In a behind closed doors demo with Cliffy B, we got a new glimpse at Gears of War 3‘s 4-player campaign and all its new additions to the series.

Cliffy B is aware that multiplayer sells games – “Dude, you’re going to be a great rental” he said of single-player-only games – but he insisted that Epic is building the best, grandest and longest campaign yet. The story will center around a variety of characters in the Gears storyline – the demo showed off eight playable characters, alone.

Cliffy B said the campaign follows a Pulp Fiction-inspired narrative that follows each character’s own story, jumping in time between groups of characters. Many key characters will meet up for moments throughout the campaign, but they will not always be front-and-center in the story. Cliffy B said this adds variety to the atmosphere and pacing of the game.

The demo featured an early level (“Act 1: Abandoned Ship”), where the player switches between two groups battling a massive leviathan on a freighter and on a bridge. It’s everything you expect of the series, except the scale is bigger. The player is given more room to maneuver, in order to accommodate four players, but the backdrops are also noticeably more expansive and approximately 10 percent more colorful than previous titles.

The Silverback mechs, previously shown in the Horde mode presentation during Microsoft’s conference, will also make a couple appearances in the campaign. Marcus and company aren’t the most agile characters, so it’s surprising to see that the Silverbacks are responsive and fast, unlike most mechs in games. The Silverbacks are equipped with a turret, but they can also be used as deployable cover when unoccupied.

The player will also have new weapons to fight with, including the One Shot sniper rifle included in the previously released multiplayer beta. The Vulcan, a new weapon shown in the demo, is a powerful canon that one player fires while another feeds bullets by rapidly tapping a button. The two are tethered together by the gun and ammo box, like “two guys in a donkey suit.”

While the world of Gears looks as drab as ever, the game benefits from a slight change in art direction and improved lighting. To say the least, the engine refuses to age as Epic keep adding new tech to it. The scale of the frighteningly detailed Leviathan creature was impressive. After the player fires on the creature’s right eye with a turret, causing it to explode, Cole echoes the player’s reaction: “Oh, that’s nasty!”

Multiplayer may be front-and-center in GoW3, but Cliffy B insists the campaign is still a major endeavor for the team and one that will be improved from previous entries. Despite being longer, Cliffy B said it won’t be padded with recycled scenarios – each enemy encounter will be unique and memorable, with new backdrops and setpieces attached.

Series fans will be able to find out if Cliffy’s ambitious claims are true when the game is released September 20.

See all our coverage directly from the show floor.

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