Why Halo: Reach's multiplayer is better than Halo 3's

You've heard the haters: "Halo never changes." Halo 2 was just Halo 1 moved online. And Halo 3 is just Halo 2 with slightly prettier graphics. And ODST is just Halo 3, minus Master Chief and plus a smoky saxophone solo.

While this complaint ignores some major, game-altering additions over the years – like Forge, Theater, Service Record and Firefight – you can't say it's entirely wrong. The basic Halo multiplayer formula hasn't evolved that much since 2001, for better or worse.

Until now. Halo: Reach is different… in many ways, drastically so. Here are the 11 improvements that will shock and surprise you most when the online beta begins May 3.

1) You can fly

Yes, fly. Through the air. Up, down, left, right, anywhere. With a goddamn jetpack pulled straight out of The Rocketeer and strapped to your back. As you simultaneously shoot, snipe, scout, toss grenades, reload, recover your health or whatever else you feel like doing while soaring dozens of feet above the ground.

Sound fun? Trust me, it is. Easy and intuitive, too. Once you've chosen the correct flight-enabled class, or "loadout," all you need to do is hold down the LB button and wait a half-second for the engine to kick in. Suddenly, you're launching smoothly into the sky, with a staggering 360 degree bird's eye view and all the other players scampering like tiny ants below your feet.

The advantages and entertainment value are obvious, but don't think you're invulnerable up there. Jetpacks require cool down, gravity still hurts and shooting players out of the air is equally as satisfying as shooting them from the air.

2) Invisibility

"You could do that before!" Yes, know-it-all reader, but not like this. Although earlier Halos included a camouflage power-up that made your shimmering, see-through form difficult to see, the effect was a temporary perk and not something you could plan an entire strategy around.

By choosing one of the stealth classes in Halo: Reach, however, you can play entire matches as a silent and deadly ghost. The power does require occasional recharging, but otherwise, you can use it as often as you like. Plus – unlike previous games – the invisibility can be switched on or off, increases as you move more slowly and jams nearby players' motion radar.

Yet the coolest thing about Reach's camouflage has to be the immersive sound effects… or complete lack thereof. Whenever the power is activated, the surrounding world is muffled and drained of noise, so that you feel almost like a shark swimming underwater, secretly stalking your unsuspecting prey.

3) Seriously, you're a superhero

Flight and invisibility are merely two of five "armor abilities" you select at the start of every match or between every respawn. The other three powers may not seem as spectacular on the surface, but they go just as far in rewriting Halo's overly familiar multiplayer formula:

  • Super speed: Finally! After nearly a decade of sluggish Spartans, you can finally run in Halo. With the "Sprint" ability, hitting the LB button causes your character to automatically start hustling… you don't even have to hold down a stick like in Modern Warfare. You're faster than in that game, too, zipping across the battlefield at near-vehicle velocity. For a short time, anyway.

  • Super agility: During the Halo trilogy's campaign missions, did you ever notice how Covenant Elite were able to dance around your bullets using a "blink and you'll miss it" dodge maneuver? Now that power is yours as well. A combination of the LB button and any direction of the controller will launch your character into an evasive roll… appropriately referred to as "Evade" in the game.

  • Super defense: If you like to play dangerously and take risks, this will be your power of choice. No matter how close you are to certain death, you can activate "Armor Lock" and survive at least a little longer. Your character smashes his fist into the ground, throwing up a shield that protects from all attacks. And by "all attacks," I mean that if a Warthog happens to run over you, the Warthog is the one that will be in trouble.

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • mastereper - September 2, 2010 4:27 p.m.

    I'm very curious to see how the new matchmaking works with the social settings and all. But Reach is a definite buy!
  • gamewriter - September 2, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    the invisability trait is a little to cheatable. every player (or 90% of them) will use this gig and we will all have a super lame game.
  • double07 - August 13, 2010 2:19 a.m.

    FUCK YEAH!!! I ain't ever gonna regret that pre-order!
  • GrandTheftSilly - April 29, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    i cant wait till this game comes out
  • Menelin - April 25, 2010 2:08 a.m.

    "Invasion" done on MAG, "Headhunter" done on Geist, "Assassinations" done on Aliens Vs Predator, etc. Don't even get me started on the loadouts. Generator Defense and the unique connection options are the only things I see that are actually original. Yeah, it's fine to borrow ideas from other games, but when your game finally gets a makeover after almost a decade and most of your "new" reinventions are from other games, well...
  • MW3 - April 23, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    Never really caught halo fever. But Reach has me thinking about shelling out 60 bucks to buy it.
  • sheepgododoom - April 23, 2010 1:50 a.m.

    tribes 4?
  • FalC0nPuncH2012 - April 22, 2010 8:13 p.m.

    Glad to see the multiplayer is improving but I hope you can still get your Recon armor from halo 3
  • american101 - April 22, 2010 8:02 p.m.

    Holy master chief! man oh man oh man. i'mma cry to myself once i aquire such a game. Oh... wait a minute...[sniff] do anyone have a tissue?
  • Rowdie - April 22, 2010 1:22 p.m.

    skykid, look I know kids watching looney tunes have screwed with the meaning of nimrod but can we raise the education level? Nimrod is a great hunter, not a bumbling idiot. So when the rabbit called the balled guy a Nimrod it was in reference to him being a hunter.
  • Rowdie - April 22, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    I'm buying all of that except the more complex maps. They may well be more complex but making the leap from more complex to better, why? I don't see more complex as better. Other games have long had more complex maps and they suck.
  • minimaxi - April 22, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    I used to hate Halo for its kiddie M&Ms pew-pew lazors. now I'm super-hyped for Reach. The notoriously juvenile xbox live might hurt my online experience, though but I want to give it a shot nonetheless
  • elpurplemonkey - April 22, 2010 7:54 a.m.

    Geez, this looks like a rather large change from Halo 3. It seems like a Halo-Battlefield hybrid, which in theory sounds spectacular.
  • Corsair89 - April 22, 2010 6:27 a.m.

    Wow, this game just went from, "I don't give a shit" to "MUST HAVE NOW!"
  • goatse345 - April 22, 2010 5:16 a.m.

    @db1331 PC kids are so cute with their dying game lineups.
  • Cwf2008 - April 22, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    I'll admit this peaked my interest. But still i cant shake the feeling that it now sounds like Section 8, which was a crappy clone of Halo 3...
  • JakkedGamer - April 22, 2010 3:18 a.m.

    WOW.... I love playing as an elite, and now they actually have elite only specific abilities. Finally people will respect elites, and their will be more elite players like myself.
  • michaelmcc827 - April 22, 2010 2:38 a.m.

    This looks epic... recaptcha: cookbook governor
  • Nelson340 - April 22, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    @db1331 Says the person with a Nintendo character in their avatar. And when will you morons learn to be neutral gamers? I don't play Halo myself, but still.
  • SausageLozenge - April 21, 2010 11:44 p.m.

    Bungie for the win!