In a lengthy forum breakdown, Gears of War 3's senior gameplay designer Lee Perry has opined that the Gnasher shotgun is, on the whole and given a bit of skill, the game's most effective weapon for online battles. He added, however, that the game is not solely about shotguns, and argued that the Sawed-Off in particular is a solid deterrent.
"I firmly believe that if you're skilled with the Gnasher... you are on average winning your games (or at least losing to people who are also good with Gnashers)," says Perry, who makes clear that this is a personal opinion - and not from someone on the multiplayer team.
"You can correctly say 'Gears is a game about Gnashers' based on that belief, and I would agree with you. But, it's not a game exclusively about Gnashers. There's valid arguments to be made for 'all Gnasher' playlists and special events, but overall Gears multiplayer, is not that experience."
Perry's remarks touch on heated fan debate over the balance between rifles and shotguns in the new Gears, and in particular the supposedly damaging "n00b friendliness" of the Sawed-Off shotgun. We published a feature in defence of the latter earlier this week, noting that it forces Gnasher users to modify their tactics in a way that enhances everybody's enjoyment.
"I ask, somewhat rhetorically, 'Does a skilled player really want a lesser player to be zero threat to them?' Is that rewarding?" Perry continued, covering the wider issue of making the game more accessible to greener or less skilled players.
"Even a mediocre player like me knows there's joy in occasionally finding yourself in a match where you outclass everyone and slaughter them like helpless sheep. But that's not a game that continues to be interesting or worthwhile to play. You don't get better, you're not growing, and the rewards are short lived indeed.
"If you're the one outclassed in a match, a game where you're never effective is one you won't go back to. You don't mind losing the games, but there has to be moments of success for everyone."
"I've heard several times, including responding to someone just earlier today, that the sawed off ruins shotgun duels for them. They approach someone, and that person fires their sawed off at them and runs away screaming. I maintain that that encounter was never going to be a duel.
"That person is clearly not skilled with a Gnasher (or they would prefer it) and would not have been a participant in a showdown anyway... they would simply have been gibs, and statistically are most of the time. Given a handful of those encounters that person would likely never come back to the game, and the reputation of Gears as being impossible to enjoy online would perpetuate."
While fans may have favourite weapons, Perry went on, nobody seriously wants theirs to rule the roost. "An enemy who is not at least minimally dangerous to you is not a rewarding one to kill. It gets old, quick. Change your mindset to one where you actually enjoy the fact that even new players have to be given some degree of consideration.
"You're always playing with fire, but that's what makes the risk and reward worth it. A tense play environment is part of the enjoyment. Paying attention to the environment and how you approach an enemy is as much a part of the experience as how quickly you can red-mist them.
"As a whole I don't see people complaining that the Gnasher is broken. We tried very hard this time around to get that weapon feeling better, to make it more consistent, and have dedicated servers helping with fairness. What I mostly hear is concerns that other weapons are now effective, and that's interfering with how some want to play the game."
The Retro Lancer was subject to hostile fan scrutiny following the Gears of War 3 beta earlier this year. Epic dialled the weapon back for release, upping recoil and decreasing damage for a more "boutique" gun that takes skill to master.
"My personal opinion is that I want a one-weapon game about as much as I want a fighting game with one character that everyone uses and is clearly the best," Perry concluded. "A variety of play styles makes the game more fun for players of all types, even Gnasher players who might not realize it."
Log scored Gears of War 3 a 9/10 in OXM's review, praising the "enduringly excellent" multiplayer. The first DLC pack, Horde Command, launches on 1st November, with new maps, characters and fortifications for Horde Mode.