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This Ain’t No Modern Warfare
Halo Reach, like all games in the Halo series, has a deep and compelling multiplayer element. There are numerous game modes available for you to enjoy. This formula has served Halo well since Halo 2, but at the same time Halo Reach may seem foreign to some players. The gameplay of Halo Reach is completely different from that of Modern Warfare 2 or Battlefield 2 – those used to those games may be a bit lost.
This article will help you make sense of Halo’s vast array of multi-player modes and options. This will let you wade into the Halo pool instead of jumping in with both feet.
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Halo Reach Matchmaking
The centerpiece of Halo’s multiplayer has always been its matchmaking system. Most Xbox 360 games with multiplayer include a system that can match up players with relatively good connections, but the matchmaking in Halo Reach goes deeper than that. It also considers the skill of player and more.
First, let’s talk about the matchmaking variables you have direct control over. The first three are the standard matchmaking options – language, connection and skill. These options turn on respective matchmaking features, are fairly self-explanatory. The Language connects you to people who speak your language, Connection connects you only to people with very good connections to/from you, and Skill limits matchmaking searches to players with roughly equal experience.
Halo Reach also includes a new “psyche profile" option. This includes four settings – Teamwork (lone wolf or team player) Motivation (competition or fun) Chattiness (chatty or quiet) and Tone (polite or rowdy). The goal of this system is to match you up with people you’d like to play against.
You’ll also have to pick the type of game you’d like to enter. The game types are explored further in the next section. Once you’ve begun the matchmaking process the progress will appear on the right hand of the screen. Taking advantage of the matchmaking options does slow the speed at which matchmaking will progress, but I think it is generally worthwhile – it’s better to wait an extra minute and enter a match you actually want to play.
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Halo Reach Competitive Modes
The huge number of modes in Halo multi-player has always been key to the longevity of the series. Here are the modes in Reach.
Big Team Battles – This mode focuses on huge team battles with 8 players on each team. Modes supported are various and include everything from Slayer to Snipers to Capture the Flag.
Rumble Pit – Focuses on general deathmatch-type games such as Slayer (Halo’s name for a pure FFA death match). Some objective games, like Headhunter and Infection, also appear in the Rumble Pit. Rumble Pit matches always contain 8 players.
Invasion – This mode pits six Spartans against six Elites. The Spartans and Elites have different weapon load-outs and abilities. Standard Invasion consists of two rounds in which one team attempts to capture and objective and the other defends, then vice-versa. Invasion Slayer revolves around taking territories while killing the opposing team.
Multi-Team - A huge melee pitting six teams of two people against each other in a variety of game modes.
Team Slayer - This game mode pits two teams of 4 players against each other in straight-up Slayer game modes.
Team Objective – Smaller than Big team battle but otherwise similar, this mode pits teams of four players against each other in a variety of team objective missions.
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Halo Reach Co-op Modes
Campaign – This mode, of course, focuses on the Halo Reach campaign. It can be played split-screen or over Xbox Live, with a limit of two players for split screen and four over Xbox Live. Although Halo Reach focuses on Noble Team, players do not take on the role of Noble Team Spartans in Halo Reach – instead the additional players simply exist without explanation, as was typical in the previous Halo titles. The difficulty of the campaign mode reportedly increases as additional players join together, although the exact details of how this difficulty curve works isn’t known.
Firefight – This game mode pits players against increasingly difficult hoards of Covenant opponents on an open map. Up to four players can team together to fight off the waves of incoming opponents. The goal is simply to kill all the waves of opponents, and the exact details of the game – including weapon loadouts and mission difficulty – can be customized before the match is launched.
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Halo Reach Arena
One of the newest multiplayer game modes is the Halo Reach Arena. The Arena is essentially built strictly for hardcore Halo players who focus heavily on the competitive aspects of the game. Bungie has included this mode in an attempt to appease both the social and competitive parts of the community. The original Halo 3 ranked players on the basis of skill and always matched them up based on it, but this had the side-effect of rigidly dividing the community. It also forced more experienced players into side-stepping a system when they just wanted to play casually – anyone who has met a unranked Halo 3 player with god-like skills knows why this is bad.
The Arena consists of a variety of deathmatch and objective. Only 2v2 and 4v4 combat is supported – there is no FFA or 1v1, at least no at the time of Halo Reach’s launch. Your performance in Arena will give you a ranking that is specific to Arena mode. Arena mode also keeps track of aspects of your performance, such as kill/death ratio, that are not made available in the normal matchmaking modes.
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Halo Reach’s multiplayer is essentially the latest evolution of a system that Bungie has been working on and perfecting for years. I think it is the best matchmaking system yet. Do you agree?