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‘Gears of War 4’ multiplayer guide: Tips and tricks for victory in versus mode

Gears of War’s competitive player-versus-player multiplayer — PvP for short — is the ultimate test of skill for many players. It’s been an integral part of the Gears games ever since the original, even before the series introduced its now-iconic “Horde” mode. And it’s back in Gears of War 4.

In some ways Gears 4’s PvP is the same bloody crucible it’s always been. The Gnasher shotgun still reigns supreme, skilled movement is key, and your screen gets splattered with bloody bits regularly (yours and your enemies’ alike). However, there’s enough new in Gears of War 4 that even longtime Gears players could benefit with an explanation, not to mention a few tips.

Whether this is your first Gears of War or you’ve been wall-bouncing for years, our Gears of War 4 multiplayer guide should get you started on the right frag.

Getting started in Gears of War 4 PvP

Let’s start with the basics. Gears of War 4 pits two teams, usually consisting of five players each, against each other. The weapons, maps, and modes can vary wildly, but the goal is generally the same; keep killing the other team until you win. You can play locally over a LAN connection or splitscreen, offline with computer-controlled bots, in private matches with friends, online against strangers, and in multiple different combinations of those (for example playing splitscreen with a friend and hopping into an online playlist).

You may feel like you understand how to play Gears of War 4 because you finished the campaign or played a bit of horde mode, but PvP is a very different game with its own demands and skills to master. Keep these general tips in mind before you start:

Get comfortable: You’re not going to hop into Gears 4 multiplayer for a quick game before work. Single matches in many modes can last as long as 45 minutes, so get comfortable and hunker down for long sessions.

Equip a bounty: New to Gears 4, players can take on “bounties,” which offer in-game currency in exchange for achieving specific in-game goals. Make sure you have a beneficial bounty card equipped before jumping into a match. Many bounty cards only work in specific modes, so don’t equip a “King of the Hill” bounty if you’re playing “Escalation.”

Change loadouts: Before a game starts you can often change your loadout slightly by pressing “Y.” Want to start with the Hammerburst or the Lancer? You decide.

Stick with your team: It can be tempting to go off alone to try to flank your opponents, but in team game modes it’s almost always better to stick with your squad. Doing so without support is a great way to get picked off in “Dodgeball,” or cause your team to lose objectives because you wandered off. If you want to try something fancy like a flank, get on the mic and sound off to your teammates.

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Use the Gnasher: There are a lot of different weapons in Gears 4, but, as in the previous games, the Gnasher shotgun still trumps them all. Master getting in close and one-shotting opponents, and you’ll be off to a good start.

“Competitive” vs. “Core”: Weapon balance can vary depending on the playlist you’re in; Gears 4 features both “core” and “competitive” tuning. In competitive tuning modes weapons generally do less damage individually and aim assist is reduced to make up for the high skill factor in competitive play. Read more about the details of the two tunings on the official Gears of War blog.

Active reload forever: The Gears of War series’ famous active reload system has changed a little bit in Gears of War 4. Active reloads give you bonus damage if you hit the reload button again at the exact right time. In Gears 4, you can active reload whenever you want, even when the weapon’s magazine is already full. There’s then a cooldown before you can do it again. It’s a big change but one Gears 4 players are acclimating to.

Wall bouncing: Another staple tactic returning to Gears 4 multiplayer is the wall bounce. This technique lets you move across a map with great agility by lunging into cover, then strategically canceling that movement just before posting up against a wall to increase your movement speed. It’s easy to do but hard to master.

Keep it in context: If you want to come out on top in Gears 4 multiplayer don’t forget to use special context-sensitive maneuvers available to you, like the ability to grab people who are on the other side of cover from you, yank them to your side and stab them in the face. They can be quite useful when an opportunity presents itself.

Get to know the maps: There are currently 10 maps in Gears of War 4, with plans to add at least another 24 as DLC. That’s a lot of battlefield to keep track of in your head. Luckily they’re all similar: Most maps are symmetrical, with players spawn point on either side, and power weapons to pick up in the middle.

To give yourself an edge, open the scoreboard while playing on a map, then press the “B” button to see an overhead view of the level. Use that to quickly get the lay of the land. It pays to know where power weapons spawn and keep various routes in mind. Over time, you will learn the nuances of each map and have a serious advantage.

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