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Halo: Reach Hands On Impressions Part 1

by on05/03/2010
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This week Halo: Reach entered into beta, and has hit Xbox Live for some players to enjoy.  I’ve had a chance to sit down with the game and this is my thoughts so far.  Seeing as everything won’t be unlocked until around the 7th, like the Invasion gametype,  this preview will be written in two parts. I will make it really easy for you guys to enjoy the new information by not filling this with paragraphs of what I did and my experience in a walkthrough. So if you are looking for the juicy details just look for the right section of my post below.

Weapons
1. The DMR- This is supposed to be the worthy successor to the BR. It drops people like flies and packs an awesome punch. The problem though is that it is completely silent. You can rarely hear the gun going off so its either awesome to kill people with because you are hard to find or you are mad because you are killed before you realize where you are being shot from.

2. Halo 1 Magnum- This gun is back with an ODST like fire-rate where you can just rifle off with it if you want. You can take players out from 30-40 feet away with ease and can scope in. The CE fanboys must be getting sexually aroused from this but it feels awful to play a game where all these genetically enhanced, future soldiers are surrounding a spawn point with a huge assault rifle on their back because they are all using a tiny little pistol? The gun is awesome don’t get me wrong I have been murdering people with it and making them hate it but I just dont feel like it should be like that.

3. Needle Rifle- This gun suffers from the same problem as the DMR it is to quiet and players being shot barely notice being hit until it is too late. A fun note to point out is that each bullet that hits (same with DMR) causes blood splatter from where the bullet strikes the player. This gun though is supposed to cause needler explosions once you wipe the shield off and pop them a couple of times. The gun works great as a covenant DMR but the explosion aspect seems very secondary and is very random when chooses to explode an enemy. Regardless here is a nice screenshot I took last night of the beauty of when it does explode.

4. Plasma Repeater-This is supposed to be the Assault Rifle of the covenant. I have been having mixed results it either drops enemies at absurd rates because the fire rate is increased making it so they barely got a chance to move or I just keep shooting and they don’t seem phased.

5. Plasma Launcher- This is my favorite gun in the beta. The best way to describe it is that its like the Spartan Laser meant to take down humans. The gun has a charge like the spartan laser and can lock on to enemies and whenever you feel like you have charged it long enough you let go of the trigger spewing out 1 to 4 plasma stickies which can all stick to an enemy or you can just spray a path of stickies in front of a group and pull a Gandalf while screaming “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

6. Focus Rifle-Also an awesome covenant weapon. It is the sentinel beam with the impact kicked up by like 50. You can scope in like a sniper rifle and then you go all ghost busters with a long beam of beath that just roasts your opponents to the ground. This gun is terrifying in the right hands and can terrorize teams.

NOTE: Shoot down a jetpacker with this gun and get the full Ghost Buster experience.

7. Grenade Launcher- The results I have been getting have been pretty good. Direct hits kill on site and it isn’t a huge power weapon like in Call of Duty. The design looks amazing eventhough it really doesn’t mean much the gun is pretty awesome looking. You can also hold down the RT as you shoot and it wont explode until you let go. I haven’t been able to utilize this properly yet but I know when the moment comes it will be beautiful.

8. Needler- I know I am only going through the new guns but the Needler is worth mentioning. They have cranked up reload speed and fire rate to this light hearted crystal shooting beauty. It is deadly and actually worth picking up in this game. If you don’t believe me wait until you try it out. There is nothing more I can say.

9. Grenades- The grenades do too much damage. They have severely short fuses and most will kill you from just one explosion (contrary from the past 6 years of them hurting your shield but never killing you from just 1). It makes it extremely difficult to evade and I personally think they need to be toned down. with the map sizes and some of the gametypes just made it extremely difficult because you were walking through a mine field.

Gametypes
1. Stockpile- In Stockpile every minute flags spawn and you need to drop them in your bases collection point. After each minute whatever flags are in there are scored. All the way up to 10 and 4 spawn on the maps (I think). This game is an interesting idea and is a nice variation on CTF. My only complaint is that on Power House one of the teams spawn on this hill above the water hole in the center. The enemy team only needs to take the flags that you are waiting to score and throw them into this water hole underneath you guys causing you to waste a ton of time climbing all the way up while they keep scoring.

2. Headhunters-Players collect skulls that drop from enemies that they kill. They pick up the skulls and bring them to a skull drop-off that scores them permanently. As you collect more skulls you get a waypoint over your head with a number letting people know how many skulls you have. If you score 10 all at once you automatically win. This game is a lot of fun but with the scoring point of the skulls always changing you tend to get lost and killed before you can make it there a lot of the time. I don’t think this gametype is anything special but the idea is fun and a great party game.

3.Covenant Slayer-If you played Halo 2 or Halo 3 there was a covenant slayer gametype where you spawned with alien weapons. This kicks it up a notch by making all players elites and changing the loadouts to the Elite only evade armor ability and spawning with a needle rifle or plasma repeater. If you also have played either of those games you will realize how much Elites are hated and thought of as a nuisance. I am keeping open minded because the Invasion game mode that looks awesome is only Spartans vs Elites so you will have to play as an Elite at one point. The Elites are faster and have rechargeable health, but also are much larger than spartans so it will make Invasion interesting but when the whole game is full of Elites than it feels like you are playing a completely different game.

Armor Abilities
1. Jetpack-If you have played Halo 2 or 3 or ODST the jetpacks the Brutes use and they can turn on and off floating around is what you are using. It doesn’t seem to be altered from those versions either. Probably my favorite Armor Ability because you can glide around a lot of the time which is useful because jumping is now weaker. It also stops you from taking big falls if you tap it a little before your landing. (fall damage just hurts your shields a little but extreme falls will kill you…currently at 2 suicides)

2. Sprint-Suprisingly the most unused Armor Ability and actually sort of sucks. Sprinting seems so unnecessary and is pretty useless. It might just be the maps that they gave us but the only time I have seen it and seen it used effectively was some A-hole on Power House running around with the hammer and you would get cracked in the face before being able to defend yourself.

3. Invisibility-This works really well in objective games and is probably second most used armor ability. When you turn invisible though everyone near you has a jammed radar including yourself (a bunch of red dots scattered all over it) and the person invisible can’t hear anything. Hearing has never been a huge part of Halo so this seems pointless to me and when you play split screen it makes everyone deaf making it extremely annoying for all players on your Xbox. I also think the radar shouldn’t jam instead it should be replaced with a slight staticy-haze on the radar so people know a cloaked individual is around or make it so they can’t hide on the radar unless they crouch. The map size might be why I want this change because the radar is filled with dots almost all the time making the radar pointless half the game.

4. Armor Lock-This ability is a bit odd. You hold down the button for the Armor Ability and you are invincible, you can not move and no one can hurt you. If you hold it down all the way you release and EMP blast also. So if a player wipes your shield off you can go into armor lock it will recharge your shield and cause an explosion. Unfortunately players can go into the armor lock for 1-2 seconds if they want and shield themselves momentarily just to stop you from shooting and then pounce on you. I have no complaints about the armor lock except that you should be forced to stay in it for at least half the time.

5.Evade(Elite Only)-Allows players to push in any direction and roll in that direction. This could avoid being stuck by a grenade,dodging a melee, or rolling around an enemy to break their neck. It works really well and keeps you in first person the whole time so it may disorient you but it could save you from being splattered by a vehicle or dodging a tank shell into your chest.

Interesting to point out for Armor Abilities is that if you try using any of them with any objective you will drop the objective. Bungie has obviously made it clear that players can’t run away invisibly with the flag or jetpack away from danger with it either.

The Armory
This feature is very minimal right now because it is the beta and the focus on it for the beta is very small. Basically at the end of every game you earn credits that rank up your character but the credits you earn also work as a currency. You are then able to use the credits to buy new armor pieces for your head,shoulders, and chest.

Along with having enough credits to afford new armor pieces they also require you to hit other prerequisites like a Sergeant rank and 2000 credits to buy this peace.

There have been screens of spartans with camoflauge forearm armor and its leading people to believe and Bungie hinting that the head,shoulders, and chest won’t be the only customization players will have.

ETC
These are just things that I think are worth pointing out:
1. You must wipe the shields off enemies before you can kill them. Meaning a melee on a player with 25% of their shield will not kill them anymore. So change how you approach close range AR fights you Halo 3 veterans.

2. Like I said before you are no longer able to take a grenade blast and keep on trucking so avoid them at all costs.

3. The theatre mode is back so you should try it out. Along with that Bungie has added their Bungie.net system where you could search for videos/maps/screenshots/etc right into the game so try tagging/searching for videos and screenshots to help Bungie fix glitches and see how much stress they can take on the system.

4. You can fiddle around with matchmaking settings that allow you to choose the type of players you want to play with. From chatty to silent and team player to T.O. Bungie is trying to make it so the teabagging d-bags vs teabagging d-bags so support them.

5. No controller scheme is anything like ones from previous Halo games. The most similar to default from Halo 3 is Recon it is the one I use. Basically X switches grenades and LB uses your armor ability. I have touched the X button twice since so its a pretty good scheme.

Stay tuned for our impressions on Invasion mode and Arena.