Preview: Halo Reach Event

How is Bungie’s swansong looking?

Yesterday I went to play Halo: Reach for the very first time at the Churchill War Rooms in London. There was a brief demo of the game by Bungie’s Community Director, Brian Jarrard, and Campaign Designer, Niles Sankey showing off the number of changes made to Firefight and Forge, as well as showing off the first level of the campaign.

The additions to Firefight allow you to make your own waves of enemies, activate what skulls you want for each round, how long the level lasts for, how many lifes you have and even a Versus mode where 2 players become Brutes for a round to stop the Spartans from getting a high score. There’s also the inclusion of credits that you earn from everything you do in the game, which goes towards your rank but also lets you spend them on additions to your armor and even change the announcer voice to the likes of Sgt. Johnson, Cortana and Master Chief himself.

Forge is on a much bigger scale than we saw in Halo 3. There was an example of this in the presentation where the team had built an entire cage level on a cliff, miles away from the Blood Gulch map. To say it was impressive would be an understatement. The brief glimpse of the campaign was nice and had the typical Halo feel to it, but it looked much tougher than in past games and will be challenging, especially for those hoping to beat it on Legendary.

After the presentation, I finally got hands-on several Firefight maps and with my 3 teammates, we died fairly quickly on each one. The difficulty of Firefight seems to have been stepped up a notch, despite the inclusion of Jetpacks and other abilities that each player can choose when they spawn (similar to the class system in the likes of Modern Warfare/Battlefield).

We also did a few multiplayer matches such as Team Slayer and an objective-based mission where we had to disable key points on the map from the opposition and then switch over to defend them. It’s nothing particularly new, but it was addictive and I can see many hours being spent playing on them.

Then I got a roundtable interview with Niles Sankey along with a few others. The interview is below: (You’ll need Quicktime installed)

After that, the event was over but there was a special announcement coming at 5. So I spent the next few hours sitting in the park, then came back to find Rio Ferdinand and Jason Bradbury announce the “Elite Spartan Squad” to find the best Halo Reach players in the country. How will it be done? Details and photos can be found here.

Overall, I was impressed with how Reach is looking and it’s good to see Bungie leave the franchise on a high. What will become of the series afterwards remains to be seen, but this will be Bungie’s swansong for Halo.