We’ve covered Gears of War 4extensively over the past month. As our August IGN First, we delivered a deep-dive into the DeeBees, the new robotic threat that stands in the way of JD and his pals. We’ve profiled the trio of heroes that you’ll be playing as. We’ve also done a couple fly-throughs of some of the maps that we’ll be playing in multiplayer come October 11th.
However, one thing we only teased was what Gears’ Horde 3.0 mode would have in store for us. Thankfully at PAX West 2016, five of IGN’s Gears fans got to go hands-on with the newest iteration of the classic mode. Here’s what two of us thought.
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ANDREW GOLDFARB: In Horde 3.0, the Fabricator is your best friend. Before the first wave, you and your team can place the Fabricator anywhere you’d like (as long as it isn’t against the wall), and picking a good spot is important to make sure you can get back to it safely once the madness of combat begins. Once the Fabricator is placed, it becomes a one-stop shop for weapons, fortifications, and even reviving your allies.
As you defeat enemies, they’ll drop a resource called Power, which is your currency for everything the Fabricator has to offer. You can use it to buy turrets and other offensive gear, or you can pick up things like barbed wire and decoys to help slow down the onslaught of enemies in each wave. While you can still revive downed allies who are wounded, when players are truly killed, you can pick up their COG tags and bring them to the Fabricator. In each wave, the price to bring back an ally goes up each time you revive someone.
This is such a smart way to give the team a sort of home base. The menu to build fortifications is quick and simple so you’re not distracted for long, and reviving a friend is instant as long as you have enough Power.
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MARTY SLIVA: One of the biggest changes I noticed to Horde 3.0 came before our match even started. Like a modern 2016 multiplayer shooter, Gears now has a series of classes that each of the five players can choose from before the round. These ranged from the traditional-Gears Soldier role (think Lancer, grenades, and the same penchant for stop-and-pop that you remember and love), to more specialized classes like the Sniper. However, the true variation in these comes from the Cards that you chose to assign to your character when you’re customizing your load-out.
As someone who’s played the series since its inception, I took a perk that gave me an additional damage bonus on a successful Active Reload. This gave me a satisfying bonus for the years I’ve spent perfecting the timing on this mechanic, which became more and more helpful as the waves of enemies became increasingly more challenging. While waves one and two were an absolute breeze, we found ourselves scrambling to revive one-another as we cleared the final few rooms.
AG: I played as a sniper, which made this feel different than any Gears I’ve played before. Normally, I’m used to up-close melee and shotgun play, but this time I found myself staying back and getting most of my kills right at the beginning of the wave when enemies still had some distance. I chose an Exploding Headshots card at the beginning and got ready to line up shots.
Our team breezed through the first few waves, but around the halfway point, we started to struggle a bit. I used my Longshot to take out the shields of some flying drones, then switched to scoping out the back line of enemies, hitting as many as I could with a headshot. Unfortunately, aside from just being a terrible shot in general, I also hadn’t been replenishing ammo between rounds, so my magazine was running low.
I wasted several of those shots on one particular jerk who was dodging back and forth for the entire round, to the point where I only had a couple shots left. As we neared the end of the wave, I finally caught him at just the right moment to take him out with my last bullet, and my exploding headshot not only took him down, but also another chump unfortunate enough to be standing next to him.
MS: Playing through our 10 waves of Horde 3.0 brought back a deluge of amazing memories. Running straight into the chaos to revive a downed teammate provides a singular kind of rush. Likewise, finishing up a particularly-tough round, only to see that we had 25 seconds to scour the battlefield for our spoils of war, refill our ammunition, and head back to The Fabricator and buy some fortifications made for a tense scramble each and every time.
The moment that stood out most to me in our 25 minutes with Horde came right near the end in the final wave. We were battered, beaten, and low on ammo by the time the final enemy came rolling in, and man were we not ready for it. The Carrier is a slow, but massively-intimidating tank of a beast that crawls across the battlefield and spews out toxic spores in every direction that cling to surfaces and cause a ton of damage if you’re anywhere near them. The thing packed one hell of a punch and soaked up our bullets like they were nothing. As it pressed closer and closer to our Fabricator, the five of us were backed up into the starting corner of the map.
But this is where Gears is at its finest -- four pals and I surrounding a giant hulking beast, unloading everything we have into it, until finally the thing pops like the grossest piñata I’ve ever seen. Sure, there were a few stragglers left on the map, but at this point, we knew that we survived our first trip into Horde 3.0.