Halo Reach Overview: Weapons, Maps, Game Types, And Elements

By EW Snip3down


First Impressions: Halo Reach Beta (now with pictures!)

So I heard they’re testing a new Halo game?Sorry dude, you  may be a little late to the party, but I’ll try to compensate with a piece-by-piece summary of the multiplayer beast so far, crafted with tender love and care by a gamer you can relate to. Well…

It’s difficult to describe how similar and yet unerringly different this is to Halo 3. The look, pace of play and tactics are all pretty similar, although the two current, medium sized maps – absolutely perfect for the current batch of game types – are naturally quick with eight players. The vibrancy of the new graphic engine also ramps up the thrill factor, with individual muzzle flashes for each shot, bigger, prettier explosions and the much-marvelled assassinations creating an at once chaotic and yet comfortably balanced game; the weapons are interesting and fun, but even in the beta stage I found them of equal use where I could find them (there was a bouncing grenade launcher and the Sniper which I only found once on one map, and a massive eff-off Plasma Launcher which I found once on each), and the means of movement around the maps make for more open, free-roaming play; I’ve often found myself circling the maps with my team in slayer, and objective-based games are a lot more interesting with multiple stories and paths on each map. The limited respawns of heavy weapons with quick games also mean that there is way less whoring and way more focus on the sword and hammer, which incidentally aren’t on the same map. I mention this because it means that everyone, including me, seems to stick with the assault rifle and adopt either a DMR (slightly better BR with some kickback) or a Needler Rifle (like the H3 Carbine but with BR rate of fire, and if you fire 3+ time to take their shields down, the next shot explodes) for most of the game, picking heavies up where you find them or for a quick boost to flag defence etc. Tactically, this game is much, much better.
You’ll probably also want to know about the assassinations, though there isn’t too much to say. Basically, holding the melee button (now RB) behind a player converts your beat-down into a slower but ever-so-flashy ninja knife kill on whichever region of the body you’re closest to. Pretty much for showing off when there’s no-one else nearby, which actually happens quite a bit in the numerous paths and corridors – like I say, there’s a great balance between massive team harangues where everyone launches into a small area, and the frantic spray-and-beat-down 1-v-1′s. They might also give you some extra credits, who knows. I guess I should talk about that too.
Reach’s own personal mini-mart, The Armory, and the credits now gained mainly for kills and their medals (comparatively few are for actually winning, which is nice. Not that I don’t win much. :P ), are a welcome replacement for the achievement-based system of collecting showy (but ultimately useless) armour from the previous game. Ranks for matching people up remain, which the credits work you towards, but the armour you now buy (you start with one of a few themes for the helmet, left/right shoulder and chest plate, then upgrade it) actually means something, boosting a specific ‘Loadout’. Talking of which…

Loadouts are perhaps the most interesting new aspect of an otherwise familiar-feeling experience, and despite all ‘perk’ reservations, they do much to enhance it. Now I’m sorry, COD fans, but perks are awful. Some are overpowered, some are pointless, some are incredibly annoying, and no shooter should be based around picking ‘the best’ combinations. Here you pick one of the four – Scout (sprint), Guard (‘armour lock’), Stalker (camo) or Airborne (jet pack) – at the start of a match, and then change when you die, if you fancy. You activate a power with LB, and it has a ‘wheel’ as seen with the Arbitor’s camo which runs down and then recharges, although it lasts a lot longer and can be used even if it isn’t full.
Now, I’ve talked about tactics a lot, but no-where else is is so apt. Scout is perfect for something like CTF as you can chase flag-capturers, but has applications anywhere; equally though, I have a habit of running everywhere and getting myself noticed/shot, a lot. Equally Guard lets you charge in, kill people and then make yourself invulnerable, if immobile, stopping you from dying, providing a distraction and letting allies come to your aid; of course, you are immobile, and people can stand behind you and hit you in the back, the meanies. The jetpack doesn’t let you float around wherever you like as in the Battlefront games (thankfully), rather arcing up and coming down in your chosen direction, and at your chosen height. It’s good for moving about and you can dive bomb people with a bit of practice, but you’re also a sitting duck for the medium-range weapons. Finally, Stalker’s camouflage is difficult to spot and really useful for sneaking about and stealing flags, assassinating people Etc; but be careful that no-one sees you putting it on, don’t run straight at people (it isn’t infallible), and remember that it’s only useful for approaching a firefight: although it stays when you fire, it goes down when you take hits, and firing a big ol’ gun will get you noticed anyway.
The great thing is that while all have interchangeable uses, all are nonetheless useful in certain ways in any situation. This gives you something of a role in a team, as you tend to play to the strengths of your loadout to go and do certain things, whether you tell each other or just go lone wolf. This inherent team-play aspect is another boost to tactics over solo craziness (you have free-for-all to cater for that Oddball-obsessed need).
Overall? I wasn’t expecting huge changes from Halo 3, but the preliminary result here is pleasing. I can’t really make a proper judgement until the other maps and gametypes come out (I’ll keep the ‘Brood periodically updated), but what I’m currently seeing is the fun but thinking-game Halo that I used to love, before it became almost as skill-obsessive as COD.
Update: Elites seem to have been introduced to ‘Grab Bag’ (mixed) slayer, or I’d just missed them before. :P They’re pretty cool. There were two loadouts, either starting with a Repeater or a Needler Rifle, and both have a two-use per charge roll that makes sniping an already tougher enemy that much harder. It’s the old ‘taller/bulkier but faster/stronger’ conundrum, but ultimately you’re assigned either a Spartan or Elite character anyway. Haven’t played Spartan vs Elites yet, will report back.

I know right, long ‘impression’, and I’ve talked about weapons a bit already; I sort of had to. This is a slightly more specific overview. :)  Oh, by the way, did I mention that there’s no dual wielding? Another brilliant move to increased pace and weapon simplification, if you ask me….now uses lines to break up the massive wall of text:
M6G Pistol – basically the same as the previous two games: pretty close in power to the H1 classic, but looks and sounds a bit pathetic. You start with it and it’s good for head shots, but I find it not to be as accurate or quite as powerful as the fairly plentiful rifles, so it’s pretty low on my list. scratch that, it’s great for a quick switch-and-blast when you run out of AR ammo before you kill someone, and it’s decent at distance. I actually quite like it!
Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) – the souped-up Battle Rifle. Slower but more powerful, it’s technically semi-automatic but perfect for head shots, as it takes three or four to kill from full shields. Just edges the NR as my weapon of choice.
M45 TS Shotgun – identical to the previous one, as far as I could see. That still means ‘ultimate short-range weapon’, naturally.
M310 Individual Grenade Launcher – like I say, I haven’t used this much, but I am reliably informed that you can time grenades and lay them down as proximity mines. I haven’t seen it used much yet, but that’s gotta be the CTF game-swinger.
MA37 Assault Rifle – old faithful, the low to medium range starter weapon that kills everything with relative reliability. Less powerful than I remember it in Halo 3, but still probably responsible for half of my kills thus far. :P
System 99D AM Sniper Rifle – only used fairly briefly, but seems the same as before – one shot takes shields, the second kills. The trusty device of long-range deliverance.
M6 Spartan Laser – not yet in the beta but assuredly coming, it should be identical.
M41 SSR Rocket Launcher – what can I say, it blows things up. No word on vehicle-tracking as there haven’t been any yet, but it’s a matter of days.
Frag grenade – seems to do more damage, have a bigger area of effect and be heavier, which I love. I used to launch them all over the place and pick them up all over; now they’re more scarce and deadly, I launch them (buzzword alert) tactically and they actually kill people. My new best friend.
Plasma Repeater – the new Plasma Rifle, and would you believe it, it’s actually decent this time. More powerful but slows down rather than speeds up the longer you fire it for, until it has to sort of reload the plasma instead of the old overheating. I pick these up over the assault rifle now when I find them.
Plasma pistol – like I say, I haven’t used this at all, and they’re abundant. Maybe tomorrow. Seriously though, I can’t imagine how it could be better than any of the various other, widely available weapons, or the ones you start with, especially with no dual wielding SMG tricks to take advantage of.
Needle Rifle – did I mention that this is a beast? Slower than the DMR and about as powerful, maybe a little more, but also packs an explosive Needler punch with repeated use. Good for medium range, but no as much of an all-rounder as the DMR (which is less of an all-rounder than the old BR).
Needler – the same instrument of explodey-goodness that it was in Halo 3/ODST. Exactly the same, really.
Plasma Launcher – point, charge, unleash four blobs of homing explosive plasma; plays a big part in objective games on the corridor-and-room Sword Base map. Overpowered perhaps, but limited ammo, and it takes a while to charge up.
Focus Rifle – a cross between the Sentinel Beam and the Beam Rifle, this fires a thin orange line of death which fries shields and then burns to death, naturally. Again, sounds overpowered, and being a pinpoint continuous laser, it is a bit. The saving grace is that it takes a few seconds of concentrated fire to kill someone, and on these maps it’s generally easy to evade that with objects. Works better than the Sentinel Beam did in old custom games, anyway.
Energy Sword – needs no introduction, but I’ll mention again the bigger role it serves in Reach, at least with the current maps. This and the Hammer are invaluable combined with a medium range weapon.
Gravity Hammer – same epic smashing and crushing power, but it actually appears to have a reach comparable to the sword, which I don’t remember being the case before. With the area effect that balances the melee weapons out.
Plasma Grenade – same stickiness, same area/damage increase (making it more powerful than the frag), but lack of bounciness and being heavier make it more annoying to use. Still rapes, though.
Combat knife – exclusively for assassinations, unfortunately. I’ve seen screenshots of Elites using an Energy Dagger. So cool.
Something cool to note – the multi player maps were designed first, and were then handed to the single player team to be incorporated in the campaign. Anyway…

Sword Base – the Marmite map. I personally quite like it – all corridors and walkways and grav lifts, with medium sized indoor spaces between. Great for slayer but I dislike it for SWAT (all DMRs, no shields), where I am constantly head shotted (which is a word) from above, and CTF confused me for ages as to where you’re meant to go (turns out to be circling the various levels to get to the top floor, which when you’re used to free roaming, is just weird). One of those where you can circumnavigate the map in double-time, and is constantly either pits of death in rooms and the middle outdoors bit, or 1 vs 1s in corridors and on balconies. And of course, it has the only current sword.
Power House – the all-purpose map, it’s like H3′s High Ground with a little bit of H2′s Ivory Tower, and paths round the sides; note the uphill fight towards a base and big dam pit-thing in the middle. I think everyone adores this. Perfect for Oddball, Stockpile, CTF, Slayer, SWAT…it’s got rugged terrain with big rocks to hide behind and is really open, yet has loads of buildings and high walkways.

Just to recap the new ones I’ve played thus far:
Stockpile – like CTF crossed with territories, you pick up neutral flags around the map, then place them in your zone; the flags you have at the end of each minute are added to your total. You can steal them, of course, making for end-to-end running and blitzing best on Power House, but fun anywhere.
Covenant Slayer – all Elites, basically. Fun if mad.
Other new game types yet to be demo’d are Generator Defense which features Spartans vs Elites, Invasion which looks really interesting with the pairing up and completing objectives to gain content, and Headhunter,where you drop a skull (plus any picked up) when you die, and everyone collects those and drops them off for points. Returning modes are Slayer in its various guises (such as SWAT), and one-flag CTF (for the moment).
There we have it! I’ll either update this or post again if I have something big to report on, but otherwise go play it!

Sword Base

Sword Base’s interior atrium is several layers deep. It’s well suited for Jet Packs. But that doesn’t mean it’s not set up to take advantage of all the other delectable tools of destruction Halo: Reach has on offer – turns out, Sword Base is a complex and layered arena ripe for all modes of play.

Bottom floor is 1a or 1b, depending on which side you happen to be hanging out on. A-side features red ambient lighting, B-side rocks the blue. You’ll have to figure out the rest as you go. Like Boarding Action or Prisoner, the overhead probably just leaves you scratching your head in wonder and confusion. Best way to get acclimated is to dive right in.

One of Sword Base’s defining visual features sits in a small pool of water, right smack in the middle of the marble ensconced lower level. This curiously defiant Covenant gravity lift displaces anything that happens to wander into its electric blue energy thrust. Savvy players will learn to utilize this oddity to quickly maneuver to a number of vertical perches. Others will lift off only to flounder about in midair, eventually falling back down to the ground floor, exposing themselves to a hail of enemy fire.

Though the central atrium is nice and open, the interior spaces are somewhat labyrinthine and you’ll find that remaining unseen or invincible for a brief spell is a particularly nasty tactic if you want to keep it close quarters or snag some of the exposed power weapons without exposing your face to too much enemy fire.

The Sniper Rifle is beneath the bamboo on the ground floor and the Plasma Launcher is on the upper catwalk. You’ll want to keep tabs on ‘em. Here’s the rest of the stuff you should know about on Sword Base:
DMR x 6
Energy Sword x 1
Magnum x 3
Needle Rifle x 3
Needler x 2
Plasma Launcher x 1
Plasma Pistol x 3
Plasma Repeater x 3
Shotgun x 1
Sniper Rifle x 1
Frag Grenade x 4
Plasma Grenade x 4

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Powerhouse is set amidst one of Reach’s more desolate regions. Look up and you’ll catch a glorious glimpse of some majestically mountainous outcroppings. This installation might have once merely bent that meandering river in an effort to serve Reach’s rural settlers with much needed hydroelectric power, but now it’s been rerouted to provide fodder for a full scale war effort.

Most rounds begin with a knockdown, drag out fight between players thirsting for the Rocket Launcher. If you’re looking to join the fray, you’ll find it resting in the spillway below. When you go in after it, be prepared to claw, scratch, and bite your way through some stiff opposition.

Powerhouse features a multitude of routes to facilitate plenty of unpredictable approaches. Stay low and wade through the water, cut through the buildings and drop down from the path above, or sprint your way in from the Rock Garden side of Powerhouse to pounce on unsuspecting fools salivating over the prospect of explosive kills.

And of course, you’ll probably be contending with adrenaline junkies dropping in from above via Jet Packs, Opponents with overshields baiting you to waste one of your freshly acquired rockets by firing it straight into their locked armor, and predatory players cloaked up at the end of the gully, patiently waiting for you to take the bait and step into their deadly web.

DMR x 5
Focus Rifle x 1
Gravity Hammer x 1
Grenade Launcher x 1
Magnum x 3
Needle Rifle x 2
Needler x 2
Plasma Pistol x 3
Plasma Repeater x 1
Rocket Launcher x 1
Shotgun x 1
Frag Grenade x 6
Plasma Grenade x 6


You won’t have to run any reconnaissance to pick out the decommissioned UNSC frigate, Commonwealth. She sits front and center amidst Boneyard’s dusty battleground. The grounded vessel makes for a really interesting play space, but it also segments Boneyard visually into some seriously enormous sections.

The first space you need to be familiar with is the exterior expanse set between the cliff wall and the frigate itself. This ground is where the attacking Elites will be spawning at the outset the match. Scraps from derelict and dismantled machinery provide plenty of cover from the hail of DMR fire the Spartans will be raining down on you from above. You’ll want to stay mobile, but make sure you scrub the sand for treasures; there are a couple of carefully placed Needle Rifles strewn about.

The Commonwealth sits atop the universe’s largest cement trailer blocks. The interior proper is sizable, but the layout is nice and simple. Defending Spartans will generally stand their ground, positioning themselves around the generators in the central bay while the attacking Elites attempt to flank from various entry points.

Once you’ve successfully powered down one of the generators and pushed beyond the frigate, you’ll find yourself on the second major outdoor section of Boneyard. This open area features cranes, catwalks, rooftops, vehicle bays, and all kinds of other geographical features for you to explore. There are also a few small buildings to scrap over and a sizable smelting refinery nestled against the far rock face. The “back” half is where the Spartan’s vehicle bays are positioned once Phase 3 hits, and once you’ve made it that far, all of Boneyard’s sweeping expanse will have become fair game to fight over.

For more information about Invasion, the game variant designed in tandem with Boneyard, check out the Game Modes section of the Halo: Reach Beta Guide.


In the Beta, Overlook is setup specifically for Generator Defense, a game of assault and defense pitting Spartans against Elites in the middle of Reach’s lush, pastoral countryside. Elites will spawn low near a rushing river and should immediately begin by heading up the grade to assault the three UNSC generators.

Spartans have the high ground, including several rustic civilian structures designed to house livestock and a large, permanent structure that may seem easy to defend on first glance, but offers attackers several routes in and out, making it ripe for an attack from all angles.

It shouldn’t take either side long to become familiar with the layout. Protecting or destroying the generators requires that both parties stay in motion. Make sure you’re keeping track of the action via your Heads Up Display, choosing the best spawns by using the d-pad after you meet your maker, and keeping your eye on the weapon drops to ensure that your three man squad has all the wonderful toys.

Here's Me Dominating with two back to back overkill's in MLG:

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