The Halo: Reach beta is finally live, and we've assembled some handy information to help you get started in what could be the biggest console game beta ever.
Halo 3: ODST Owners can now enter the Halo: Reach beta, but there's no reason to go in blind. While you're waiting for the download to complete or the clock to hit 5PM, here's some information that might help you as you take your first stumbling steaps into the world of Halo: Reach.
What has changed from Halo 3?
The buttons have changed, mainly due to the introduction of armor abilities. Here's the Halo 3 button layout:
And here's the Halo: Reach Button Layout:
Of course you can modify that to suit your preferences.
Armor abilities make a big difference in Halo: Reach. Players will be able to choose between five new powers, depending on their loadout.
Sprint makes you run faster. Active Camo makes you invisible. Armor Lock grounds you in place, unable to fire, but makes you invincible, and the Jet Pack is self-explanatory. The Elites also have a special armor power, Evade, which allows them to dodge and roll.
All powers are tied to a power gauge that depletes, refilling automatically over time.
Also new is the ability to select loadouts each time you spawn, giving you a particular combination of weapon and armor power from the get go. Different game types offer different loadout choices.
The Halo: Reach beta test also introduces several new game types.
Headhunter sees players collecting the skulls of their fallen foes, becoming a bigger target with each skull they collect, making them choose whether to deposit what they have, or keep collecting for a bigger payout.
Stockpile has two teams competing for a number of neutral flags, with each team trying to amass them at their base. Flags are tallied each minute, with the first team to reach ten flags winning the round.
Generator Defense pits a team of three Spartans against three Elites, with the Spartans attempting to protect a set of generators from being destroyed.
Invasion is an expanding game type, pitting Spartans against Elites in an ever-expanding battlefield. As the game progresses, the weapons and vehicles available to each side grow more powerful. Invasion won't be available for play until May 7.
The Arena is pure player-versus-player combat. This is where the killers will shine in free-for-all matches to the death. Players who play enough each day will be added to the Daily Ratings. Earn enough ratings and you'll be placed in a division at the end of a season. Consider it the Halo Pro League.
Instead of the veto system from Halo 3, players are given a selection of available game types to choose, casting votes for the ones they'd like to play. It's multiple choice!
Instead of unlocking new equipment at specific ranks, you earn credits every round that act as both experience points and currency, good towards buying new armor pieces for your character. New ranks unlock new things to buy. It's a much friendlier way to handle handing out the gear.
Sneak up behind another player, hit the melee button, and you'll perform the ultimate dick-move. Take Downs are much more impressive than teabagging, but they leave you just as vulnerable.
What do I need to participate?
If you've gotten a code, you've likely already been playing. If you're joining the beta today from the Halo 3: ODST disc, insert the disc and choose the 'Play the Beta' option. That's how you download the beta, and that's how you'll play once it's installed.
How do I customize my character?
Once you're into the beta proper, hitting the start button and choosing the Armory option brings you to the customization screen, where you can modify your colors, change your armor, and purchase new armor with points earned during multiplayer matches.
Certain customization choices carry over from your ODST or Halo 3 characters, including armor color and emblem.
Playing the Game
The Playlists, and When You Can Play Them
When you begin matchmaking, you'll have to select a playlist to determine what sort of games you'll be playing. Here's a rundown of what to expect.
Grab Bag - Starts May 3
Game Types: 1 Flag CTF, Stockpile, Oddball, Team Crazy King, 3 Plots, Team Slayer, Team SWAT, Covy Team Slayer
Maps: Powerhouse, Sword Base
Free-For-All - Starts May 3
Game Types: Slayer, Slayer Pro Round, Classic Slayer, Oddball, Crazy King, Juggernaut, Headhunter
Maps: Powerhouse, Sword Base
The Arena - Starts May 3
Game Types: Classic Slayer, Team Slayer, Team Slayer Pro
Invasion - Starts May 7
Game Types: Invasion, Invasion Slayer
Network Test 1 - Starts May 14
Game Type: Generator Defense
There are four new maps in the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta, but you'll only see two at first - Sword Base and Powerhouse. Boneyard comes on May 7 for the introduction of Invasion, and Overlook is due out on May 14 for Generator Defense.
Wide open spaces abound, but there are plenty of nooks and crannies available for hiding, sniping, or just plain cowering in this expansive hydroelectric power plant map. Be sure to drop down into the narrow waterway now and then to see if the rocket launcher has popped up, but be warned it might be a bit crowded.
An compack map that's more vertical than horizontal, the jetpack armor ability works out really well in the map's large middle ground, but active camp and sprint might serve you better inside the twisting corridors to either side.
Learn your armor powers. Love your armor powers. Just because you have a jetpack doesn't mean you need to fly all the time.
Learn your maps. With only two maps - Powerhouse and Sword Base - initially available, you should know them like the back of your hand within a couple hours. Figure out where the good weapons are hiding, find the prime sniping position, and don't be that jerk on top of that one building in Powerhouse with the Focus Rifle. You'll know who we're talking about.
Remember your objective. IF the goal is to capture the flag, there are only two reasons you should be shooting people - in defense of your flag, or in defense of the flag carrier. Chasing folks halfway across the map for no good reason is not helping your team.
And above all, have fun! It's a video game. Some of us have trouble remembering if we're red or blue. That's no reason to talk about our mothers that way.
For more on the Halo: Reach Beta, be sure to check out Bungie's comprehensive guide to the ins and outs of Reach beta test.