Gears 5 Beginner’s Tips: Campaign, Escape & Horde

Some quick and easy tips to make your fight against the Swarm less difficult.

Gears 5

Gears 5 has officially launched today, though Ultimate Edition owners (or those like me who subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) have been playing Gears 5 for the whole weekend, and it’s a return to form for the series after a fairly middling fourth mainline entry. While the formula for Gears 5 remains mostly the same as usual, there are a few nuances introduced that shakes things up in various ways, some small and some big.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a host of Beginner’s Tips that should help you to survive the world of Gears 5. I’ve got Campaign tips, Horde tips and Escape tips. No multiplayer though, because for the life of me, I can’t understand wallbouncing. You’ll have to find someone else to teach you how to not suck when playing PvP, but I’ll try to help you out everywhere else.


Gears 5 – Campaign Tips

1. Always Be Active Reloading – One of the more subtle changes to the campaign is the additions to the active reload system. Similar to how the active reload works in multiplayer, players can now active reload even if their weapon is fully loaded, but there’s a cooldown of a few seconds in order to receive the active reload buff. Still, before every fight, you can give yourself a significant boost to your damage output with just a few well-timed presses of the right bumper.

2. Marked For Death – A useful feature in Gears 5 is the ability to mark enemies with a click of the left stick while aiming. When playing in single player, you might think marking enemies is a bit pointless, but your AI squad will focus fire on enemies you mark. Plus it’s a good habit to get into once you move onto the cooperative and competitive modes, communicating to your fellow players where enemies are.

3. Stealth Is An Option (Even If It’s Not A Very Good One) – Yes, there’s a stealth feature in Gears 5’s campaign, and it’s only implemented a couple of times, and it’s not very good. In certain moments during the campaign, such as when you’re surrounded by undisturbed Rejects or during certain side missions, you can take a more subtle approach to encounters. It’s not essential, but taking down using stealth as opposed to going in guns blazing can make firefights a lot less frustrating.

4. Use Jack Liberally – Helper robot Jack has been given a huge overhaul in Gears 5. A third co-op player can take control of Jack during the campaign and horde modes, but as an AI partner, he’s able to zap enemies, use stealth cloaking and utilise a variety of abilities at your command to get the upper hand in combat. Those abilities are on a cooldown timer, but they’re game-changing in a firefight.

5. The Best Abilities – You earn new abilities as you progress through the game, and all of them have their use in combat, particularly when they’re upgraded. For our money, Hijack is one of the most useful abilities there is, which sees Jack take control of an enemy in order to turn them against their allies, which instantly changes the dynamic of a fight. The cloak ability is also incredibly handy, especially during the few and far between stealth moments or when you want to push forward across the battlefield for some surprise executions.

6. The Best Passive Upgrades
Not only can you upgrade Jack’s cooldown abilities, you can also upgrade a variety of passive abilities, some of which are incredibly useful while others are only useful in certain scenarios. Aside from the revive command, the health skill tree isn’t useful for single player campaigns, nor is his stealth tree. Zapper ups Jack’s damage, which is always useful, while the core tree improves cooldown times on his Assault and Support abilities. It’s pretty obvious which trees you should focus on.

7. Ultimate Upgrades
During Acts 2 and 3, you’re able to explore two pseudo-open world environments filled with side missions that are absolutely worth doing, as completing them will unlock the ultimate upgrades for Jack’s Assault and Support abilities. These upgrades vastly improve Jack abilities, so unlocking them is a must. The one ultimate upgrade not tied to a side mission is for the Barrier, which can be found during the Act 4, Chapter 1 battle with the Swarmak. When the section begins, hang an immediate right until you find the upgrade sitting on a bar. They’re free upgrades that don’t cost components, so they’re worth pursuing.

8. Explore
In previous Gears games, the only reason to explore was to find various collectibles that gave more insight into the game’s world. There’s still plenty of that, don’t worry, but there are also components to find that allow you to upgrade Jack, so it’s worth your time to head off the beaten path, particularly in the open world sections. Main and side mission locations are signified by flags, so be sure to search other, slightly more inconspicuous sections of the map whether possible. You might get some components for your trouble.

9. Relics Of The Old World
Another collectible to find during Acts 2 and 3 of the campaign are Relic Weapons, super-powered versions of the weapons you normally find in the game. They can be really hard to find, but their locations are signified by the classic Crimson Omen emblem, so if you can find that, you’ll find your relic weapon. They’re handy in a pinch, but be wary that you can only refill ammo for these weapons via ammo boxes, so they’re best used as a last resort.

10. If You Can, Play In Co-Op
Not really a tip here and more of a suggestion, but if you have the ability to play Gears 5 in co-op, do it. Some moments during the campaign, such as the end of Act 2 boss fight, are a pain in the ass when playing alone. Also, the AI in general has a tendency of just standing still and letting you do all the work, so bringing along a friend to take on the horrors of Sera together is recommended, doubly so if you can bring in a third friend to take on the role of Jack.


Gears 5 – Horde Tips

1. The Fabricator Is King
Just like in Gears 4, the Fabricator in Gears 5 is the be all and end all when it comes to Horde Mode. Placement of the Fabricator helps dictate which area of the map you’ll be defending, and it’s the place you’ll be returning to when you want to cash in your power for ammo or fortifications, so make sure the Fabricator is in an easily defendable position. Somewhere with high ground, plenty of cover and good sight-lines is usually best. No need to make life difficult for yourself by trying to defend the center of the map.

2. Save Your Ammo
Despite maps containing ammo boxes and the old “keep what you kill” rule always being in effect, it can sometimes feel like there isn’t enough ammo to go around, so use ammo sparingly in the early game. For the first two, maybe three waves of each set of 10, a decent team could get away with just using melee attacks to clear out the enemies. Break out the chainsaw lancers, or knives depending on your character choice.

3. Know Your Role
While class choice was the word of the day in Gears 4’s Horde mode, this time around it’s character choice. Each character has their own unique weapon loadouts, skills, ultimate and passive abilities and a customisable set of skills that unlock as you level up. These skills often accentuate the abilities of the characters, so learn what each character’s specialties are and play up to them.

4. Communication Is Key
Feeding into that last point, if you want to make a serious run at tackling all 50 waves, communication with your teammates is paramount, and not just for marking and taking out enemies. Certain characters receive bonuses like discounts when building fortifications, so using them to craft defenses is a great way of preserving the power that you’ve earned with no real effort. If you know you have an Engineer-esque class in your squad, what’s the point in building the fortifications yourself? It’s communication and teamwork like that which really helps towards the latter waves of a Horde run.

5. Energy Taps Are Worth Defending, Mostly
New to this version of Horde Mode are Energy Taps, objectives that spawn on the map that provide players with additional power, and they’re incredibly useful when building fortifications. However, they’re often situated far away from the Fabricator, and during the latter, more hectic waves, they’ll almost always get destroyed. You should establish and defend the Energy Taps early on to obtain their power, but it’s better to abandon them during a difficult wave and live to fight another day than die needlessly trying to save an optional objective. They can be restored after they’ve been destroyed, so there’s no penalty in forfeiting them for sake of the team’s survival.


Gears 5 – Escape Tips

1. Absolutely Know Your Role
It’s a point to consider in the Horde Mode, but it bears repeating here too: Know Your Role. With a set of passive and active skills, some characters are better suited to Escape than others. This doesn’t apply to the regular Hivebuster team of Keegan, Lahni and Mac, as they’re built for Escape, but Ultimate Edition owners will find that Kat’s Fortification Discount passive will have no use in this mode. Her Hologram is fantastic, but if her Passive has no relevance to the mode, what’s the point in using her? You could get more value playing as another character. It’ll be something to bear in mind as The Coalition adds new characters to Horde and Escape over the coming months.

2. Keep Pushing Forward
It’s the aim of the game, after all, but apparently some players need to see it written in the plainest English: you need to keep pushing forward. The ever-encroaching Venom gas waits for nobody, and if you spend too long lingering in a firefight, you might not be able to outrun it in time. Also, don’t go back into the gas to kill off enemies you might have missed or to find weapons and ammo. I saw one guy try this during my first Escape match and he didn’t survive, largely because he spent about a minute just breathing in those toxic fumes. Again, seems like common sense, but there you go.

3. Be Resourceful
Escape tests a lot of core player abilities, but perhaps the biggest one is your adaptability. Ammo is an absolute scarcity, even when you’re picking it up off the corpses of dead foes, so adapt to the situation at hand. If you’re out of ammo for the weapons you’re currently carrying, don’t hold out for an ammo box lying in wait around the corner; pick up another weapon lying on the ground and carry on killing. No ammo? Pull your knife out and keep going. Don’t get hung up on the idea of “sticking to your loadout”.

4. Nooks And Crannies
If you’re able to get enough distance between yourself and the Venom gas slowly filling the Hive, it’s worth trying to explore the map as much as possible. Different nooks and crannies can house new weapons and ammo packs that’ll make your life easier as you try and head to the Helipad to make your ultimate Escape. Again, it’s not worth sticking around if the gas is filling the room, but if you have the time, do it.

5. Save A Little Extra
You’d be forgiven for thinking that once you’ve reached the promised land of the Helipad, you’ve finally escaped, like The Warriors reaching Coney Island. Not quite. Once you’ve reached the pad, you have to shut the door on the Hive, with the door taking around 30 seconds to close. During this time, the Hive will usually throw everything it has at you, so make sure you have some spare ammo, maybe a heavy weapon and your ultimates ready to go. It’d be a real shame to lose at the final hurdle. With the little bit of cover the Helipad provides, and some focused fire into the slowly closing door, you should be able to make your escape.

From our Gears 5 review:

Gears 5 is a beautiful balancing act of new and old, and it manages to offer the franchise’s trademark action and gore while telling a compelling story that sets up the future of the series in a big way.

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