10 tips and tricks to become a better Gears of War 3 player

To celebrate my recent, and most likely temporary, inauguration into the top 100 ranked King of the Hill in Gears of War 3, I thought I’d share some tips on how to become a better Gears player. I note that a good deal of players online don’t do very basic things which could make their life easier, so hopefully even you Gearheads learn a thing or two from these pointers!

10. Get comfortable with your starting weapons

Gears of War 3 is no longer a single-gun game; you have options available to you. There are six options for starting weapons, each one favoring a different type of playstyle. You need to figure out what you’re most comfortable with. Here’s a general guideline.

Retro lancer: high power at close range. Accuracy is difficult with the recoil, but that can be mitigated through fanning/bursting. One clip is capable of downing nearly an entire enemy team when active. Retro charge great for destroying people hiding behind corners. Best for players who value power and who like close-range warfare.

Lancer: medium power, fantastic at long range, very accurate. With it’s instant kill, the chainsaw, though risky, can be a great tool in the right hands. The lancer can be used as a general annoyance over distance, and you definitely do not want to be caught in the crossfire of multiple lancers, either. Best for players who value accuracy and prefer fighting from a distance.

Hammerburst: medium-high power, medium to long range, not as accurate as the lancer, not very good in close quarters but has good stopping power. Forget about zooming in with the hammerburst, your bullet spread stays the same and you waste a precious second clicking in. There is NO headshot multiplier, unlike the other weapons–so don’t even bother aiming for the head. Best for players who want more power than what the lancer offers at mid/long range, but at the price of a smaller clip and recoil.

Now we get to the gnasher versus sawed off debate. This is a difficult call, as both weapons can lead to the same result in capable hands: at mid or close range, enemies will be gibbed or seriously hurt. They’re shotguns, after all. Both weapons won’t be entirely consistent in doing it, despite claims of the ease of use of the sawed off.

So, which is for you? It’s difficult for me to say. If you’re up for the idea of killing multiple people with a single shot, and don’t mind long reload times–which presupposes that you have survivability–then sawed off is for you. At the same time, most gnasher fights happen at close range, and most close range battles end in gibbing opponents…not to mention that the large clip size makes it, hypothetically speaking, possible to kill many opponents before having to reload.

I’ll leave it at “both weapons can be monstrous in capable hands.”

Here’s a detailed damage breakdown for each weapon, which is a must-watch.

    9. Teamwork is crucial
It doesn’t matter what game type we’re talking about. You need to play as a team. Having buddies who you know is ideal, but not always possible. I cannot recommend the buddying system enough. Crossfire tears people apart, you are able to scout more efficiently, backup and a guaranteed revive buddy are amazing tools to have, and, it’s fantastic to bait an enemy while your buddy comes up behind them for the gib. You should not be playing this game lone wolf. Even if you know nobody on your team, try to stick together with somebody. I promise you will perform better for it.

  8. Active, active, active

Active reload can make a huge difference in a battle. Those times where you got downed by a single gnasher shot? That was active at work, and you want that kind of power, right?

Some people prefer to not even bother with the first clip or couple of shots of a weapon, and start matches or lives by discarding a few and then getting active. That’s always an option, sure, but you need to actually learn how to do active first–the timing is different depending on the weapon. Active reload is something worth practicing for until you’ve got the muscle memory down, because you do NOT want to be in the middle of a battle, only to jam. And, with the cover system, you have ample opportunity to take a second or two in the middle of a fight to bolster your shot a little bit.

Active often. It can shave entire seconds off the time it takes to down someone.

7. Spotting

Now here’s something I hardly ever see anyone do: spotting. Is it that people don’t know how to do it? Just aim at an enemy with your left trigger, then click in your left stick–boom, that enemy has been marked for a few seconds for your entire team. My personal philosophy is that if you can’t tell where at least half the enemy team is at any given moment, my team is failing. In any case, there’s no reason not to spot. Not only does it help the team know where everyone is, if that spot leads to a kill, then you receive 30 points. If you shot the guy a couple of times, you can get 50+ points despite not actually doing much. You like points, right?

    6. Power weapon control

Power weapons can turn the entire tide of a match, so it’s important to keep them under control.
Pressing your left button allows you to see where all power weapons are through objects, which is useful. Power weapons spawn way faster in 3 than they did in previous games, so there’s not much time for respite after someone has emptied their clip.

Now, this does NOT mean you should scurry for a power weapon instantly just because it’s there. If you’re just dicking around with the weapon, you’re better off letting somebody else on your team, who has proven to be effective with it, have it. If you’re playing with a team, make sure to lay down who is best with what to establish a pecking order when it comes to power weapons.

If that’s not an option, well, better you, who may not know how to use the weapon (and can use this opportunity to learn it) than the enemy team, eh? Just remember that power weapons don’t go through teammates, so don’t be that idiot that shoots a boomshot, only to have it bounce off a teammate’s butt and explode in your face. They’ll be fine, you wont.

Lastly: don’t be that douche that stands on the edges of maps trying to be super cool by sniping. Most people suck with the sniper and will be lucky to land an errant headshot or two in an entire match, if that. Yeah, I said it: you suck with the sniper. Go do something useful for your team.

   5. Right hand advantage

Now here’s something that isn’t just common sense and that even some veteran Gears players might not know: you have a right hand advantage. What the heck does that mean? Well, all characters hold the weapon on the right side. This means that you can stand behind cover–yes, not STICK to cover–while your weapon is outside of it. This means that you can shoot at enemies while being completely protected and still have mobility, which sticking to cover takes away. Here’s a video that shows it better than I can explain it.

Always go for your right hand advantage.

4. Movement

Here, too, is a place where most players could use improvement. Gears of War is ALL about movement at it’s heart. Top Gears players do not move like you do. If you’ve seen one, you probably swore that they move in inhuman ways, in ways that the game should not allow. That’s probably astute, since high level movement is essentially bending/breaking the animations.

For instance: roadie running is NOT the top speed possible. Sliding and vaulting from cover to cover is, but this requires not only the reflexes to cancel a slide (done by leaning the left stick opposite the direction of the cover you’re sticking to, right after or right before you actually stick to it) and stick to the next possible cover ahead of you (hence, think of cover around you as nodes connecting to one another). This can be used to perform the infamous wallbouncing, which is much more difficult to perform in Gears 3.

Here’s a video that covers wall bouncing in it, since this is definitely a visual thing.

So: roadie running is useful, but you really should be sliding and vaulting from cover to cover, when useful and possible.

Rolls are, in conjuction with wall bouncing, the end all be all of evasive maneuvers. Use them both to play mind games with your opponents. You should also know that you can roll in all 360 directions–don’t just roll in the cardinal directions!

Lastly, remember the mantle kick. You are not safe behind cover when an enemy is directly in front of you, and the mantle kick is Gears of War’s way of rewarding players who take the initiative. That player should be you. The mantle kick can stun multiple opponents, too, if they’re jumbled together. Lastly: you can totally stand just outside the mantle range (might take some practice) and gib enemies who think they’re about to mantle you.

    3. Map control
Again, Gears is no longer a one gun game. You can and will control entire maps by pairing power weapons with assault rifles and spotting. Pick up strategic locations on maps to fend off enemies, like the top of the hill on trenches, or be aware of typical enemy spawn points to nip the problem at it’s bud. All it takes is a few people in key locations–often vantage points–with their lancers out and ready to make sure that nobody on the opposite team can so much as breathe without being torn up.

This requires knowing your way around maps, though. Make sure to dip into a few private matches to take in the landscape, identify hiding spots and vantage points. Gears 3 has a lot more nooks and crannies than 2 did, it’s important to know where those are and what advantages they pose–especially now that there aren’t as many closed off areas. Any key areas are visible if not reachable from other key areas, too. It’s possible, for example, to torque someone at boomshot from the belltower in old town, if not grenade either of those points from the safety of grenade spawn. It’s possible to one shot into boomshot spawn in Mercy. The list goes on and on, but the gist of it is that maps are very versatile and open and it’s important to be aware of what you can do from point A, just as much as it’s important to know how open and vulnerable you are at point A from points B and C.

  2. WWYD?
High level play is all about mind games. That’s what is at the heart of wall bouncing, for instance–you have to be erratic and go where enemies don’t think you will go. But, more than this, it’s important top recognize what common player behaviors are and take advantage of them. Ask yourself, “what would I be doing right now?” This may make the difference between a grenade that kills one person, versus a grenade that nets you a quinn. It can mean being able to sneak up on an entire enemy team. Know what high traffic areas are. Know where people like to go or do–often, it’s as simple as knowing that people like to go after power weapons. It might also just mean knowing that the safest direction to roll in is at x degrees, to line up your shot there. This isn’t something I can teach or speak to inasmuch as you simply must get a feel for after playing for a while, especially since what people do differs from map to map.

  1. Learn from those better than you
You will undoubtedly come across somebody who makes you regret going online in the first place. Don’t let their skill get you down: use the opportunity to analyze how this person players and why their actions are so effective against you. Next time around, try to not repeat your mistakes, and try some of the tricks or techniques that person used–perhaps you’ll perform almost as well as they do!

Bonus tips:

  • Don’t forget the smokes. One of these puppies can render an entire enemy team incapable of shooting for a few seconds. Don’t be discouraged when you’re outnumbered, smokes can change everything!
  • Just the same: don’t (always) be the hero. Sometimes it’s best to just plain run away if it means surviving or reuniting with your teammates.

Got any tips or tricks yourself? Did I miss something you think is important? Did you learn anything new? Let me know in the comments!


  1. David

    Tac map, tac map, tac map. LB is your friend, folks!

    Outside of maybe Battlefield’s squad system, this is the easiest of any shooter to keep tabs on your team (even one with no mics on).

    The weapon spawns shown in this are just an added bonus.

  2. GT Walsh

    Congrats on topping the charts in Gears! That’s awesome.

  3. #NotBad

  4. Glorious Battle

    Wow, I didn’t know you wanted to play so tatic-ly (Yeah, I made that word up.) Next time we play I promise I’ll play better. Stupid slump.

  5. RibsHasCake

    This is an excellent tutorial for the average gamer. Instead of trying to explain gears 3 tactics to all my “noobish” friends, I’ll just send them this article.

  6. Pingback: Justin Wong Shares More Tips on Becoming a Great Fighter | Nightmare Mode

  7. SkitchVehemence

    Hey, I gotta say, I have been playing for quite some time now. Since GoW3 release date, but I’ve never honestly excelled in multi-player. Yet at the same time I do quite well in campaign and whatnot. This is quite helpful. Many tactics I’ve never looked at in this light until reading this. I think after reading this and spending a little more time getting to know my maps and weapons I will feel a bit more confident in arena matches. (I’ve rarely played due to knowing I’m sort of terrible) Thanks a ton for the article. Also if anyone wants to play sometime my gamer tag is my name. =]

  8. Ian

    Love gears 3 king of the hill but i really suck. Will try the wall bounce but find it hard to do. Some guys just seem to be that little bit quicker. Is it anything to do with broadband speed or upload speed or is it just me!!

  9. inspekt

    How do I get ammo from my allies in story mode?