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gears war 4 horde mode 3 0 hands pax west 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.17.06 AM

Ever since Gears of War 2 sliced and diced its way onto Xbox 360s in 2008, Horde mode has been a staple of the series and of the third-person shooter as a whole. The mode was straight-forward and got to the fun parts relatively quick. With Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgement, changes were made to make the mode more engaging, thought-provoking, and difficult, and Gears of War 4 is shaping up to go even further in that direction.

Horde 3.0 is the most “game-y” feeling Horde yet. Enemies drop holographic pick-ups that is the foundation of your currency you’ll acquire throughout the fights. With your mobile Fabricator, that lets you pick up and reposition your base of operations, you’re able to move all of your defenses at a relatively quick pace. Boss waves in particular will force you to be on the move, and the Fabricator does a good job of moving certain bosses through different choke-points.

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Stemming from Gears of War Judgement, Horde 3.0 has a class-system. Snipers, Warriors, Engineers, Scouts, and Heavies make up the classes you’ll be choosing, and each one as a unique and special role associated with them. Before the match starts, there are plenty of modifiers to select from – generally it served me well to power up my Lancer as much as I could, and the results were explosive, to say the least. Mowing down low-level grunts to giant goons with saw blades didn’t take much effort, and if one of my teammates found themselves incapacitated, it wasn’t too difficult to quickly haul over there and lend them a helping hand.

As expected, Horde 3.0 wasn’t actually particularly difficult until we reached the tenth wave. Every ten waves warrants a boss wave, where a giant enemy will join the ranks of your enemies and remain a pesky thorn in your side until it’s taken care of. While obvious in hind sight, the crab-like enemy I fought proved to be the whole team’s downfall, as we were focusing on the wrong targets. Outside of that, my team hardly needed to communicate – what little of that did happen tended to be in non-verbal cues from the game itself. This is an interesting side-effect of Horde evolving to be more focused on defensive play and strategic planning. Even Soldier classes can’t just go in guns blazing.

This feels less like an extreme revolution of one of the standout modes to come from the last generation. It’s more like a refinement of what Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgement brought to the table, and that’s good enough for most fans of the franchise. Gears of War 4 hits Xbox One and PC October 11th, 2016.

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