Halo Reach Beta Impressions

I love me some Beta testing!

Seriously, I do. I’ve done a few Beta tests for mostly unknown PC titles. Some never saw the light of day (I’m pointing my disappointed finger at you Need for Speed Online!) some became ridiculous beasts beyond their humble beginnings (My love/hate relationship with Counter-Strike).

Some of the more enjoyable betas I’ve played are mod betas like Counter-Strike, MMO betas including the first Guild Wars and Shin Megami Tensei Online. But by far the most enjoyable beta experience has been beta testing for Bungie in the Halo 3 beta. I had briefly played Halo 2 over Xbox Live a lot of great nights of Capture the Flag complete with high-pitched screams from my…”teammates.” The Halo 3 beta felt more than just a test, it was a fully fleshed out game that I could have played for forever without knowing what I was missing.

With the Halo Reach beta, included with ODST, it feels like coming home to an old friend. Here’s what’s wonderfully nostalgic about the Reach beta.

  • Slayer is always fun.
  • The assault rifle is as useless as ever
  • Magnum pistol!

But what else can I say about the tech that is going into Reach? There’s a weird time flux about it. Something about having the same Assault Rifle and weapons that feel similar to what is available in both Halo 3 and ODST but are somehow…older. The Designated Marksman Rifle is single shot only and looks similar in appearance to the favorite Battle Rifle, but I find it is immensely superior. Accuracy is dictated by rate-of-fire and movement but the zoom is significantly better than the BR’s. It also has a lot less kick than the BR, making single shot take downs real nice from mid to long range.

If you get the chance to play the beta or can wait until Reach launches, keep an eye out for the DMR as well as these new weapons:

  • Focus Rifle – Kind of like the Jackal’s beam rifle, but a bit like a Spartan Cannon too. You get the idea.
  • Needle Rifle – Long range Needler. Pink mist from afar!
  • Grenade Launcher – Shoots either impact grenades or user controlled detonation. Looks pretty awesome too.
  • Plasma Launcher – It launches homing plasma grenades. Homing Stickies. Stickies that follow you.

In addition to the new weapons there are also five abilities that you can select per life. My personal favorite is the sprint ability which is very handy in CTF. Aside from the Jet Packs which everybody has seen, there is the Armor Lock ability similar to when Master Chief uses the bubble shield in that famous Halo 3 trailer. Other abilities is the Elite Evade which can be seen in campaign mode and Active Camouflage.

Next I’m going to talk about is Assassinations. Gamers love those pre-scripted animations be it disarms, vehicle hijacking or in this case, assassinations. If you get the drop on another player you can hold the melee button to begin an assassination attempt. It leaves you vulnerable to other attacks, but it really rubs it in the face of whoever you just shanked.

Finally, I absolutely appreciate the new matchmaking criteria that is going into the game. I’m a player that is not particularly chatty and I dislike playing with intensely serious players. It ruins the fun-factor for me. Reach allows players to search by not only skill level, but also chattiness and how competitive the player may be. The result is players who play the same way you do and don’t want to knock down your reputation for going on a killstreak against them.

The Reach beta ends on May 19th so I hope you get a chance to play. Enjoy it, its a unique opportunity to be involved in the testing phase, even at a limited capacity. And with that I leave you with E! personality Aisha Tyler, who is an avid Halo fan, gamer and voice actress for Halo Reach.

Halo Reach Beta Breakdown – The Weapons – IGN.com

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