Small Proof that we cleared Elite, Insane and Inconceivable Horde. It took approximately 3 hours and a half to clear Wave 50.
< Before I Begin >
After making a new account, upon looking at the General Discussion sub-forum I noticed there are people who are either discontent or very satisfied about Gears 5, and some of them were arguing in a heated discussion.
So let me be clear here; I’m not here to start a flame or suck the game like a fanboy. If any, I only care about how Cooperative Shooters are designed.
I believe it is rather easy to make strangers fight each other, but encouraging people to work together towards success is a much more difficult challenge for game designers. So I’m just going to focus on that, and leave my thoughts about the new Horde as objectively as possible.
< About Me >
Although not a hardcore Gears of War fan, I have the most interest in Cooperative Shooter genre, and that’s why I got sucked into the Horde mode in GoW3, I’m not here to brag, but I’ve spent 5,000 hours playing titles such as Mass Effect 3 MP, Warframe, Sanctum 2, Evolve, Deep Rock Galactic, Payday 2, The Division 2 and et cetera. Horde mode is the only reason I bought Gears 5. I dived straight into the Horde mode, ignoring the other three game-modes. I re-uped twice and am now at Level 1.
< Overview >
There are a lot of die-hard fans on this forum so this may seem unnecessary; but for people who never played Gears 5 Horde Mode, it is a PVE content where up to 5 players cooperate and fight against enemy AIs that come in multiple Waves. As the match progresses, Waves increase in difficulty; but players can also upgrade their Characters, purchase and reinforce Fortifications to gain an edge.
Compared to its predecessors, Gears 5 Horde features new systems such as Character Classes, Ultimate Abilities, Non-Duplicate Characters, Forced Initial Loadouts and so on. This has made the game-mode more heavily reliant on team-work than ever, since now each Character possesses unique functionalities and benefits that no other Characters have access to, and the teammates can only pray that a player with an important character knows what they are doing.
I know this sounds stale at this point, but victory does depends on the players’ knowledge about their Characters, the game-mode in general, and most importantly, cooperation.
< In Short >
Similar to Evolve, Gear 5 Horde provides an inconsistent experience; it is exceptionally entertaining when cooperation and communication are in play, but it can perhaps be one of the most stressful and irritating experience if even a single person is unwilling to listen to the team. And unfortunately, the latter happens more often.
< Details : the Positive Sides of new Horde >
One benefit of creating concepts such as Roles (Tank, Offense, Engineer and so on), is that a player can understand what role the other four want to play as, and can anticipate their behavior in-game. Especially since it is very likely that they never met each other before, clear and specific concepts officially defined by the game allow players to comprehend others’ desire without communication.
Each Role has access to certain unique features that others cannot possess. This means that every single Role stands out in a certain way, and they make people believe they are more special and valuable to the team when the teammates ask you for help. People who have a great degree of skill in a certain Role can build more pride and feel a sense of accomplishment, and fortunately the game somewhat reflects this in Character Level, a value that displays the overall experience of a certain Role. This also contributes to better decision-making, such as determining which player should yield JD and play as other Characters instead.
When the teammates are cooperating and the team is doing well, everyone is satisfied and builds trust towards one another. Each are enjoying their own “dirty job” that others might hate or even refuse to do, and the team is still moving forward anyway. At this point is where the baseline gameplay is happening, intended to let players taste the ultimate team-work experience.
< Details : the Negative Sides of new Horde >
- Unfortunately, there are a lot of requirements to make the baseline gameplay happen and it is quite likely that it won’t happen in regular matches.
- All players need to know the same language to communicate.
- All players need to willingly follow the leader’s instructions (who tends to be an Engineer)
- All players need to listen to other people’s mics, rather than reflexively muting them immediately
- Combatants (who are not Engineers and Supports) need to realize their survival depends on the Heavy weapons rather than their character upgrades.
- Engineers especially need to be vocal since they are the planners, and teammates don’t know about your plan that only resides in your head.
- Engineers and Support need to know about the advanced Horde-knowledge, such as upgrading a damaged Fortification in order to instantly repair its Health can double, triple or even quadruple its original upgrade cost.
- And so on…
There are too many knowledge and equipment that a Horde player needs to have, it’s very likely that a Pick-up Group will lack a few qualities and the match goes downhill.
In games where playable characters possess unique functionalities and quirks (such as Evolve, and to some extent, Deep Rock Galactic), a heavy emphasis on team-work means individual player’s arbitrary actions are disturbed, and a teammate is forced to follow the other teammate even if they are going the wrong way. In other words, you can’t exactly “carry baddies” as your character isn’t jack-of-trades, and lack of solution in these situations will cause frustration.
Even though there are a few mechanics that promote teamwork, some are actually against it; for example, Energy gain from the Energy Tap is split between players, but the two free ammo-pickups aren’t and ammo is scarce in the new Horde; players who didn’t camp the pickup spawn might think they got “robbed” by their teammates, which is a sign of potential conflict.
The Result Screen doesn’t have to appear after every single Wave. It kills the flow and wastes a lot of time, especially in early Waves where enemies don’t last very long. I heard it has been like that since Gears of War 4, and I don’t know why they are so insistent about it. If I had to pick only one thing that needs to be changed in new Horde, it has to be the Result Screen.
< Closing >
Gears 5 Horde really consumed me, it is a cooperative shooter game-mode that also demands good strategy. Knowledge is as important as reflexes in the new Horde, and it is one of the biggest reason I am looking forward to its future.
However, due to the nature of the new features, the game-mode has become even more reliant on cooperation, which isn’t guaranteed when playing with strangers on the internet. Thus, depending on who you are playing with, the matches will be either an excellent hit, or a complete miss. There is no middle ground.
The Horde will have to provide more tools to the each player to make the overall experience more consistent.