As some of you got to experience this past weekend, Microsoft, alongside the developers at The Coalition, hosted a special Tech Test for the multiplayer portion of Gears 5, also known in some circles as the latest chapter in the Gears of War series. While this doesn’t really provide a taste of what’s to come in the new Escape mode or the single player campaign, it does deliver info on what many players have been waiting for – the game’s heavy multiplayer component.
There are portions that fans will be able to jump back into this weekend like the Boot Camp mode. This will essentially walk you through gameplay basics. There will also be a mini-Tour of Duty with numerous challenges that give exclusive rewards which will carry over into the final game when it rolls around in September. The fan favorite King of the Hill returns, along with the competitive game type Escalation.
All of these will be available starting on July 26th at 10 AM PDT, and run through July 29th around the same time. That gives you three days to run wild and see what to expect from the improved sequel and you’ll be able to get a taste of the new TrueMatch technology that The Coalition is introducing with the game. It utilizes AI Cloud Computing to adjust certain parameters with matchmaking, based on Skill Rating, location, and other player assets. Though it’s still in the testing phase, it sounds pretty cool nevertheless.
Now, lets walk through some of the experiences we had with each of the modes to get you ready for what’s to come.
First up is Boot Camp mode, which introduces you to some of the basics. Even if you’re ultra savvy in what Gears has to offer, you’ll still have to walk through this. While that can be a little annoying, it never hurts to get a refresher. Besides, when’s the last time you really played Gears of War 4 anyway?
The game plops you down into an interactive battlefield where a new recruit, Bairdthrough, walks you thorough the basics. First up is movement, which is simple enough to get through. Then you’ll learn how cover works by dodging the lasers of your robo-assistant. Then practice begins, as you take down drones with aiming and shooting techniques. The video below gives you a good idea of how it all comes together.
You’ll also get an idea of the right areas to throw grenades for explosive impact. This includes targeting enemies weak spots such as legs, or to Baird’s personal liking, the head. Obviously.
More weapons are introduced as you progress, including the Lancer and the Gnasher shotgun. You can experiment with these over the course of multiplayer however you see fit, but the real fun comes with the up-close executions. Here, you can tap the B button to knock an enemy down, and then hold the B button to perform a real personal execution. This can result in a number of finishers, like sawing someone in half with a Lancer (old-school!) or smacking their head off with a rifle. It all depends on who you’re taking out, and how viciously you need to finish them off. Again, the video above provides a good demonstration of this.
You can also execute enemies by yanking them over cover and countering when they come closer to you. This is useful, as you can catch them off guard when they’re trying to flank your position. It’s pretty neat catching someone when they least expect it, and you can kill them quickly. Yep, take that, punk.
The exercise comes to a close with a quick team skirmish. It’s here you learn the general basics of how it all comes together, working alongside a squad of AI droids that essentially let you do all the dirty work. It’s not nearly as entertaining as working alongside friends, but it lets you apply everything you’ve learned in the best way possible, so who are we to complain? Following this, your time in Boot Camp is done, and you can start multiplayer. (But you can try it again, in case you need a refresher.)
Now we get to Escalation. The Coalition set out to make it deeper than ever before, so you’ll want to keep these things in mind when it comes to jumping in this weekend.
First, make sure you rely more on your team this time around. We learned during our sessions this past weekend that running around as a rogue cannon, even with years of Gears experience, is merely asking for trouble. That’s because enemies working together as a team can quickly get the jump on you, so make sure you keep close tabs with your squad. That way, you can work together on picking your targets. What’s more, if someone’s injured, you’re able to heal them quickly and avoid becoming an army of one against an overwhelming force.
Like before, you attempt to control two of three points on a map to earn 250 points overall for the round, or a quick Domination victory if you get all three. That’s easier said than done in some cases, if only because the enemy team will try to overrun your rings in an effort to maintain control for themselves. Keep in mind that with the start of each new round, respawn times get shorter, and new weapons become available. Keep tabs on these, because they’re going to be really helpful against adversaries.
One thing we learned the hard ways is that there’s a new lives system. Respawns are very limited within this mode, so you’ll want to play it carefully. This is why teams are so much more important in Gears 5, because getting killed quickly takes diminishes your respawns. If you run out, you’re stuck watching from the sidelines. Watch the ticker in the upper left corner to see how many lives you have left, and make sure you pace them out accordingly. Don’t rush unless you absolutely have to, and don’t play foolishly!
Some players will go after those with low respawn counts, so make sure they’re protected if they’re on the field. You’ll miss their needed numbers later. Completely eliminating the other team from the battlefield will score you an instant win.
Weapon selection is vital with a game like this. You can upgrade a weapon, place a weapon randomly on the battlefield, or even disable another team’s weapon for all three rounds. There are upgrades with each decision that you make, so don’t necessarily rush into each option with your team. Balance things out and see what works best for your squad. Those grenades may come in handy during later rounds. Who knows, taking away a rival’s weapon may just do the trick for a round.
Finally, make sure to watch your spawn positioning. They’re a little more forward this time around than in the previous Escalation mode, with players more spread out. You can arm the front players a little better, although that could cost you picks depending what you give them. Respawn times can also dwindle with each countdown leading up to halftime.
There’s a lot of strategy to play around with here, so be patient, but have some fun with it.
King of the Hill
Last but not least, fan favorite King of the Hill makes its return for the Gears 5 beta test. For those unfamiliar, this mode has been around since the good ol’ days in the PC version of the original Gears of War, so it should bear a lot of familiarity with fans.
It’s got a little bit in common with Escalation, but instead of taking control of different rings in a stage, the focus is on a primary ring for a short period of time. The goal is for a team to capture as many of these points as they can over the duration of the round. Capture enough of these areas, and the team wins the match, but don’t expect to keep control of these rings easily. As the development team noted, the idea of this mode is to control these areas, and yet “enjoy the carnage” that comes with it.
Most of the team-based rules that applied with Escalation will likely come into play with King of the Hill as well. This includes playing as a team, dividing up points with weapons, and making sure to watch yourself on respawns. That said, you’ll also want to make sure your points are well guarded while not leaving yourself too vulnerable to enemy fire, which can come from literally any direction, depending on your location on the map. There are a number of favorites here, so be prepared for enemies to come at you from pretty much everywhere. (Isn’t that the glory of Gears, though?)
Fortunately, the rings are big enough that you can take a pretty good defensive stance as a team. That means you can have one or two teammates working on taking down enemies from behind cover, while having a couple running around picking off those that may be coming from other directions. But take heart as that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get off easily and get everyone that comes your way. They’ll have strategies that assure that you’ll want to stay on your toes Just because something works for a little while doesn’t mean it’s always going to work.
The best thing you can do is develop a strong team dynamic and make sure you work closely with them. Don’t mess around too much and don’t waste too much of your ammo. It could run out on you, forcing you to rely on your sidearm. Even that could run out, leaving you high and dry against someone that’s far more well armed. Rely on your teammates, watch out for weapon refills, and time your shots. It never hurts to keep moving either, unless you’re defending your ring spots in certain areas. In that case, keep your cover, and watch out for those that may be coming around the bend for you.
How Can I Take Part In the Test?
This is pretty much the last Gears 5 beta test that will take place before the game’s full release this September, so how can you take part? Well, there are a number of ways.
Perhaps the easiest, and most affordable, is the Xbox Game Pass which comes with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox Live) program anyway. You can pre-download the beta automatically, which should make it good to go once the weekend rolls around.
Don’t have Game Pass or the Xbox Live program? Not to worry. Simply pre-order the game, either standard or Ultimate Edition, and you should be able to obtain access to the beta. You’ll get a code through the retailer that you ordered the game through, and should be able to download it that way. Check in with them, as well as the official Xbox Wire page with information on the beta, for more details.
This is definitely a party you shouldn’t miss. What’s more, you can unlock not only progress over the course of the three day event, but also rewards that can be used in the full game. That’s not a bad thing at all. Oh, and we did mention that the beta is free to take part in, right?
Gears 5 will release on September 10 for Xbox One and Windows PC. Those of you with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or Gears 5 Ultimate pre-order can start playing on September 6!
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