What Makes Gears of Wars Horde Mode So Special?

Henry Gilbert
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The original Gears of War set a high bar for online shooters and for just about every game that followed it that generation. When its sequel arrived in 2008, people would’ve settled for the series to continue its third-person shooting, gory excellence. Instead, Gears of War 2 changed shooters once more by popularizing a whole new way to play the game. The introduction of Gears of War Horde mode to gamers worldwide. Take a look how the developers first introduced players to Horde mode action.

In the eight years since then, the Gears of War games have tweaked and expanded on Horde while not forgetting what made the original so great. Gears of War 4 looks to popularized Horde mode all over again with Horde 3.0. On the eve of its rebirth, let’s take a look at what made it so groundbreaking in the first place.

Co-Op Gets Competitive

Gears of War Horde Mode Blooddrive

Other shooters have had “survival modes” before Gears of War 2, most felt like minor tweaks to existing multiplayer action. Horde Mode looked to the co-op gameplay that the campaign handled so well and transformed it. Teamwork was critical as up to five players battled increasingly challenging waves of AI enemies. You knew you and your partners had to plan well, conserve and share ammo, and stake out the best spots. These short bursts of cooperation could build strong bonds among friends in ways that Team Deathmatch or Capture the Flag couldn’t.

Just One More Wave

Horde 3.0 - Overkill

Gears of War’s Horde mode has an addictive quality you won’t find in many other games. Horde challenges players with increasingly difficult waves, capping out every tenth wave with a particularly tough enemy appearing. Each wave can go pretty fast, making it easy just to say to your friends “just one more” before quitting. Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m., and you’re deep into Wave 33. The short burst of each wave makes you keep glued to the TV for just one more try at taking out another pack of locusts.

Horde Is a Great Starting Place for Newer Players

Gears of War Horde Mode

Gears of War certainly rewards skilled players who can master its accurate shooting. Unfortunately, that can make it tough for some newer players to join in the fun. Horde mode gives less-trained folks a chance to face off against AI opponents instead of the more unpredictable humans they could meet online. The co-op nature of Horde makes it so everyone watches out for each other, giving noobs a chance to learn and adapt to the game in a more controlled setting.

Horde Keeps on Growing

Gears of War Horde Mode

The developers didn’t take a break after pioneering Horde mode in Gears of War 2. By the time Gears of War 3 came out, many series had imitated Horde, so the team had refreshed it in its second appearance. New weapons, more varied stages, bigger enemies, more defensive options — Horde 2.0 became a whole new experience. Gears of War 4 is rebuilding the action from the ground up with Horde 3.0, offering up more defensive and building options to add more strategy to the visceral combat.

We’re All in This Together

Gears of War Horde Mode

Gears of War 4 is ready to pull folks back into Horde all over again, so you better sharpen up your skills and prepare for countless waves of fun. Just remember, even when chainsawing a Locust in half, it’s all about cooperation.


Henry Gilbert
Henry Gilbert is Senior Games Editor at Fandom. He's worked in the gaming press since 2008, writing for sites as diverse as GamesRadar, IGN, and Paste Magazine. He's also been known to record a podcast or two with Laser Time. Follow him on Twitter @henereyg.
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