Gears 5’s Horde Mode Improves On A Series Favourite

Gears 5 is set to be the biggest and best Gears Of War game yet. It’s no secret that it’s packed with a tonne of returning and new game modes. Not only did I go hands on with the campaign (which you can read right here), I got to spend a bunch of time with Horde mode. 

As returning players may be aware, Horde is an epic endurance survival mode of 50 waves of enemies. After every 10 waves a boss is needed to be defeated and as you progress to each boss stage something known as ‘poison’ is added to really shake things up. Poison are traits added to the enemies to make them more difficult to defeat, such as extra health or increased damage.

In the Horde lobby menu the tweaks and changes are immediately visible. Firstly, multiplayer characters are now known as heroes and are differentiated by abilities rather than a weapons based split like in previous instalments. Similar to other online multiplayers such as Apex Legends, the Gears 5 characters have a passive and an ultimate ability with the ultimate ability really defining the reasons to pick who to play as.

Below is a quick run down of play style and ultimate abilities I could see from each of the 9 available characters:

  • Kait – Scout – Ultimate: Camouflage (Become invisible to enemies. Can melee whilst cloaked).
  • Del – Engineer – Ultimate: Reinforce (Del is the only character that has full access to build all defensives).
  • JD – Offence – Ultimate: Artillery Strike (Air Strike area of the map).
  • Marcus – Tank – Ultimate: Living Legend (Automatically hit headshots).
  • Fahz – Sniper – Ultimate: Xray (Can see and shoot through walls).
  • Jack – Support – Ultimate: Hijack (Takes control of enemies).
  • Emile-a239 (Halo Reach DLC) – Ultimate: Drop Shield (Iconic Halo Drop Shields for team cover).
  • Kat-b320 (Halo Reach DLC)- Ultimate: Hologram (Hologram of player continues to run forward and distract enemies).
  • Sarah Connor (Terminator DLC) – Ultimate: Heavy Hitter (ballistics weapons knock back and stun enemies).

I decided to play as new character, Fahz (equipped with a Markza MK I, Longshot Sniper Rilfe, Bolta Pistol and his X-Ray ultimate). At first it was fairly easy to churn through the incoming waves of locust and evil robot enemies – gradually collecting ‘power’ which is needed to purchase defensives (like turrets and spike barriers), upgrade Fahz in 4 different fields (Critical Damage, Ammo Capacity, Precision Weapons, Feedback Boost), or we could deposit the power we collected individually into the fabricator for a group pool of funds.

The first 20 waves felt controllable, and a good pace to get used to the chaos, work out the best way to manage ammo and work together to collect power and create the right defences. Once it hit wave 25 though, there was a definite increase to difficulty, chaos and enemy numbers (and a lot more screaming and shouting through headsets). From what I experienced, the multiplayer modes like Horde are definitely game modes you’ll want to play with regular squad mates as communication and strategy are key to getting through all 50 waves. My team didn’t do too bad at all, but it definitely took the first 20 waves to work out each other’s play styles and communication. Deciding when to spend power is key to making sure the right players and defences are in place and upgraded at the right wave number. We made it through about 35 waves in total, which took around hour and a half, so be ready to buckle in for the long haul when deciding to go the full 50.

Apart from playing the multiplayer modes with the same squad mates for strategy, The Coalition announced that Gears 5 would also be introducing a mechanic called Gear Allies – where players will be rewarded for playing with the same people time and time again. Rewards may vary for players but they will come in the form of benefits such as 5% extra experience earned during play for example. After launch, players will also receive access to a free battle pass like system The Coalition is calling ‘Tour of Duty’.

Tour of Duty will bring elements like challenges for players to complete during their online play which will help unlock rewards like the new card system (bonus traits to add to your character such as 10% damage increase for example). Not only this but each tour will bring new rewards, maps, characters, banners and more. The Coalition stated during the event that they are wanting the multiplayer and online experience to be accessible by all players, so there will be no loot box mechanics and tour of duty unlockables will be able to be earned as well as purchased to cater for players who love the grind or just want the latest elements straight away – this includes hero characters too.

Gears 5’s Horde and intended multiplayer will undoubtedly become one of Xbox’s flagship experiences for gamers, especially with the exposure and accessibility via Game Pass. It seems The Coalition has kept their ears to the ground and have created something a lot fans and players have been waiting for, not just within the Gears series, but across multiplayer and online experiences in general. I’m excited to see how it all continues come launch day.