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Lancers at the ready: Gears of War 4's beta starts next month

With the slightly niche strategy game Halo Wars 2 taking the place of the traditional Halo shooters that have released for Xbox One the past tw o holiday seasons, Gears of War 4 is shaping up to be an extremely important release for Microsoft. Fortunately if you have played (or plan to play) the remastered Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, you’ll have a chance to try out the game’s multiplayer well ahead of time.

Gears of War 4’s initial “early access” multiplayer beta will run from April 18 through April 24 and will be available for both Xbox One and PC players of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. To qualify, you must have played Ultimate Edition by April 11 on either platform. This is more than a month later than the previous deadline of March 1.

Related: Report: Gears of War 4 picks up 25 years after the last game

Developer The Coalition’s Adam Fletcher specifies that token keys will begin being sent out on April 18, so don’t expect guaranteed access on the first day. The “early access” beta will be immediately followed by an open beta that will run through May 1. All that is required for the open beta is an Xbox Live Gold account,

While Gears of War 4 has thus far only been confirmed for Xbox One, recent statements made by producer Rod Fergusson suggest that the game could still come to Windows 10. This would seem appropriate given the upcoming PC releases of Quantum Break and even Halo Wars 2.

If you’re expected the Gears 4 story to go in a drastically different direction, meanwhile, don’t hold your breath. A recent Game Informer cover story revealed that the “primary protagonist” in the game is JD Fenix, the son of the original trilogy’s Marcus Fenix. That being said, gameplay from last year’s E3 does point to spookier, more atmospheric environments to go along with all those waist-high walls and chainsaws.