X10 Report: Halo: ReachBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Feb 11, 2010
What’s the status?
Fresh off of recent single-player reveals in American and European magazines, details about the “last” Halo game developed by Bungie are starting to trickle out. It was announced today that the multiplayer beta promised to purchasers of Halo 3: ODST is coming on May 3rd.
What we saw:
Bungie’s Brian Jarrard and Marcus Lehto were on hand to run us through a list of feature bullet points that were revealed in those magazine features. Namely:
- The game is set in the year 2552 on the planet Reach, which as we all know by now, is completely and utterly doomed. This is the story of the events leading up to the Covenant’s victory which then sets off the chain of events in Halos 1 through 3.
- You’re a fresh addition to a squad of Spartan-IIIs called Noble Team. If you’re not familiar with the Halo fiction, the Spartan-III is smaller and less adept than the Spartan-II (i.e. Master Chief), but that makes them easier and cheaper to train and “produce.”
- As we find out, it also makes them more expendable. You’re replacing a team member that was recently killed, and you join 5 existing members, each of which has a combat specialty like sniper or heavy weapons.
- Bungie is reintroducing the Covenant as a more mysterious and dangerous foe than what we’ve seen with wisecracking grunts. The familiar enemy races have been redesigned from head to toe, with a particular spotlight on the “new” Elite.
- Equipment power-ups that were introduced in Halo 3 are gone, replaced by interchangeable armor enhancements. They only showed us a sprint ability, but we’re going to see a few more in the beta – they seem to be well aware that balancing these enhancements is a top priority.
In a strange case of “something old, something new,” Bungie has completely trashed or otherwise reworked their technological foundation, but everything they’re saying about their design approach indicates that they’re going back to what made the first Combat Evolved so special: wide-open areas for combat with flexible A.I. and a simple, yet deeply balanced weapon and gear system.
Unfortunately, they didn’t really show that off to us today, preferring instead to show us an internal documentary video (“vidoc,” as they call them) and then a quick flythrough of a map in the newly-Alpha build that will be included in this spring’s beta called “Power House.” It was a small/medium-sized map set in a rocky hillside with dilapidated structures that apparently is best suited for arena-type skirmishes. There was nobody to skirmish against when Jarrard went into the actual HUD and first-person play, so he demonstrated the also-revamped sound system (those guns sound LOUD now), grenade explosions, and some pretty sparks generated by bullets hitting concrete.
Even if they didn’t show much in the way of exciting gameplay, the words they’re using to describe this first/last Halo adventure are what I want to hear. My excitement can be best summed up by a quote from composer Marty O’Donnell in the vidoc: “This is the definitive Halo made by the people who created Halo.”