Horde mode is back in Gears 5, and, much like the rest of the game, the infamous survival mode has received some tweaks. While the basics will likely be familiar to Gears veterans, some of the newer features are quite different from what can be found in previous Horde iterations. Chief among these features is the new class system that locks characters to specific classes. By extension, this basically means that you can’t have a team of five Marcus Fenixes.
It should also be noted that if a teammate leaves the match, they will be replaced by a generic AI soldier. This ally is armed only with the basic Lancer and won’t really contribute much. Fortunately, they will prioritize reviving players over virtually everything else.
Gears 5 Horde Guide - Choosing Your Team
In any case, the outcome of many Gears 5 Horde matches can be decided on the character selection screen. Since each character has a specific role, selecting a character is no longer just an aesthetic choice. As an example, every Kait will spawn with a Retro Lancer and Gnasher and an active camo ability. Barring any future updates, a character's Skill Cards will always enhance a specific play style. As such, it may be a good idea to take a look at the customization screen to see who does what prior to launching a Horde match.
Regardless of how your team of five wants to organize themselves, it will always be a good idea to have at least one engineer. The auto-turrets and laser barriers (fully upgraded spikes) are literally essential to survival. These fortifications are expensive in the grand scheme of things, especially when accounting for repair/reload costs, but their firepower is undeniable. At higher waves, when enemies have health and damage multipliers, they will typically be responsible for the majority of the kills.
Aside from the engineers, your team may want to consider picking JACK. The Gears 5 version of the robotic companion does more than open doors this time around. In fact, his electrical attacks provide the only natural form of crowd control in the game. JACK is admittedly rather useless against bosses, but he can pull off revives in the most ridiculously dangerous situations.
Kait is also a solid pick, but only if you have the Skill Card that gives shotguns bleed damage. This gives her the ability to shred bosses since bleed damage cannot be resisted. For example, most characters have to shoot Matriarchs in the back to do damage. This is obviously quite dangerous. By comparison, Kait only needs to hit an enemy with the shotgun to deal full bleed damage. Where it hits, or if the shotgun blast itself even does damage, is irrelevant.
Gears 5 Horde Guide - Using the Map To Your Advantage
The second decision that your team must make is where to set up. Obviously, you would want an area that has natural chokepoints. Spawn areas are decent points, though it really depends on the map. The best locations provide interlocking fields of fire for turrets, cover, and an escape route. If you care about making it to wave 50, take a couple of seconds to discuss this with your team.
Speaking of map control, Gears 5 introduces Taps into Horde. These are locations that pop up over the course of a match that you can capture. Capture a Tap and it will provide Power, though you will have to manually harvest the Power. Enemies can also destroy Taps. If a Tap pops up right next to or inside your base, then you really should take advantage of it. Up to 800 extra Power per wave per harvest is nothing to laugh at after all.
By the time that you reach the first Boss, you may notice that running out of ammo is a real concern. Scavenging can only go so far, and Power is limited. Heavy weapons like the Tri-shot and Salvo provide immense firepower, but their ammo can disappear in a heartbeat. This is where the humble Weapons Locker fortification comes in. Store any weapon in a Locker and it will automatically refill that weapon’s ammo pool over time for free. Engineers should really consider constructing at least one or two Lockers once heavy weapons spawn for this reason alone. Just remember to put weapons back into the Locker once they run low on ammo.
If you need to replace a basic weapon, try and seek weapons that offer high damage per shot. At higher waves, there’s too much incoming damage to stand up for a couple of seconds and shoot someone. EMBARs and Longshots are particularly good in this regard, as are shotguns. If you find better grenades, stick the less effective grenades in chokepoints before replacing them. Everything is a resource, so don’t let anything go to waste. Unfortunately, it becomes quite evident that the vast majority of Gears 5’s weapons were not made with Horde’s stat multipliers in mind.
Ultimately, much like in previous games, surviving Horde in Gears 5 boils down to making safe plays. It takes up to three hours to get to wave 50 on “normal” difficulty levels. Everything must be done with this in mind, from turret locations to real-life obligations. You don’t have to rush anything if it’s dangerous to do so, as getting shot to pieces is often a greater hindrance to your team than literally sitting in a spot and not doing anything. Similarly, if you need extra time to set up, try to leave the last enemy downed. It can’t be stressed enough that everyone should deposit any collected Power into the Fabricator at the end of the wave. All these little actions may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose track of things once the shooting starts, and mistakes can add up.