Halo: Reach Beta Impressions

Luckily, GamerSyndrome was able to snag a code for the Halo: Reach Friends and Family Beta.  Basically that means that we were able to spend some time playing Halo: Reach multiplayer before all of the privileged Halo: ODST had the chance.  So tonight while I spend hours relaxing on the sofa, sipping some Mountain Dew, and playing Halo: Reach, the rest of you will be wide awake in your beds like a kid on Christmas day wait for the beta to arrive.

The reason you are here is obviously not to get made fun of by me, but to find out some information on Halo: Reach, and to see if it’s as good as Bungie claims it is.  First off let’s break down the game a little.  The beta consists of two maps, Swordbase and Powerhouse.  Swordbase is an indoor, multi-leveled map, separated into two parts by a central area.  Powerhouse on the other hand is an outdoor map that focuses on a circular wall situated in the center of the map.  These two maps provide you with opposite playing experiences in order to give you an taste of what is to come in the full game.  The level design for both maps seems well-balanced and I haven’t experienced any hiccups trying to get around.

The playlists consist of two choices at the moment, Free-for-All and Grab Bag.  I only tried my hand at Grab Bag as it is a new playlist and was most interested in what it had to offer.  When you begin matchmaking in Grab Bag you will have five different game types thrown at you.  First off we have Stockpile, which has you competing with another team in order to collect 10 flags before they do.  The game breaks down into 1 minute intervals in which you have to grab neutral flags on the map and bring them back to your “base” and throw them into your circle before the minute is up.  You get one point for each flag inside of the circle after the minute is finished and it starts over until a team has reached 10.  You can also expect the other team to be stealing your flags at the last second if you leave them unattended.  The second game are more familiar games, such as Oddball, Slayer, 1 Flag CTF, and of course our favorite, Team Swat.  I will have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how fun Stockpile is.  At first the game seems a bit chaotic and confusing, but after a couple of matches it all falls together and works out great; also, after I found out some tricks I was easily able to dominate the other teams.  For more information on Halo: Reach matchmaking, check out this link.

Ever since Halo 2 we have played as both the covenant and the spartans during multiplayer matches.  In order to quail the complaints of players stating that the two were unbalanced, the team at Bungie decided to separate the two and give them different attributes.  It seems to me that the Covenant move much faster than the Spartans and would obviously cause some disadvantages, but in turn the Covenant are awarded their own Slayer match called Covy Slayer.  First off, we will look at loadouts.  Loadouts are much like what you see in games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  At this point in the beta I have yet to reach a point where I can customize my loadouts; they are currently preset and I can only choose the one I want.  Spartan loadouts all contain the Assault Rifle as the primary weapon, and the pistol as the secondary weapon; but each loadout contains a perk that is different from the others.  One perk allows your Spartan to sprint for a short distance, one gives you temporary cloaking, one allows you to use a jet pack, and the final perk gives you a short defensive boost.  Each perk works on a meter that depletes as you utilize the perk, and in order to use it again you have to wait for it to refill.  The Covenant have a single perk that allows for a diving rolls in order to make quick getaways or fast approaches.  They also have two different primary weapon loadouts, one is the Needle Rifle, and the other is a Plasma Repeater.  You can compare these to the Assault Rifle and the Designated Marksman Rifle (much like the Battle Rifle).  All in all, I prefer the Spartan class, and I prefer the jet-pack loadout.  I’m not sure if it’s a balancing issue, or if I just play better when I have it equipped, but the jet-pack gets me more kills.  For more information on Halo: Reach weapons, go here.

On top of all of the new additions, Bungie has also thrown in a leveling systems that gives your credits (exp) at the end of the match based on how well you played.  Get enough credits and you level up!  The credits can be used to buy fashionable gear for your helmet, shoulders, and chest.  I’m not sure at this point if any of the “upgrades” actually change the gameplay, but I have a feeling that credits may be used to buy some sort of upgrade in the full game or as I progress further in the beta.  The leveling system seems thrown together and lacks the draw of its role models (i.e. Modern Warfare).  My biggest gripe with the game so far has been the lack of guidance by Bungie.  I’m not asking them to hold my hand, but I feel like I have no idea of what to expect.  A tutorial would have been a nice way to introduce you to weapons, or let you know how perks work, and tell you about changing your loadouts.  Perhaps I can attribute this to the fact that it’s a beta, and that they will change this when more people jump on board, or when it comes out as a full game.  Either way, a little guidance would have been nice.

This is all just a basic breakdown of what the Halo: Reach beta has to offer.  There are a lot of elements of gameplay that I can’t touch on due to lack of experience or lack of time, but the core elements have been covered.  So what is my final verdict?  The beta is good, but it seems to lack  the change it needs to keep overplayed formula alive.  If you are still in love with the Halo series and can’t get enough of the gameplay, then Halo: Reach has you covered.  Expect some differences, but know that you will still be experiencing Halo.  On the other hand, if you are getting tired of the Halo formula, then this game may throw you over the edge.

Article from Gamersyndrome.com

4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. The leveling seems like a good feature, did you notice any better rendering or graphics in the play? im not a huge Halo fan nor have I played that game much but apparently those two features are supposed to have been improved?.

  2. In a future Halo version, it would be interesting to play the Flood. We’ve already experienced game play as the Spartans and the Covenant.

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