Thursday, 13 May 2010

Halo Reach Beta

For all of you living under a giant hypothetical rock, Halo Reach is the latest game within the Halo series. With Reach taking place before the Master Cheif saga, you play a standard Spartan soldier, this of course is reflected within the online gameplay that was released as a beta for all of us with Halo ODST starting May 3rd and ending May 19th.
Whilst the beta only contained Multiplayer, I decided that I'd give you all a little bit of a run down, basic features, new features, new weapons - You get what I mean.

The main gameplay seems a little different to Halo 3, whilst I can describe the engine feeling VERY similar to Halo 3's, there are aspects of gameplay that don't feel like Bungie had anything to do with them, more like Valve and Infinity Ward had a bastard child that happened to fall in love with Master Chief.
With features such as load outs and class specific skills making an appearance, presumably this is due to the success that games such as BattleField Bad Company and Team Fortress have achieved in recent years. It's definitely a breath of fresh air to an ageing series soon to be munotomous - And Bungie have realised this, so what ever they've done to this game will either refresh it or alienate an entire fan base - A big one at that.
Now, let's kick it all off with a more in-depth look at the beta.

Load out system
The Load out system is a system that gives you specific weapons and skills depending on which load out you choose, generally speaking you get an assault rifle and pistol, with a few exceptions within the Invasion game mode.
The Load out special skills include; Active camo, Jet pack, Shield, Run and Roll/Dash

Active Camo -
Similar to previous incarnations, allows you to go partially invisible, but it also scrambles the radar whilst you're invisible. This skill works well If you know how to use it, but It won't get you any where If you're just going to go invisible and run at people.

Jet Pack -
Sort of talks for itself, by holding down LB you levitate, you only have a certain amount of fuel, but like all the other skills it recharges when you aren't using it.
This can really be an advantage, but also a downfall - You take to the skies and you are in everyone's vision, on the plus side, you also have a higher vantage point to rain hell down from.

Shield -
I found that this was my favourite power up, you basically drop to the floor and become invincible, whilst in this time any one that comes near you gets hurt; You have about 5 seconds before this shield runs out and blows up, hurting anyone within close proximity, leaving you untouched.
This is a very effective in matches where you can rely on your team mates, once your shield kicks in, you can't do any damage and enemies are free to wait around with grenades, so you need to hit the floor, act as a diversion as your friends pick off the enemies around you, works EXTREMELY well with a friend that has Active Camo power.

Roll/Dash -
This appears to be an elite only skill, it's basically a dodge roll forward, can give you a handy jump in melee combat, but pretty useless otherwise.

Run -
This is the skill that comes with scout and generic soldier sets, it merely allows you to run for a brief period, it's an alright skill, but the others are much better.

Presumably they will include the same game types from previous Halo games, but the beta was pretty limited when it comes to Game modes, the basics like Slayer, CTF, etc were there, with new modes such as Invasion included.

Slayer Arena
Within the Beta you can only play Slayer arena, I'm presuming there will be more arena types in the full game. Basically this mode is 4 V 4 slayer, but ranked; And whilst you might be saying "But Chris, surely EVERY FPS has this feature"
Well you would be correct, but Halo Reach gives you extra information, how well your playing throughout the world is a nice feature.

In this mode you play either Elites or Spartans in an objective based 6 V 6 match, this consists of capturting points, destroying objectives and delivering items from point to point. Essentially it mixes Slayer, CTF and Domination into one game.
Each time a point is either captured, delivered or destroyed, then your load out is changed.

Grab Bag
This mode consists of games such as Slayer, CTF, Domination and other flag based capture games. These are generally quite fun, with Stockpile as my favourite, in this game type there are several flags around the map and each team has it's own base to get these flags too, once they're back at the base they have to be left inside a specific area and then once every minute the flags are collected and reset back onto the map, this gives you the opportunity to steal enemy flags, it's quite tactical really.

Other Features
Theater is included within the Reach beta, this makes me SUPER happy. Theater mode on Halo
3 was amazing, easily one of the best features to include in any FPS and I'm surprised franchises such as COD haven't jumped on similar technology.
For anyone unaware of what Theater mode is, basically you can watch back old clips of your gameplay, but you aren't forced to watch it from your first person view, you can fly around the map whilst any thing is going on - It basically loads a match you were in and makes bots play out what you did, and whilst all of this goes on, you can zoom around the map, look through other people's views, your own, etc; And! You can cut clips, send them to people on XBL, and place them on your Halo profile so that anyone can watch them.
It's pretty ground breaking when it comes to spectating previous matches.
Well, Bungie have taken that feature and added, you can now add your videos to categories so that people can look at all the videos within these categories (Owned, Funny, Awesome, etc). You can also search for specific videos.

Character Customisation.
Spartan customisation is allegedly a step up from Halo 3's character engine, but the Beta really doesn't do this fact justice, but obviously it's still a beta.
You're given a basic Spartan (From what I've gathered Elite is only available on Invasion mode) You can change your colours and your emblem, exactly like Halo 3, the interesting feature here is the armor customisation, rather than unlocking armor through the story line (I'm pretty sure you'll still do that in Reach to be honest) you have to gain credits by playing matches and winning, you gain extra points for winning, for kills, etc; Which you can then spend on new armor pieces and add-ons.
These range from new pieces of armor (Shoulder, body, head) to new accessories such as torches and gadgets that stick to the side of your helmet.
So far the choices are pretty limited, but I imagine in full release the range will be fairly big, this is also an opportune area to add Micro-transactions, infact, I'd be quite surprised it Microsoft didn't force a move on this.

Things that I really like
The amount of potential that could come from the customisation gear
Obviously as I stated it's pretty bare at the moment, but there's potential there to have a REALLY cool system.

You can play Team SWAT freely within the Grab Bag section of the game, I used to love this on Halo 3 and it's nice that they kept it in

The User Interface is pretty swish, with a single tap of the analog stick whilst looking for opponents you can be looking at your Spartan and playing around with their armor, whilst it keeps a nice little list of matchmaking opponents to the left of the screen.

Whilst I imagine alot of the weapons are missing, there's a few weapons from previous games that received upgrades or have atleast been toyed with.
The Pistol now has a scope, the BR isn't the most overpowered piece of shit ever, swords aren't so common and there's a few cool weapons that I just can't wait to play with, I'm pretty sure there's a Sticky Grenade launcher and I definetly cut some bitches up with a Sentinel laser type weapon.

Leveling system
It's much more tougher than the Halo 3 system, and you gain extra rewards for being a better player.

Things that aren't too hot.
A lack of games containing more than 6 V 6
Hopefully something that will be included in the full game - Or atleast, I hope so.

More variety in starter packs
The starter packs are pretty basic, generally speaking it's Assault Rifle and pistol, with two grenades and a special skill, it's a little bit different in Invasion, but I'd hoped that the main slayer and CTF modes would have a little variety too.

Lack of Elites in multiplayer
I've been told that this is due to the fact that they want to keep the story from the campaign in the multiplayer modes.

In conclusion the beta was alot of fun, and I like the fact that Bungie are trying to diversify not only their fan base, but the actual gameplay.
I imagine this'll sell like hot cakes when it comes to release day, which subsequently is Autumn 2010; So most definitely, If you're a fan of Halo, FPS and online FPS in general, then I'd give this a shot.

Cheers for reading
Chris Leddy.

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