More impressions of Halo Reach

As Lehto explains: “We had a really big vision for what we wanted to do with Reach overall and we had to go back and take every component within the Halo engine and rebuild them from the ground up. The entire engine has been upgraded to accommodate some of the things we wanted to do.

“We want to be able to build bigger, more epic environments that foster exploration, and we want to fill it with twice the number of enemies, vehicles, and weapons. Those things technically were at odds with one another – because we’re still on the same hardware and that really did require us to do much smarter things with our engine to accommodate that vision.” So how hard are Bungie pushing the 360? “We’re spankin’ it!” says Lehto. “Spankin’ it for everything it’s got!”

Even on enormous battlefields Bungie can take the camera inches away from a Spartan’s gun and read the serial number on the side with crystal clarity. Taking us on a guided tour of the forthcoming beta’s Powerhouse map Lehto shows off the incidental details on every surface, the higher level of anti-aliasing, the real-time lighting effects triggered by every muzzle flash and plasma bolt, and the new sound effects which make Reach’s guns sound less like popcorn makers and more like hot leaded death.

But perhaps most telling of all: that Powerhouse map is an area lifted directly from the game’s regular campaign mode. Every multiplayer map is a space built for both campaign and multiplayer – they’ll appear in one half of the game with different lighting and weather effects, but they’ll be the same map with the same key features. If it sounds lazy, it’s anything but – Reach’s campaign maps are the first in the entire history of Halo to be polished to the same degree as its multiplayer counterparts, and it speaks volumes about the sandbox-style combat that every last space in every part of the game is a great place for a fight.

Those spaces will evolve over the course of the game; the shots look bleak and in-game it’s no cheerier, but this is Halo and colour is integral to the world. “We’re telling a darker story overall,” says Lehto. “From the beginning we know the end. Reach is going to fall, seven hundred million people are going to die on this planet so what we do graphically plays with that tone. Now, that said, this is Halo – this is not a drab, dreary, grey game. We’re not doing anything to destroy the foundation of what’s so important to us. We’re going to use colour to help your emotional responses, to drive your navigation through the environment, and to drive the story arc as you start out on the planet fresh and alive and you see the Covenant systematically destroy the world over the length of the campaign.”


It sounds grim but Lehto insists it’s a story with a happy ending if you’re far-sighted enough to see it. “You’ll get to know those characters and get to know what they did – their sacrifice. You’ll experience what they did that was so honourable that it allowed the actions after Halo Reach – the events  of the Halo trilogy – to happen. Ultimately it’s a story of hope about what they did to save humanity.

“We’re building on a decade’s worth of experience with Halo 1, 2, 3, and ODST – putting all the good things from each one of those into Reach and then we’re putting new features on top of that. We’re going to make this the definitive Halo title.”

So what’s the deal with the beta?

Halo Reach’s beta kicks off on May 3rd, though a little bird tells us a secret closed beta for Microsoft and Bungie employees kicked off in early March. You can get onto the beta using your ODST disc and the duration is expected to be around the same length as Halo 3’s beta, making the last week of May the official ‘Return ODST to Gamestation Week’. “Our goals are very specific,” says Bungie’s Brian Jarrard.

“There are some metrics we need to get and a lot of back-end data mining that’s gonna have to occur so we’re going to build the beta duration around what our team needs to get out of it. You’ll see a few maps, you’ll see a couple of different game types – some old stuff that returns but also some new stuff that we haven’t revealed yet. We have some brand new multiplayer experiences that are big and risky and need to be in the beta to give us real stress testing and real balance testing. On top of that you’re going to see a huge selection of the weapons that the game has to offer and a pretty healthy amount of armour abilities.

“From a design perspective, those things have the biggest impact on how people are going to play Halo – hopefully in an awesome way, but also it’s the riskiest so we’re looking forward to that getting hammered on during the beta. Even though it’s just a beta we know people are gonna judge this game – they’re gonna look at our unfinished beta and that’s going to influence what they think about our final game in autumn, so we have to do as much as we can to make it awesome. It’s a fine line; it’s scary and rewarding and [Creative Director] Marcus [Lehto] is, I’m sure, terrified…”

Mar 30, 2010


  • AlphaWolf428 - July 23, 2010 12:54 a.m.

    its funny to look back on electricsheep's post knowing what we know now
  • noune - April 7, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    Halo is alright, im not a big fan of it cuz i hate 360's. and i suck at it because i dont know the controls excepft for borderlands and world at war
  • american101 - April 3, 2010 6:57 a.m.

    This game had my vote before it was even made.
  • thelonewolf501 - April 2, 2010 10:56 p.m.

    ┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ i dont like the 36o
  • slusho - April 2, 2010 2:38 a.m.

    what if.... and bear with me..... noble six is the last one surviving after an epic battle at the end of the campaign, and is taken out of his spartan III suit and put into a spartan II suit. then is frozen to protect him. cue halo 1
  • leprechaun - April 1, 2010 8:25 p.m.

    I dont even like Halo that much but this game looks Badass... a must have on my list
  • Jmonster77 - April 1, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    Hate to be a stickler, but Reach wasn't the home of the Spartan III project. That duty belonged to the planet of Onyx.
  • Twizinator - April 1, 2010 4:06 a.m.

    this game WILL own the 360 for years, just like halo 3. i know this because after days of playing MW2 online, i returned to Halo 3 only to realize just how much fun it is. Forge, matchmaking, double XP weekends, Grifball, 4 player campeign runs... the list goes on. cant... stop... making... forge... maps! @Tochy no trolling k thx bai
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - March 31, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    Gah, I'll be sad to see Halo leave production, it's one of the few colourful current-gen FPS' left. If not the only one. Ah well, what a swan song, this will be amazing, I'm sure of it. :)
  • gingerbenj - March 31, 2010 8:49 p.m.

    this is gona be the new cod for me.
  • mw2rox542 - March 31, 2010 6:30 p.m.

    i may love modern warfare but if you can do the close combat moves that they showed i the video well time to get my 6th halo game. :)
  • sdmf4ever - March 31, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    This game will be EPIC....PERIOD!!! It will put all the other Halo games to shame, well, I still am privy to the first Halo. It was the only one in the series that really got my blood a pumping when playing it the first time. This one will be no different with all the new and upgraded things they are doing to it. Graphically, this game looks phenomenal compared to the last three Halo games. Microsoft and may have just upped the ante and regained control of the FPS genre. Here's hoping....
  • Bloodstorm - March 31, 2010 2:51 p.m.

    I can't wait! May can't come sooner!
  • LevelHead - March 31, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    Well to be honest if this game won't support more than 16 players on XBL I'm going to cancel my membership. This game needs to offer at least 24 players online and Xbox Live needs to expand. No longer can the service rely on things like Facebook to keep us paying. If it only supports 16 players I hope at least the campaign is fairly substantial and not short like ODST. If it is I won't be buying it. With that said everything so far looks amazing.
  • HDBawllz - March 31, 2010 5:12 a.m.

    I just got so excited, I swear my heart stopped for a second..
  • chainsawninja600 - March 31, 2010 3:58 a.m.

    @Tochy You can say all you want I dont think anyone's gonna care tho
  • El_Hombre11 - March 31, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    I think this will be the first Halo since the first that I will actually enjoy BOTH multiplayer and campaign. Keep the goods rollin, Bungie! No complaints yet
  • defiance0fchaos - March 31, 2010 3:41 a.m.

    fudge, beta comes out the same time as my AP tests... guess I'll have to wait a week to play it, why bungie why???? and it better have firefight in the final version
  • Tochy - March 31, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    halo 3 sucks ballz deal with it
  • Limbo - March 31, 2010 1:06 a.m.

    Can't wait. Beta can't come soon enough!

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