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Halo Reach
Halo Reach Beta Impressions

So I’ve been playing Halo: Reach’s beta since the cool people were let in on May 3rd (I wasn’t offered nor given a chance to play the beta early like so called “Friends & Family” and after this blog I expect Bungie would call me neither) and I’ve got to say, for a beta – this is really pretty poor. I know, there’s a million underpowered Assault Rifles pointed in my direction, but at least let me explain myself. I’ve enjoyed parts of the beta a lot. The new Armor Abilities are a dynamic change of pace to the tried and true gameplay, the menu system is more intuitive and encourages group play, and after the initial hurdle the matchmaking isn’t causing me any grief.

There’s only one aspect that really grinds my gears in the experience, and that would be the map selection. I remember the three Halo 3 maps by heart. Snowbound, High Ground, and Valhalla. Three maps that really would become the best maps in all Halo 3. The latter ones didn’t grip me in the same way, and honestly due to an awfully suspect vetoing mechanic I rarely got to deviate from them in the retail version. But still, each of the maps offered a switch in play style ranging from close quarters to expansive all out ballistics warfare. Reach’s maps…not so much.

We’re given Sword Base, the maker of which should be fired from the development staff and have his resume red flagged (I’m not trying to be mean or over-dramatic, we as an industry just can’t risk him spreading), Power House which can suffer no real complaints as a level only that it’s the ONLY good one to be found, and most recently Boneyard which confines itself to only one game mode. Whereas Halo 3’s beta felt more like a dip into an enjoyable experience thanks to it’s variety (solely in retrospect) in maps, Reach has actually felt like a bit of work.

But the maps are merely the instrument for which the irritation shows itself. Fans of Halo 3 will be hard pressed to find a weapon they click with as much as their beloved Battle Rifle and Assault Rifle combination. Reticle bloom seems to be what this game is trying to innovate with, and I couldn’t complain much about it if the weapons did any sort of damage to a foe’s head. You will get off a couple of shots to your opponents head, and strafe in for the melee kill, only to be jarringly met with two swift melees and a reality check. More than that, the health system supposedly taken from Halo: CE doesn’t really feel like an evolution in much more than frustration. Frag grenades that would merely deplete your shields allowing you to be softened up (even in the previous Halo games) now can kill you with full shields active. A death sentence to almost anyone but a sniper or those who are equipped with the cloak ability.

Your Assault Rifle now shoots pellets that would tickle a fowl, rendering a 12ft Elite hopelessly unamused. You’ll find yourself switching to your pistol at the start of every respawn, overpowering the frightened and confused AR users who hopelessly melee you in an attempt to survive. The DMR itself isn’t a bad weapon, but it cannot be considered a Battle Rifle replacement without the advantage of a headshot kill system. That said, it’s impossible for players in Halo to not figure out interesting ways to kill each other. New power weapons and old favorites like the shotgun and hammer are given new life by the Armor Abilities, giving rise to outrageously dramatic killing sprees.

Bungie has said a number of times that they’re going to be making some important changes to Reach in regards to gameplay before it ships. I just hope they’re the ones that NEED to be changed. I think the future is bright for Halo: Reach as a game, but as a beta, I’m a bit underwhelmed with what Bungie decided to serve up. Bungie, if you’re still reading this, here’s a list of things that are good and bad with this beta.

Pros:

  • + Armor Abilities
  • + Stockpile
  • + Grenade Launcher
  • + Elites
  • + Sword Blocking
  • + Assassinations (but more variety please)

Cons:

  • – Sword Base
  • – Unbalanced Health system (we need HSR)
  • – Weak Melee
  • – Assault Rifle
  • – Being able to headshot each other at the same time

And in case some of you doubt my skill and knowledge of Halo, just watch this video to clear all doubt from your minds.

Halo: Reach Rendered Videos –

UPDATED 5-02-2013 | Bungie no longer hosts videos :(

 

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