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Halo: Reach Firefight Guide - Introduction
First seen in the stop-gap release Halo 3: ODST, Firefight Mode is a fantastic Co-operative online experience for up to 4 players, as they desperately fight off wave after punishing wave of Covenant attackers until finally it becomes too much. For their latest release, Bungie have really polished up this new game type, so much so that they themselves refer to it as "Firefight 2.0". In this first part of our Halo: Reach Firefight Guide, we'll take you through the basic elements that make up Firefight gameplay, the wealth of customization options, what Playlists and Game Types are on offer for Firefight in Matchmaking, and what Firefight-specific unlockables are available in Halo: Reach's Armory. In the second part of the series, we'll take a look at each of the dedicated Firefight maps in Halo: Reach.
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Halo: Reach Firefight Gameplay: The Basics
Firefight is at its core a survival game mode, in which the squad of up to 4 players must fight wave after wave of enemies, working together to hold out for as long as possible before they are overwhelmed. This form of Co-operative online game mode is not in itself anything new, having on the Xbox 360 been seen before most notably in the Horde Mode of Gears of War 2 and the Nazi Zombies Mode in Call of Duty: World at War. With Firefight 2.0 in Halo: Reach, though, Bungie have significantly upped the survival stakes, creating a game mode featuring its own dedicated maps, game-altering effects being triggered after certain rounds and a depth of customization probably unrivalled in any console multiplayer game today.
Waves, Rounds and Sets
A Halo: Reach Firefight game is constructed of Waves, Rounds and Sets. Enemies come in individual Waves, of which 5 make up a Round. 3 of these Rounds then make up a completed Set. An infinite number of Sets can theoretically be played - the enemy Waves will keep getting harder and harder till the squad of players cannot survive the assault any longer. There is a visual representation of the squad's progress through each Wave, Round etc in the top left hand side of the player's HUD.
Lives and Ammo
To make things both more tactical and more difficult, the squad of players are restricted to a shared pool of just 7 lives during a Firefight Match. At the end of each Round, there is a pause in the action while players attempt to re-stock their ammo, form up together again and plan their tactics for the next batch of attacks.
Survival is further complicated by the activation of certain Skulls (first seen in Halo 3) after each Round and Set, accumulating until all Skulls are active. These Skulls each possess properties that affect the balance and stats in the game, changing the nature of the action as each Round begins.
At the end of every Set, a Bonus Round begins, in which players fight off Grunts to rack up Points to earn extra lives for the next Set. During these Bonus Rounds, the player pool of lives cannot be used, but any player killed is inactive until the commencement of the next Set.
Commendations and Achievements
As Firefight in Halo: Reach now fully incorporates Bungie's excellent Matchmaking system, the new Commendations can be earned during Firefight to boost your Credit score to spend in the Armory. These will change and rotate on a weekly basis. Furthermore, Firefight has its own subset of Halo: Reach Achievements to earn.
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Customization in Halo: Reach Firefight
The ability to endlessly customize many aspects of multiplayer games to create new variants has been one of the hallmarks of the Halo series and one of the reasons for their online longevity. Halo: Reach's Firefight Mode is no different. Players can tinker with many different facets of the Firefight experience to create their own "perfected" version of Firefight. Here are some of the main customization options:
The Firefight host can set game factors such as the number of rounds in a game, the time limit per round and how many skulls will activate at certain rounds. Even the players own personal stats can be tailored for when you need a speed boost or want to ramp up the difficulty by lowering the default health.
Weapon and Vehicle Options
The number and types of available weapons and vehicles in any Firefight Match can be altered, as can the amount of ammo. This makes the creation of single-weapon variants easy, and Bungie have included two - Rocketfight and Sniperfight - as examples in the Firefight Game Types.
Not only can the number and type of enemies and the composition of waves be set individually for any Firefight game, but many factors of Halo: Reach's excelllent enemy A.I. can be tweaked, right down to how aggressive and accurate the enemies you face will be.
There are full customization option for what skulls are included in any Firefight Match, and in which Rounds they become active. On top of that, players can create up to three Custom Skulls, deciding what stats and factors they will influence during the game.
Such a wealth of options to customize in Halo: Reach Firefight means that players should be able to keep themselves entertained well into the future, creating endless new Firefight variants and sharing their ideas for custom games with other Halo: Reach players on forum boards and gaming communities across the Web.
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Halo: Reach Firefight Unlockable Voices
Unlike in Halo 3: ODST, where you could unlock player character models through Achievements and other methods to play as in the original Firefight Mode, in Firefight 2.0 in Halo: Reach you always play as your customized Noble Six, complete with Armory purchases. However, you can tailor your character's voice in Firefight Mode by unlocking different cast members of Halo: Reach through spending credits in the Armory. Here are the available voice unlocks and the cost in Credits:
- SPARTAN-B312: Unlocked from the beginning.
- Pete Stacker: 5,000 Credits.
- Kat-B320: 10,000 Credits.
- Emile-A239: 10,000 Credits.
- Jorge-052: 10,000 Credits.
- Jun-A266: 10,000 Credits.
- Auntie Dot: 15,000 Credits.
- Edward Buck: 15,000 Credits.
- Avery Junior Johnson: 100,000 Credits.
- Carter-A259: 100,000 Credits.
- Cortana: 100,000 Credits.
- John-117 (Master Chief): 150,000 Credits.
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Halo: Reach Firefight Playlists and Game Types
At the moment, the following two Firefight Playlists with four Game Types are available in Halo: Reach. However, expect Bungie to add many new twists to the formula during the long multiplayer life of the game.
- Number of Players: 2-4
- Maximum Team Size: 4
- Maximum Number of Local Players: 2
This is the standard Co-op Firefight mode, in which a team of up to 4 players (2 offline) take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemy forces. The following Game Types are available in this Playlist:
- Firefight: Standard Firefight, multiple weapons, vehicles and enemies, with customization options.
- Rocketfight: Only Rockets, with infinite ammo. Hugely entertaining.
- Sniperfight: Tense stand-off between players and enemies armed only with sniper rifles.
- Generator Defense: Protect the Generators from the incoming Covenant waves.
- Number of Players: 1
- Maximum Team Size: 1
- Maximum Number of Local Players: 1
Score Attack is a solo variant of Firefight in which the players aim is to stay alive as long as possible to notch up a competitive score on the overall Leaderboard, with which to challenge your friends to beat. To ensure a level playing field for all players, customization is not allowed and the waves of enemies are identical for all players. Score Attack has the following Game Types:
- Score Attack: Straight-ahead Score Attack.
- Sniper Attack: Sniper rifle-only variant.
- Gruntpocalypse: Fight wave after wave of only Grunts, who explode in a shower of confetti. Already noted by players as a great way of boosting your Credits in Halo: Reach.
- Crashsite: Single Generator Defense with only one life and a DMR with infinite ammo.
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While this new Co-op Mode was interesting in Halo 3: ODST, it felt a liitle rough around the edges. Halo: Reach Firefight is a whole different matter, though. The depth and sheer range of customization options mean that Halo: Reach players could quite happily only ever play this Game Mode online and yet still get hundreds of hours of entertainment from it over the next few years. And though this may be Bungie's final Halo game, we're sure they still have a few tricks up their sleeve in the form of future updates and maps that will help to keep Halo: Reach's Firefight Mode fresh and fun.
In the concluding part of our Halo: Reach Firefight Guide, we'll take a look at each of the dedicated Firefight maps included with the game.