The Good Ole Days
Back in the days of Halo & Halo 2, Master Chief and I were real close pals. We used to stay up late at night slaying my friends, my friend’s friends, my brother, my brother’s friends… MC and I killed a lot of people, over and over again.
Then I went to grad school, and held down a job at the same time; Master Chief and I parted ways. I bought Halo 3 the day it came out, played the first level, then didn’t touch the game for over 2.5 years. I finally went back and beat it a couple of months ago. As excited as I was about Halo: ODST, I still haven’t finished it.
I don’t have anywhere near as much time to game as I did a few years ago, but I still do play. Why didn’t I play Halo?
I think it’s because Halo was exclusively a social game for me. I set up a semi-permanent LAN where every night somewhere between eight and 10 people would play together. We could joke, trash talk to each other’s face, and on a couple of occasions people one or two people might have caught a real life beating. After we finished playing we would go out in the middle of the night and get some God-awful food before calling it a night. Those were fun times.
I like online gaming, but with Halo it always feels a little hollow without a room full of friends, and some assorted people who I have never met.
Which brings me to the Halo Reach Beta
Actually, that intro had nothing to do with the Halo Reach Beta, I was just reminiscing a bit.
I didn’t have a chance to get the Beta when it was released yesterday. Downloading it this afternoon took about 15 minutes; impressive speed for a 1.15 GB package.
Getting in the game was quick and easy as well. All you have to do is put the “Campaign” disk from Halo: ODST into your Xbox 360, choose the “Halo Reach Beta” on the main menu, and away you go.
The New Toys
The Beta has a ton of new guns, two maps, a bunch of random game modes, armor enhancements, armor abilities (like a jetpack), and a level-up system.
Everything seems to work pretty well after about two hours of game-play. I really enjoy the armor abilities, when you are in a game type that allows them.
A Couple Weak Points
It is far more difficult to get a kill in the Beta than in any past Halo games; you really have to fight for your kills unless you have a very powerful weapon. I’m not sure how I feel about that because the game seems to favor people who hang back and “steal” kills.
My only other complaint is the “Armory” where you can upgrade your armor. There are a bunch of upgrades, and they seem cool, but many of them have cryptic, acronym-laden descriptions that left me scratching my head as to what they actually improved. Bungie, just tell me what the damn upgrades do and spare me the cute descriptions.
Data, Feedback, & More To Come
Bungie is wisely using the massive Halo fan-base to play-test, break, and eventually balance the game. I know Bungie is gather a lot of data about how people are actually playing the game, and they will use that data to make it better.
My assumption is that they will release even more features, and make tweaks over the coming months (bring on the Elites). So there should be plenty more to come.
At this point, the Halo Reach Beta is the best free DLC that I have encountered. The Beta has me looking forward to more in the future, and that’s all I was hoping for.