‘Gears of War 4’ Horde mode guide: How to succeed against overwhelming odds

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Horde mode is the main draw for many Gears of War fans, and for good reason — it’s a tense and demanding battle royale that rewards dedication, skill and teamwork. “Horde 3.0,” the newest version, is arguably the highlight of Gears of War 4. It’s also the most complex version of Horde yet, and it won’t be easy for players to master.

Horde 3.0 not only brings new enemies and maps, but a completely new player class system and the ability to build various types of defenses. As you can imagine, these systems totally change how you should approach the game: Each class has its own strengths, and building defenses to fortify strong map positions is now essential. There’s also a completely new leveling, credits, and card pack system that, although difficult to navigate, is important to success.

It’s worth getting to know all the intricacies of Horde “3.0” if you ever want to make it to wave 50, which is why we’re going to clarify things, setting the stage for your team’s next winning run.

Getting to know “Horde 3.0”

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Before we dig into the nitty gritty of the new systems in Horde 3.0, we have some general tips to keep in mind as you play.

Prepare for battle: If you’re used to the old Horde modes you may be tempted to hurtle through the menus and lobby as quickly as possible to get started, but there are a few extra steps in Horde 3.0. First pick the class that best suits your play style (bottom left option in the lobby screen); next assign a skill in the one skill slot you have unlocked to start (bottom middle of the screen); lastly choose a bounty (bottom right) to help you level up.

There are five classes: engineer, heavy, scout, sniper, and soldier. Experiment at first to discover which you like (we’ll go in-depth on them in the next section) but it’s advisable to ultimately pick one and stick with it for a while, because leveling them up — crucial to be able to equip more skills — is excruciatingly slow.

Place your fabricator wisely: Horde 3.0 revolves around the fabricator, where you build defenses, purchase new guns and revive teammates. Place it carefully on each map in a spot that’s both defensible and escapable. Your defenses are invaluable in many situations, but don’t expect your fortifications to hold through the toughest waves (especially boss waves). You want long sight-lines and lots of cover, but also multiple approaches so you can bail if your team becomes overwhelmed.

Leave one enemy alive: All pickups, such as energy for your fabricator, ammo, and weapons, disappear at the start of each new round. As the waves intensify, you and your teammates will often find yourselves scrambling to pick up these valuable resources during the 30 seconds in between waves. Rather than running around and getting caught off-guard, keep one weak enemy alive near the end of a round so you can scavenge without a time limit.

Don’t always revive teammates: If your teammates are knocked down, always try to pick them up. If they’re killed outright you can bring them back to life by picking up their COG tags from where they fell and bringing them back to the fabricator. Bringing teammates back from the dead can be costly, though, and energy is precious. If a wave is almost over consider toughing it out without them.

Mark your enemies: Click the left thumbstick while pointing at enemies to mark them for teammates to see. This can help to point out strong enemies on the field, plus give players using the “heavy” class a damage bonus against them if they have the right skill equipped. Scouts can mark multiple enemies at a time (again, with the corresponding skill on). You can also mark weapons that are on the ground.

Save the big guns for the boss: In “Horde 3.0,” every tenth wave is a boss fight. Use weapon lockers (crafted using the fabricator) to store and recharge ammo for heavy weapons like the mulcher and tri-shot, and pull them out on boss waves. It’s OK to use them other times too, as the normal enemy waves get pretty intense — just make sure you have power weapons (and turrets) ready for every tenth wave.

Modifiers make it harder: After every boss wave a new modifier is added — first enemies get double health, then they become twice as accurate, then the damage each player takes gets doubled. Keep that in mind as you progress.

Use turrets: We have a whole section on building defenses later on, but there’s one essential thing about them that it couldn’t wait. Stationary turrets — the manned ones, not the auto sentries — will save your butts on higher waves. Make two or three and arrange them so they can see enemies coming from a mile away and cover one another’s flanks, but won’t all be destroyed by one unfortunate explosion.

Play with friends: Lastly and most importantly, play Horde 3.0 with friends. Succeeding, especially on higher difficulties, requires communication and teamwork that can’t generally be accomplished by five strangers without mics. If you don’t have friends, make some. Find a community online or even hop into matchmaking and invite whoever you get matched with to a chat party. If they don’t join, quit and try again! It’s that important.

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