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Bungie and Microsoft have brought the Halo story to a close (for now), leaving Epic's Gears of War 3 as Microsoft's biggest Xbox 360 exclusive IP.

It's no surprise then that expectations for the third game in the series are high. Judging from our early experiences with the game Epic is pulling out all the stops.
So far we've seen a overhauled multiplayer system, a number of new gameplay modes, and an interesting new story.

We thought this would be the perfect time to bring you up to speed on what we know about Gears of War 3. Here's all the the juicy info in one place.

1. EPIC STORY
Written by Gears' novelist Karen Travis, the story begins 18 months after the events of Gears 2 aboard the Raven's Nest aircraft carrier.

The story follows two teams - Dom, Marcus, Anya, and newbie Jace; and a second team fronted by Cole and Baird as they investigate loose ends left by Marcus' father and get involved in the escalating war between the Locust Horde and the mutated Lambent Locusts.

Click "Read More" for the full list!

2. IT'S GREEN
Always a showcase for Epic's advances in their Unreal Engine, Gears of War 3 is set in a sunny and tropical climate. Out goes the blue and grey palette, replaced by warm earth tones and natural greens.

Some of the game's new multiplayer maps will change while the game is in progress - the Jacinto Overpass level sinks as fights rage, flooding and darkening the level as it disappears beneath the ground.

3. YOU CAN BE THE HORDE
Starting as a puny Ticker or Wretch, the new Beast Mode pits five Locusts against five AI-controlled COGs in a reversed Horde mode.

As games progress and you earn points for picking off COGs you can buy your next spawn and leap into the shoes of various flavours of Drone, Kantus Monks, Boomers, and finally, the unstoppable Berserker.

Half-blind and absolutely bloody furious, she's Beast Mode's most powerful and most expensive weapon.

4. YOU'RE ARMED TO THE TEETH
The default Lancer and a tweaked Hammerburst are joined by a third multiplayer start-out weapon - the Pendulum Lancer. The old Lancer variant swaps the chainsaw for a bayonet but has twice the stopping power with half the accuracy.

The old shotgun returns but is joined by the powerful but slow double-barrel, while the classic sniper rifle is complemented by the new One-Shot - a giant, shoulder-mounted rifle which makes you a sitting duck but kills in one massive blast.
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5. THERE ARE NEW WAYS TO PLAY
Gears of War 2's Guardian and Submission modes have been smooshed together to make the new Capture The Leader mode, where both teams have an invincible captain, who must be taken hostage for 30 seconds to win. King of the Hill has been merged with Annex in a new King of the Hill with mobile hills and spawn points.

And Warzone and Execution are joined by a first to-20-points rapidrespawn Team Deathmatch mode for cretins who just didn't understand the staggering complexity of Execution.

6. IT HAS THE FEATURES YOU DEMANDED
Take Gears 3 online and you'll find a whole new game. When you finish a game your party will stick together, Halo-style, and if your host should ever bail out the game will pick a new host without any disconnections.

You can mark enemies, Battlefield style, designating targets for snipers and setting waypoints. Gears 3 will also keep all of the best updates from Gears 2's many title updates, increases the campaign co-op's player count to four players, and adds one more thing every Gears fan demanded...

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7. IT HAS DEDICATED SERVERS
You can't win in Gears of War 2. If you lose, you lose; if you win, someone's always quick to tell you that you had 'host advantage'.

It's true that the game's host gets a slight advantage on everyone else, and it was a problem even back in the original Xbox days on Rainbow Six 3 and Halo 2, so Epic are fixing it.

Every game of Gears 3 will be hosted on dedicated servers run by Microsoft, so everyone has the same super-snappy response time.

8. IT'S TESTED TO DESTRUCTION
Epic have been secretly testing some of Gears 3's new features within Gears 2. When Title Update 6 was rolled out they began hosting some games on dedicated servers and started tweaking the shotgun's balance.

When Gears 3 ships next September it will have had over a year's worth of feature testing in Gears 2 and a dedicated open beta, built to test the game's new modes and new weapons under real world conditions.

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9. YOU'LL LEVEL UP
Everything you do in Gears of War 3 - from reviving a teammate to stomping on a man's head - will earn you XP which will unlock execution variants for each weapon and other cosmetic bonuses.

New Ribbons and Medals reward you for being especially proficient in different actions, and earning enough will award you with titles you can apply to your in-game tag.

Level up enough and Mutators can be applied to the co-op game modes for bizarre effects - huge heads, teleporting enemies, loon-o-physics, and other nonsense.


10. EVERYTHING IS BETTER!
Characters move faster. Every weapon has a unique role. A new boot-forward vault over cover cures the old 'Naked Gun shootout' problem between two enemies on either side of cover, kicking them backwards and giving the aggressor an advantage.

Every match begins with an overview of the map, with markings for weapon locations and important tactical positions. It's an idea which pops up in Bad Company 2's Vietnam DLC and a feature you'll see more and more as online games get smarter and friendlier for new players.

[Source: CVG]

 





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