- —Locust, warning other Locust of an incoming mortar shell
The Mortar was a powerful support weapon developed by the Coalition of Ordered Governments to provide squad-level fire support. Like all mortars, it was a long-ranged, indirect-firing weapon intended to deal with troops in cover, keep foes pinned down, and deal with large clusters of enemies at once. Unlike modern mortars, however, the Gears of War Mortar operates with a few unique features.
The Mortar fires a single, long-ranged shell, equipped with an SFFS (Self-Forging Fragmenting Submunition) system. Upon apogee, the Mortar scatters a series of explosive bomblets that proceed to rain down along the Mortar's firing line. The end result is a blanket of devastation, covering a huge range. The effect this weapon has on enemy morale is dramatic; enemies will flee for cover rather than be caught in the blast radius (and if they don't, they are likely to be killed outright if not seriously wounded). Even better, as an indirect-fire weapon, the Mortar can be safely fired from a relatively secure position. In times of emergency, it can also be fired directly, as a conventional projectile weapon, though if fired this way the shell is rather inaccurate, does not scatter, and rarely kills. The explosion knocks people, including the user, down instead, similar to the effects of a smoke grenade. The Mortar in deployed mode has a maximum range of 150 meters.
The Mortar's sheer firepower is beyond reproach: the Imulsion-fueled bomblets it drops are capable of causing critical damage to even heavier units, such as Reavers and Brumaks. Unfortunately, the weapon is both tricky to aim and extremely loud and obvious: the firing of a mortar is a dead give-away to all in the area, and a Mortar operator immediately becomes a priority target. Secondly, the weapon is functionally useless if an object (such as a building or other structure) is in the way of the Mortar shell's trajectory: the shell will hit the structure and scatter into smaller bombs before falling back down at the user, usually killing them. However, a skillful player can judge the height of the roof, and fire it at its maximum forward angle. This will propel the shell up, bounce off the roof, and break into fragments forward, leaving destruction in its wake. It is very useful in Horde mode, where you can clear a whole cluster of Locust with a single shot.
Though designed and built by the COG, the Mortar, like many weapons developed and used by the COG, is used by the Locust Horde as well. The Locust frequently salvage the weapon and when they do, they make use of it whenever and wherever they can. Drones are particularly fond of it, but occasionally Snipers can be seen using them as well.
The Mortar is an extremely useful weapon that can turn the tide of a battle. You can operate the Mortar the same as the Mulcher, taking cover or using it as you walk, although your actions are severely limited. For example, you can't run as fast, you slide into cover slower, and you can't make evasive maneuvers. The trade-off is a massive amount of firepower. A good tactic to use with the Mortar is to bombard the central battleground where most of the combat takes place, such as in Jacinto near the bridge where the weapon is found, as this is where most of the fighting occurs in this map. You should warn your teammates before doing this as they could be caught in the blast.
The Mortar is also particularly useful on Horde mode, especially if the user can anticipate and identify when and where the enemy spawns from. Arguably the easiest map for Mortar users to do this on is River, as the view from the bridge where the Mortar spawns offers an excellent view of most enemy spawn positions. It is also better to predict and aim where your enemies are going than just simply aiming at their spot as they are going to move. It is dangerous in Pavilion because if a player is skilled enough and shoots at 50 m from the benches outside the house, at least 1-2 shells may go inside the grenade house and set off frags or kill enemies that are at the opening of the house.
The Mortar, just like any other mortar, can be used both from and against cover. Since the Mortar fires upward there is no need to lean out of cover - in fact, the person using the Mortar simply changes stance when deploying the Mortar and does not change positions. This can be useful if there are enemies, especially snipers, who are willing to shoot you a split-second after you lean out. Places without a roof are vulnerable to the shells, and the shells have a large blast radius and are usually an instant kill. The only cover that will keep you safe from a Mortar is a place with a roof, and even then, you are still vulnerable to splash damage if you get caught in the blast radius.
The Mortar can be operated two ways. The first is just like the Mulcher: you can slide into cover with it and fire directly at your enemy. The second and more effective way is to mount it to the ground. As you press the fire button, your onscreen character cranks it up. The distance the shell will fire is displayed in meters on your HUD. For this reason, it can be hard to aim, which can result in a lot of trial shots before any success can be achieved. Be careful when using the second method, as you will be left vulnerable to attack. Counter this by having a teammate guard you as you operate the Mortar. It can also be blindfired, like the other weapons. However, the mortar will not sail through the air, but travel along the ground. It will eventually stop and explode.
It is also possible to unpack the Mortar and fire it while under any kind of ceiling. The result is a rain of shrapnel right on your position, almost instantly after fire. The downside is the high suicide possibility, but it can be countered by dropping the mortar and rolling backwards directly after firing. This is a good strategy when being rushed by the enemy team.
Behind the scenes
- Getting 30 kills with the Mortar earns the player the "Shock and Awe" Achievement. This achievement is named after the Shock and Awe tactics used by Coalition forces in the second Gulf War.
- On December 30, 2009, Epic Games changed the Mortar so that it has 7 Mortar Shells as a default. This was also mentioned on the main lobby of the game in which it says On the seventh day of Gearsmas Epic gave to me, 7 mortar shells.
- Based on new multiplayer footage, the mortar now has an execution move not unlike the boom shield, in which the character swings the weapon up, over, and down on to the downed enemies head, severing it from their body and instantly killing them. Brain matter will be seen dripping from the weapon as well.
- When using the Mortar or Mulcher, and flipping a lever, the lever appears to flip on its own.
- If the Horde Command Pack is downloaded, the command center has an option of using mortars to target random enemies in Horde 2.0.