E3 2010: First look at Halo: Reach's campaign

The mission begins on a beach… but not just any beach. Noble Team, the squad of elite Spartan soldiers sent to save the planet Reach, has just air-dropped onto a swath of sand so long and so wide, and surrounded by such epic scenery, that the double Scarab battle near the end of Halo 3 immediately feels tiny and cartoonish by comparison.

Huge rocks dot the terrain, and the Noble Team must put this cover to use, as at least a dozen battleship-sized Covenant air carriers are raining drop pods from the sky, each one carrying a snarling and highly detailed Elite. Our genetic superheroes may number four instead of the usual one, but they're still overwhelmed.

And though they're wielding weapons new to the Halo series – like a bouncing grenade launcher that wipes out an entire row of shielded Jackals, a triple-shot rocket launcher that obliterates a Wraith tank after a single pull of the trigger or nasty assassination moves that can instantly down an Elite – the Covenant ships are countering with direct turret fire and fleets of Ghosts.

My E3 demo is being directed and played by an expert developer at Bungie, however, so Noble Team survives. Their ultimate goal is a launch facility that, at the beginning of the mission, appears as a massive silhouette against the horizon, and by this middle checkpoint, towers above the squad with at least six or seven floors of enemy-filled hallways.

This is when I seriously start to notice how much realer – and grittier – Halo: Reach is than Halo 3 or even ODST. The gloomy sky of drizzly clouds and flashing lightning. The shadowed corridors, pierced by dust-streaked rays of waning sunlight. A briefing room that looks more like a crime scene, with fresh bodies piled in corners or slumped over the central conference table, and splatters of blood everywhere. And, in a moment that reminded me a bit of Modern Warfare, a Marine soldier angrily kicking and cursing at the lifeless corpse of a Covenant.

Inside the building is a launch pad, and on that launch pad waits some sort of rocket. If this was any other Halo game, I'd expect a cutscene to show the protagonist traveling into space and docking in a station or landing on a ring. Then I'd expect to play an on-foot mission. This is Reach, though, and the scale is grander, so when the cutscene ends, the player is still sitting in the spaceship – a UNSC Saber – and is back in full control. Halo has suddenly transformed into X-Wing or Wing Commander.

According to Bungie, you'll pilot the Saber in only this single section of this single mission. That's unfortunate, because what I saw was rather spectacular. The Saber protected a gargantuan battleship known as Anchor 9, and doing so involved an intense series of swooping, looping dogfights between the player and wave after wave of Banshees. They dueled through the stars, leaving neon vapor trails past your cockpit and bursting into purple sparks when destroyed. The Saber's machine guns and lock-on, heat-seeking missiles were taking care of most of them, but when much larger reinforcements – the Seraphs – showed up, the Anchor 9 battleship was forced to join the fight, blasting cannons and quickly turning space into a gloriously lethal fireworks show.

And before the battle had been won or lost, the demo ended. I asked if the scale of this mission was average – Bungie told me that it was, but that Halo: Reach also included sections that were "much more epic."

To see most of what I've just described for yourself, check out the video below:

Jun 17, 2010 


E3 E3 2010


  • onyx precursers - March 26, 2012 12:11 a.m.

    the game was awesome but if you have read all the books as i have spartan 3s did not come into the picture till way after the fall of reach and the fact remains is that john spartan 117 and his team were the ones who got doctor Cathrine Halsey off reach not noble team frankly iam disappointed with this game. would the developers of this game care to explain to me why the game doesn't follow the story line.
  • dragonebob - August 19, 2010 4:39 p.m.

    I wonder if campaign will be 4 player
  • Junior101 - July 4, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    the story on halo 3 wasnt ass godd ass halo 1 and 2
  • Junior101 - July 4, 2010 8:38 p.m.

    this better b good for its last halo game it looks good but will the game experience be good?
  • Syn667 - June 20, 2010 11:05 a.m.

    i first saw the gameplay footage on spike last monday and it really blew my mind. never really thought bungie would go this far with the game. Good Job!!! :D
  • GangsterJew92 - June 19, 2010 3:12 a.m.

    I can't wait for this game, it's going to be epic. It's unfortunate that this is Bungie's last Halo game, but they sure know how to go out with a bang!
  • tacoman38 - June 18, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    here's for hoping space combat will be a multiplayer mode too.
  • Persona - June 18, 2010 3:47 p.m.

    @spekko Then I would probably start to fret as I see 2 distinctive P and S pop up on my HUD. Pray Bungie makes this campaign considerably longer and with more re playability value. The open terrains of Halo 1 are baack. BOO YAH
  • spekko - June 18, 2010 2:59 p.m.

    I can't wait to do barrel rolls in the dogfighting part.
  • taterboob - June 18, 2010 5:28 a.m.

    I cared about Reach only slightly before E3. Now, I can't wait for September.
  • Gameguy94 - June 17, 2010 10:42 p.m.

    Does anyone else think an in space dogfight as a multiplayer match would be totally freakn' awesome?
  • TBag - June 17, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    I bet its in more of the game. That is a lot of game play work for just one segment of the game.
  • Tygerclaws - June 17, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    The extent of the space battles is only for that one section in the entire game? That's kinda disappointing...
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - June 17, 2010 9:09 p.m.

    Yeah your also gay
  • Transmatrix - June 17, 2010 8:37 p.m.

    Oh, did the Bungie guy mention what difficulty level is shown in the video? Is that heroic? (please tell me it's not casual or I'm going to get my ass kicked...)
  • Transmatrix - June 17, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    That's the first mission! Holy crap, I thought for sure that I'd have to play for 4hours before I'd be battling in space. I'm seriously considering pre-ordering this game after seeing the action. It's going to be awesome!
  • FunkSoulBrother - June 17, 2010 7:07 p.m.

    Yeah I'm First looks impressive though.

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000