Gears of War 4's new and improved Horde 3.0 mode features a class based system allowing players to specialize in different roles. As you play each of the five Classes in Horde mode, you gain experience points that will increase your class-specific level, maxing out at 10.
Classes may equip different Skills which also have their own corresponding levels. Skill Levels represent the power of your current Skill. You unlock Skills with Skill Cards, which can be equipped in Class Slots. The higher your Class Level, the more Slots become available (up to 5 max). You can upgrade Skill Cards by picking up copies of the Skill Cards you already have, with each level increasing the effect and bonuses of that Skill.
Skill Cards are found by opening Gear Packs, which can be purchased with real money or in-game Credits:
- Versus Booster Pack: 400 Credits or $0.99
- Horde Booster Pack: 400 Credits or $0.99
- Operations Pack: 1000 Credits or $1.99
- Elite Pack: 3500 Credits or $4.99
You can Scrap unwanted cards, using the Scrap to create cards you do want if you're looking to level a particular Skill.
Before we get to Classes, it's important to note that there are general skills available to every Class. These are related to the use of the Fabricator and Fortifications, and are geared towards benefitting the team as a whole.
- Build Cost - Lowers Power cost of Fabricator items by 2% per Level.
- Carry Speed - Faster movement while carrying Fortifications.
- Execution Bonus - Executed enemies drop more Power.
- Fortification Health - Fortifications are harder to kill.
- Team Revive - Fabricator can revive team as well as individuals.
Best in Class
So with all that in mind, what are the best Skills to go for with each class? Here's an overview of the Classes and our tips on the essential Skills you'll want to upgrade first.
- Starting equipment: Enforcer, Gnasher, Snub pistol, Repair Tool
- Passive Ability: Start with free Repair Tool
The Engineer is a crucial class for Horde 3.0, as their abilities help them set up defensive Fortifications such as barriers, turrets, and decoys, decreasing Power cost and buffing their stats. The Engineer shouldn't focus on dealing damage to enemies - instead they should be at your base maintaining its defenses.
- Barrier Cost - Lower the price of Barriers.
- Barrier Health - Increases health of Barriers, in 10% increments.
- Decoy Cost - Lower the price of Decoys.
- Decoy Health - Increase Decoy health, in 20% increments.
- Repair Boost (Starting Skill) - Increase the speed of repairs, decrease cost
- Sentry Capacity - Increase Sentry ammo in 10% increments.
- Sentry Cost - Lower the cost of Sentries.
- Sentry Speed - Increase the fire speed of a Sentry.
- Turret Cost - Lower the cost of Turrets.
- Turret Health - Increase Turret health, in 20% increments.
- Weapons Locker Cost - Lower the cost of Weapons Lockers.
Upgrade First: Build Cost, Fortification Health, Repair Boost, Sentry Capacity, Sentry Speed. This combines General and Class Skills to make the Engineer a great all-purpose support and boosts the most common Fortification (Sentry). But swap out the Sentry focus for Barriers, Turrets or Decoys if they're more your thing.
- Starting equipment: Retro Lancer, Boomshot, and Boltok pistol
- Passive Ability: Start with free Boomshot
Heavies are designed to use the bigger, slower weapons to deal large amounts of damage across a large area. Size matters, and they have an advantage over larger enemies. Just keep an eye on ammo, they don't recover well if caught off-guard.
- Explosive Launcher Capacity - Increase the max ammo count of explosive weapons.
- Explosive Launcher Damage - Increase the damage of explosive weapons.
- Explosive Launcher Reload - Increase the reload speed of explosive weapons.
- Heavy Weapon Damage - Increase damage dealt with Heavy Weapons.
- Marked Damage (Starting Skill) - Increases damage dealt to marked targets.
- Mortar Strike - Unlocks the Mortar Strike option in the Fabricator.
- Pistol Expert - Increases pistol damage.
- Turret Capacity - Increase the max ammo of Turrets you buy.
- Turret Damage - Increases the damage of Turrets you buy.
Upgrade First: Pistol Expert, Marked Damage, Explosive Launcher Damage, Explosive Launcher Capacity, Mortar Strike. It's all about that massive damage, taking down those marked threats quickly, with the Mortar Strike in case things get too hot.
- Starting equipment: Retro Lancer, Gnasher, Snub Pistol
- Passive Ability: Double Power pickups during combat
Scouts are designed to run around the map and collect Power from defeated enemies mid-battle. To this end, they're fast and potentially quite dangerous in close combat. Still, we don't recommend recklessly rushing into the danger zone - put their recon skills to good use in timing your runs.
- Brawler - Deal increased melee damage, and gain melee reduction.
- Deposit Bonus (Starting Skill) - Earn more Power when depositing at the Fabricator.
- Energize - When you pick up Power, it also gives you health.
- Health Boost - Increase your base health.
- Health Regeneration Boost - Increase the rate of health regeneration.
- Pickup Distance - Increase the distance from which you pick up Power.
- Rage - A percentage of melee and shotgun damage is returned to you as health.
- Shotgun Capacity - Carry more shotgun ammo.
- Shotgun Damage - Deal more damage with Shotguns.
- Shotgun Magazine - Shotguns carry more ammo in a magazine.
- Speed Boost - Your base movement speed is increased.
- X-Ray - See enemies through walls.
Upgrade First: Deposit Bonus, Energize, Health Boost, Speed Boost, X-Ray. These all increase the core role of the Scout while keeping your health up. X-Ray vision should help you avoid nasty surprises.
- Starting equipment: Longshot, Markza sniper rifle, Snub pistol
- Passive Ability: Start with two marksman weapons
Snipers focus on marksman weapons and long distance support. It takes some real personal skill to make the most of their skills though, as you'll need high accuracy to land those headshots.
- Explosive Headshot - Headshot kills cause enemies to explode.
- Headshot Damage (Starter Skill) - Deal more damage with headshots.
- Mark Boost - You can now mark several more enemies at a time.
- Precision Rifle Capacity - Precision Rifles now have a high max ammo count.
- Precision Rifle Damage - Your rifles now deal more damage.
- Precision Rifle Reload - Increases the reload speed of your rifles.
- Radar Ping - Unlocks the Radar Ping at the Fabricator.
- Sniper Strike - Unlocks the Sniper Strike at the Fabricator.
Upgrade First: Headshot Damage, Mark Boost, Precision Rifle Reload, Precision Rifle Damage, and Sniper Strike. This makes the Sniper viable as an aggressive play style, but consider swapping damage for Radar Ping if you favor a more laid-back defensive approach.
- Starting equipment: Lancer, Gnasher, Snub pistol, Frag Grenades
- Passive Ability: Start with Frag Grenades
Classic Gears of War playstyle. Soldiers are good all-rounders and excel in both attack and defense. Their skills let you customize these killing machines according to your preferred strategy.
- Active Reload Boost (Starter Card) - Increases damage bonus of an active reload.
- Assault Rifle Capacity - Assault Rifles now have a higher max ammo count.
- Assault Rifle Damage - Assault Rifles deal more damage.
- Assault Rifle Magazine - The magazine of your Assault Rifle is bigger.
- Cover Boost - You take less damage while in cover.
- Grenade Capacity - You can carry more grenades.
- Grenade Damage - Your grenades deal more damage.
- Grenade Plants - You can plant more than 2 grenades on the map.
- Hammer of Dawn Strike - You can call in a Hammer of Dawn strike using the Fabricator.
Upgrade First: Active Reload Boost, Assault Rifle Magazine, Grenade Damage, Grenade Plants, and Hammer of Dawn Strike. Balanced between firepower and grenade use, this keeps both strategies viable and keeps the mighty Hammer of Dawn in reserve for a tough spot.
Friendship is the real skill for winners: leverage teamwork like a boss
It sounds cheesy, but joking aside, teamwork is crucial for dominating horde mode. The above recommendations are subject to change depending on the balance of your team, and you might find that a different approach better complements the Skill or Class chosen by your team-mates. You're going to want to communicate with your allies and co-ordinate your strategies. Gears are meant to fit together!