We're plunged into a team of marines. On the other side, the gearbox devs playing as the Aliens. It's 8v8, first to 50 kills. Before we spawn, there's a chance to customise our armoury and get a grip with one of the new guns designed by Gearbox. In addition to the pulse rifle and shotgun, there's a new assault rifle that feels somewhere between the pulse rifle and S.M.A.R.T. gun, the latter of which gives you a fancy HUD and an auto-aiming mode, but is only available as an on-map pickup. We're not enamoured by the new boomstick, opting for the pulse rifle and its authentic purr and muzzle flash.
After being shredded by the Gearbox-xenos over and over again, and one more time for luck, the tactics become clear - you need to play like you're in the movie. Stick together, hug the walls, use the motion tracker and watch the corners. Basically anything that sounds like Apone would say is applicable here.
Crouching in a corner is particularly effective, and as our eight-man squad starts to get the hang of it, the momentum sways our way. The xenos use ceilings and ventilation shafts to get close, then rush in from short range at the last minute - exactly like the movies, then. Maybe that's the most striking thing about this multiplayer mode - the game mechanics act like James Cameron himself, guiding you into performing a role that replicates the movie and creates a kind of effortless authenticity.
The alien gameplay is completely the opposite of everything we're learning as a marine. For starters, the view's switched to third person. Presumably Gearbox want to make the least disorienting way of moving around, but the unfortunate by-product is that it shows off some pretty rudimentary movement animations - the game's still pre-alpha at this point though, so it can be forgiven for lacking a little polish here and there.
There's a class system for xenos, too. From what we can make out between the panicked muzzle-flashes and grenades, there are three types hitting us - the common-or-garden xenomorph, a sneakier 'skulker' variety who rely on getting close undetected then dropping on our laps, and third monstrosity called the 'crusher' - basically the tank for L4D in xeno-form. Every bit as horrifying and difficult as it sounds.
To succeed, a team of xenos needs to exploit its x-ray vision - you can see surrounding friends and foes thanks to a visual overlay reminiscent of the AvP series' xeno levels. Stick to the ceilings, flank enemies, and time attacks to overwhelm enemies when they're at their most flustered - it seems to work for Gearbox against us, anyway.