Now, to get this straight… this may be a review, but it’s on a BETA! Remember that. This is also meant to be taken simply as observations of what we’ve seen so far and by no means are we judging this beta. Both PsychoVandal and Ryokea co-wrote this to bring out a few points and some information about the beta. We both realize we may leave stuff out, but that is likely because we are not actually giving any sort of grade or score on this beta. There will be a thorough review of the final product when it is released by Bungie this fall.
So we got our chance to throw down in the BETA version of Halo: Reach, and oh boy we CANNOT WAIT for the real thing. If you have not had a chance to check it out, you don’t have much time left. The BETA test phase ends May 19. Also, those who are Silver Xbox Live members will have access to the benefits of Gold members for the 14th -17th! Want to know how to get in on it? Go here. If you’ve already been enjoying the BETA then you know much of what we’re about to spew..
Now, I bet you’re expecting a little paragraph or two about how to move from Halo 3 game play into the Reach beta. Well, let me dish it out to you straight. Reach feels like a completely new game, and honestly needs to be approached as such. Don’t go into it with high hopes of nabbing that BR and getting some headshots, mostly because the BR has been replaced. This has caused a bit of a stirring in the community, but really if you think about it. Change is good.
One of the biggest changes, and will be the most noticeable ones during a game of Slayer, is the addition of Armor Abilities. Not only do we get to run around as Spartan-III’s but we also get to rock some cool abilities such as: Armor Lock, Sprint, Active Camo, and a Jet Pack. Of course you can also play as Elites under certain game types, their Armor Abilities are similar but they get Evade instead of Sprint and there is a decided lack of Armor Lock. Keep in mind this is just the beta, and the retail game may or may not include more abilities or possibly give the Elites access to Armor Lock.
Another fun note about this game is the fact you get access to a wider array of customization options for your Spartan. Elite’s will also have some options, but they are in full armor sets unlike their human counterparts. The beta has given us a peak at some of the things we will be able to purchase using the credit system implemented in the new game, and occasionally due to a glitch some have seen other options not purchasable until the retail release. Spartans will be allowed to customize their helmet, shoulders, and chest plate to whatever they wish from the options available. So get crackin’ on making your “unique and deadly snowflake.” The Spartan you make for yourself will look the same whether you are part of Noble Six in campaign or beating heads in during multiplayer. To buy all this eye candy goodness for your killing machine, you will make use of the credits that you earn from every game. To help line your pockets with that digital cash, Commendations can be earned by collecting so many of a certain type of medal from kills. Once you get a Commendation it gives you a nice boost to your earned credits at the end of the match, so they give you a better incentive to nail some multi-kills and headshots.
Remember the Veto system introduced with Halo 3? Well it has been done away with. Now before you start raging, it has been replaced with a far better system. The new voting system shows you a small selection of map choices with game types listed by them and lest you vote on one of them or you can opt to choose None of the Above for one round to get a new mix of maps and game types. As of right now, if a vote ties the system will choose the one higher on the list.
Map selection is limited since this is the beta, no big surprise to anyone who played the Halo 3 beta. We have Powerhouse, a bit of a circular map with four buildings to offer cover and power weapons contained in tight spaces to make fighting for them a fairly intense battle. Sword Base is the other common map you will be choosing. Yes there is a sword on it, but this is also a multi-tiered map that makes Jet Packers jump for joy due to being able to navigate the tiers quickly. Other armor abilities are handy here too if you know how to properly apply them and maybe you can cut a Jet Pack Spartan short of reaching a power weapon placed on a center platform. There was one more map available as of the 7th, but we’ll touch on that one in a moment.
The Arena rears its head for the first time in this beta for us to scrutinize and prod at it’s various aspects. Arena is the proving ground for the hardcore players to try and get ranked in as high of a Division as possible. The Arena pulls from your standard sets of four man Team Slayer game types you would expect to see on the two maps Powerhouse and Sword Base. Arena also has seasons that last for a set amount of time, and at the end you are given a rating depending on how well you played compared to your peers. Divisions are listed from lowest to highest as: Steel, Bronze, Platinum, Gold, and Onyx. Play three games in the Arena playlist to get your rating for the day, and do that enough times you will be classed into a Division. When the season finally comes to a close, you will get a statistical layout of how you did that season. Your rating is scored by your “Best” three games of the day, so if you don’t do so well in the beginning you can still improve in later matches.
Grab Bag is pretty much exactly as it sounds. A mix of various Slayer and objective based game types with teams of four pitted against each other on Powerhouse and Sword Base. This is where you will see your Oddball and its variant Headhunter along with CTF and its variant Stockpile. This playlist also allows Spartans to face off against the Elites in SvE Slayer. Team Crazy King and its variant 3 Plot pop up in the rotation from time to time as well. One last game type that likes to stop by for a chat is Team SWAT, lovingly referred to by some as “Host Advantage.”
Free For All makes a return for those wanting to go Lone Wolf with eight players total in the game to run about bashing each other’s heads in on Powerhouse and Sword Base. In this playlist you’ll see what you would expect from the usual mix of Slayer and objective game types. This is also where you will go to try and score a game of the new and improved Juggernaut, or as some call it “Oh f@#k, here comes the flaming dude with the Grav Hammer.” Crazy King makes its appearance here as well for some good times ‘nade spamming the hill, if that’s your thing. An important note to mention about FFA is you shouldn’t jump into this playlist with the hopes of playing as Elites since there are no Covy game types in the rotation.
The final playlist we have access to, until tomorrow, is Invasion. Six Spartans versus six Elites with teams broken down into three fireteams composed of two people each. This effectively gives you a mobile spawn point as your team mate stomps around Boneyard. You are allowed to choose from several spawn points other than your team mate if he happens to come under fire or is in enemy territory. One quick note, Boneyard is the largest map that Bungie has cranked out for one of their games and definitely one of their better ones. There are two game types in the rotation, Invasion or Invasion Slayer. Invasion is objective based with the Elites fighting their way through the Spartan defensive checkpoints to gain access to a navigation core from the decommissioned frigate that composes part of the level. The Elites have to steal the core and bring it back to their Phantom to win the match, but they lose if the time runs out before they can make it past any one checkpoint or fail to get the core to the ship in time. Invasion Slayer is just as it sounds, Spartans versus Elites with the team to reach one hundred kills as the victor. But in this mode there are Drop Zones available to capture and hold until a weapon or vehicle drop is made. As Invasion games go along, the teams gain access to increasingly powerful load outs and vehicle drops.
As far as part 1 goes, this is where we will give you a breather and let you get back to running and gunning. Look forward to Generator Defense as it drops on our plates tomorrow. Soon as we get our fill we’ll give you the low down on that with part 2.