I love Gears of War multiplayer: great action, eye-popping graphics, over-the-top violence, and an overall fun experience. The only problem is I suck at it. A lot. As in turbo-charged Hoover suckage. My kill/death ratio is embarrassingly low, and I sometimes feel like I spend more time waiting to respawn than actually playing the game.
So if you’re a casual player or brand new to the series and are getting your butt handed to you in the beta, I feel your pain. The franchise has attracted a seriously hardcore following and I am constantly amazed (and sometimes frustrated) by how good the players are. It can get bad enough to potentially turn off the average or casual player, which is a shame because they will miss out on a fantastic multiplayer shooter.
However, if you’re one of those people, don’t despair. Take it from me: a little time, patience and smarts will have you holding your own even against the toughest opponents. Hopefully this guide will help you enjoy all the fun the beta has to offer. No, you still may not get the most kills, but at least you won’t feel like cannon fodder either.
Your tactics and loadout will vary depending on which gametype you play, but the one Golden Rule of Gears applies: always stick with your teammates. In other words, NEVER rush in by yourself! The gameplay in Gears is unlike the frantic run-and-gun of Halo or Call of Duty, so the Rambo rush you used in those games is a guaranteed way to get yourself killed here. There is one exception to this rule – which I will outline below – but remember: always stay with at least one member of your team. If you get separated, hold the left bumper to highlight your teammates’ positions and immediately make a beeline for them. There is strength and safety in numbers, and as in all games, the team that works together, wins together.
Suggested Loadout: Hammerburst or Lancer, Gnasher
You always want to limit the number of times you die, but this is even more important in Team Deathmatch since there is now a shared pool of lives for each team. Similar to the ticket system in Battlefield, each death reduces the limited number of respawns available for your team; once that number dwindles down to zero, each player death is “permanent” until the round is over. A great way to earn the vitriolic wrath of your teammates is having a disproportionate number of deaths beside your name in the summary screen, which is indisputable evidence of you dragging them down.
Until you gain some experience and work on your skills, you should hang back like a wingman and provide fire support for the more skilled players. You won’t get a lot of kills this way, but you will damage opponents and get downs, making it easier for your teammates to finish them off. The Lancer is the easiest weapon to use in the game (and of course, features the awesome chainsaw) but the Hammerburst is especially effective for supporting fire, thanks to its new iron sights. Click the right stick and you’ll zoom into a first-person view that essentially turns it into a mid-range sniper rifle. Learning how to use long-range power weapons like the sniper rifle, mortar and digger launcher will also provide valuable suppressing fire.
Hanging back also gives you the opportunity to mark enemy locations. Clicking the left stick while looking at an opponent causes a bright marker to appear above their head; while it only lasts for a few seconds, it is enough to alert your teammates, who can then take appropriate action.
But if an opponent gets close, immediately switch to your Gnasher shotgun since the Hammerburst is ineffective at close range. Hip firing works well with the Gnasher, so only aim with the left trigger if you have time to do so.
King of the Hill
Suggested Loadout: Lancer or Retro Lancer, Sawed-Off
The goal of this gametype is to accumulate time holding the hill. Sounds simple, right? But it boggles my mind how some people just can’t get the concept and instead play like it’s Team Deathmatch, trying to rack up as many kills as possible. While getting kills helps, it means nothing if your team doesn’t try to capture the moving “hills” (represented by the colored rings).
There are two ways to approach King of the Hill: hang back and provide fire support as in Team Deathmatch, or go for the hill/ring. I personally prefer the latter, which means constantly engaging enemies clustered in the rings. This is why the Retro Lancer and Sawed-Off are preferred, as they are devastating at close range.
King of the Hill is the one gametype where you can break the Golden Rule of Gears and rush in by yourself, since capturing new rings or breaking enemy rings is the only way to win; kills and deaths really don’t mean anything (in fact, there’s no limit to respawns). When you see a new, uncaptured ring, run like hell for it. If the enemy owns the ring, rush in and break it. Breaking an enemy ring stops their timer, but the countdown until it moves still continues. Even if you are killed, they not only lose time but must waste more time to recapture it; and if you’re lucky and kill the enemy defenders, you’ll capture it for your team. Make sure to mine your rings with grenades, leaving a nice present for enemies who try to take it back.
Rushing the rings isn’t for the faint of heart and is probably not the preferred choice of the pros, but it’s effective (and fun as hell). Of course, you need to be smart about it; running into a pack of three or more enemies by yourself will mean instant death. Try to clear the way first, or better yet, have your teammates hold their attention while you sneak in from behind.
Capture the Leader
Suggested Loadout: Lancer or Retro Lancer, Gnasher
This gametype is similar to capture the flag, except you have to capture and hold a designated player on the opposing team. The Leader on both sides has a big bright icon floating over their heads at all times, so it is impossible for them to hide.
As in Team Deathmatch, until you improve your skills, you should hang back and stay with your Leader and defend him. Let the more skilled players attack and try to capture the enemy leader; your job is to be a bodyguard and never let him out of your sight. Spotting and marking enemies is especially vital to success here.
If you are the Leader, then you absolutely should not rush into the front lines. I’ve seen Leaders do this and, well, let’s just say the game ends pretty quickly (and badly) when this happens. The Leader’s job is to hang back and provide support, so grabbing the power weapons like sniper rifles and the mortar will be extremely helpful. Make sure at least one teammate is with you, but more importantly, let your team know where the enemy is. As the Leader, holding the left bumper not only reveals the location of your team, but everyone on the opposing team as well. Communicating enemy locations is invaluable, especially if you discover the enemy Leader is by himself.
Also, as Leader, you should not try to hide in any spawn point. As the game progresses, the spawn points rotate so you can have enemies suddenly spawning behind you, which is not a good thing. Needless to say, this is extremely annoying and will hopefully be fixed in the final build.
Patience Will Be Rewarded
Hopefully these tips will help, but the main thing is to be patient. The beta (and the franchise as a whole) can be very intimidating for new or casual players, and can lead to a lot of frustration. But playing smart and playing with friends who are more experienced will help ease you into this violently fun multiplayer shooter. There’s only a week left in the beta, so get in there and practice for the real thing when it launches in September.