A Beginner's Guide to Halo: Reach Multiplayer - Part One

With Halo: Reach coming up next week, I thought I would write up some mutliplayer tips to help out new or unskilled players. A large part of being good at Halo's multiplayer is going to come down to physical skill--your accuracy and speed with the controller--but there are a lot of little tips to help improve your game.

nope In this first part, we'll go over the controls, the motion sensor, and weapons. The second part will go into depth about strategies for free-for-all and team-based modes and common mistakes. After I get some extended time in with the full multiplayer game, I'll probably end up writing something up on Reach's armor abilities and maps. For the most part, however, these tips will work for Halo 3 if you want to start practicing today.

Controls and You

While Halo: Reach does not support fully customizable controls, it does have several button layout options to explore. On the surface, they seem to be interchangeable, but some of them have distinct gameplay advantages. For example, I use "Bumper Jumper", which places jump and melee on the Xbox 360 controller's two "bumpers", though Reach will default to having melee attack on RB. You might as well go the distance and put jump on LB from the start. It will seem confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it will allow you to continue aiming, while jumping and using melee attacks.

As jumping is extremely useful, especially in close quarters combat, being able to keep aiming without interruption while you remove a thumb from the right stuck and press the A button to jump will help out. There are other controller layouts, however, and you should experiment with them until you find something that works for you.

Similarly, controller sensitivity is something that should be explored and tested. Play around with the scale until you've gotten proficient at snapping your reticle onto enemies and following them as they move. Generally, go as high as you can on the sensitivity as higher settings will give you more turning speed, which helps defend against flankers. Don't sacrifice your ability to aim consistently for turn speed, though. I play at 5 sensitivity currently, while I played at 4 in Halo 3.

The Motion Sensor

That radar-looking thing in the bottom left corner is a motion sensor and it is your best friend. It will show the movements of friendly (yellow) and enemy (red) players and is your first warning sign that someone is flanking you. It is especially useful on smaller maps or areas where the level geometry creates a lot of corners or places to hide.

Proper motion sensor usage will help you avoid being flanked, track enemies around geometry, and time grenade throws to explode before combat begins, leaving you with the shield advantage. I'll cover grenades in the next section, but timing grenades to explode at the same time an enemy comes into view will lead to more kills.

To disappear from an enemy's motion sensor, stop moving, move slowly, or move while crouching. Use this to confuse your opponent. If you escape around a corner, but stop moving, they'll be forced to pause and guess on your position if they pursue. If you just keep running, they'll be able to track you on their sensor.

nope Weapons

While I won't cover all of the weapons here, I'll discuss the standard starting weapons and the importance of the game's power weapons. The Assault Rifle in Reach is a bit better suited for mid-range combat than previous incarnations, but should still be reserved for close range skirmishes in most cases. In general, aim at the opponent's body and hold the trigger while running at or around them. The goal is to get into melee range right as their shields drop to finish them off with a quick melee strike. If the opponent is doing the same thing, you may both kill each other. This is acceptable.

The pistol in Reach is awesome. While the Halo 2 and Halo 3 pistols left much to be desired, the Reach pistol is a killing machine. While it loses use over long ranges--this is where the DMR comes in--it will work great for mid and close range encounters. Five shots with the pistol will kill an enemy if the final shot hits the head. If you're starting with an AR and a pistol, you'll probably want to carry your pistol around in most cases.

The Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) is the new Battle Rifle (BR), but it fires only a single shot instead of a three-round burst like the BR. It can kill in five hits like the pistol, but has much more range. It can also be fired rapidly up close in a bind. In general, this is going to be your go to weapon. Becoming proficient with the DMR will take you a long way in Reach. While the first four shots can be aimed at the body, it helps to aim for the head so you get used to tracking domes--which will help when you graduate to the Sniper Rifle.

Grenades are your best friend. As mentioned above, you want to either time your grenades to explode at the start of an encounter or at the end if the enemy is retreating or will kill you anyway. If you run out of ammo and your enemy is still alive, consider grenades. Throwing a grenade in the middle of a fight is generally a waste of time. You'll lose time during the throw that could be spent damaging the enemy and they will likely kill you before your grenade even explodes. If you practice your grenade usage, you'll find yourself killing enemies with a well-placed grenade, which takes down the foe's shields, and a single DMR or pistol headshot.

I'll cover power weapons in the next part of this guide, but in general, you should work to control power weapons by yourself or with your team. They should be treated like armor in Quake. Check for them and keep track of who has them. It will win you games.

Stay tuned for Part 2

Look forward to more tips and strategies in part 2. I'll also be answering questions in the comments section. I have also setup a Steam Group to help organize games. It is public and you should join!