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Horde Explained

Gears 5 is the deepest Horde to date. It takes the epic battle for survival to new heights with the introduction of Heroes, territory control and a completely new way to play Horde, Jackbot.

Gears 5 Horde is all about embracing your playstyle, customizing your Hero’s abilities and playing your role in a team composition that works for you and your friends. With Gears 5, there are more ways to succeed than every before, with a much more dynamic, action-oriented Horde than ever before.

Here’s what to expect from Horde in Gears 5.

Fahz takes aim at an enemy he can see through a wall with his X-Ray ability. Jack shocks a nearby drone by a Power Tap. A Snatcher and additional Swarm advance in the background.

Each Hero is unique, and each Hero plays a distinct role on the battlefield. Finding the one that embraces your playstyle will dramatically influence the way you play Horde in Gears 5.

Each Hero has their own unique abilities, skills, perks and loadout tailored around their role.

The Hero Ultimate Ability is a powerful, game changing ability that can be triggered after it has charged up. Timing your Ultimates with others on your team can have huge impact on the battle.

The Hero’s passive is a smaller ability that is always active. It provides subtle bonuses when playing a Hero in their role. While each Hero has a default loadout, nothing is stopping you from picking up whatever weapons you think works best in the moment.

Here’s a look at our launch lineup of characters:

Marcus steps through a cloud of smoke towards the camera, Snub pistol in hand

Marcus is a living legend who inspires those around him.

Role: Tank

Ultimate Ability: Living Legend – Any shot by him, or his nearby teammates in cover, is automatically a headshot.

Passive Ability: Damage you take slowly recharges your ultimate

Loadout: Lancer, Gnasher, Snub

Kait holds a knife to the throat of a Swarm Drone

Kait is as an adaptive survivor, using her abilities to survive beyond the protection of the defensive line.

Role: Scout

Ultimate Ability: Camouflage – Kait is equipped with a thermal-optic camouflage system that, when activated, allows her to go unseen in battle. While camouflaged, Kait can execute enemies like Drones and DBs without breaking her cloak.

Passive Ability: Power from nearby kills is increased by 25%

Loadout: Retro Lancer, Gnasher, Talon

JD points commandingly to the right

JD is an officer in the COG, which means he gets access to all of the best toys.

Role: Offense

Ultimate Ability: Artillery Strike – Calls in an Artillery Strike on his marked target, disrupting enemy attacks and blowing them to pieces

Passive Ability: Every sixth critical hit kill drops a small Ammo pickup

Loadout: Lancer GL, Gnasher, Snub

Del crouches behind a Shock Sentry as he repairs it with the repair tool

As an Engineer, Del builds fortifications at the Fabricator, and can repair them, to help lock down a defensive perimeter.

Role: Engineer

Ultimate Ability: Reinforce – Summons multiple DeeBee Trackers to target enemies and buy valuable breathing space while repairing frontline fortifications.

Passive Ability: Build new fortifications at a small discount, and carry them faster

Loadout: Enforcer, Overkill, Repair Tool

Fahz stands alongside Jack and Del holding a Longshot

Fahz is all about picking targets wisely and keeping a cool head to take out enemies with pinpoint accuracy.

Role: Offense

Ultimate Ability: X-Ray – Temporarily allows vision through walls and the ability to shoot through them. Nowhere is safe from Fahz!

Passive Ability: Every sixth critical hit kill drops a small Ammo pickup

Loadout: Markza, Longshot, Boltok

Jack floats as he shock beams an off-screen enemy

New to Gears 5 is a character like you’ve never played before – Jackbot! With simplified controls and a support focused role, Jack can fly over the battlefield to heal teammates, repair fortifications, pick up weapons and stun enemies.

Role: Support

Ultimate Ability: Hijack – Jack’s Hijack Ultimate Ability lets him temporarily control almost any enemy on the battlefield and give them a taste of their own medicine!

Passive Ability: Enemies that die with your Mark reduce your Ultimate cooldown

In addition to these six initial characters, you can also take the newly announced Halo Characters and pre-order bonus Sarah Connor into battle in Horde! Here’s a quick look at their abilities:

Sarah Connor stands holding a Gnasher. Behind, a T-800 stands holding a Lancer.

Able to take hits and keep going, Sarah controls the fight. She is best paired with a shotgun for maximum effect.

Role: Tank

Ultimate Ability: Heavy Hitter – All hits with ballistic weapons knockback and stun enemies.

Passive Ability: Damage you take slowly recharges your ultimate

Loadout: Gnasher, Lancer, Boltok

Halo: Reach characters Kat and Emile stand together

An inspired tactician and brilliant warrior, Kat has quickly adapted the fabricator to produce more efficiently. She is able to build fortifications and repair them to establish a base for the team.

Role: Engineer

Ultimate Ability: Decoy – Projects a holographic version of Kat forward from her position, drawing enemy aggro and buying valuable time to continue her work.

Passive Ability: Build new Fortifications at a small discount, and carry them faster

Loadout: EMBAR, Enforcer, Repair Tool

Taking the fight to the enemy, Emile thrives in any combat environment. He can engage at a distance with his Markza, but prefers to get up close with his shotgun and knife when possible.

Role: Offense

Ultimate Ability: Drop Shield – Deploys a dome shaped protective field that prevents any projectiles passing through it.

Passive Ability: Every sixth critical hit kill drops a small Ammo pickup

Loadout: Marzka, Gnasher, Talon

Kait sits in cover with the Perk menu open, showing four options assigned to each direction on the D-PAD

Perks are a way to upgrade your Hero’s abilities and stats during gameplay.

With the exception of Engineers, every Hero has four perks, each with 10 levels of upgrades. You can choose to spend the Power you earn on any of the four perks – meaning you’ll have to make choices early in the game that will have impact on the mid and end game. 

Increasing your Hero’s health, repair speed or damage bonuses all have significant impact on your play style and your contribution to the team.

Skill unlocks for Kait, showing levels 2-6 each with a unique earnable Skill

As you level up a Hero, you’ll earn new Skills for that Hero. Every single Skill associated with a Hero is directly unlocked via leveling up.

To level up these Skills, you’ll need to acquire duplicates. Duplicate Skill Cards are earned for every 5 waves of Horde you complete as that Character.

The higher the difficulty you play on, the higher chance you have of rarer duplicate Skill Cards dropping. In addition, you can also use Scrap from Supply Drops to craft duplicate Skill Cards to accelerate your progression.

Skill Cards and Skills are not purchasable with real-world money.

Post-launch, we’ll be releasing more Characters each with their own unique Ultimates and Skills that will constantly evolve the Horde meta and provide fresh ways to take on Horde for years to come!

Marcus presses the button on a Power Tap

Power is the collectible resource that drops from enemy kills. In Gears 5, everyone instantly gets an equal cut of every Power pickup. Picking it up within 30 seconds of it appearing yields more Power – so grab any power you see.

You’ll always need more Power. A Power Tap appears on the map every 10 waves starting at wave 11. If your team can capture and control Power Taps, they’ll provide you with an influx of Power every wave – as long as you can keep them from being destroyed! It’s your choice to stay safe in your base, or choose to expand out to capture more territory for more Power.

To squeeze every last drop out of the battlefield, spare weapons can be picked up and converted into Power at the new fortification we call the ‘Forge’.

A select difficulty screen showing 7 activated mutators

Gears 5 Horde is about giving you the freedom to play your way and find your own best strategy.

Horde comes packed with 8 different difficulty levels. You choose how they change by enabling between zero and seven modifiers. Find the best combination for you and your team to succeed.

Horde benefits from a whole host of new Gears 5 enemies that change up the battlefield.

The Swarm are back and better than ever, with upgraded AI that will really test your ability to survive as a team.

Elite Grenadiers will push forward with Overkills while stunning you with flashbangs, Bastions will place an invulnerable shield around the toughest enemies on the battlefield and deadly Sires will break into your base to drag your teammates away. These are just a few of the examples of the richer fights you’ll have moment-to-moment in Gears 5 with our upgraded AI.

As you’d expect, Boss Waves are also backpacking some new fearsome Bosses to fight including the new Flock enemy. You may also have seen a teaser of another Boss in the Horde trailer…but you’ll have to wait to discover that one until September!

For the first time, we’ve also added Mini-Boss Waves at Wave 15, 25, 35, and 45. While not as imposing as the full-blown Boss Waves, these mid-point battles feature some of the tougher enemies in the Gears 5 lineup – like the Warden and Stump – to keep you on your toes.

If you find yourself short a full team at any point in the match, or want to start with less than 4 players, our AI teammates will fill your ranks. They aren’t as powerful as real players, but they will help you in a pinch.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve continued to improve the Horde experience going into Gears 5. We can’t wait for you to get out there, build your squad of Heroes, and show us what you’ve got.

If you didn’t catch the news, you can play Horde in select Microsoft stores for a limited time on Tuesday, August 20th! Either way, we’ll see you online for some Horde this September.


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