Gears of War 3 Fenix Rising DLC Review

by Justin Baillargeon January 24, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

Fenix Rising, the third piece of downloadable content included in the Gears of War 3 Season Pass, was made available on January 17th and we were given the opportunity to review it.  The new content includes five new multiplayer maps, a new “re-up” option similar to Call of Duty’s prestige option, four “new” character skins, and additional weapon skins achieved through re-upping.

Jump past the break to find out more about the new content and our impressions.

The new re-upping ability allows players, who have reached rank 100, to reset their rank and proceed through the ranks again with a new wing color each time. In addition to the new rank color, players also unlock a new weapon skin each time, allowing further distinguishing of their progression.

Unlike the Call of Duty series, the re-up option introduced with this DLC does not bring with it any consequences other than a loss of your rank number. In Call of Duty the prestige option makes more sense, allowing players to unlock their weapons and attachments again. The system rewards re-upped players with distinctive colors and weapon camo, and with no consequences it’s win-win situation in the Gears universe.

The new character skins include “Recruit Clayton” and “Savage Marauder” as well as two that were previously reserved for the Limited Edition, the “Savage Kantus” and “Thrashball Cole” skins.

However the stars of this show are the new maps: Academy, Anvil, Depths, Escalation, and the Slab. This is primarily a map pack after all with five maps that allow more avenues for Versus, Horde and Beast mode carnage.

The biggest issue I had with the new content was the inability to select a playlist dedicated to just the new maps. There are some playlists/game modes online that require the Fenix Rising DLC but none that solely contain FR maps. As a result you might will find it difficult to get into a match with these new maps. In two hours of playing online our resident “gear-a-holic” only managed to get into two of the maps, something echoed by my own experiences.


Academy is the most open of this particular pack with an open layout and very low cover, leaving players exposed at nearly every turn. On the left and right sides of the map are two flanking routes which are separated from the center of the map offering increased protection (Horde players will most likely favor this area). Epic does an excellent job creating the maps in such a way that location call-outs such as “fountain” or “monument” are instantly recognizable without looking at the overhead map.


Anvil blends the outside combat of Academy with more corridor-like areas that provide adequate coverage for advancing and fleeing. The symmetrical map distinguishes between the two opposing sides with the addition of foliage/growth on one side. The callout locations are not as obvious as in Academy but most of the fighting is likely to occur in the middle of the map where the two sides clash. The map’s corridor areas flank each side of the map with open areas in the middle.


Depths takes the fight under the great blue with a map located in an underwater hotel-like structure. Epic has paid very close attention to all the details within the map, including the environment beyond the glass that separates you from the deadly water depths. Even the ambient sound is altered to give you a sense of a pressurized environment that you would find underwater. You’ll find a central overlook point on the map, easy to pick off enemies due to the low cover.


The only map of the DLC that is not entirely new is Escalation, a remake of the classic by the same name from Gears of War. The most vertical map in the Gears of War series, Escalation pits two teams against each other battling up and down a staircase. Teams who spawn on the bottom have access to more weapons than the team on the higher ground, evening out the playing field. For fans of the original map you’ll find yourself right at home although I honestly don’t remember a lot of people showing much love for this map.

The Slab

The Slab, a map within a prison, is a straight corridor-shooter with a lot of tight corners and an abundance of coverage. There is a slight opening in the center of the map but most of the fighting occurs outside of the center. If you are a fan of close-quarter combat and the shotgun is your friend, The Slab is definitely the map for you. For interested players there is a small Easter egg that is available, although I wouldn’t suggest looking for it while in an active match as it does require some finesse.

So is the third DLC for Gears of War 3 worth the 2400 MS points ($10) that is being asked? You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you’re a fan of Horde and Beast mode as you will find it difficult to get into a game with these new maps in the regular map cycle. The five maps all cater to different play styles and you are certain to find at least one map that fits you.

The addition of the re-up system, additional characters and new weapon skins though add even more value to your traditional map pack. For those with a season pass the choice is obvious, download the pack (through the game’s menus) and call it a day. Those without a season pass will find the $10 well spent if still an avid Gears fan. You’ll get most out of if you enjoy playing Horde and Beast modes since it’s nearly impossible to get these maps in a regular rotation.


Follow this author on .