Halo: Reach Beta Impressions

By Brian Leahy, Apr 29, 2010 8:20pm PDT With the Friends & Family beta underway, I was able to play a few sessions of the Halo: Reach beta across a few gametypes. This isn't going to be an in-depth preview, but a broad look at some of the biggest changes Bungie is making to the Halo multiplayer sandbox.

The two biggest changes to the actual gameplay lie with loadouts and armor abilities. Loadouts create classes, though these are not customizable by the player. Each one has a set of weapon(s) and an armor ability. In some gametypes, it might be the same set of weapons differing only by the armor ability. In others, the loadouts are fully unique.

This instantly allows for players to organize and establish roles on a team. Do I want to be the attention-seeking tank that creates a diversion with the Armor Lock ability, which grants the user temporary invulnerability and the cost of mobility and the ability to fight back? Do I take Active Camouflage and attempt to flank the enemy? Should I use the Jet Pack and scout, while gaining the high ground advantage? Or do I just Sprint forward, making a run for the enemy flag or a nearby power weapon?

This adds another layer of strategic choice to Halo multiplayer, especially with the removal of Halo 3's equipment. The difference here is that you've always got your armor ability and they are much more useful than any of Halo 3's equipment for that reason.

The new weapons are all fun to use, especially the DMR. The hardcore will hate that the Battle Rifle is gone, but the DMR might just calm the masses. It's basically the BR, but only fires a single shot instead of a 3-round burst. Skilled players will still be able to take down a Spartan in just four shots with the DMR. The magnum is also great, returning to its Halo: Combat Evolved glory.

The upgraded interface and focus on using Reach's menus for all social features is a welcome change. No longer will you have to dig into the Xbox 360 Guide to invite players or get a party going. All of that is streamlined and occurs entirely in-game.

Voting between three known options up front for map and gametype is a definite bonus as well. Previously, the game would be assigned a map and gametype. Players could veto it, but have no information about what would replace it should the vote pass. Now, it's a definite choice between three scenarios (or none of the above). It removes a little bit of the control from Bungie, but it just means they have to provide more options in the playlists.

The Halo: Reach beta kicks off on May 3 for owners of Halo 3: ODST and is scheduled to run until May 19. The full game will be released this fall for the Xbox 360.

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  • The gameplay in this is a lot different then The gameplay in Halo Reach is a lot different than past Halo games. In fact I’m not sure if this is completely awesome or a bad change. I can already see some of my friends who only like to play Team Slayer not liking this game at all. I’m hoping I can get them to get on board with it. These guys would refuse to play any objective games with me so it might be hard.

    The classes are pretty cool, but at the same time they aren’t that exciting. I would like to be able to customize the classes, choosing different weapons at least. I hate the basic halo assault gun and would prefer to start out with whatever the battle rifle kind of gun is called now.

    I only spent a few hours playing – it could turn out that I absolutely love this. Going to play all weekend I hope.

    I’m not sure what is up with the ghosting effect either. That is odd.

    The lobby and how all of that is working is fantastic. Also the ability to unlock/rank up your dude is possibly the best implementation of this in any game so far.

    Lastly, I feel like breaking my modern warfare disc into a million pieces now. Fuck that game. Shame on Infinity Ward for allowing that game to be released in that state. So incredibly hackable – so much cheating. It was a fantastic game until everyone cheated and ruined it and they never fixed it. Fuck that game hard. And shame on Activision for raping IW and not allowing them to fix it if that is even the case.