Gears of War 3: Taming the Sawed-Off Shotgun

With nearly 4 million sales worldwide, Gears of War 3 has been an instant success both critically and commercially. There’s one issue, however, that has this reputably hardcore community arguing on comments sections, message boards, and game lobbies from Team Deathmatch to Wingman.

It’s not the stronger, more accurate Lancer. It’s not even the incendiary or frag grenades this time around.  Rather, it’s the addition of the sawed-off shotgun. Get close enough, and this single-shot, torso concaving behemoth of a weapon will turn Cole Train into Coleslaw before he can let out a “WHOO!”

By all respects, I think the sawed-off adds an extra dimension to Gears’ multiplayer. It’s an archetype of the Gnasher that would best serve as map weapon to be picked up in the way the Gorgon and Boltok pistols are. Leaving it in the standard loadout, however, can lead to entire teams equipping the weapon and reducing the experience to a camp-fest that would make 10-year old Call of Duty players proud. Gears of War 3 fans are going to have to bite the bullet though, as the game and its weapons look to be around in the foreseeable future. For those of us who prefer to roll old-style, or least try to, it’s adapt or die.

Mind the Gap

The first step in combating the sawed-off shotgun is not to get too close. It might not seem like a novel idea, as purposely trying to rub elbows with a SOS-wielding opponent is akin to torching a powder keg. You’d be surprised though as to how many people – either by instinct or temptation – try to close in and pull off that elusive one-shot Gnasher kill. After just three weeks on the market, the file cabinet for “not ending well” is bursting with them. The SOS has a maximum range of about 5 yards and beyond that, it’s virtually useless. Maintain this level of separation with any other weapon, and you’ll immediately have the upper hand in picking apart your opponent (The retro lancer, in particular, excels at this task).

Know Your Enemy

Knowing what your opponent is carrying will go a long way to your success in Gears. These nasties have emissive lights on the barrel that can be seen from across the map. If you see one charging towards you with your name on it, mind your distance and make sure you’re not cornered. It’s not uncommon to have one enemy charge at you with the SOS while one or several of his teammates lay down suppressing fire with assault rifles. In this scenario, fall back, find your team, and focus on picking apart the SOS while keeping the rest of your opponents pinned down.

Eyes Open, Ears Up

To weed out players that like to hide in discrete sections of the map, it’s crucial to check your corners and keep your head on a swivel. At most angles, provided you’re awake and alert, you’ll be able to see the shotgun’s barrel sticking out from the corner, thus giving you the opportunity to spot the opponent with the L3 button and call him out to your team. Once his element of surprise is gone, the odds stack up in your favor.

Enemies in Gears also tend to have loud footsteps (That’s what happens when you wear a hundred pounds of armor.), so listen carefully. If you hear a pair of boots creeping up behind you and don’t know who it is, click LB to check whether it’s a friend or a foe.

Smoke ‘em Out

An oft overlooked tool in the Gears arsenal is the smoke grenade, and when used properly, it’s one of the best ways to defeat the sawed off shotgun in a 1-on-1 skirmish. Assuming your opponent will have to run out in the open for a brief time to reach you, a well-timed (and placed)  smoke grenade will stun him long enough for a retro lancer charge or Hammerburst volley that should make quick work of him.

Be advised that there is no foolproof attack against the sawed off shotgun. Gears of War’s action is fast-paced, its margin of error slim, and the best laid plans can go to hell in rapid succession. That said, communicating with your teammates and keeping these fundamental strategies in mind can be the difference between a few more kills and having your limbs festooned around Gridlock’s main square.

What do you think about the sawed-off shotgun and our tips to not be dominated by it?  Do you have any tips of your own or disagree with anything we wrote?  Be sure to let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below, or sound off in our forums!

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