Halo Reach Beta Header

The Halo: Reach beta has finally graced our Xbox 360’s with its presence.  We’ve been playing for the last few days, and think it’s great.

Why is that you ask?  Well, allow me to enlighten you.  I’ll be going over the maps, new game modes, weapons, powers, and the game overall.

First things first, lets talk about the menus.  They’re simple and well organized as always, and look pretty sharp to boot.

When you first hop into matchmaking, you can easily see what all of your friends playing Reach are up to.  From there you can either party up or fly solo.

Halo Reach Beta MenuMatchmaking Menu

Before you jump into a lobby, you’re presented with a handful of options.  You can choose your playlist, connection options, as well as social settings.

Playlists are currently limited to Grab Bag, Free For All, and Arena.

Grab Bag features a variety of objective based games, as well as slayer variants like SWAT and Covy (Covenant) Slayer.

Free For All is, like before, lone wolf mode. You’re all by yourself, up against seven other players in a variety of gametypes.

Lastly is the new Arena mode.  Arena is team slayer only, and is where you get to benchmark your skills against the rest of the world.  The mode consists of seasons, which will be approximately one month each when the retail game arrives, according to Bungie.  As of right now, the season is two weeks long, being that the beta won’t be out forever.  The way it works, from what we know now, is that you are given a ranking based on your performance while playing these matches.  How exactly that is calculated is not known, but what is known is that the ranking method is very smart and forgiving.  It takes your three best performances, and that is what determines your ranking.  So, if you manage to go 4-15 one round, it won’t hurt you.  Also, the ranking is solely based on your performance, so if you end up on a team with a bunch of lesser-skilled players, it doesn’t hurt you either.  Good ideas all around for this mode by Bungie.

Maps

As of today, Sword Base and Powerhouse are the only two maps available.  More will be coming as the beta progresses.  Both maps are well made, and I’ve had my fair share of crazy experiences on each of them.

Sword Base

Halo Reach Beta Sword BaseAlso known as Jet Pack City

Sword is such a strange word.  Anyways, this map is all about verticality.  The fastest way between two points is a straight line, and on this map, that way is up or down.  There are rooms, bridges, and stairs everywhere, and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where you are in relation to other points of the map.  This is my only complaint with the map; that it’s just kind of confusing to navigate at times.  Once I had to run a few flags for CTF though, the routes became a little more familiar.  Still though, after playing at least 20-30 matches on it, the layout still isn’t ingrained in my head.

Powerhouse

Halo Reach Beta Powerhouse

The prettier of the two maps, and what seems to be the favorite map of most.  It’s a nicely balanced layout that features many interesting structures.  Most of the fighting seems to occur along the middle or high side of the map.  Powerhouse is a map where using cover effectively is vital, since there’s a lot of it.  After playing it a multitude of times, I haven’t come across any real flaws with it; it’s simply another solid map from Bungie.

Next up – Game Modes / Weapons

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