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

Yesterday, I presented some basic tips to get you started with Halo: Reach's multiplayer. Now, it's time to continue with a look at strategies for free-for-all and team games along with power weapon usage and some common mistakes new players make.

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Also, remember: you're going to die a lot. Don't let it get you down. The matchmaking system should eventually (and hopefully) start matching you with similarly skilled players. The large population of players online at launch will help make this happen as well. Save your game films and watch them. Watch the winner's perspective and see examine what he or she does.

Health and Shield Management

In Halo: Reach, players (when playing as Spartans) will get a regenerating shield and a health bar that will regenerate to the nearest 1/3 after a short period of time. To gain health beyond those breaking points, players will need to seek a health pack. Health cannot be damaged until the shields are fully drained and a single attack cannot damage both shields and health with a few exceptions: Plasma Sword, Brute Hammer, Rocket Launcher, Spartan Laser, and others.

Learning when to retreat is very important. Selective engagement is key and running away from a fight can sometimes be the best course of action. There are other times, however, when retreating might just be a waste of time. It might be better to try and toss a lucky grenade or do as much damage as possible before you get killed. This is especially true in team games as your allies might be around to either save you or pick-up the kill.

Free-for-all Strategy

Most players will begin playing multiplayer alone, matched up in free-for-all gametypes. These include Slayer and solo objective-based types like Headhunter, Oddball, and Juggernaut. For now, we'll cover Slayer, which is just a free-for-all deathmatch. Your strategy will depend on your weapon loadout at any given moment. If you're stuck with an Assault Rifle, you should make your way to a more powerful weapon. A DMR is usually a good choice as they are plentiful and powerful. Learn where weapons spawn on the different maps by flying around in Forge mode.

Once a better weapon is acquired, think about what that weapon gets you. A DMR or Sniper Rifle is great for long-range combat so try and seek an elevated position that allows you to look out over as much of the map as possible. If you've got a shotgun or the Plasma Sword, consider going on the hunt or hide around corners to catch players off guard. Short range and mid range weapons won't help you from a sniper perch.

In general, try to keep at least one long range--DMR, pistol, Needle Rifle, Sniper Rifle, Focus Rifle, etc.-- and one short range--Assault Rifle, Shotgun, Plasma Sword, Brute Hammer, etc.--on hand at all times as it will increase your versatility and effectiveness as you go in and out of range of enemy players.

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Like most team games, communication is paramount in Halo: Reach. Go get that headset you never use because you hate listening to "pubbies" and annoying kids. Start using it and play with people you know--join the Shacknews Steam group for some organization.

While you won't be jumping right into map callouts, nor do I know any yet for Halo: Reach, you'll want to keep your teammates informed with brief, informative messages. The easiest callout is letting someone know what's going on "at my X." When you die, your teammates will see a red 'X' on their screens at the position you died. Now that you know your allies will know where you're talking about, what should you tell them?

    Say the following and end with "at my X" for maximum teamplay.
  • "One-Shot" or "One" - There is an enemy that will take one shot to kill where you died. Very common callout.
  • "Shotgun Down" or "Snipe Down" - A dropped shotgun, sniper rifle, or any other weapon can be picked up where you died. Very useful for informing your teammates about the status of power weapons.
  • "Sniper" or "Sword" - The omission of the word "down" means there is an enemy with the weapon where you died.
Of course, you can mix and match these or use less shorthand. Basically, provide as much information as you can before you respawn. You can also extrapolate and call of information not relative to any X's. For example, are you sniping and guarding the rocket launcher from afar? You might not be in position to go get it, but when you see it come back, be sure to let your team know its available.

Communication revolving around the objective objects is also key. Keep your team aware of any flags, bombs, or oddballs. A team that is communicating well will always outperform a similarly skilled team that isn't talking. Generally, it will take some time to fall into a rhythm and playing with a set group of people helps, especially since you'll begin to learn their playstyle--including their strengths and weaknesses.

To that end, play to the strengths and weaknesses of your team. If you've got an amazing sniper in your squad, try and get him the sniper rifle. If you're rubbish at offense, but excel at defense... well, stay in your base and guard that flag. If you can't drive, but can rock a Warthog turret, don't drive!

Keep playing and you'll improve. Also, be sure to check out this awesome Halo 3 montage "Legacy" by ZoLA.

Halo: Reach releases next Tuesday on the Xbox 360.