Halo: Reach Firefight Mode Hands-On

We take on wave after wave of Covenant soldiers armed with nothing but an endless supply of heavy explosives in our first look at this upcoming multiplayer mode for Reach.

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Halo 3: ODST was an extremely well-received jaunt into the Halo universe, and one of the best aspects of it was the highly enjoyable Firefight mode where groups of players took on increasingly difficult waves of Covenant enemies. Fans of the mode will naturally be pleased to know that Firefight is indeed making it into the next adventure in the series--Halo: Reach--complete with some significant changes that could potentially make it the multiplayer mode of choice for serious Halo fanatics.

At a Microsoft E3 2010 event tonight that unveiled Firefight, Bungie developers said that fan feedback on ODST played a crucial part in redesigning the mode and were happy to report that one of the major requests from players--full matchmaking support--would be available for Firefight in Reach. It will also make use of the new matchmaking features planned for the upcoming Halo prequel, including active rosters and queue joining, and would be available either as four players via Xbox Live or locally via two-player split-screen.

The other major change to the way Firefight works in Reach has to do with customization--namely, that Bungie has added a ton of options that players can tweak and change to their heart's content. The list of options that could be optimized is substantial and includes determining wave properties (what types of enemies attack, which skulls are active, and the tough foes they'll face in "boss" rounds), match duration (all the way up to infinite), weapon drops, core player stats (such as health, speed, jump, and so on), and even the ability to create custom skulls. Up to three skulls can be made for a match, with the skulls able to affect player or enemy traits.

The new Firefight will also feature some new game types--two that we played at the Microsoft event were generator defense and rocketfight. Generator defense may be familiar to those who took part in the recent Reach multiplayer beta (where it was revealed as Network Test1) and sees teams having to protect a series of generators from the Covenant. Rocketfight is exactly what it sounds--unlimited rockets against your enemies, and it was a great mode to play (if more than a little chaotic).

Finally, our gameplay session tonight revealed a few new weapons and one new armor ability. The target locator allows you to select an enemy or location to "paint," which then sends a barrage of fire down upon it from orbiting ships, while the concussion rifle is a Covenant weapon that fires explosive bursts of plasma (that can easily chew through shields). The fuel rod gun was also quite beefy, shooting out projectiles with explosive results. As for armor, we saw the new drop shield, a prototype bubble shield found in the medic loadout. Once deployed, the drop shield creates a barrier around the Spartan soldier that can take a limited amount of damage, as well as heal any fellow Spartans within its radius.

While the Bungie reps at tonight's event were happy to talk about Firefight, they were less forthcoming about other multiplayer modes expected for Halo: Reach. But with several months still to go before its release, you can expect more news on this front soon. Keep it locked to GameSpot for more news on Halo: Reach.

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