First Impressions Halo Reach Beta (Gameplay Included)

I have only played a few hours worth of Reach, but so far all of my initial impressions are positive.  The Friends and Family codes were given out to a quite a number of online website destinations.  This in turn led to an overflow flow of “We Have Halo Reach Beta Codes” on Twitter and subsequently is the reason so many people have Reach Beta codes.

There are two maps available in the Friends and Family beta (four will be available for the full beta) — Sword Base and Powerhouse.  Neither maps really stand out for me; both seem rather mediocre at this point. Thus far the Gametypes I have played are the following:

  • Stockpile: Bring multiple flags into a territory and hold them for a set period of time
  • Elite Slayer: Team Slayer with Elites
  • FFA Oddball: Oddball Free For All
  • 1-Flag CTF:

Noteworthy Differences (Weapons, Abilities, And More)


  • The DMR

This is the new or old Battle Rifle depending on how you look at it. It is a single shot rifle that will primarily be used for mid-far range combat.  The gun accuracy is very dependent on the timing or trigger bursts between each shot and takes a few maps to adjust.  After the first hour or so of running around trying to locate weapons, I found myself trying to using the DMR quite a bit I have enjoyed it.

  • The Pistol

Everyone is switching to the pistol at the beginning of every round.  It is a great weapon, very reminiscent of the Halo: CE pistol that we all know and love.  This is a semi-automatic weapon and the fire rate has been increased to match faster trigger tapping speeds.  I am fairly certain the rate is capped, but you can unload a full clip pretty fast.

  • The Needle Rifle

Basically the Covenant version of the DMR, the Needle Rifle features a slightly faster fire rate with similar explosion mechanics as the Needler.  I did not find myself actively looking for the Needle Rifle, but if I found one I would immediately switch it from the Assault Rifle.


  • Sprint

I love the sprint feature!  I need to play quite a bit more, but so far I have no complaints.  Please give me the ability to switch sprint to the Left Analog stick.  Everyone and there mom has played Call of Duty.  It does not feel right any other way.

  • Guard or Armor Lock

I found this to be the most annoying ability of the beta.  I have not really used Guard because I want to thoroughly test and play with a certain perk before switching to another, but FFA Oddball made this perk really annoying.

  • Invisibility/Stealth

Activating it causes your opponents radar (if turned on) to go haywire while you become invisible.  There were not too many people using the ability, but it will be interesting to see how it is implemented and utilized by after more people have the option to play.

  • Jet Packs

I am not entirely sold on the Jet Packs.  They offered a very unique feel to the game, one that I think will not be welcomed with opened arms with the existing Halo community.  I imagine there will be lots of players using the Jet Packs to boost to areas of certain maps that are not supposed to be accessible, essentially ruining the fun for everyone else in the process.  I will play with it more after playing with sprint for awhile.

Fall Damage

I am not too fond of the fall damage, but with jet packs in play it all makes sense.  The fall damage is not anything significant, but if you fall while your shields are not up, there could be some problems.  Everyone’s initially opinion of fall damage seems to be negative at this point, but again I think it is attributed to the jet packs.

Movement and Control Scheme

Movement felt like traditional Halo, but with the addition of abilities it changes how people will interact with the environment.  I found myself using the sprint button to set up quick melees and trying hurry to secure the DMR.  Again, I love the Sprint function and I am sure the Jet Pack and Guard will create new types of Halo playing styles.  There was also a slight change to the Radar  which now pinpoints your location and tells you what part of the map you are located.  This is a great addition to the competitive community because it allows for a natural calls for certain maps.

My control scheme, Bumper Jumper, is very odd now with the Action button placement (sprint, armor lock, invisible, jet pack). When using the sprint action, it feels like the control layout should be slightly different.

Personally, I would change the following buttons for the control layout of Bumper Jumper:

  • Left Thumb Stick – Action (i.e. sprint)
  • Right Bumper – Crouch
  • X Button – Pick Up Weapon
  • B Button – Melee

Last Thoughts

I think this game is going to be a great game to play both casually and competitively.  I am hoping that the weapon and ability loadouts are customizable to quickly make “class” changes on the fly for more competitive play.  I do not really see the Guard ability making it to competitive play and the Stealth and Jet Pack are probably a no go as well — only time will tell.

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