashing Dom in the face. It’s something that most of us have wanted to do since Gears 2 and you’re a liar if you say otherwise. The Berserker is as you would expect. Powerful, expensive and blind as a bat. They’re not totally blind though, but Epic have done a great job to recreate what it would be like for the strongest of the Locust race by blurring the outsides of the screen and leaving you with a fairly limited tunnel of vision.
The new Beast mode is sure to delight stalwart fans of the franchise and most definitely adds more depth to Gears of War 3. Along with 4 player co-op, Horde mode, Beast mode and of course, the game’s standard multiplayer modes, there aren’t many more games on the market that offer so much content under one roof – except maybe Left 4 Dead. Beast, despite the name, is a charming mode and one with a ton of replayability and more importantly, it’s a blast to play. Literally... especially if you’re a Ticker.
Gears of War 3 is out April 5th in North America and April 8th in Europe.