I’ve been spending some of my free time this week checking out the Gears of War 4 multiplayer beta. We have a video going up tomorrow that will show you just how bad I am at it, but in the meantime let’s talk about the beta itself.

Included in the beta are three modes – Team Deathmatch, Dodgeball-style elimination, and a Team Deathmatch against Hardcore-difficulty bots.

Of those, I’ve spent the most time with the bot Deathmatch. Here the focus is on cooperative play. Despite the easier difficulty compared to the PVP Team Deathmatch, I’ve noticed that players seem to coordinate play better in this mode, sticking together more frequently and reviving each other more often. In PVP Deathmatch, people seem to go off and do their own thing unless they’re previously partied up.

The Dodgeball mode, it should be mentioned, isn’t about throwing a ball at each other, unfortunately. Instead, to get one of your eliminated players back, you have to eliminate one of the other team’s players, so you don’t know exactly when you’ll respawn as you watch your still-walking teammates fight the good fight. This is a neat way to keep players engaged even when they’re waiting to respawn.

Regardless of mode, the game runs at that much-vaunted 60fps and as a result Gears of War 4 feels responsive in multiplayer. Some of the weapons feel a bit slow as a result, but that’s more about the pacing of the game than the framerate – the framerate just highlights it a bit.

For the most part, the multiplayer is very much core Gears of War gameplay. Gnasher shotguns solve close-quarters situations, and the buzzing of chainsaws around a corner lets you know things are about to get bloody for someone. Death is either sudden and meaty or involves some painful time on the ground, though you can now, if you get a few seconds, pick yourself back up.

Cover is still an important element of versus play, but one of its biggest problems has been resolved. If you’re on the other side of some cover from an enemy, instead of taking turns popping and shooting until one of you makes a mistake, you can either vault over the cover, kicking your enemy out of their safe spot, with a split second to add a melee takedown into that, or you can pull them over the cover onto your side. If they’re fast enough to get out of it, they can, so it’s still a gamble, but it resolves what can put a stop to an otherwise exciting game.

If you hated Gears of War‘s multiplayer before, this beta isn’t going to change that. If you loved it, though, it looks like The Coalition is keeping things close to home. Closer, even than People Can Fly did with Gears of War: Judgment. When the Beta goes into fully open access on Monday, April 25, check it out. You’ll find a classic Gears experience brought into the new generation.

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