Halo Reach Beta First Impressions

So now I’ve played 50 or so games, so I think its time for me to shed some thoughts on the beta. First off I really like this game. I think Bungie made some great improvements and are going in the right direction with this. There are a few sour notes but it is to be expected as this is only a beta.

I’ll start with loadouts and armour abilities. Rather than start off with the same old BR/Pistol or AR/Pistol combo, you now choose a loadout that has one or two weapons, grenades and an armour abilities. Armour abilities are Bungies new equipment for Reach, and I like them a LOT more than Halo 3’s equipment. There are 5 armour abilities available in the beta. These are Sprint, Active Camo, Jetpack, Evade and Armour Lock. Sprint gives you a short burst of speed which comes in handy when trying to rush an objective or power weapons. The downside is you are unable to use your weapon or grenade while sprinting. Second is Active Camo. This AA gives you active camoflauge for a period of time making you near invisible to the enemy. However, while you are invisible, the enemies radar is jammed and the faster you move, the more visible you become, so this is really only useful for slow-moving, sneaky situations. Next is Jetpack, which alows flight for a short amount of time. This is my personal favourite and comes in handy trying to reach (pun!) parts of the map that would be difficult or time consuming otherwise. The downside to this, however, is you are completely vulnerable while in the air. Evade is for Elites only, and allows you to barrel roll in a certain direction. This is very useful when avoiding grenades or getting the edge on the enemy. Finally, there is Armour Lock, where you punch the ground and create a shield of invincibiliy that will deflect anything (even tanks) for a short amount of time. The downside to this is the enemy can easily wait you out then kill you when you come out of it. This AA is very useful in team games, for example, if you’re taking fire, simply go into armour lock and call a teammate over to help you. However, this AA is not very useful in FFA.

Now, onto weapons. A lot of weapons from Halo 3 have been brought into Halo Reach, but there a quite a few new additions. The BR is gone and is now replaced by the DMR, a single shot semi-automatic rifle that is a 5 shot kill. Also the carbine is replaced by the needle rifle, which is very similar to the DMR. There are also some new power weapons such as the focus rifle and the grenade launcher. The focus rifle has repalced the beam rifle and is very similar to the sentinal beam but much more powerful, and the grenade launcher is not so much a noob tube, as Bungie has been careful to not make it overpowered. A nice feature about the grenade launcher is the fact that you can just fire it normally or if you hold down the trigger, it will not expldoe until you release. Also, to many halo fans’ relief, Bungie has finally brought the Halo CE pistol back, which is jsut as powerful as the DMR but not as effective at long range. This is becuase Bungie has added reticule bloom to many weapons to stop spamming bullets. So now shots have to be timed well and adds a skill factor to the game.

Now the maps. So far only 3 maps are available in the beta, with a 4th coming out soon. The 3 are Powerhouse, Sword Base and Boneyard. Powerhouse is a lot like High Ground from Halo 3 with an outdoor area and also an indoor area, and is a very fun map. Sowrd Base is very covenant like and is also very vertical, making the jetpack very useful. Finally there is Boneyard, which is huge, and used only for Invasion right now. I will update this when the 4th map is released to give my thoughts on that.

Bungie has introduced a few new gametypes to keep everything fresh. A few of these are headhunter, invasion and stockpile. Headhunter is free for all only in the beta, but there will be team headhunter in the full game. It involved killing your enemies to retrieve a skull from theme, you then have to take the skull to a drop off point to get points, however, if you are killed on the way, an opponent can take your skulls, and if you get to hold ten skulls at once you get a skullamanjaro which ends the game giving you a win, much like the tactical nuke in Modern Warfare 2. Invasion is Bungies biggest gametype to date, and its played on Bungie biggest map ever made, boneyard. It has 3 stages, Spartans defend, elites attack. The first stage is spartans defending the access to the navigational core inside a UNSC ship, if the elites get through then it moves on to the next stage, but if the spartans hold it off until time runs out they win. The next stage involves the elites having to destroy the shields holding the navigation core, again the spartans have to hold this until time runs out, but if the elites destroy the shields, then they move onto the final stage, which requires the elites to steal the core, and take it to a waiting phantom dropship. Through each section new loadouts are unlocked, giving you improved weapons. The last gametype I will mention is stockpile. In this gametype, there are multiple flags scattered around the map, and each team must grab them and bring them back to their zones that collect the flags after a certain time period. After a team gets some flags intot their zones, they then have to defend them while still trying to get more flags. An enemy can run in and throw the falgs out of the zone, and if they do this just as the time counts down, then the team gets not points.

Bungie has also included many of the vehicles from Halo 3, but at the moment they are only available in invasion. They have all recieved new upgraded looks as well, with better textures and whatnot. The Banshee, however, now lookds horrible, and they’ve also change it so you have to switch firing modes now, giving it a bit more balance. As well as this, the wraith and scorpion cannons now have recoil, and the warthogs machine gun now overheats after firing it for too long. These are mostly necessary in my opinion, and the vehicles are still all very fun to use.

As we all know, with every good thing comes bad things, and the beta is no exception. While not too many major bugs, there are a few bad things in it. Melee has some bugs, double melee is now possible to do very quickly so shooting sometimes doesn’t even work, and when you punch, as long as your fist is still out, you can still hit an enemy if you spin into them. Also the grenades are a bit overpowered, the destroy all your shields and some of your health if well placed, making them a bit too strong. There are also some basic bugs like the announcer calling the wrong thing. Luckily most of these issues are being fixed as Bungie has explained in their weekly update.

Overall from what I’ve seen this is a very fun game and i will definately be picking it up later this year at its release. The beta has helepd Bungie a heap so far in fixing bugs and sadly is due to shut down on the 19th of May. I strongly recommend playing it while you can. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this.

-Geoff

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