Last year it was Halo 5: Guardians. This year? It’s the return of Gears of War. Today, The Coalition announced a multiplayer beta for Gears of War 4 is inbound with early access starting on April 18.

Have you played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition? You are good to go. The Coalition is tying early access to those who have played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. The original cut off date for early access was March 1, but the developers said today they are extending it to April 11.

From the Xbox Wire press release:

Beginning on April 18, fans who’ve played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox One or Windows 10 will begin to receive tokens in waves for early access to the beta. Following the conclusion of early access on April 24, all qualifying Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One will be invited to join the beta until it ends on May 1.

You may just be able to rent it to get a token. Don’t hold me to that, but “receive tokens” makes it sound like we will get them through Xbox Live messages.

Gears of War 4 gameplay

PC players can also gain access to the beta by playing the Windows 10 version of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.

What we know about Gears of War 4’s multiplayer

GameInformer’s new cover story focuses on the next iteration of the curb stomping franchise. Throughout their coverage, Game Informer learns several things about the multiplayer. I’m going to cover a few of them. For the rest, check out their coverage.

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The Coalition is focused on multiplayer. “On day one, as we were prototyping our first campaign experience, we were also building multiplayer maps,” Studio Head Rod Fergusson told Game Informer.

The campaign in Gears of War is decent enough, but I’m here for multiplayer. When I hear they’ve been working on multiplayer maps since day one, it’s hard not to get excited. Gears of War has some of the most iconic maps in any Xbox shooter. Canals, Gridlock, Jacinto, Fuel Depot and the list goes on. I will be shocked if we don’t see an updated version of at least one of these. Cough, Gridlock.

Multiplayer gets dedicated servers. This should be a given with most shooters these days, but it’s still nice to see confirmation. And with The Coalition’s focus on eSports, it had to happen.

Gears of War 4 cover

Takedowns come to Gears of War 4. Developers just can’t help themselves. And I can’t blame them. They get boring after a while, but they look badass. The new takedown system also highlights a new addition to the Gears of War weapon palette. The knife. That’s right each faction has their own knife. Check out the Game Informer article for the picture (hint: they look awesome).

But the takedown system isn’t an instant death. Just like the chainsaw clash, The Coalition wants to give you several ways to counter. We’ll see how well these counters work when the beta goes live.

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Betas have become the norm with any big multiplayer focused game, and it’s great to see. No QA department can do what millions of gamers can in two weeks. Bugs will be found, maps will be tested and new systems will see if they need tweaking. The Coalition’s multiplayer team will have plenty to work on once the Gears of War 4 beta wraps up on May 1.

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Gridlock in Gears of War 4: Same Map, Beautiful New Look

Travelling to PAX East? The Coalition will be there in force. A panel titled Out of the Shadows: Inside Gears of War Multiplayer with The Coalition will take us behind the scenes and show us how Gears of War 4 multiplayer came to be. It will also include “some special surprises,” according to The Coalition’s Adam Fletcher.

If you’re a fan of competitive Gears of War, the ESL Pro League Season 2 Finals will be hosted at PAX East on Saturday, April 23. The Coalition will be unveiling a new competitive game mode for Gears of War 4 during the tournament. It looks like we’ll get our first glimpse of The Coalition’s vision for eSports then.

There you have it. A two week long (for those with early access) beta for Gears of War 4 multiplayer. How do you want to see Gears of War multiplayer evolve? Or do you want it to stick to its roots?

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