Halo: Reach Multiplayer

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on October 15, 2010 in

Halo: Reach has been out for a month now, and with over 4 million games played online everyday, “Halo-fever” has yet to slow down.  Now that most gamers have trekked through the campaign, the majority of Halo players have turned to multiplayer.

Halo: Reach comes with 13 multiplayer maps, all of which are utilized in the online multiplayer matchmaking. There are 3 different game modes you can choose from while playing online; Competitive, Cooperative, and Arena.

Competitive is the multiplayer we have been playing since Halo: Combat Evolved.  You can choose from different playlists depending on how many party members you have, whether you want to play slayer or objective games, or if you want to play a specialty gametype like SWAT.  The normal variants are back including Rumble Pit, Team Slayer, Team Objective, Multi Team, and Big Team Battle. In addition, there are a few new variants including Headhunter, Invasion, and Stockpile.

Headhunter revolves around killing your enemies and collecting skulls. Every time you kill someone they drop a skull which you can pick up. There is no limit to the number of skulls you can hold. You can then take those skulls to a designated waypoint where you will score a point for every skull. Be careful though because the waypoints are on a timer and will change positions after a certain amount of time. Enemies can also kill you and take your hard earned skulls. To add to the craziness is the fact that while holding a skull you will have a number over your head showing everyone how many skulls you are carrying. The more skulls you carry the bigger target you are going to be.

Invasion is a 6 vs. 6 variant where one team is spawned as Elites and the other as Spartans. The objective is for one team to capture checkpoints, which in turn opens up more sections of the map and unlocks more weapons and armor abilities, while the other team defends. If the attackers make it all the way to the last checkpoint their new objective is to take a power core to a dropship or Pelican where they are airlifted to safety. If the defenders succeed and prevent the attackers from advancing for the allotted time then the round is over and the sides are swapped. Each team gets one chance to complete their objective so games tend to go quick if you don’t work as a team. Invasion is the biggest test of team work and good communication.

Stockpile is a blend of Capture the Flag and Territories. The game begins with neutral flags being placed around the map. Your team’s task is to bring the flags back to your stockpile before the timer runs out. After the timer expires, flags in stockpile areas are scored and the process starts over again. Only when the timer expires will flags be counted otherwise flags outside of the stockpile areas do not count. Flags can be stolen from stockpile areas at any time, so it is important to guard your flags until the time runs out.

Cooperative mode pits you up against AI foes in Firefight. Firefight is just like you remember from ODST except now you play as Spartans. You can customize the game settings choosing loadouts, enemy types, and even making yourself invulnerable to all damage. You can play with up to 3 friends, or go online and search for allies in Firefight Matchmaking, which is a happily welcomed addition. Another new addition is the fact that you can play as the Covenant and kill your Spartan friends instead. I’ve never felt more epic than leading a pack of Jackals, as an Elite, into battle with an energy sword. Score Attack is a variant of Firefight in which you play by yourself, trying to beat your friends’, and the rest of the world’s, score.

Arena mode is the newest innovation to the matchmaking system. There are 2 playlists available in Arena mode with the Doubles Arena being 2 vs. 2 and Team Arena being 4 vs. 4. Replacing Halo 3’s ranked matches, Arena mode assesses your performance based on your best 3 games every day. Your score increases as you rack up kills and decreases as you die. After you have qualified for enough days you will receive a season rating and be placed into a division based on your rating. This is designed to create an intense competition among fellow gamers and give people the satisfaction of knowing that they are ranked higher than their friends.

The maps integrated into matchmaking are:

  • Boardwalk – This is an asymmetric roof level with ramps, trees, 2 small buildings and underground areas. This map is ideal for any size party.
  • Boneyard – As seen in the beta, this is a large construction site with a raised building separating the 2 sides of the map. This map is ideal for objective games and big team battles.
  • Countdown – This level is in the middle of a silo and is perfect for jetpack lovers and those who prefer close-quarters combat. There are lifts that take you from the ground level to the top quickly and is centered around a spaceship.
  • Forge World –Forge World is the level we have all been waiting for. Created as a gigantic open map, players can build their own level in several different locations. Built around the classic, Blood Gulch, Forge World combines all different types of terrain and can be played in an assortment of ways online. The Forge World variations maps included in multiplayer are Asylum (Sanctuary from Halo 2), Hemorrhage (Blood Gulch), Pinnacle (Ascension from Halo 2), Paradiso, and the Cage.
  • Powerhouse – Another map from the beta, Powerhouse is an outdoor hydroelectric plant. Perfect for smaller parties.
  • Reflection – Reflection is a remake of Ivory Tower from Halo 2. Bungie really outdid themselves on this map, increasing the texture details and brightness. Reflection is exactly like you remember, just nicer to look at.
  • Spire – Designed primarily for the Invasion playlist, this map revolves around a huge spire. By jumping into one of the many mancannons on the map you can quickly ascend the Spire where you will have a tactical advantage on your opponents. Surrounding the spire is rocky terrain perfect for sniping and taking cover.
  • Sword Base – The last map seen in the beta, Sword Base is an indoor tiered level. Each level is connected by bridges, with gravity lifts helping fast travel between levels. This map is ideal for slayer matches and players who love using the jetpack.
  • Zealot – Designed similarly to the Covenant maps of previous games, Zealot is a multi-leveled map perfect for team slayer matches. What is most remarkable about this map is the fact that you can take a lift above the level and go into outer space, allowing you to have low gravity battles.

Bungie’s biggest innovation to the Halo franchise is the introduction of armor abilities. In multiplayer you will begin a match by selecting which ability you want via a drop down menu. You won’t be stuck with this ability throughout the entire match however, as you can swap out abilities anytime you die. Armor abilities include jetpack, hologram, active camo, armor lock, drop shield, evade, and sprint. If you played through the campaign then you will be familiar with the functionality of each armor ability, but if you are new to the game than I suggest you start up a custom game by yourself and mess around with the abilities to find which ones suit your style.

Health kits are back again and are an important part of multiplayer mode in Halo: Reach. Knowing where every health kit is on each map is an essential survival tool. However, your shield needs to be down in order to use them, so don’t camp next to one trying to use it at the first sight of an enemy. Your health has to have gone down in order for a health kit to be used.

The voting system for Halo: Reach has been revamped to give users better control over which gametype they play. Instead of vetoing a single gametype, then being stuck with a randomly assigned map, players now have the option of voting for 3 different gametypes or choosing “none of the above”, with the majority choosing the map and gametype. If the majority of the players vote for “none of the above”, then 3 new choices are picked and voting recommences. This is a big improvement from the previous voting system where I felt like I had no control whatsoever with what gametype or map I played, whereas now I feel like I play a lot more gametypes that I enjoy.

Customizing your character has evolved in Halo: Reach as well and you can finally do more than change your armor, color, and emblem. “The Armory” is your one stop for all your customizing needs where you can purchase armor pieces, armor effects, and even different voices. All of these are unlocked by ranking up your character and by earning credits, the new in-game currency. The way you receive credits is by playing through the many modes of Halo including campaign, Firefight, online multiplayer, etc.

Online games, especially the Halo franchise, are notorious for gamers quitting in the middle of games. To help alleviate the frustration that gamers, such as myself, feel when their entire team abandons them in the middle of a game, Bungie has developed a system that tracks people who quit and occasionally will block them from playing for 15+ minutes. If a player quits too much or too often their account could be blocked from playing Halo online altogether. This is a great idea because I can’t even count the number of times I have had to play solo against a team of 4 in a slayer match.

Halo: Reach is a giant leap for multiplayer gaming and has set the bar high for all other first person shooters. So grab an armor ability, a weapon, and jump on into a multiplayer game online. Before you know it you will be earning credits and marveling at the wonder that is Halo: Reach.

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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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