How to play Gears of War 3 split screen on PC with Xenia Emulator

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Featured image credit: Epic Games

Beauty of owning a PC is that eventually all console exclusive games end up being ported on this platform at some time. However, even if they are not ported, some genius programmer will eventually create hardware emulation software that will enable PC users to play long forgotten console games. Among many emulators that can now be found on Internet, one is really starting to stick out. It is Xenia Xbox 360 emulator – an emulator that enables you to play various Xbox 360 exclusive games such as Crackdown, Halo 3 and, of course, Gears of War 3.

Even though emulator is still not fully functional, and its performance is rather unsatisfying even on high-end PCs, Ben Vanik (project’s chief) and his colleagues made some really amazing progress in the last year in terms of Xenia’s performance optimization. Goal of this article, however, isn’t to talk about Xenia’s features and history, but to show you how to put it to good use and play Xbox 360 classics, such as Gears of War 3, on your PC.

One of the great features of Gears of War games on Xbox 360 console is that its players could play split screen cooperative modes, such as Horde, on same screen and at the same time. Newer titles like Gears of War 4 and Gears 5, that have been released on PC, support split screen mode only while playing the campaign, which is a pity. This is where Xenia and Gears of War 3 step in, since combination of these two allows PC players to experience great split screen action with friends. In order to play Gears of War 3 split screen with your friends on PC, you will have to complete following steps:

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  1. Download Xenia emulation software from this link: https://xenia.jp/about/. Starting the game with the latest build might not work for you, so try instead a custom build that fixes the black screen bug that occurs after passing the start menu. You can download this custom build from this LINK HERE (credits to BSoD Gaming).
  2. Get the copy of Gears of War 3.
  3. Plug in two Xbox controllers to your PC.
  4. Mount the game with the Xenia emulator.
  5. When the title screen shows up, press START button on Controller 2 (that is the controller that you plugged in 2nd).
  6. After that a message will pop-up, saying something about insufficient space. At this point, you should press B button on Controller 1 (this is very important).
  7. After that you will get the next warning saying that data won’t be saved. At this point, you should press A button on Controller 2.
  8. After doing all above, both controllers should now work properly. Controller 2 should now be the master, so navigate the menus using that controller. In top right corner you should see two profiles: XeniaUser and NOT SIGNED IN. If you see that, you are good to go. Now you can play split screen Horde mode or campaign.
  9. Enjoy!

If you have trouble setting up controllers, or find it easier to watch, check out my video tutorial that shows you how to properly set up two Xbox controllers in order to play Gears of War 3 split screen with Xenia emulator:

You will probably be disappointed with the performance. My average frame rate with AMD RX 580 was around 15 FPS. Apparently if you own GTX 1070 or something higher you might achieve 30 FPS on average with both players playing the game. Even though that is a let down, it is still awesome to see Gears of War 3 playable on PC. Hopefully computer wizards that made Xenia will make it even better in near future, so gameplay experience will be lag-free.

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