Now that Halo 4 has arrived on retail shelves, Microsoft’s “Most Anticipated Shooter of 2012,” the game publisher didn’t waste any time in opening pre-orders for their “Most Anticipated Shooter of 2013,” Gears of War: Judgment. In fairness, Gears of War: Judgment pre-orders aren’t as premature as they might sound, given the “most anticipated shooter of 2013” marketing talk – since the game is actually set to release early in the year: March 19th, specifically.

In order to keep Gears of War: Judgment fresh in the minds of gamers, who will be inundated with high-profile games in the coming weeks (Assassin’s Creed 3 and Halo 4 are already out – with Black Ops 2 less than a week away, from the time of this writing), Epic Games has released a brief video detailing their first confirmed pre-order bonus – along with a press release that teases some intriguing retailer-specific character skins.

According to the marketing materials, the Classic Hammerbust multiplayer weapon will be available with every Gears of War: Judgment pre-order (though gamers should check to make sure they’re ordering from a “participating retailer”). Players will remember the Hammerbust is a Locust rifle that fires in six-shot “bursts.” The “classic” designation presumably means that players will be using the original version of the rifle (i.e. one that does not include an iron sight option) – as opposed to the modern iteration featured in Gears of War 2 and Gears of War 3.

Here’s the Classic Hammerburst announcement – direct from the Epic Games press release:

Fans who pre-order “Gears of War: Judgment” at participating retailers will receive an exclusive in-game multiplayer weapon at launch, the Classic Hammerburst, along with potential retailer-specific content. The Classic Hammerburst was the standard-issue assault rifle of the Locust Army during their E-Day onslaught. Highly accurate with a six-round burst, the Classic Hammerburst helped give the Locust a decisive advantage.

Exclusive weaponry certainly provides incentive to pre-order but the Gears of War: Judgment announcement also teases retailer-specific incentives that, at the same time, will likely cause many gamers to wait for further details. Along with the Classic Hammerburst, Epic announces that they’ll also be including “young” and exclusive skins (remember: Judgment is a prequel) of fan-favorite characters, including Marcus and Dom, who will be available at different retailers:

Additional incentives will be available from participating retailers in the coming weeks, including exclusive multiplayer character skins Young Marcus, Young Dom, Anya and Alex Brand.

Of course, not knowing which character will be available at which retailer is somewhat of a pre-order disincentive (at least for now) – as many gamers will likely have a preference regarding which “young” or exclusive multiplayer character skin they want.

That said, while no official announcement has been made, a few online retailers have started listing their respective character skins (which are detailed below). However, each one comes listed with a “three-shot Hammerburst,” directly contradicting the six-shot “Classic Hammerburst” mentioned in the video – so it’s possible that retailers may not have the latest info. More than likely, players will be able to use the following breakdown to find Young Marcus and Young Dom but pre-orderers should verify the information with each retailer before committing to a deposit.

  • GameStop: Classic Hammerburst and Young Marcus
  • Amazon: Classic Hammerburst and Young Dom

As for Anya and Alex Brand, it’s likely that Best Buy will carry one of the characters, while EB Games, GameStation, or (among other options) could have dibs on the other. Frankly, we’ll just have to wait for further official information (or updated retailer pages) to know for sure.

In the meantime, players can whet their appetite for more Gears of War: Judgment with the title’s key art – depicting The Kilo Squad members – young Damon Baird, Augustus Cole, Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk – on patrol in the aftermath of Emergence Day.

Check out the images below (click to enlarge):

Gears of War Judgment Cast

Gears of War Judgment Key Artwork

We’ll keep you up to date when we hear official confirmation of where to find the various retailer-exclusive characters skins – especially Anya and Alex Brand.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Gears of War: Judgment will release March 19th, exclusively on Xbox 360.

Source: Epic Games