Halo Reach X10 Preview: A Pretty, Gritty Sandbox

Powerhouse Concept ArtWith the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta

With the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta kicking off May 3, developer Bungie showed off one of the included maps during today's X10 event.

The map, named "Powerhouse" offered a good showcase for the technical work they've done improving the game engine over past entries.

Every part of the Xbox 360 exclusive's world has received a several fold increase in detail. This particularly stood out in the weaponry. A new marksman's rifle and needler rifle took full advantage of this with signature elements like an enlarged scope and the purple needle crystals protruding from the stock.

Reach is a grittier take on Halo, creative director Marcus Lehto explained. In the prequel, you play as a Spartan III--you're not quite as sophisticated as Master Chief, the solitary Spartan II that starred in the popular trilogy. These Spartans work together in teams. The one you'll be joining is Noble Team, a sort of delta force special ops squad.

While they called Reach "the definitive Halo made by the people who created Halo" in a video shown during the presentation, the move to a larger maps and more dynamic, sandbox-style encounters will create a much different sort of game.

Along with considerably larger open battlefields, Reach eschews scripted gun battles. The world is constantly running as a simulation with all the participants acting and reacting to one another dynamically--your actions are only a part of the greater goings on.

It will be interesting to see how the legions of fans respond to this new single-player approach. One thing's for sure--it's ideally suited to multiplayer, offering the same levels played in the campaign as the arenas for multiplayer. And after being dethroned as the King of Live, I'm sure Bungie relishes the thought of retaking that crown this fall.

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