Gears 5 Horde mode trailer introduces Ultimates, playable JACK, and more big changes

The Gears 5 Horde mode reveal was worth the wait. Microsoft saved the big moment for the end of its Inside Xbox Gamescom 2019 live stream and debuted an expanded take on what is arguably the Gears' series defining mode. Characters have their own hero-brawler style Ultimate abilities, progression resets every match, and you can play as your floating robot buddy JACK.

The basics for Horde mode in Gears 5 are the same as ever: teams of up to five players cooperate to defend themselves from waves of enemies with guns and deployable reinforcements. Developer The Coalition could have just made that again and everybody probably would have been happy, but it made some big changes to the little details.

Now your choice of character does more than just determine the back of whose head you're gonna stare at. Each character has a unique Ultimate ability they can use after charging up: Kait can turn invisible, JD can call in an airstrike, newcomer Fahz can see (and shoot) enemies through walls, and JACK can shoot a dart into enemies that let JACK's player control them.  Speaking of JACK, playing as the robot buddy is meant to give newer players a way to help out while remaining pivotal to the team: JACK can heal allies, repair emplacements, and even pick up items to move them around.

For many, Horde mode is all about setting up one defensible position and never ever leaving. Gears 5 Horde mode will tempt players to leave their fortifications to drop harvesters on new Power Taps that open up across the map every 10 waves. Power is what powers your defenses, and it's also shared equally among the team, letting you level up the Perks you chose before the match began. You can ignore them if you prefer to keep turtling, but you may find it's worth the risk to boost your team.

However you kit out and level up your character during a match, your progress will reset at the end and you can try out a new build next time. The Coalition plans to add more characters to the game over time, expanding your options. That includes two old friends from Halo: Reach, who are included with Gears 5 Ultimate Edition.

Kat's Ultimate ability in Horde mode is an enemy distracting Hologram, and Emile gets to bust out the good old Drop Shield. They'll also be playable in competitive multiplayer and in Escape mode.

See what else is next with our list of upcoming Xbox One games. 

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.