So Bungie has finally revealed details on when and what the multiplayer beta will consist of. There's no word on the size of the download yet but we'll be able to play three maps - Valhalla, High Ground and Snowbound - in a "wide variety" of gameplay types, says Bungie. The dev also hints that some of the game modes will be familiar while some will be new. One new game type we know about is called Escort.
The three maps that we'll be able to slaughter each other over and over again on are the same ones that were revealed to the press last September. We also got to play with new weapons and vehicles during the Bungie visit too, and it looks like they'll all feature in the open beta. But several new features have now been revealed with the release of a brand new multiplayer-focused video.
New features to play and test will also be in the beta. There'll be new grenade types such as the Spike grenade and Bubble grenade, there'll also be a new class of weapon, which will be the Brute's weapon-set. We already know that the Brute Spiker, which fires white hot nails into your enemy, will be playable as will the Spike grenade.
Bungie also says that we'll see some of the enhanced online functionality but a lot of secret features are hidden in this beta. "We're keeping a lot of our powder dry for fall," says the studio, talking of the game's full and final release. "In May, when you're firing the Spiker, sniping vehicles with the Spartan Laser and sticking fools with the Brute Spike grenade, remember that it's just a peek-a-boo fraction of what's to come."
The hyped-up use of the X button has now been revealed and will activate any type of equipment you're carrying. Equipment is new to the series and from what we can gather it looks to include the bubble shield, trip mines and some sort of portable energy lift. The first look at this transportable energy lift shows a Spartan dropping an object that fires him into the air, making it the perfect device for a quick get away or getting to higher parts of the map quickly.
The Bubble grenade looks like a great addition to the deathmatch formula. Just drop the grenade when someone's chasing you and you'll be shielded from enemy fire and grenades. It's unclear at the moment whether or not you'll be able to shoot out of the bubble. Visually the effect of the bubble looks amazing, it appears soft and bouncy, just like a, err, bubble would be, we guess. The other new addition is the trip mine. Drop this as you're about to be run over by a Warthog and the Warthog, all its passengers and little old you are blown to kingdom come.
"All of the game footage in this doc was taken during the Alpha stage and isn't even representative of what you'll see in the Public Beta, let alone the final game," says Bungie.
"You will see frame rate skips, unfinished animation and graphical features that will change come Fall. All the footage is clearly marked Alpha. You're looking at the features here folks, not the final quality bar - which we've set pretty high. Your next taste of that will be in May."
Fingers crossed thatthe next slice of info will be about the single-player campaign mode.
The multiplayer beta goes live on May 16. When it does, Bungie would like us all to do them a personal favor: "walk down to the beach, the river or the lake in High Ground and Valhalla, and take a look at the water." Nice.
April 10, 2007