By most accounts, it's looking like Halo: Reach will mark Bungie's final game in the popular first-person shooter franchise. So what kind of parting gift should we expect from a developer so well known for keeping a strong relationship with its fans? In short: the gift of creative freedom. By overhauling the customization potential in Forge and Firefight, Bungie is looking to let players continue to put their own spin on Reach for quite a long time.
We'll start with Forge. This tool was introduced in Halo 3 as a means for users to take preexisting maps and tinker around with parameters like spawn points and weapon locations to their own liking. But it quickly became used as a means for creating new maps from scratch with the release of new blank-canvas maps like Foundry and Sandbox. Bungie likened this process to building a house from a deck of cards, because while Halo fans have been able to use the tool to make some pretty fantastic maps, that was never its original intention.
With Halo: Reach, Bungie wants to make sure that Forge is a much more accommodating experience for power users. Improvements to the user interface range from the ability to fuse one object with another, to nudging the position of an object down to the most minute of measurements. But what really caught our eye is the new flagship map, Forge World. It's by far the biggest map that Bungie has ever made. Way off to one end of the map, in what seems like a small corner, is the entire geography from the Halo 2 Coagulation map.
We were also given a chance to play through some more Firefight, which we previously saw last month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was then that we covered one of the big new features in Firefight, which is the expansive customization suite. Like creating custom multiplayer variants in Halo 3, Reach will let you create custom Firefight modes by adjusting a truly absurd number of parameters. This includes basic options, like which enemies come in which waves, but you can also adjust things like the hearing of your enemies and even their "shootiness" (the word Bungie uses to describe the frequency of an enemy's trigger finger).
All of the Firefight variants you'll find in Halo: Reach were created with this same customization system, which the average Joe can use. Bungie showed us one of the new Firefight types it was especially proud of, a mode called Versus. This mode takes the familiar setup of player-controlled good guys versus waves of AI-controlled bad guys and twists it in a really interesting way. In Versus, you have two player-controlled Spartans versus two player-controlled Elites who get to fight alongside AI-controlled Covenant. At the end of each round, the pairs swap sides to see who can score the most points while playing as the Spartans.
We walked away impressed with what Bungie had to show. There's a wealth of potential for fans to create crazy new maps in Forge World and combine that with the custom multiplayer mode variants that were introduced in Halo 3. Unlimited jetpack fuel modifier enabled on a ground-free map? Yes, please. Likewise, the extent of customization in Firefight should make for some pretty fun potential as well. Stay tuned for more coverage coming soon.