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.
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.”)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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! 🙂