Getting you Started on Gears of War 4's Hode Mode 3.0 (Part 2):The Classes

Part 1 covered some basic tips and mechanics you needed to know before heading into Horde Mode 3.0. With Part 2, I'm hoping to highlight the strengths of each class, what I feel are "good" skill combinations for that class and potential synergy with the other classes.

SOLDIER:"Master of Gear's Core Mechanics"

The best way to sum up & describe Soldier is it shines on active reloads and cover based fighting. The Soldier class is the embodiment of Gears of War's mechanics as it starts out with the Lancer, Gnasher and Snub Pistol while having skills that highlight its fighting ability. Soldier's skill selection is rather straightforward: buff up your assault rifle*, buff up your grenades, do more damage with your active reload bonus or take less damage while in cover. The Soldier class's sole fabricator ability is to call a Hammer of Dawn strike. As I don't personally have the skill yet, I've seen posts that the Hammer of Dawn is effective against bosses(as it should be!).

Given how the standard DBs carry Enforcers, Swarm can carry Hammerburst and Elite Swarm carry Lancers, you shouldn't have any problem getting value out of any of your Assault Rifle buff skillcards. The same can be said with grenade skills, with the Shock Troopers dropping shock grenades, Swarm Grenadiers dropping frag grenades along with the bonus caches dropping an assortment of grenades upon opening.

I don't have too many skill combo recommendations for this class. I feel with the class and your style of play, you can  focus on whatever suits you best. I personally like running "Active Reload Boost", because it works with any weapon that has an active reload, and "Assault Rifle Damage", because I tend to gravitate towards an assault rifle in one of my weapon slots. If I want to lay traps through the battlefield I'll take the "Grenade Plants" card along with "Grenade Damage" and "Grenade Capacity" to plant more once my traps have all went off.

*Note: Assault Rifles are Lancer, Retro Lancer, Hammerburst & Enforcer


If precision weapons are your preferred weapons, give Sniper a try. Your starting loadout is the Longshot, Markza Mk. I (from Judgement) and the Snub Pistol. Your common and uncommon skills will either buff up precision rifles* or will let you mark additional enemies. You have two fabricator abilities: "Radar Ping" lets one mark all enemies on the map while "Sniper Strike" targets X enemies, where X depends on the level of the skill card. The other skill "Explosive Headshot" is like it sounds, headshots cause enemies to explode, with its damage and blast radius scaling with the level of the card. Personally,I have not seen the two epic skills in action and cannot verify how effective they are.

What I've noticed as a weakness for the Sniper Class is how ammo hungry of a class you are. I believe the DBs EMBAR is the only precision rifle that drops from Horde enemies. You're left to either hog the ammo drops, buy more guns through the fabricator, or rotate your rifles on the weapon loader (a fortifications that fills the ammo over time on guns placed on it) .

As for skill combos as the Sniper, you can get some synergy going with the Heavy Class. One of the Heavy's skillcard is extra damage to marked targets. With your "Mark Boost" or "Radar Ping", you can mark multiple targets for the Heavy to take out (should you not be able to one shot an enemy with the precision rifles). 

*Note: Precision Rifles are the Longshot,Markza & EMBAR
edit:Boltok Pistol benefits from the precision rifle buff cards.Thanks reddit!

HEAVY:Heavy Weapons , Manned Turrets and Explosives

The strength of the Heavy class lies with high damage weaponry such as the *heavy class of weapons, **explosive launcher class of weapons and manned turrets. At first I had trouble remembering which class of weapons counted as heavy weapons is any weapon you can carry two handed.  Your starting loadout is the Retro Lancer, Boomshot and Boltok Pistol. All but one of your common skills are damage buffs. "Marked Damage",  as highlighted in the Sniper Class, does more damage to marked enemies no matter who marked the enemy. A neat thing worth mentioning when you have "Explosive Launcher Damage" and "Heavy Weapon Damage", RL-4 Salvo counts as both classes of weapons and the damage bonus is additive meaning they add together. In the above screen shot,when I have both skills equipped, my Salvos will deal a bonus 70% damage (40% from the explosive buff skill  + 30 from the heavy class buff). The other explosive weapon buff is a rare card that increases your reload speed. Your other two rare skills focus on buffing manned turrets; "Turret Capacity" increases turret ammo when you build it while "Turret Damage" increases damage when you are using the manned turret. One of your epics is a fabricator skill, "Mortar Strike" while the other increases damage done by Boltok and Snub Pistols.Keeping the running trend of not seeing these epic fabricator skills in my horde matches.

Like the Sniper class, a weakness of the Heavy class is its ammo management. Your preferred weapons either eat through ammo or have little ammo in its reserves. Unlike precision rifles, you'll be able to find heavy and explosive weapons a bit more frequently from horde mobs. Unfortunately, they'll be in the hands of dangerous enemies such as the Swarm Scions or the flying Sentinels and Guardians. Not certain if all Scions only wield Boomshots/Mulchers/Dropshots/Buzzkills though.If you were to go the route of using weapon loaders,please make sure to leave at least one round in your heavy/two-handed weapon.When you deplete all the ammo from your heavy weapon,you toss it aside and are unable to pick it back up.

"Marked Damage" , "Heavy Weapon Damage" and "Explosive Launcher Damage" are my first choices if I'm going the solo route for skill choices.Although it isn't a large damage buff, "Marked Damage" is great  if you aren't using a weapon that procs your skill card and even better when stacked with your weapon buff skill cards. In my last batch of games,I've been seeing manned turrets more widely used.If you have the cards,definitely run "Turret Capacity" and "Turret Damage".The downside of "Turret Capacity" is that you must build the turret in order to trigger the bonus ammo bonus y as opposed to a cheaper to build turret or one with more health if it were to be built by the Engineer with the proper skill cards.

*Explosive Weapons are Boomshot,Dropshot,RL-4 Salvo & Torque Bow
**Heavy Weapons are Trishot,Mulcher,Buzzkill & RL-4 Salvo


Scouts start out with the Retro Lancer, Gnasher and Snub Pistol. Your kit goes hand in hand with your intended role: get up close to your enemies and grab the power. Please let your Scout pick up the power during waves, they have a passive skill that lets them pick it up for twice as much. Another point to make is "Deposit Bonus" , which gives additional power when you deposit power to the fabricator, does not matter how much you deposit at one time. I find that some scouts will hold onto as much power as they can before making deposits. The bonus from depositing 100 power twice is the same as depositing 200 power once.

Sticking to your role of getting up close to the enemies, your buff skill cards are for Shotgun Class* weapons and a special "Brawler" skill card that increases your melee damage while decreasing enemy melee damage. You have the typical damage boost, weapon capacity skill cards for the shotgun class weapons but instead of a reload speed boost,you have a "Shotgun Magazine" which holds more ammo in the magazine depending on the level of the skillcard. To help you pick up power and survive, the rest of your skill cards are utility. You have "Speed Boost" which increases your movement speed and roadie run speed while your "X-Ray" epic skill lets you see enemies through walls with your TAC-Com/Left Bumper (default controls), the distance scaling with its skill level. "Health Boost" increases your total health, making you quite tanky the more levels you put into it, while "Health Regeneration Boost" and "Rage" both help you heal faster. "Health Regeneration Boost" speeds up your health regeneration based on the level while the "Rage" epic skill converts a percentage of your melee and shotgun damage into health, that will scale with the skill level.

If you're playing with a well coordinated group,you could run "Deposit Bonus", "Pickup Distance" and "Execution Bonus", enemies drop bonus power when executed, to work alongside your passive that collects double the dropped power from enemies and ramp your total power. You'd also want to run "Health Boost" because of the extra health alongside any of the healing skills to keep you alive out with the enemy.

*Shotgun Class weapons are the Gnasher and the Overkill


As the Engineer, you start out with a Gnasher, Enforcer and Repair Tool, the last of which is in your pistol slot and allows you repair/refill ammo of your fortifications. You're the only class that starts with this tool and it costs 5,000 power to buy a new one. Unlike the other classes, your skill cards do not have any damage buffs. They're all about improving your fortifications by either decreasing their costs or increase the amount of health whenever you build them. In addition to this, you have a rare skill that increases the rate of fire of any sentry you build. The only weapon boost skill you have is "Repair Boost", which increases the rate you repair while lowering the power cost to repair/refill fortifications(dubbed efficiency) .

With so many choices, it depends on your personal collection of skills and fortification preferences. I'm partial to running cost discount cards when I play as Engineer. I like running "Weapon Locker Cost" and "Turret Cost" because of the former helping the Sniper and Heavy with their lack of ammo and the later because of how powerful manned turrets currently are. Although the generic skills "Build Cost" and "Fortification Health" do not give as large bonuses are the fortification specific ones,they do stack with your Engineer skill cards. I find "Repair Boost" a necessity if you're building a lot of turrets and sentries because their repair costs can get pricey from refilling their ammo as well as repairing them. With that in mind, I personally tend not to build decoys at all. I subscribe to the "Best defense is a good offense" mindset.

Skill Combo Examples
I really didn't want to outright say "Only build this" or "Never use this" but I wanted to give some skill equip examples. There's also the fact that you're at the mercy of Operation Packs/Horde Boosters  to find skills, as currently you can only craft cards you already found in packs. Disregarding that, here are some examples of skills my friend and I run while queuing together for Horde Mode. It's a bit easier picking your skills and classes when you have an idea what the other person has equipped.Ignoring skill levels,I'm working on the assumption you have none of the epic skills and you are level 10 in your class(Reminder,skill slots unlock at 1, 3, 5, 7 & 10) in case a build needs all 5 slots.To be fair,I'm not ranked 10 in any class and I'm level 3 on most of my classes (my screen shot is a little dated)

Scout+Engineer Combo: Loads of Money
"Execution Bonus", "Deposit Bonus",  "Pickup Distance" + your favorite skill cards

*The idea is to take advantage of the Scout's passive ability to pick up double power during waves to build up your power reserves early. We take the "Execution Bonus" generic skill card because it increases the dropped power upon executing an enemy. For example, my skill gives me 100% or double the power when I execute an enemy. Combined with my passive, I'll earn 4x as much power as normal during waves. "Deposit Bonus" is a nice finishing touch by giving a percentage of bonus power whenever you make deposits. "Pickup Distance" is there to help with power pickup. The rest of your slots can be filled with whatever you like running. I would recommend "Health Boost" and "Shotgun Damage" for the later rounds because increased damage and health enemies receive in later rounds.

"Build Cost", "Repair Boost",  "___ Cost" skills or your favorite skill cards

*Your build is entirely up to what you prefer building. I recommend the "Build Cost" generic skill because it stacks with whatever fortification cost reduction card you take. "Repair Boost" is there to help reduce the cost of maintaining your fortifications,as restocking + repairing sentries and turrets adds up. My ideal build would be "Turret Cost", "Turret Health" and "Weapon Locker Cost". Turret buffs because as long as you maintain and upgrade them,they remain powerful throughout the Horde Mode run. I chose the "Weapon Locker Cost" as well because having your own armory of heavy/explosive weapons for boss waves has proven to be invaluable. Also good for your allies, especially ones that use ammo hungry weapons, to keep their preferred weapon ready to go in case of emergencies/boss waves.

Heavy + Sniper Combo : Spot n' Shoot
"Mark Boost" , MAYBE "Radar Ping" as well + your favorite skill cards

* Pretty simple Sniper-Heavy combo. With Mark Boost,you mark multiple targets and the Heavy will do increased damage with their "Marked Damage" skill. I haven't used the "Radar Ping" fabricator skill but I'm not too keen on spending power when I don't have to. On the plus side, the fabricator skill marks all enemies on the map.

"Marked Damage" , "Explosive Weapon Damage" , "Heavy Weapon Damage"  , "Explosive Weapon Capacity " , "Turret Damage"

*Excluding your epic skills,this build will not only take advantage of the Sniper's multiple marking abilities but this would also serve as a good all purpose build focusing on damage. "Turret Damage". Additionally, if you want to lean more towards turrets,you could swap out the explosive weapon capacity skill card for the "Turret Capacity", which increases the ammo capacity of manned turrets you build.

*Solo Soldier Build
"Active Reload Bonus" , "Assault Rifle Damage" , "Assault Rifle Capacity" , "Assault Rifle Magazine" , "Grenade Damage"/"Cover Boost"

*For completion sake,I'm listing an example Soldier build. In my opinion, the Soldier's best doing their own thing. This build's goal is to maximize their damage. My favorite synergy here is the "Active Reload Bonus" with the "Assault Rifle Magazine" bonus. Unfortunately,my Soldier Class is close to level 3 at the time of writing this blog, so I have yet to test this combination , but in theory it should work. Active reloading increases the damage on the reloaded rounds. With more bullets in your assault rifle's magazine, it would ideally translate into more damage. Depending on how you want to play,you could swap out the capacity buff skill for "Grenade Plant" +  take "Grenade Damage" or swap out any of those for "Cover Boost" to give you added survivability.

To be honest, I wrote pt.1 & pt.2 out of spite. I was getting frustrating fighting teammates over power as Scout or people building fortifications that our fellow Engineer had cost reduction or increased health skill cards for. Or explaining why the "Deposit Bonus" skill card doesn't matter how much you deposit at once. Despite that, I hope I covered all the classes fairly and pass on a thing or two from playing a lot of Horde Mode during the first few weeks of launch.
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick update: Saw the reddit comments mentioning Boltoks COUNT AS A PRECISION WEAPON and benefits from the "Precision Rife" class of cards on the Sniper.Thanks guys!