Doom Eternal’s Horde mode is now available thanks to a free update that’s arrived for the Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Stadia versions of the game. It pits you–this is a single-player-only mode, unfortunately–against waves of enemies, as is customary for a Horde mode, but with some wrinkles that give it a little spin on what you might expect (namely, rounds that don’t involve shooting enemies). It’s a good opportunity to return to one of the best shooters in recent years, particularly if you missed out on the PS5/Xbox Series X updates.
But Horde mode operates under the assumption that you’ve been playing Doom Eternal recently, meaning you can expect to get your ass kicked if you boot it up after taking a break from the game. If you fall into that camp, just remember that Eternal has a very distinct style of action compared to many other shooters; you need to use a wide range of weapons, target enemy weakpoints, make frequent use of your flamethrower to keep the armor flowing, and always stay on the move. There is some nuance to how you should approach Horde mode, but ultimately your success will ride on how effectively you can lay waste to demon scum.
With all of that in mind, we’ve assembled some Horde mode tips based on our early experience with the mode so far to help ensure you rack up some high scores. Also be sure to check out our rundown on Horde mode’s milestones and rewards.
Understand the structure and round types
A successful run through Horde mode involves completing three missions, each of which is split up into a series of rounds, which themselves may be split into a series of waves. If you run out of lives and die, you’ll have to start completely over. You can quit at any time, but your progress is only saved at the start of each mission, so prepare to sink in a bit of time for any play session.
There are three types of rounds. The first and most common is Arena, which is a pretty typical wave-based mode where you’ll take on a bunch of enemies, with a short break in between each wave to let you regain your composure and gather ammo, health, and armor. Horde mode initially starts you out with just one weapon, but make it through a round of Arena and you’ll be given a random weapon to add to your arsenal for that run.
Blitz rounds put you in a much smaller arena and involve trying to kill as many enemies as possible before time runs out. Here, it’s essential to keep track of all the enemies on the field, as their point value decreases over time; you want to prioritize the gold targets before worrying about bronze ones, for instance. It’s also critical that you do use what little space you have in the arena–as you begin to get swarmed by enemies, it’s easy to turtle up at the spawn point, but you’ll find armor and ammo nearby, and repositioning will help you to take stock of the enemies you’re facing and prioritize the high-value ones. (Certain lowly targets are worth zero points, including those spawned by an Archville, while tougher opponents are worth more than the average demon.)
Traversal rounds are a much different sort of affair. There are no enemies, and as the name suggests, you’re instead faced with a platforming challenge where you have to navigate an area before time runs out, while also trying to collect coins. It seems as if the time allotted is fairly generous, so don’t rush, as falling to your doom will send you back to the starting point. That said, any coins you collect will remain with you, so prioritize those initially and then you can make a beeline for the exit toward the end, even if you fall after grabbing every coin.
Collecting all of the coins during Traversal or killing the requisite number of enemies during Blitz rounds will send you to a Bonus Coin or Bonus Blitz round. In both of these, you’re given a timer and tasked with either collecting as many coins or killing as many demons as possible. Again, the value of these decreases the longer they’re available for, so keep an eye out for gold targets and prioritize those.
Hurry up, but don’t die
This sounds like an obvious tip, but it’s worth bearing in mind nonetheless. Many of your objectives involve rushing to maximize the number of points you earn from a kill or coin, and you will need to be fast to get a good score. But the extra lives you accumulate are not to be thrown away haphazardly, as you’ll receive bonus points for the lives that you end a run with. (The same goes for the BFG–resist the temptation to use it at all during a run, and you’ll get a significant bonus when you’re done.) It’s easy to begin tanking damage and feel invincible as you repeatedly respawn, but doing so will seriously cut into the bonus points you could be earning–and you’ll be more poorly equipped for the later, much tougher encounters during a run (the final boss fight is a doozy).
Prioritize your targets
Even outside of Horde mode, Doom Eternal is a game about priorities. With such relentless and diverse enemies, weapons that are well-suited to dealing with certain weakpoints, and the need to ensure a frequent refill on armor and ammo, you’re constantly having to evaluate the battlefield and act accordingly. These considerations are expanded upon in Horde mode, where your goal is not just to survive an encounter, but to also maximize the points you earn by staying alive, killing high-value targets quickly.
This is especially true when Bounty Demons spawn. You’ll be notified about their arrival and they will be clearly marked on your HUD. It’s essential to take these down first, as they will quickly drop in value from gold to silver to bronze (which, again, can be seen on the HUD). But aside from the points they offer up, killing them all before they can disappear will unlock a bonus wave and an Onslaught powerup. In addition to the usual damage boost this provides, you also get a score multiplier (which varies in potency depending on how quickly you kill the Bounty Demons). As such, leaving high-value targets to be killed once you have the multiplier will help you to rack up higher scores.
Collect what you can before moving on, and take a look around
At the end of a round, picking up your new weapon or extra life is what officially ends the round and sends you on to the next one. As such, you shouldn’t pick it up immediately. Instead, scour the level for any health, fuel, armor, and ammo that you didn’t collect during the heat of the action. There’s no time limit here and these things will go to waste once you move on to the next round, so make sure you’re well-prepared. The same is true before initiating the start of a round: In Arena, you have time to survey the area you’ll be fighting in, both so you can map out escape routes and stock up on items if you’re shorthanded when going into a fight.
Don’t hesitate to consult the codex
Horde mode combines the demons from the base game with those of The Ancient Gods DLC expansions. That means there are a wide array of enemies you’ll have to face, each with their own weakness. When the action starts truly popping off, don’t hesitate to pause and consult the codex to confirm the best way to deal with a particular enemy; that break can also help you to make a mental plan for the order in which to deal with your current situation.