Don’t put the Fabricator in a corner
While putting the Fabricator right in the corner of the map will stop enemies from spawning there, it also means lots of extra leg work for you. You’ll spend way more time travelling to the Fabricator to deposit your energy than you really need to.
Besides which, you move very slowly when setting up defences, so you want to place the Fabricator as close as possible to the part of the map you plan to fortify. As long as you place it reasonably near a spawn point, it will still stop enemies from spawning there, but there’s no need to hide it away.
Always have a Heavy and a Sniper
Having a balanced team in general will improve your chances of survival, but these two classes are all but essential on harder difficulties and waves. Without the Sniper’s Longshot or the Heavy’s Boomshot, your team will have a much harder time dealing with heavily armored enemies like Pouncers, Scions and Guardians.
There’s no point in a Soldier using multiple Lancer magazines to hose down a Scion when a Sniper can take care of it with a single headshot. Snipers and Heavies should prioritize bullet-sponge enemies so that teammates can save their ammo for regular infantry and smaller targets.
Don’t respawn your teammates unless you need to
Okay, so this one might sound counterproductive but stay with me. When a teammate is killed, you can get them back in the fight by picking up their COG tags from where they died and taking them to the Fabricator. What isn’t immediately obvious is that doing so costs energy, more and more of it as you reach higher waves.
A notification appears in the corner of the screen to tell you this when you pick up the tags, but it’s a small, semi-transparent pop-up that’s very easy to miss in the chaos of battle. If you’ve got things under control and you’re confident you can finish the wave without that teammate, don’t revive them. They’ll respawn at the start of the next wave for free anyway, so why spend energy on them when you could be using it to build and upgrade your defences. Which reminds me…
You can upgrade your existing defences
Once you’ve dumped 30,000 energy points into the Fabricator, it will upgrade to level 2 (then to level 3 at 90,000 points – level 4 at 120,000). Higher level Fabricators can be used to purchase sturdier and more effective defences, but the game doesn’t tell you that, for a price, you can upgrade fortifications you already bought.
Once the Fabricator hits level 3, you can take that barbed wire fence you bought at level 2 and turn it into a level 3 lazer fence. To do this you first have to pick up the fence/decoy/turret you want to upgrade. You’ll now see the option to upgrade that fortification and how much it’ll cost you. This is often more cost-effective than buying new defences, and leaves your team’s engineer with fewer things to repair.
You can set grenades as traps
Gears of War’s grenades aren’t all that useful when you actually use them as grenades. They have an underwhelming blast radius, they tend to bounce unpredictably, and throwing them accurately is a slow process that leaves you exposed to enemy fire.
They’re far more useful as explosive traps. Equip the grenade, aim at where you want to set the trap, then hit the mêlée button to stick it to the wall or floor. When an enemy gets close enough, the grenade will explode.
This tactic is even more effective if you set the trap in a spawn area, as this will be when the enemy is clustered together. You can stick grenades to enemies using the same method, but you risk getting caught in the blast yourself.