Bungie Explains If Halo Reach Is More of an ODST or a Halo 3 Game

When Halo 3 hit in the fall of 2007 there were celebrations, sick days and sales records broken. Two years later, when Halo sequel ODST made it into stores it couldn't match its predecessor's first day sales in two weeks.

So I asked the Bungie folks, is Halo Reach going to be more like a Halo 3 or a Halo ODST?

Before answering Brian Jarrard, Bungie's community director, gave me his take on why ODST wasn't the overwhelming success Halo 3 was.

"I felt ODST was more of niche game, it was a little bit of an experiment," Jarrard said. "We didn't have to stay tried and true to the Halo formula."

The games of the Halo trilogy, Jarrard says, were defined by alien worlds, big expansive environments and exploration. ODST didn't have much of any of that. You could explore a human city, but as a whole the game was a bit more conventional with less of a science fiction feel.

"We never expected any of the Halo games to turn into the phenomena that they are today," Jarrard said. "ODST was of a different scale. We were kind of flattered that it turned out to be as big as it did, that there were stores opening at midnight. That was never in the cards when it was being conceived."

But what about Reach, Bungie's final, and they say, best Halo experience?

It will be a game that goes back to the original Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved for inspiration, Jarrard said.

"We have been going back to Halo: CE as our primary example and are trying to recapture some of that magic," he said. "Reach is supposed to go in that direction and not to redefine what Halo Is supposed to be.

Starting May 3 gamers will be able to decide on their own what sort of game Halo Reach is when the beta goes live. Ironically, the only way to access the beta will be through the Halo ODST disc.

The beta will pop up in the game's Extras option on the main menu.

While Jarrard said he suspects most hardcore fans of the Halo universe already bought and still own ODST, he wondered what will happen the day the Halo Reach beta ends.

"Will it be national Turn In Your ODST Day?" he said.

He estimates that there are a couple of million copies of ODST in gamer's hands, a number sure to increase with the news of the impending beta program.

The Halo 3 beta hosted a little more than 800,000 gamers when it hit, Jarrard thinks that the global Reach beta could exceed 3 million.

The Reach beta will include a "handful of maps, a variety of gametypes - both new and old - and a nice subset of armor abilities," he said.

And while it sounds like the number of people who can play in a single multiplayer map will be going up, it won't be a big increase.

"Don't expect an exponential leap in the number playing in a multiplayer match," Jarrard said.