If you have Gears of War 3, you should play the Beast mode. It's the most satisfying way to team up with friends, play a few rounds and—this is key—be done in half an hour.
You play Beast Mode if you're in a rush, which is what Gears producer Rod Fergusson told me several weeks ago when he showed me Beast mode. Fergusson and I played part of a round, and he gave me a ton of tips, which I reported but didn't fully appreciate until I played 12 rounds of Beast online on Sunday.
Now I get it. Now I see how Beast is essentially Horde mode for people who are pressed for time. You play this mode to speed through it, marshalling the powers of Gears' grossest bad guys to kill Gears' burliest heroes.
What's the best way to do it? Which units are good for what? Why are Tickers so incredibly important? Fergusson's words of wisdom follow:
(Note: Most of this article was originally published in June but I'm republishing it so that everyone who now has the game can learn from Fergusson's advice. Skip down to the unit descriptions if you just need the tips and not the back-story.)
Much has changed in the year since Epic Games last showed Beast Mode, the play-as-the-bad-guys part of this September's Gears of War 3. Much has changed for the better, I learned, when I played the new Beast Mode yesterday.
The new, revised Beast Mode I was shown yesterday, is now a violent rush to defeat waves of humans in as little time as possible. You get to control some epic monstrosities to get this job done. It sure is fun to be the ugliest bad guys in the Gears universe. Let me explain the joys of Beast Mode to you.
Beast Mode is a standalone part of Gears of War 3 that can be played by up to five players. As the Gears developers at Epic Games first advertised it when they showed it a year ago at gaming press events, you play as the Gears games' bad guys. You play as the brutal Boomers, the irrepressible Berserkers, as the pesky Tickers and even as something that looks like a giant centipede. The biggest change is that Beast is now played for time. The game's Horde Mode, which lets a batch of players team up against waves of beasts can be a four-hour survival marathon. Beast, Gears of War 3 lead producer Rod Fergusson explained to me yesterday as we battled through it, is a game of speed. Anyone can get through Beast Mode's 12 levels, but how fast can you do it? Half an hour? Maybe just 16 minutes, if you're a ninja Epic Games tester?
A Beast Mode session rolls out in waves. At the start, it's just you, as one of an initial selection of five types of beasts, against some wimpy humans. You play on any of the game's multiplayer maps (we played on "Drydock" which is a rectangular map full of blind corners with an elevated walkway in the center). The humans are computer-controlled. They automatically place traps—barricades, turrets and dummies—the kind of defenses that players can deploy as humans in this new game's "Horde Mode 2.0."