Meet the new weapons (with strategy tips from Cliff Bleszinski):
A double-barreled hand cannon, designed for (very) close-up death.
Cliff Bleszinski: "So I think any good first-person shooter -- any good shooter in general -- has a set of weapons that speak to a person's personality. It's almost like the Myers-Briggs test of weaponry.
"If you look at the sawed-off shotgun -- it takes the Gnasher [editor's note: the old shotgun] to the next level, where you really have to close. We had this conversation with a lot of the gamers who didn't like stopping power [editor's note: when gunfire slows down enemies running at you]. It's like, 'Well, now that we have a sawed-off shotgun, you better earn your kill, otherwise people are going to down you with stopping power.'"
"So [with the sawed-off shotgun], you need to be right on top of somebody -- melee distance -- to jib them. A little farther back, you might be able to down them, but beyond that, you're barely going to do any damage. And the reload time is excruciating on that weapon. You're loading both shells manually, so keep that in mind. It may make sense if you miss with that to switch to another weapon -- it may be quicker."
The person aiming this heavy, mountable weapon scans the level through a scope and with a tell-all laser sight. Watch out and take cover -- if he sees you, he can disintegrate you with a pull of the trigger.
"The One Shot is one of my favorites. When you get a hold of it, you get this Terminator laser -- Predator also -- going over the battlefield. When it lands on someone, you just wait for that tantric moment where it settles for a second then you get that pink mist, which is really gratifying.
"When I get a heavy weapon like that or the mortar, and other players are the spotting players, I'm like, 'Spot some people for me! Spot some people for me!' so I can get some vague idea of where to aim, which is really nice."
"When you're zoomed in with the One Shot, your field of view is super tight and snug, so your periphery is totally hosed. So if somebody came in from the side, they can wind up chainsawing or shotgunning you."
Long before soldiers thought to mount a chainsaw at the end of this assault rifle, it came with a huge blade as a bayonet. If you hold down the melee (B) button, you can charge at an enemy and spear him with it.
"The retro Lancer has the B [button] to do the bayonet charge, which is really fun to do, especially through a smoke [grenade] cloud. You will get extra points if you manage to spear somebody because there's this risk/reward there where you're [sitting still and] holding them up for a second and a half, which is an eternity in online gaming."
"This thing kicks like a mule. It kicks like nobody's business, so at range, it's absolutely horrible. At mid-range, you're going to want to tap and fire. At close range, you're going to want to just unload -- it's the most powerful close-range rifle in the game."
It can't be a new Gears of War without a new grenade type....
"The incendiary grenade is pretty powerful. You throw it out, and it explodes instantly and provides an area of denial. People can't just run through the flame. So you can be like, 'Hey, you just stay back there for a little bit, and I'm going to switch to my rifle and try to pop you from a distance.'"
"It's pretty easily telegraphed -- people can see you swinging the big flame grenade with the particles, which is one thing we try to do with all our weapons, by the way. The more powerful it is, the more obvious we try to make the telegraph, generally."
The chainsaw-less assault rifle is back, Call of Duty-style.
"The Hammerburst has a first-person scope now, which is new for the franchise. It changes the game a little bit, allowing for that down-the-barrel view. And if you get good with that weapon, and you get an Active Reload [editor's note: a timed button press that can give you boosted ammunition], and you get good at fanning the trigger, you're going to down people like nobody's business.
"It's been a really crazy game of balancing for us, and I really hope the beta's going to help us iron out any of the final kinks in the weapon balance."
"When you're zoomed in in first-person, your field of vision is even tighter than it is with some of the other weapons. So you better watch your periphery. Also, it's not really good at close range. It's kind of squirrely when trying to hit guys -- it's really a mid- to long-range rifle."
Is it fair that a gun can fire deadly, living, burrowing ammo at you?
"[Laughs] The Digger is great! It's a fire-and-forget weapon. I can kind of sling it at my enemy. But then what I can do is start unloading at him [with another gun] to get him to accidentally evade in the direction of it.
"The weapon is at its best when you're fighting two guys, and you sling it at them, and you just start walking away, and you hear that 'Pop! Pop!' and see the "+200" score pop up -- you know you just got a couple of guys.
"It's also really, really fun to try to get direct hits on people -- on guys camping behind cover, because it goes underneath cover. If you get a direct hit, it digs into their chest then burrows out, and their head explodes -- which is also very gratifying if that happens to kill someone next to them."
"The thing about the Digger is that they can see it coming a million miles away -- it's the giant Bugs Bunny trail coming at you. So one-on-one, if a skilled player is coming at you from a distance, and he has the Hammerburst, and you have the Digger, you're going to lose. But at a closer range, you have a better shot.
"We’re trying to go with rock, paper, scissors with weapon designs, except we don't have rock, paper, scissors. We have [gesturing wildly with his hands] rock, paper, scissors, stapler...you know, weed whacker, and all these other things in the mix that we have to try and match, not only in weapons and damage but also the distance and chaos of battle. So it's really, really tricky, but hopefully we're going to hit that sweet spot."