Halo: Reach Beta thoughts and code giveaway

Update: If you want to catch a livestream of it, I’ll be broadcasting at justin.tv later tonight around 9PM CST.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to snag a Halo: Reach beta code to get into the beta a few days early versus waiting until May 3rd. Needless to say I spent a few hours playing the Reach multiplayer beta and had somewhat of a blast. Prior to yesterday I had an almost year and a half hiatus from Halo 3 as I made the switch over to Call of Duty. My elite skills that were once there were no longer and I might as well have been a noob.

Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta

First thoughts jumping into the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta was wow, the UI is seamless, transitions are gorgeous and everything is fluid and smooth. I also love that the menus all appear to be at a slight angle giving it a bit of a 3D look without being too obnoxious and pixelated. I jumped straight into the settings to customize my super awesome Spartan. Rather than unlock armor based on your campaign and/or achievement completion, armor unlocks are now based on the credits you earn from the game whether it’s multiplayer or campaign (I believe campaign is included but I will find a source later.) You also unlock them based on your current ranking (eg: “You are missing some of the prerequisites needed to purchase this item: You need to be at least Warrant Officer.”)

Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta - The Armory

One thing I liked the most was that your service tag isn’t just the standard Number/Letter/Letter. You can now have four characters in your service tag, in any order you please. I went with my current Modern Warfare 2 clan tag, which is just #23, an ode to Michael Jordan. It’s definitely a step up from my old Halo 2/3 service tag which was “H03.” Emblems are pretty standard, a lot from the other games and some new ones mixed into it. The scrolling for emblems definitely improved a lot as you go up and down for your background and left and right for your foreground. Definitely easier to sort through the plethora there. I opted for my Halo 3 emblem of a ducky.

Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta - Matchmaking Menu
Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta - Matchmaking Menu

The matchmaking menu received a nice face lift. I’m now able to see what friends of mine are currently in the game and what they’re doing. No need to go to the Xbox menu and scroll through friends to see who is on right now. That is definitely an awesome feature that I’m glad they integrated with it. Again you can see how awesome the slight angle looks for it and the background image for it gives a sneak peak into what to expect for Halo: Reach itself.

As far as what is currently available you have two different playlists you can sort through, Arena and Standard with Standard being the only one available at this time as well as only two maps being available (next week two more will be available.) You can either opt to play in 4×4 Team games or go straight into 8 player FFA. Right now there are only a few gametypes available with some new ones being “Stock Pile” where you have an allotted amount of time to collect 10 flags to win; There are flags strategically placed throughout the maps available to either team to pick up and run it back to their flag spot. There are 60 second wait periods for flag capturing so while you might grab 5 flags within 30 seconds, you have 30 seconds left to defend until they are calculated to your score.

One of the biggest differences with matchmaking is that you now have the chance to vote between four different options–three are gametypes and the fourth is “none of the above. Now I’m not sure whether or not this is specific to the multiplayer beta or if we’ll see it in Reach come the fall but this definitely allows for you to really play what you want to instead of being stuck with a gametype you don’t enjoy. Right now people aren’t used to it so I’ve seen a lot of games stuck on the default checkmark versus users picking their own. Once everyone gets more acquainted with it, I’m sure we’ll be playing better gametypes. I was stuck with a lot of Stock Pile games, 1 CTF and VERY few Team Slayer or Team Swat games.

Halo: Reach Beta - Match Found Menu
Halo: Reach Beta - Match Found Menu

Phew this is a lot already and I haven’t even gotten into the gameplay itself! A lot has changed for multiplayer itself with changes to weapon (bye-bye BR, hello DMR!), health/shields and of course the addition of some new weapons and the already infamous weapon load outs. Very similar to the style of Call of Duty’s “classes,” you have load outs that you are able to choose right when a game starts and before you respawn after a death.

Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta - Weapon Loadouts

Right now the load outs are very basic. All start off with an assault rifle as your primary, a pistol as your secondary and 2 frag grenades. Now the main difference between the four weapon loadouts are your special ability (although I think they’re actually called “equipment” as the button layout states it as such.) On the default button layout, you’d be using your LB (Left Bumper) to activate it. You can check your usage progress on the lower left hand side of the screen. You’ll see an icon of your class and around it is a circle progression bar. When you start using the equipment, you take away from the current power you have. Once you use it all up you have to wait for it to regenerate itself. Which is an awesome feature which will definitely not make the game too unbalanced.

The following are available as loadouts:

  • Scout – You have the ability to sprint.
  • Guard – You are “invisible” with your shield.
  • Stalker – You are wearing camo and are invisible.
  • Airborne – You have a sweet ass jetpack to fly.

If you’d like to read more about the loadouts and what to expect from the game itself, Bungie has up an awesome guide for the Loadouts to see what else they’ll be bringing into the game. I pretty much rotated between Scout and Airborne. Airborne is hella awesome. I was a bit skeptical at first when I had read about this new addition a few months ago but.. actually trying it out. It’s ridiculously different but it really adds a whole new playing field to the game. Rather than crouching behind a wall or object when you’re in a battle with someone, just boost yourself into the air to headshot them from above. No need to play the “Who’s gonna poke their head out first” game! Scout was what I initially started off with. I play a lot of Modern Warfare 2 [multiplayer] which means I am ALWAYS sprinting and/or utilizing the Marathon perk to run without breaks. Going from MW2 (or even COD4) to Halo 3 (again) was too difficult for me because I felt like the gameplay was SO much slower and I was unable to get used to it again.

In Slayer gametypes I don’t see this impacting it too much, most people are either aggressive or passive so I don’t see this changing anything.. but when it comes to objective based games, this will definitely help to “organize” your team on who does what. If you have someone that prefers to stay back from the pack and take long ways to flank, then they will definitely love the Stalker class. For someone that is overly aggressive and prefers to go for more defense then offense, the Guard loadout will be perfect as they’ll have that extra time to “protect” themselves and even use themselves as bait to allow teammates to flank. Scout will be perfect for the person that loves to immediately go straight for the objective–with that sprint you can just try rushing immediately. But beware, you can’t use your loadout with your objective, so don’t try to sprint away with the flag in your hand–You’ll end up dropping it. And last but not least for the person that likes to be the middle man between offense and defense, Airborne might be perfect for you. You’ll be able to rise high into the air to pop a few shots into people near your team mates or even rush to the person with objective to give them cover fast. On the first floor but they’re on the third and need help? No problem, just boost your jetpack to get your butt up there!

Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta - Loadouts

There’s still so much more to go over with the beta thus far but I’m going to put them into another post over the weekend. I originally intended to just hash over a few things but eventually inspired myself to actually write about the beta thus far. Which to be frank, this isn’t a beta. This feels more like a pre-release/sneak preview to entice years and increase the hype even more. I’ve yet to find any glitches and/or bugs while playing.. compared to the Halo 3 beta this is entirely different.

Win a Halo: Reach Multiplayer beta code

That being said if you’ve read this far then.. congratulations because you’ve got a chance to win the one and only extra Halo: Reach Multiplayer beta invite that I have so you can hop in on the fun over the weekend instead of waiting until Monday. You’ll get to be the cool cat everyone will want to be ;).

Using your real name and email, post a comment on this post letting me what your most anticipated new feature for Halo: Reach is. Yup. that’s it.

Please make sure that you use your REAL email as this is how I will be giving you the code that you will need to redeem on Xbox so you can download the beta. I will pick a random commentator by 9PM CST tonight. So get your comments posted, now! 🙂


  1. nice info on reach. im hoping for the game to be a new halo experience and its looking to be. good vids and info

  2. I'm definitely most looking forward to using the Armor Abilities, particularly Active Camo. I've always been potent with it and am hoping having it more readily avaliable will be as awesome as I hope it is.

  3. Probably the rated arena teams, i've always been a competitive gamer so this is whats getting me excited.

  4. There are SO many awesomr features in Reach, it's hard to pick just one… but since I have to, I'm thinkin' the DMR. It looks crazy fun to pop heads with.


  6. First? My favorite new feature (without playing) is definitely the load outs. Gives a variation to the game play, and will allow for more dynamic gameplay.

  7. I'm really excited about new weapon balancing. It seems that the DMR is a respectable heir to the Battle Rifle, though it is not nearly as dominant as the BR was in Halo 3. I now have a reason to use other non-power weapons!

  8. It would have to be the weapon loadout system that has been introduced with this game that I assume is there to tackle the modern warfare system.

    Btw lol at you beleiving your Halo 3 skills would be transferable for Reach no matter what the game maps you don't know will always make you feel like a noob 😉

  9. What im most excited for is not just a feature, but a whole playlist – Invasion. It sounds like it will be an intense and fun gametype that is a big change of pace from all the old playlists that we are accustomed to.

  10. I am definitely looking forward to the new armor abilities, because I think it'll make it more fast paced game as a whole. I am also really looking forward to getting new armors to put on my spartan, the Halo 3 armor(s) weren't all that great.

  11. The new DMR Rifle is, by far, what I am looking forward to. Also, having a better game balancing system will definitely help this new release out!

  12. I'm really excited about the all new weapons : DMR, Focus Riffle, Plasma Luncher. A new Halo, a different Halo

  13. Oh wow, early Beta access is sweeeet. Nice info on the beta, looking so much greater than Halo 3!

  14. Wow nice site looks pretty & yummy

    I have been waiting a while for this hope i win

    "chance to vote between four different options"

    Love this part the most

  15. Armor Ability will be very cool along with new game types. not sure how it will play since the health packs are back but still will be fun. I will know Monday @ the latest if I like the game or not 🙂

  16. good read, im def most looking foward to the whole arena playlist. so i hope that is playable in the beta. other than that im excited to try out the pistol again.

  17. Hey it me defiled..i sent u a message a while ago lol…u remember me dont u? anyways…i would really liek this code because i am anxious for everything inside the beta much more the game…the biggest anticipated features/features im wanna see is the DMR…needle rifle..adn basically the rest of the new guns…i wanna see the new armor abilities…i read all of bungies stuff and it looks as if armor lock is pretty sweet…i wanna be able to get a jump start on other ppl so i can be good at the beta…i anticipate the new playlists aswell…i would love to play invasion on the new maps andthe arena looks fun too…im always goin positive but not my teamates so id liker to get into that….and if u respond to my xbl message if i get the code, maybe we can play together…theres much more i wanna put but ill just be rambling…plz pick me bc i really wanna play suppeerr bad..ive even joined a silly photo contest just to get a code but i failed….lol..anyways pick me so we can play together !! ^_^

  18. I'm really looking forward to the new DMR and the two gamtypes Stockpile and Headhunter. Headhunter seems like it's going to be a frantic FFA. I'm so excited for this beta!!!

  19. Looking forward to Invasion the most I would say, always wanted to have a spartan vs elite mode.

  20. I'm looking forward to the new Matchmaking system. In Halo 2 and 3, things almost seemed random. But from what I've read about Reach, there are a lot more parameters you can edit, which in turn leads to a more entertaining and enjoyable game for everyone.

    Who doesn't want that? 🙂

  21. i love the website it looks like a cupcake i just want to eat the screen you go girl. I also need a beta code for reach

  22. The elites getting a massive revamp. It seems like they'll finally get to be the ferocious monsters that they were in Halo:CE. Really looking forward to tying out the whole evade and gravhammer! thing.

  23. I've been a fan since the golden days of halo 1 and I am really excited for this Beta! Nice article, thumbs up.

  24. After watching a few live streams, I'm very excited to use the Needle Rifle. That, and play on Overlook – that map just looks awesome!

  25. Nice info on Reach! I'm really excited for the jetpakcs. And no, that's not a typo, well… it was, by my friend and then we thought it was awesome, so we spell in jetpakcs now.

  26. Awesome write up. I can't wait to get in on the beta. I'm looking forward to the DMR, armor skills and the new maps. I'm kinda in the same boat, I haven't played Halo 3 in awhile due to CoD MW2, so looking forward to jumping back into it. The changes to matchmaking should make for a far greater experience.

  27. well iam super pump about the beta because of all the knew powers sooo awesome!!!!!!! and the dmv looks awesome but most of all iam haveing a reach party on tuesday ill be ready for the battles to come. oh and thx for the chance for this your awsome jordan

  28. I'm pretty much looking forward to everything, but if I had to choose something specific it would be the different Armor Abilities. I've always been a huge Halo fan since the first one and I can't wait to start playing this. If I can get ahold of a beta code than I can play all weekend!…instead of waiting all day after work on Monday 🙁

    Great post! I'm super excited to start playing.

  29. AimLXJ from Neowin. Please Pick me. Twitter been loaded with codes and I'm getting sick of seeing used stuff 🙁

  30. I'm ready for the Multiplayer revamp, the new weapons, and a new awesome campaign!

  31. I must say, your blog design is awesome. Also, giving such detailed information thats not just from 360fanboy and such. Knowing what you said helps (us non Halo Reach gamers) to hear the voice of one of us. Appreciate the hard work and the chance at a free code.

  32. I am really looking forward to it. Been trying to get codes cause I want to start seeing how the game balances out. The sooner I play the more feedback I can give, IMO.

  33. Excited to see how all the different armor abilities end up balancing each other out (Is it going to be kind of like a Rock-Paper-Scissors? Are they going to be situational?) and to see how the changes to all the weapons and the addition of loadouts will make competitive Multiplayer play out, considering that they haven't made any drastic changes to that in several years.

  34. Looking forward to the sprint functionality of the game. I feel like it could really change the way teams push in for map control and power weapon fights.

  35. I may have to buy an Xbox 360 again just for Halo Reach when it's actually released and not beta.

  36. I'm thinking my favorite thing of what I've seen in the previews so far is the changes to the lobby, especially the addition of queue joining. No more having to hear or tell someone in your party, 'hey go play forge for a minute, then we'll invite you in when the match is over'.

    How is the DMR compared to the BR?

  37. For me, its gotta be weapon loadouts. Halo was great, but it had the feel of, if you have the rocket launcher or other gdlk weapon, you control the game. Now its if you have the rocket launcher..whoop de do, I do too

  38. My favorite new feature is the new game modes!!! They all look so amazing from what I've seen. I'm dying to test out the jetpack aswell!

  39. also i anticipate the new layourt of the m,enu adn matchmaking menu…i also wanna see the new layout in theater and im also anxious seeing if theyb had a basis for each map…like what gave them inspiration for the maps and gametypes…id like to also see the new animations in the assassinations

  40. Most i'm looking foward to in Reach is that so far it looks like Bungie may have made a good game that can properly rival Halo CE. Halo 2 was great with the addition of live MP and was a small step in the right direction. Halo 3 was just plain fail. What I've seen of Reach it defiently looks like it can be just as awesome, if not more than Halo CE.

  41. Thanks everyone for all your comments with input on what you're looking most forward to. I'm going to be tossing the names into random.org to pick and the winer will be contacted by email.

    Any comments left AFTER 9PM CST will NOT be considered. 9PM CST means 9PM CST.

  42. Wow your lucky you got a beta code. I think I figured out why I am not overly thrilled with it, I mean I like it, but the maps are too human and play too much like COD. Don't get me wrong I love COD, but I'd rather play maps like in Halo 2 like Lockout and Midship. Hopefully I don't need to wait a few years after Reach for those kinds of maps to be released, like they did with Halo 3.

  43. I can't wait till Halo Reach launchs Halo2 Was actually really fun all the things i've been wondering about are solved exept. Is HaloReach going to come out soon is there a possibility

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