June 13, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
With Halo: Reach‘s Firefight mode and the upcoming Modern Warfare 3 unveiling its own Survival Mode, it’s no surprise that Epic Games would revamp Horde mode for Gears of War 3. Paul had already played the multiplayer beta earlier this year, but I hadn’t, and I sure as hell wasn’t leaving E3 without getting my Gears fix, so I didn’t mind waiting to go hands-on and check out what Epic Games is calling Horde 2.0.
The newest features being touted in the mode are the additions of fortifications, bonus objectives, and boss battles. Otherwise, core gameplay remains the same as Gears of War 2‘s original Horde mode, in which you simply try to survive a relentless onslaught of Locusts. Between waves, you get about 30 seconds to refill your ammo, fortify your defenses, and get a quick breather (or tell your mom on the intercom that you need another Dew).
The most significant upgrade in Horde 2.0, fortifications include offensive ones like turrets, defensive ones like a row of gigantic spikes you’d expect to see from the Highway Patrol to stop a high-speed pursuit, and even decoys that trick Locusts into attacking them instead (although I’ve got to say the decoys look like second-rate scarecrows).
If the cash you earn from killing enemies isn’t enough to your liking, you’re occasionally offered bonus objectives at the beginning of waves. The rewards could be ammo, weapons, or more cash, but the entire team (up to four players online) reaps the benefits, so it’s in your best interest to work together and as always, communicate effectively.
Finally, the insertion of boss battles every ten waves is a welcome monkey wrench in the machine. During my game, we got a reaver, which for reason I decided to rush and plant myself directly underneath its belly to unload some machine gun fire (shades of my stupid bravado earlier in the week). I died, just in time to be picked up by a GameSpot live stream camera that had snuck up behind me. But fortunately, I had enough cash saved to buy back in (another nice Horde 2.0 feature) and actually get some revenge and score the reaver kill.
It was a fitting end to my hands-on preview of Gears of War 3‘s improved Horde mode, and I can’t wait to experience the full game this fall.