The Halo: Reach multiplayer Beta has been open to the public since May 3rd. Bungie has given us several updates to both the Playlist and the code running the Beta in this short amount of time. Most recently we have seen Invasion, Spartans V Elites Slayer, and Network Test 1 (Generator Defense).
Let’s start with
Invasion sets up a sweet six on six (Spartans V Elites) The Spartans are protecting a powerful data core I would imagine akin to smart AI’s like Cortana and the quirky and awesome Superintendent. Now the data cache might not be a witty AI, but it certainly contains the same kind of crucial data. The map (Boneyard) is Bungies largest MP map to date, but it never feels to overwhelming as spawn points change (and you can press up on the D pad for a new spawn point) as the Elites capture one of the three main objective points, each stage of Invasions battle has two objective spots to capture- Capture one and gain a weapon drop from your Covy allies, while Spartans are moved back into the base, and Elites not only gain a weapon drop, but jump forward to where the Spartans were previously held up- trying to fend off the Sangheili Elites. In the third stage of Invasion the Spartans are finally given a weapon drop of their own. No UNSC drop off mind you, just a sweet cache of weapons sitting pretty on the inside of the base 3rd floor center- The UNSC was kind enough to leave the Spartan 3s fighting here a few Spartan Lasers, Rocket Launchers, and Sniper rifles. Now its fair to point out, that the load outs increase over the course of the match, and each stage sees both sides gaining new armor abilities and new weapons, but if your planning on doing any real damage these weapon drops/caches are really where its at. In a final note on all this weaponry goodness, both sides have a garage of vehicular man slaughter waiting to happen. In the final stage of Invasion both sides have pretty much every vehicle you could want to get your sweaty gaming hands on.
Lets just cover the Covy vehicles as this is where my major gripe lay, and to be honest the only difference I can see in the UNSC vehicles is the Hog handles a bit better, and the turrets over-heat. So on to Covenant engineering!
The Ghost- now she is still just as smooth and deadly as ever. No real change seen here, which I can’t say I have a problem with. Hopping in the Ghost is a familiar experience that leads to wicked fun.
The Wraith, this is another of the vehicles that inherently seems to function the same… Though I must warn that the Wraith on Boneyard proves to be nothing more than a giant blue target just sitting hanging out saying “please laser me!”- you see the problem is not with the Wraith but with the design of Boneyard, its just not made to handle the Wraiths slow lobbing plasma cannon, you will often find yourself pinned between a rock and a hard place- Spartans crawling all over your Wraith, someone lobbing nades at you, and another player perched on the walkway connecting the two main buildings getting ready to send you into oblivion with a nice red glow.
Now for the interesting item; the beloved Banshee. The Banshee has long been my favorite vehicle in the Halo series. It really is an awesome feeling to own a level or a map in that wicked purple raven of death. Guess what? All that fun, is frakin GONE! Now before I go into a tangent I am going to point out I strongly believe this is due to Boneyard(and its a Beta), as my main gripe with the Banshee in Reach is not its design or even the fact that it seems to handle less intuitively, its that the sky box ends at the top of the buildings! I mean W..T…F… Bungie! I see the Banshee sitting back at the Covenant insertion point and I run to it like I’ve got a case of Beatles mania for this covenant aircraft. I arrive at the Banshee, hop in, slam the left trigger down ready to fly away and bring death to my enemies- Alas said plan did not come to fruition as I began to ascend into the sky’s of Reach, I almost instantly run into an invisible wall! So, being that the building at the middle ground on Boneyard extends from one end of the map to the other; the only option is to take said Banshee underneath the building and into the mess of a fight taking place on the other side. So being that you can never rise above your enemies enough to use the Banshee as we know it, this frakin amazing piece of Covy tech is a wasted floating purple target and nothing more on Invasion. I have seen more people get kills by splattering peeps than painting them with plasma shots. Now I like to hope this is due to it being a Beta, and Bungies desire to test the hell out of things to ultimately have the most balanced games in the multiplayer FPS landscape. In the end I think the Banshee will be the incredible amount of fun it always has been, trust in Bungie guys… I do.
Spartans V.S. Elites or Humans V.S. Sanghelios-
Now for the most part there is only two types of Halo players. The type that never loads the campaign, could care less that John 117 is really a kidnapped child(one of many) raised by the military, brainwashed, and surgically altered- only to still become humanity’s last great hope(what’s that say about humanity). Then their is the breed of player who lives for the fiction, can’t get enough of the Halo universes mystery’s. “Is that Onyx at the end of Halo 3?” “Will Johns Spartans be re-united?”
Lastly there is a very special breed of Halo player that we have seen evolving recently, thank you kindly Waypoint. This player loves both the fiction and Halo’s special flavor of game play/MP. So, beside the obvious a fore mentioned game mode (invasion) fans of both MP and Halo Fiction have been given a hell of a treat in the form of Spartans V.S. Elites.
This is traditional Slayer; four Spartans stand against four Elites, and by Odin is it a battle for the ages. The Elites appear to have the upper hand with fast re-charging shields, health that recharges on its own, faster speed, and the wicked evade ability. The Spartans seemingly at a major disadvantage have some tricks up there sleeves as well. Spartans are more maneuverable, now this may seem a contradiction as I just pointed out that Spartans are slower than Elites. The fact is, if you get mid to close range and your using a Spartan- you 9 times out of 10 have the upper hand. First off, sprint in close and go for the double melee, or spray them with the pistol- then melee. The Sangheili being the giants they are(shorter melee as well) tend to have trouble keeping up with the agile Spartans. When you close the distance between the two, unless the Elite your fighting can really work that evade, Spartan always has the advantage. The same goes for distance though, I have found playing Elites at a distance from the Spartans has proven far more effective, in this situation you can get cover and use that re-charging health to your advantage and just take your time picking them off across the map, or covering your crazy team mates that are deep in the MP fray.
Sadly in the end, much of this will likely change, as Bungie has stated they are trying to test how large the gap is between Spartans and Elites. I have to say I can’t get enough of the SvE game type. Every match I feel closer to the Halo fiction than I ever did fighting fellow Spartans.
Finally we come to Generator Defense (Network test 1)-
This is the most recent of the play list updates. Generator defense is similar to Invasion in that the Spartans must hold off the invading Elites, and defend the three generators keeping the lights on and the 360’s running in the Spartan base near-by. This game type is fraking tons of fun, now I have only been able to dump a few hours into it and even being plagued with lag- I can’t say enough about how fun this game type is. The three generators sit at specific locations across this beautiful map “Overlook” (by far my favorite map yet). The Spartans need to lock these bad boys down, which only takes a quick hit of the X button against the generator and BAM! Lockdown for 30 seconds, no harm shall come to said generator in this time. By the way readers its pretty hilarious watching a Sangheili try and destroy a generator that’s locked down. So, to all my P*N family, and readers; if its locked down, leave it, kill the damned humans or go after another location your simply making all the other Sangheili look bad. Another thing to keep in mind about Generator Defense is the weapon drops which occur shortly after the match begins. This weapon drop is another from the good ol UNSC, but the pilots apparently can’t figure a way to drop the weapons in close proximity to the Spartans as they land in one of a hand full of locations just far enough away from both teams but giving neither a real advantage to getting them first. Now it may appear initially that the Spartans can get to the weapons first, but let me be clear, this is not accurate- the Elites certainly can get to them at damn near the same time, so I strongly recommend which ever race your playing as you keep an eye on the possible opponent that could be showing up at the weapon drop your after(before you go for the drop). Sure, if its all clear, then by all means snatch that Laser or Rocket launcher. Last tip for GenDefense is an obvious one, TEAMWORK! This is all about teamwork, and situational awareness. Know the maps layout, know where your squad is, and know where the opposition is.
So obviously I love Generator Defense, but does it have issues? Hell yes…. The thing is, I have trouble bitching about this because Bungie was so frakin awesome they named the play list “network test 1” as a not so subtle msg (saying the net code is going to struggle) but guess what folks; that’s right- IT’S A BETA! Bungie, is as usual being excellent in there testing methods. So to my main gripe, “Lag” I say deal with it folks(sometimes its not noticeable) because this play list was given to us for that very reason; to resolve the lag, and other minor issues. Now for the minor issues, the generators can be locked down by pressing X when your standing next to one as I had previously mentioned. My problem here is, that when the Spartan team actually knows what they are doing its damn near impossible to get the generators. In other words if you dedicate yourself to locking down said generators, and not to killing the incoming Elites- then I can almost guarantee a win every time. This brings me to another point of great interest; no carnage report after the match. Now I am not sure if Bungie is doing this intentionally to promote teamwork, and observance of the objectives(less kills more generator diligence) or if it is a glitch caused by the over worked net code (maybe just missing on purpose to strain the net code less?) I’m leaning toward my first suggestion. Either way, this is probably one of the best things to come along in the HaloMP universe since co-op or man cannons. So I’m telling you folks get online and stress that net code- I want a lag free drop to Reach this fall.
Here at Platform Nation we have talked at length on Podcasts and in articles about the many issues the Beta has, and its countless strong points. Most recently we talked about Bungies weekly update Bungie Talks Beta Issues and how they were nailing down almost every single complaint. Well they are at it again, not just detailing the fixes and letting you know they know not everything is perfect, they have even implemented some fixes mentioned from last weeks update! So again bravo to Bungie for being so on top of every issue and not giving the mouth breathers much time to spout nonsense about the game being eternally broken and they will just go back to their Modern Warfare 2(awesome game btw). First I have to say, please go back to your MW2 and stay there. Second, it’s a freaking Beta people, we are making the game we love so very much that much better. Best part is if the beta is this frakin excellent and they are fixing this much now, imagine what they will accomplish in the time between the Beta’s end and launch? Food for thought, now go read Bungie Talks Beta Issues 2 (weekly update)
Just make sure to have fun while you do it.
The war for Reach continues until Wednesday. Then we will just have to fight on other fronts (ODST/HALOWARS/H3) until this fall.