Oh man. This game is going to be awesome. I just really wish Epic would release details on the different retail versions so I know how much I will need to save up before September 20th, simply because the regular edition is for chumps, and I have collector's editions of the previous two titles.
Retail woes aside, lets dive into the meat and potatoes of what is going on right now, the beta. The beta offers three modes, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Capture the Leader. Sadly, there is no Horde mode to test, probably in light of hopefully new Locust types we might encounter in the campaign. And the new Beast Mode, which makes me want a Beast Wars Transformers game honestly, is absent as well. That doesn't mean that there isn't a fair amount of content available to test though.
The first big change is the multiplayer is no longer four versus four, but instead has been upped to five versus five. While this number doesn't really seem to effect much on paper and seems to just be another gun on your side or another person to shoot, the number difference really seems to effect the dynamics of Capture the Leader, my favorite mode in the beta. In the mode, one person is designated as the leader, who must be downed and then picked up as a meat shield and held for an allotted time. While some matches might stalemate, when you finally do get the apposing leader under your control adrenaline takes over and the feeling to all work together takes over.
The Gears take on Team Deathmatch is interesting to say the least. Instead of working up to 50 kills each team is given twenty five lives for the duration of the round, 20 lives to share, and then one final life. Once every person on the apposing team has used their final life, the other team wins. It is an interesting take, and it still makes you value your life, as apposed to some games where it is all about circle strafing to 50 team kills.
It is kind of sad to have these two unique multiplayer ideas that are different takes on classic game modes to see that King of the Hill is the exact same thing as every other shooter. I really wish Epic would go back to the drawing board and give King of the Hill a Gears twist, but I doubt that will happen before the September 20th release.