Epic Games will release a new map pack for Gears of War 2 at the end of this month, along with a patch shortly before that will revamp the game's ranking system.
The Title Update 3 patch, which Epic claims is the "biggest" yet, will bring a number of significant changes to the Gears multiplayer formula. The biggest one is the implementation of an experience-based ranking system, with 100 levels of experience that you'll climb by scoring in Public matches. The TrueSkill matchmaking service is still used to set up your games, but since the whole point is to make your rank more transparent, your skill rank won't be displayed. And yes, people who drop out of matches early will lose experience.
The current ranking system rates players based on match results instead of individual performance, so if you managed to do well during a game but were stuck on a bad team, you didn't get anything to show for it. The new system is designed to alleviate this problem. According to Epic, experience amounts will be balanced across different game types, and required EXP for a level-up will increase with each level, just like in an RPG.
In addition to your expected balance tweaks and exploit fixes, the patch also adds nine new achievements for all the Gamerscore gluttons out there - amounting to 250 points in total. To get access to six of these achievements, though, you'll have to pony up 800 MS Points for the newest maps, which come bundled in the arctic-themed "Snowblind Map Pack."
Why Epic would release a winter-themed map pack just as spring is finally starting to show its face, I don't know. Maybe they just saw The Day After Tomorrow. Anyway, the pack includes three frosty new maps as well as a remake of a fan favorite Gears 1 map, Fuel Station, which has been given "a blast of winter courtesy of Mother Nature, aka Epic Games." Mother Nature? Yeah, whatever, Epic.
The update will hit on March 24 and the map pack a week later.