The Gears of War 3 beta officially kicks off next Monday, April 18, for Bulletstorm "Epic Edition" owners, followed by the April 25 entrance of those who pre-ordered the game from GameStop. As the first public taste of Gears 3, there's a lot of content for fans to digest -- and that's where this handy guide and video preview come in! So rev up the old Lancer and roll past the break to take it all in.



Gametypes

Team Deathmatch -- This one is pretty self-explanatory. Each team has a shared pool of respawns. Once that pool is depleted, each team member has only one life left. Down and kill members of the opposing teams until all respawns are gone. The last team standing wins.

Capture the Leader -- One member of each team is designated the leader. Down the opposing team's leader and capture him (or her) by using them as a human shield. Hold onto the leader for a set amount of time to win the round. Free your team's leader by either killing or stunning the captor.

King of the Hill -- Defend the highlighted area of the map for the designated amount of time. Each team has infinite respawns.


Maps

Thrashball
A dilapidated arena for planet Sera's favorite pastime (and Cole Train's former career), Thrashball. With the power weapons located directly in the center of the map, expect plenty of mad dashes and (appropriate) blitz tactics right from the get-go. Be wary of ambushes in the bleachers. Grenades spawn at the top and bottom of the map, so be sure to stock up if you get the chance. Oh, and watch out for the scoreboard hanging above the arena, it looks like it's hanging by a thread ...


Trenches
Trenches is a dusty map with several different levels of elevation, allowing for lots of vantage points to survey the enemy. Make a beeline for the crane in the center of the map if you want to grab some power weapons. A Mulcher or Mortar is located in the "nest" at the top of the map. Grenades are close to both team spawns, so don't be shy about grabbing them. Also, be mindful of the occasional storms that blow through, obscuring the battlefield in a cloud of dust.


Checkout
Think of Checkout like a really high-stakes version of Supermarket Sweep. Power weapons spawn at opposite ends of the map. Be sure to come up with a plan before rushing either way. Grenades spawn near the center of the map in fairly unprotected areas, so watch your back before picking them up. Don't forget about the (surprisingly powerful) pistols that spawn on top of the map on either side. And that stain in aisle three ... don't ask.


Oldtown
A beautiful seaside village, Oldtown plays host to tight alleyways and a very dangerous central marketplace (where you're sure to see some firefights break out). You'll find powerful weapons at the top and bottom of the map. Both teams also have easy access to flamethrowers at the top right and left of the map. Always pay attention to your surroundings, Oldtown's twists and turns make it easy to flank an opponent (or to be flanked by one).


Things to Try

The Digger -- The digger shoots a projectile that burrows underneath cover and explodes on the other side. You'll love using it, but hate getting killed by it.

Change loadouts -- You can choose a default weapon loadout at the title screen. You can also change your loadout during matches by tapping the A Button between respawns.

Check the map -- Bring up an overhead layout of the map by hitting the B Button before the match, from the start menu or between respawns. The map shows each weapon spawn and the locations of you and your teammates. You can even move while the map is open, which is great for learning where important locations are.

Press LB -- Pressing the Left Bumper highlights the locations of your teammates and overlays the locations of each weapon right onto the HUD. It's perfect for learning the layouts of each map. Always know where your teammates are, because wandering around alone is a surefire way to get killed.

Mark a target -- When aiming at enemies using the Left Trigger, press the Left Stick to highlight them for the rest of your team. This is a good way to help them locate an enemy that got away.

Sawed-off Shotgun -- It only packs one shot per load, but it's a seriously deadly shot. Blast someone at pointblank range for explosive, gooey results.

Incendiary grenades -- Upon exploding, these bad boys leave behind a nasty pool of flame that will damage anyone foolish enough to walk through it.

Extended executions -- Approach a downed enemy and hold the Y Button. Once the execution starts, keep mashing Y for an extended beatdown. You get more points for each smack! Don't get overzealous though, as extended executions leave you defenseless and open to attacks.


The Giveaway

The code giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You didn't just skip to the end -- did you? No, you wouldn't do that to us. So, about those codes ... Follow these steps to enter for your chance to win one of ten codes (redeemable immediately) for the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta on Xbox Live:

  1. Leave a comment demanding, begging or just asking nicely for a code. (Feel free to comment otherwise -- on topic, of course -- and to leave multiple comments, which will not be counted toward entry.)
  2. You must be 18 years or older and a resident of the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec).
  3. Limit 1 entry per person.
  4. This entry period ends at 8:36PM ET on Friday, April 15. (In one hour!)
  5. At that time, we'll randomly select ten winners from eligible comments (check your email!) to receive a code to download the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta on Xbox 360 (no ARV; promotional item not for resale); requires Xbox 360 console, Xbox Live Gold account and approximately 507MB hard-drive space to play. Beta ends May 15.
  6. For a list of complete rules, click here.

What is Joyswag? Since we don't keep the games and merchandise we receive for review or promotional purposes, it becomes "Joyswag," which is passed along to our readers. Please note that Joyswag may be in "used" condition.

For more info on our policy, click here.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.