The term "Horde Mode" was invented by Gears of War 2, and is one of the two available co-operative modes in the game. In it, up to five players can battle against fifty waves of Locust enemies. With every ten waves, the difficulty increases as the Locust grow stronger and deliver more damage. Although variations on the idea, generally called "survival mode", had existed for years, it was Gears of War 2 that popularized the concept and brought it into mainstream gaming.
Since Gears of War 2's release, the Horde Mode concept has been adopted & modified by several other video games:
- In Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi Zombie Mode, players are tasked to survive against wave after wave of undead German soldiers.
- In Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 there is Survival Mode, in which players are charged with killing zombies and staying alive as long as possible, although unlike a traditional Horde Mode, Survival Mode has no ending; players simply fight for as long as they can until they die.
- In Halo 3: ODST, Firefight mode pits players, as UNSC marines, against waves of Covenant enemies. Firefight Mode also adds the skull concept from the singleplayer mode; after every few rounds, a skull is triggered, and the game is modified in some way to make it even more difficult for the players. For example, when the Catch skull is activated, enemies will be far more prone to throwing grenades, and when the Black Eye skull is activated, the player's stamina no longer regenerates, and the only way for players to regain stamina is to melee attack enemies. The follow-up, Halo: Reach, also features an updated version of the Firefight mode. Borderlands also has these "game modifiers" in its version of Horde Mode, namely the "Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot" DLC.
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves features three different variants of a Horde mode. First is the traditional survival mode, which tasks players to survive across ten increasingly difficult waves of enemies. Gold Rush requires players to transport a golden idol from one side of the map to the next to complete a wave - enemies will spawn indefinitely during this mode. And finally there's Siege Mode, which operates similarly to wave survival only the kills necessary to proceed to the next wave only count within a randomised section of the map. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception included such modes too, only it instead combined all three into one overall mode, with each of the ten waves cycling through the three variants at random.
- Horde Mode returns in Gears of War 3, along with a new "Beast" mode, which is essentially the traditional Horde Mode in reverse. Taking control of the Locust horde, players must invade an area and attack a group of entrenched A.I.-controlled COG soldiers. However unlike Horde mode there are only twelve waves, and there is an added timer as well that gives Beast mode a significantly faster pace to that of regular Horde mode.
- Team Fortress 2 joined the Horde Mode family with its Mann vs Machine update on August 15, 2012. Almost five years after it first came out, TF2 added a wave based survival co-op mode with Mann vs Machine. The Red and Blue teams join forces to hold off the machines who want to blow stuff up. This mode introduced a perk-like system to TF2 and introduced the biggest change in mechanics in TF2's history.
A newly recurring theme in such modes is the addition of more players who serve as antagonists; in Halo: Reach's Versus Firefight mode, two players are set as UNSC Spartans and tasked with surviving against waves of Covenant. Another two players are Covenant Elites; Spartans earn points by staying alive and killing hostiles (killing one of the player-controlled Elites grants them an extra life in addition to a serious point boost), but the Elites, who have an unlimited number of respawns, cannot earn points and have no goal other than to attack the Spartans. Two-man teams alternate roles between rounds, and the team who earns the most points while playing as Spartans wins.