If you're like me, then you've been looking forward to Halo Reach for quite some time now. Often referred to as Bungie's swan song, millions of gamers will be "remembering Reach" next week. For a handful of Halo fans, though, the launch will be old news as pirates have stolen copies and some retailers have already broken street date.
For the spoiler-wary, these gamers have leaked footage of the ending to the internet as well. Now, there may be some of you Ranters out there that are thinking to yourself, "Sweet! I wish I could play the game early, too!" Well, sorry to disappoint, but the grass isn't always greener. Last Friday, September 3rd, Bungie posted on in their weekly update page that those with pre-release copies of their last Halo game have another thing coming:
Some of you are playing Halo: Reach a little bit early. It happens. With millions of copies out of manufacturing quickly making their way into the massive global retail chain, it’s not terribly uncommon for a few discs to “accidentally” slip into a few lucky customers’ hands. Que sera.
If you count yourself among that lucky few, there are a handful of things you need to be aware of that will likely impact your pre-launch Halo: Reach experience. First, you’re playing in what we consider a test environment. Several key services are disabled, or in various states of fluctuating functionality, and core elements of the game, including big ticket items like matchmaking, credit acquisition, and the daily challenge system are all running at less than optimal levels.
In addition, any Credits you earn during this slim pre-Launch window are going to be summarily and systematically reset prior to launch. Don’t get too attached to any fancy new gear you might have already acquired. Consider any expenditures or investments you’ve made in the Armory the cost of doing business early. It’s nothing personal; we just want to make sure the playing field is kept nice and level upon launch. It's only fair.
On a similar note, I’ve been seeing some chatter about the prospect of mass quantity credit dumps that can be earned through offline play in various game modes. Some of the laziest among us are no doubt already plotting out their path of least resistance, thinking of ingenious new ways to rubber band a controller to achieve a Zen like state of ridiculous effortlessness.
Not so fast. When you escort your offline profile into the wonderful world of Xbox LIVE, our servers will identify your newly connected status and instantly notify you that our online credit scale operates on a completely different level. (That fizzle sound you’re hearing is probably your boosters running out of fuel in an oxygen starved environment. Don’t look down, RocketMan.)
If you choose to remain offline with your decked out profile, you get to keep your ducats and your duds with no questions asked. But should you opt to take this party online, your credits will be reduced significantly and any Armory items that you had previously earned (for which you no longer meet the minimum online credit or rank requirements) will be righteously revoked.
Of course, the credit reduction that occurs when you make the move into cyberspace is completely by design. For players without a connection to the outside world, the system is simply accelerating the credits being awarded to allow them to experience the Armory at a realistically achievable (but decidedly lonely) offline pace. For those who opt for a more social experience, the grind is a little more protracted, but still profoundly fun.
Smart cookies, those Bungie folk. With this last line of defense before Bungie's 10 year stint at Activision, I feel as though I can hear those with a copy of Reach yelling out a colorful assortment of expletives.
If you're one of the lucky few that are facing a reset of your acquired credits and items, look on the bright side: it could be worse. This just means you'll have spend a little more time in the arena before you can unlock Master Chief in the arena. And hey, at least Bungie isn't banning your Xbox Live account - that's no fun for anyone.
What about you, Ranters? Have you ever acquired a pre-release copy of a game you were looking forward to? How do you think Bungie's handling this situation? Would you do anything differently? Hit us up in the comments below.
Halo: Reach launches on September 14th 2010 on the Xbox 360.