Epic have just announced that the Gears of War 3 public beta will start on April 25th and run for twenty days, concluding on May 15th. However, Epic mention pre-orders Gears 3 from Game to gain access, although it's unclear if this is an exclusive partnership or if more retailers are involved. Early adopters of Bulletstorm's Epic Edition can participate in the beta early, with proceedings beginning on the 18th of April and concluding on the 24th.
So, just why should you play the Gears 3 beta? Well, for one, it's Gears of War; where else can you sink chainsaw fools into bloody pulp and then curb-stomp their craniums? But Epic have also included a number of rewards and incentives for fans to win and eventually transfer to the final game when it releases in September. Play one beta game and you'll receive the Beta Tester Medal, for example, or complete fifty and unlock the Thrashball Cole Model. Ninety matches nets you the Gold-Plated Retro Lancer, all of which you can mess around with in the beta until it ends, upon which it'll transfer to your final copy on release date.
We're not done. Play a match on April 24th and you can rattle out rounds with a Flaming Hammerburst. Finish a match on the week of the 25th, and you'll receive a Flaming Lancer. Then, regular competitors in the week of the May the 2nd can duke it out with a Flaming Sawed-Off Shotgun, or settle for a Flaming Gnasher come the week of May 9th. Sadly, Epic will not be giving out Flaming Moes.
The beta is due to roll out on Epic's new dedicated servers, which they hope will rectify any of the issues that plagued Gears 2. I remember setting up a matchmaking search, then setting off to make a cup of tea and toast. I returned, ten minutes later, to find my search was still ongoing. It was ridiculous. Epic have listened, however, and the beta should help them identify any potential problems with their new server farms, so fans can enjoy a smooth, clean, chainsaw-buzzing ride come September. [Eurogamer]