Gears of War 3 will launch worldwide on September 20, 2011, Microsoft and Epic Games have announced.

The story takes place eighteen months after the events of Gears of War 2 and the loss of the human stronghold of Jacinto. Marcus, Baird, Dom and company continue their fight to save human civilisation.

The game will feature four-player campaign co-op, plus new multiplayer game type, 'Beast Mode,' in which players take on the role of the locust horde.

New multiplayer maps include Trenches, which features a sand storm that reduces your visibility, as well as Overpass, Mercy, Checkout, and Thrashball.

We're promised all-new weapons too, including The Bayonet Charge, The Retro Lancer, The Sawed-off Shotgun, The OneShot - a heavy sniper rifle that shoots through shields or cover for a surprise one shot kill - The Incendiary Grenade and The Digger Launcher. There will also be a few subtle tweaks to old favourite the Hammerburst and Classic Lancer.

Details of the upcoming beta will be released soon.

With no new Halo game scheduled for release in 2011 Microsoft has handed the September 'Halo slot' to Gears of War, meaning the highly anticipated third-person sequel won't find itself directly competing with the next Call of Duty, Uncharted 3 and the rest of the holiday season releases.