Halo: Reach First Look

Bungie gives a brief glimpse at a multiplayer map appearing in the Reach beta.

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At today's X10 event, Bungie community manager Brian Jarrard and creative director Marcus Lehto took some time to give a little more information on the company's next entry into the popular Halo series--Halo: Reach. This prequel takes place on a planet called Reach, which not only happens to be humanity's last line of defense between Earth and invading Covenant forces, but is also home to the Spartan program--the same program that produced Master Chief. But since we know what eventually happens to Reach (explored in the Halo novel, The Fall of Reach), Bungie wants to give everything a generally darker and grittier tone while executing a story that revolves around honor and sacrifice.

You play as a member of Noble Six, a squad of Spartans battling Covenant forces on Reach. Lehto points out that the Spartans in this squad are actually different from Master Chief in that he's a Spartan 2 model whereas Noble Six are Spartan 3 models. As such, they're less advanced technologically than Master Chief, but what they lack in his abilities they make up for with teamwork and an ability to adapt to situations and modify themselves (as shown by Cat's robotic arm) to survive. We then got a brief introduction to the members of Nobel Six, many of whom we've already met, but there was one new detail: Jorge, the tank of the group who carries all of the heavy firepower, is the only Spartan in the group who has Spartan 2 credentials.

Bungie is definitely using Reach to explore some of the unknown background of the Spartans, but it's also using the game as an opportunity to reintroduce the Covenant, starting with the Elites. Bungie wants to make them feel as though they truly are formidable opponents seemingly to the extent that you would feel some kind of dread whenever they appear onscreen. Other enemy types are being upgraded, but there will also be a group of enemies that didn't appear in other Halo games because they were made extinct through the battles on Reach.

Lehto then went into greater detail about things the team is doing on a technical level to achieve the epic scale that it's aiming for, and it sounds like the team has done quite a bit. Just about every facet of the Halo engine has been torn down and rebuilt to accommodate everything from more detail in the character models and environments to better animation and sound. In terms of character model improvements, we actually got to see a visual representation of the progression with an image that showed a version of a marine from the original Halo through Halo: Reach, and the level of added detail in the Reach version of the marine is pretty astounding. Another impressive aspect of Halo: Reach--at least on a visual level--is just how massive the environments are. We got a brief glimpse of a few of them (and a closer look at a multiplayer map), and the view distance is pretty astounding.

Of course, part of the reason these environments are so much larger is that Bungie is aiming for an epic scale for the battles. At one point in the video documentary we were shown (which will be released on Xbox Live tomorrow), one of the members of Bungie said that with the new engine, a battle can theoretically accommodate four Spartans, eight marines, and 30 Covenant enemies. At the same time, Bungie wants to reinforce that these battles and indeed the entire game are designed to be a sandbox, meaning that there won't be a whole lot of scripted events. The development team wants you to feel like you can approach a situation in any number of different ways and experience the results based on the approach that you take.

When the video documentary ended, we jumped into a real-time demonstration of a multiplayer map called Power House, which will be a part of the Halo: Reach beta when it launches on May 3 (and it will be available to those who own Halo 3: ODST). Lehto explained that all of the multiplayer maps are taken directly from the single-player campaign, but in the case of Power House, the multiplayer version takes place during the daytime whereas the single-player incarnation is a nighttime affair. The first thing that comes to mind when viewing this map is just how massive this desert canyon-like setting is, but there also appear to be plenty of close-quarter areas within the power plant area of the map.

We then moved to a super-close-up of a single Spartan standing in the environment, and we mean super-close-up--we could even see the fine lettering on the stock of the Spartan's rifle. It's here that we also got a demonstration of how the sound has been overhauled. The Spartan squeezed off a few rounds from the new rifle (explained as a revision of the typical Halo battle rifle that has medium to long range), and immediately we heard thunderous gunfire followed by booming explosions of grenades. All of these adjustments in sound are meant to make the weapons in Halo: Reach have more impact and feel much more powerful than they did before. We then got a quick glimpse of the needle rifle, which looks like a much more beefed-up version of the standard needler. We learned a few other details during this audio demonstration, including that health packs will be back and used as incentive to get people exploring more of the environment.

But the biggest detail about multiplayer is that in Halo: Reach you can hold onto equipment that you find and use it repeatedly, whereas in Halo 3 you could use it only once and were done with it. This was demonstrated to us with the sprint upgrade, which allows you to run for a finite amount of time. If you exhaust the meter shown at the bottom left of the screen, you need to wait for it to recharge before you can start sprinting again. There will be a cross-section of upgrades available when the beta goes live so people will be able to try them out and give their feedback to Bungie. The Reach beta will also include a few different maps as well as a few different match types, but Bungie wouldn't go into specifics about what will be there. But the team does view the beta as an opportunity for Halo's biggest fans to jump in and essentially tear it apart to find things that they like or don't like about what Bungie is doing.

Overall, the amount of work Bungie is putting into Reach seems to fall in line with what it calls "the definitive Halo game." While the impressive changes to the visuals and sound are already immediately apparent, we're interested to see how they have trickled down to other aspects of the game, like the AI. We'll be sure to have much more coverage of Halo: Reach as the beta approaches and before the game's release later this year.

Discussion

253 comments
KONEBOX
KONEBOX

Halo Reach is going to own! These abilities are all mixed with weapons old and new to create lots of loadouts for each map, so halo reach offers a lot of quality MP gameplay. It's very handy to lurk in dark corners with a plasma sword.

irwin888
irwin888

Bungie has earned my respect numerous times over and they don't seem to be going anywhere but up. Thank you!

cheddar95
cheddar95

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

rouguesquadron
rouguesquadron

I'm glad that you'll be playing as a Spartan again, in fact playing as a Spartan III will make the whole Halo experience feel new again. My one hope for the game is that it's not a blatant retelling or Eric Nylund's book, if Bungie can pull off a unique story in an area of Halo lore that's already been visited than the game should be great.

Arkady_16
Arkady_16

My personal favourite is and always will be the first halo but im still looking forward to this, should be great. Hoping Fred or Kelly will make a appearance. ODST was my second favourite though I wish they would of stuck closer to lore for what a ODST is and not made them feel like a spartan III or II.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

sounds like they played Crysis and then said, maybe we should make something more like that...

devilgammer
devilgammer

WHOO HOO!! HALO REACH RULES! If the campaign and oher stuff is great, then the only haters left are total idiots who don't have any intention to buy the game. I guess these haters go by trends. They obviously never picked up a Halo game box before. Dumbasses... Well LONG LIVE HALO!! WOO

EgoAttacker
EgoAttacker

if this game is as good as it looks in this vid then halo:reach will be amazing, i hope it doesnt turn out like ODST did though... P.S. long live halo indeed blackleather223!

blackleather223
blackleather223

Of course everything else would look better after Halo 1 cause the graphics where terrible imo and then Halo 2 and 3 and 3 imo was better then 2 so it should mean that this next one would be better then all of these imo. This game does look great and I hope that even though it will be a beta thaat the graphics on it looks great just like the pics in the video do. Long live Halo.

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@slicedbread117 Totally right on there! Completely the right idea. Gamertag: FENCER12, thx - will definetely send an invite when I've got my 360 back up and running [the gods hate me, so they gave me a red ring as a curse]. Awesome chatting, sleep well - "Dream of halo", rofl. Long Live - and I "salute"...

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

@SirMordredX i agree with you in every way....this game is gonna put all those haters in there place gamertag is: black knife720 send a request and we'll play some good 'ol halo baby but i'll ttyl man....good chat and sleep well...long live halo :)

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@slicedbread117 Exactly my thoughts, maybe 100/10 - who knows, I'm just left gaping after each trailer, and every clip of the soundtrack makes my heart race, ready for action - can't get my mind off it, not that I'd want to...and as for SGT. Johnson, if anyone, he would be the one to sort out haters - they'd be cowering like grunts after two seconds in his presence.

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

@SirMordredX your 100% right dude and Reach is gonna be the greatest of em all 11/10 my guess.....bungie's goin out with a bang....sgt. johnson would be proud

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@slicedbread117 Yeah like I know, they just need to some carbine rounds to the back to get their heads cleared - I loved Halo 2 and 3....both 10/10 games, Halo haters have no reasoning behind what they say, period.

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

@SirMordredX arnt u just sick of all those a-holes saying that halo 2 and 3 werent good...i mean come on!

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@slicedbread117 Hey same here! Great to see there's still some common sense left in this world...

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

@SirMordredX i love u till the world ends....GO HALO!!!!!

mattman127
mattman127

To be honest I thought Halo CE and ODST were the only good ones. This looks amazing though, I just hope the story doesn't blow.

xNinjaKingx
xNinjaKingx

@Dtrav o i knew that! isnt that what usually happens on the battle field? less experinced/trained get on the map but w/ more weps right? so 1 got dope skills the other got betta tech~

jarredlee
jarredlee

why do i get the strangest feeling that this will be like halo 3 ODST but with spartans where u walk around a small map looking through the past for diffrent members of ur squad

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

This will be D game for my 360...any 360.. lol awesome!!

Keabard
Keabard

omg, another halo game... i was playing halo before some people in here were born.

Blazenglory
Blazenglory

someone explain to me.......do i need the odst multiplayer disc to get the beta? or was there a code in the game box? i really wanna play it but i traded odst in after beatin campaign.

skywalkerforce
skywalkerforce

Im so excited for this game, there is nothing more I want to play right now than this. I'm mostly a PS3 gamer but I did buy and 360 mostly for Halo. My 360 is used only for Halo, Gears of War, Fable, Lost Planet and Mass Effect. As I love all of these games Halo is 75 percent of the reason I got it and that's a pretty big deal for someone to buy a system mainly for one game series. Super stoked!

leobaldw
leobaldw

mannnn... i'm so exited for this one i have all the halo games i got kind of disappointed with odst but this one looks great congrats bungie!!!!

billaboy69
billaboy69

the Halo series is so succesfull now,along with the game biz,that companies have no trepedations about sinking lots of money in to further make the games come out faster and better.they know this game will make a profit even it sucks based on past releases.This game looks so freakin sweet.glad they raised their own bar

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

Bungie will succeed - they never fail in my book, not with Marathon - not with Pathways, and not with Halo. Must get on my list. First spot. P.S. I really don't care about haters anymore, their comments have just resorted to annoyances and boring same old "Halo Sucks...because it's called Halo" comments. ....CAN'T HOLD...ON-MUST......FLAME! @damaster101 YOU ARE A LOSER, Halo 2 and 3 were brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLUS ALL SONY HALO HATERS GO TO HELL! END FLAME. Anyway, I believe this will be great, even better if they tie it in with "Fall of Reach", the first book - I'd love to see people like Fred and Linda make small cameos - heck, having CP Mendez would be even better. Long Live Bungie - Love those guys.

Amz1217
Amz1217

looks like halo: reach is shaping up to be something great....keeping an eye out for this one

wookie560
wookie560

I game even PS3 owners are excited about

shaunk89
shaunk89

If you play as a Spartan-III, as opposed to a Spartan-II like the MC, does that mean you get the SPI camo armour that they have in the books? If so, that would rock. But it doesn't look that way, sadly....

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

When you perform a 'Stealth Kill' the camera shifts to 3rd person perspective, nice!

DamnedApples
DamnedApples

@kardon16 Luckily I'm very patient. I train myself to forget about a game--if it's not at the top of my list--so that a year and a half after its release, I'll notice it sitting on the shelf with a $30-40 price tag ;) (I waited for 2.5 years before picking up an Xbox) Besides that, I hope this game has knifing. I never got why that guy in ODST carried one and only used it in a cut scene. It would be a nice way to conserve ammo and hit up some stealth kills.

Kaixa23
Kaixa23

@ Jshaw71 If you don't want to play as a Spartan, try Halo 3 ODST

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

halo seems to love it's spartans, I would mind playing as a marine myself, i would give more of a challenge then hiding behind shields all the time...

Saajko
Saajko

wow I have a PS3, and I have some pretty good games but this looks like a very good Xbox game I am contemplating getting an Xbox for this and Splinter Cell Conviction 2 Xbox games I really want!

kardon16
kardon16

@DamnedApples be warned halo games price drop slowly, even the used ones

DamnedApples
DamnedApples

A sprint button--I'm sold (well, after it gets a price drop)

hellpolice
hellpolice

I agree this does look good and exiting kind like it was when the first Halo came out.

sirbargearse
sirbargearse

I'm so looking forward to the move to get back into the spirit of the very first Halo. The feeling of playing that first open planet level in Halo 1 has never been repeated since... till now perhaps! Bring it on.

damaster101
damaster101

This actually looks like a good halo game everything after the first halo has been incredibly s***. Looking far forward for Reach

damaster101
damaster101

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Stormuser
Stormuser

I've been waiting for this for a long while, And I'm stoked...

2x4b96123
2x4b96123

two things currently annoying the hell out of me. the sony fanboys who are managing to think this looks like a carbon copy of previous halo games. and those Halo fans who probably started with Halo2/3 and are confounded as to why bungie is making one far more in the spirit of the original than it's sequels despite the fact that the Halo2 formula has long run dry, brutes suck, dual weilding sucks, covenant vehicles, ships and enemies looking like blobs and giant guns in the sky sucks. Outdoor levels being a big corridor sucks, elites that speak english in a retard accent suck. REALLY looking forward to this one, this looks like the one i've been waiting for since the original