Chronique:BWU 02/04/2010

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Posted by urk at 4/2/2010 4:03 PM PDT

Let's skip the foreplay and get right down to the updatin'.

Embracing Our Differences[modifier]

Last week we trotted Luke Smith and friends out to talk at some length about the economy of Credits and how they, coupled with Military Rank, will ultimately inform the visual accouterments adopted by your Spartan avatar in Halo: Reach. This week, we decided to get a little more technical and dive into the more matérielistic side of the multiplayer coin. We'll dig in even further in just a few, but since the two subjects do intertwine somewhat, I figured we'd begin where the two roads meet.

That brings us to Elites. We've already said that the Elites found in Halo: Reach were never meant to conform to the noble notion of equality. For far too long, our Sangheili brothers have been leashed - their very backs burdened by the weight of multiplayer parity. They hunched, bent to the whims of human anatomy.


HR-Elite vs Spartan MP Beta (render).jpg

Not anymore. In Reach, Elites are bigger, they're faster, and they boast better shield technology than their Spartan counterparts. To drive the first point home - the size difference — we've prepped a side-by-side comparison so you can see just how pronounced the physical changes really are. Click it to check it out in higher resolution.

Size matters. And when we say Elites are faster, we mean it. Natively, Elites are about as fast as a Spartan at full Sprint. Add Evade into the mix, and they're easily the most agile combatants on the battlefield in multiplayer.

Unlike Spartans, their health is not limited to recharging in thirds as their vitality is whittled away in stages, but will recharge fully without even the need for a health pack. Their health also recharges faster, as do their shields. Significantly faster.

So, how are we gonna work them into multiplayer? Well, in a number of ways. In some circumstances, like Arena, you'll only square off Spartan vs. Spartan or Elite vs. Elite. In others, well...stay tuned.

We'll dig into some interesting scenarios in the weeks ahead.

Came From Behind[modifier]

In the ways to die category, let's clear up the 120 degrees comment Sage and Josh made concerning when and where you can engage your death dealing assassination flourish. It's actually more interesting than you might think. (And it's actually the same system employed in Halo 3.)

The 120 degree cone is actually based on where you happen to be looking at the moment the nefarious assassin strikes. Your "Aim Vector." Picture a triangular with its origin point emanating out behind you. If it helps, you can think of Aim Vector as the camera's current position. If your assailant is within that 120 degree zone outside your vantage, and close enough to you to engage the coup de grâce, then you're going down. Keep in mind, they don't necessarily need to be directly behind you if your head's turned.

The assassinations that appear to be happening right in front of the player's eyes in the Multiplayer trailer, are really occurring in the second stage of the assassination. It's already over and the assassin has spun his victim around to deliver the finishing blow with a cool, full frontal flourish.

HR-Assassination MP Beta (render).jpg

Oh, and if you watched the April Fools' Day ViDoc and wondered why the Elite wasn't going down with one standard backsmack, there's no need to worry, when you position yourself on your opponent's six, regardless of whether or not they rock the mandibles, you'll only need to deliver one, clean crack to the back to snag the kill.

Shields Up![modifier]

We should also clarify a little bit of information about popping player's shields. In previous titles, when you were laying into a shielded opponent and bringing them right to the brink of shieldlessness, any damage you did before the pop would transfer into their underlying health. Hypothetically, let's say they had 5 points of shield left when you clocked them for 10 points of damage. The result would be the loss of their shields and a 5 point reduction to their heath.

Not anymore.

Now those additional 5 points are absorbed by the shields as they wink out of existence and the underlying health is left unscathed.

Perhaps the place this impact will be felt the most is in melee combat. Ostensibly this means that if your opponent is shielded to any degree when you land a melee strike, they will not die. You'll pop their shields. If their shields are gone, however, they'll drop like a rock.

For those fearing that this new model will impact weapons like the Sniper Rifle, rest easy. The Long Rifle is exempt, as are other weapons you might expect to be. Rockets will be a one hit kill at close range, as will the Shotgun, even though the April Fools' ViDoc might have indicated otherwise.

Seeing a pattern develop? Shotty nerfed at close range? Elites require two melee strikes to the back to take down? 32 player matches in Reach? (Nope, still capped at 16.)

If you saw something on April 1st that got you all hot and bothered, you should take a moment alone to cool your jets, turbo.

Legit Boosting[modifier]

Sweet segue, bro!

Let's get into Armor Abilities. These are the individual player augmentations that add a rad ability that alters the way you play the game. They can be used as much as you like, with the one caveat being that they need to recharge after your engage them. And in the Beta, when you fall down dead, your Armor Ability will not be added to the subsequent estate sale.

So how do you pick and choose which one you're currently using?

Get Loaded[modifier]

BWU-HR UI loadouts.jpg

Load Outs. At the beginning of each match or round, and again every time you wait out your respawn window, you are given the option of choosing a Load Out.

Load Outs are not player created or defined, but rather playlist and/or game type specific. Essentially, they allow you to choose your Armor Ability, your starting primary and secondary weapons, and your grenade cache on the fly.

For some playlists, that might mean every Load Out features the same weapon sets with only the Armor Abilities to distinguish them. For others, it might mean that as the game goes on, you'll have access to more and more choices based on a number of factors we can fiddle with.

That's just one example to the right. Many gametypes will feature more uniformity in the initial selection.

What it doesn't mean is that you will be creating your own custom Load Out to bring into Matchmaking. You'll be choosing from our prefabricated offerings, based on what's best suited for each gametype.

Don't worry about power weapons being available right from the start, either. In most cases, you'll still be finding those distributed via a number of methods throughout the battlefield, though if circumstance warrants it, we certainly can start you with, say, the Rocket Launcher.

And, of course, you can still loot the corpses of your fallen foes and you'll still find sweet stashes of weapons strewn carelessly about the map for you to find and acquire.

Now it's Time for the Breakdown[modifier]

Alright, now that we've explored how you get your hands on Armor Abilities and weapons, let's talk about what you should do with them. Armor Abilities first, with all due respect to the alphabet.

Can't See Me[modifier]

Active Camo can be used by Spartans and Elites alike. It grants you temporary invisibility, but the effectiveness is hampered in two distinct ways. The faster you move, the more visible you become and the shorter the duration of the effect will be. If you want to make the most of it, stand still or move slowly.

[There's a sweet image of an invisible Elite here, but you can't see it because it's, you know, invisible.]

Plus, while you're refracting light, you're also jamming everyone's motion tracker - including your own. Players in the immediate vicinity will know that they've got a stalker in their midst and you should expect them to be on their toes.

Use it wisely.

Poppin' and Lockin'[modifier]

Armor Lock gives you a burst of invulnerability. You can click once to briefly engage it, or hold it for a longer lasting effect, but either way, while you're in the throes you can't move a single, solitary inch. You're rooted. But you'll shed plasma grenades, shred vehicles unfortunate enough to attempt a splatter, and deflect projectiles. (And you look pretty bad ass while you're doing it.)

HR-Armor Lock MP Beta (render).jpg

Those that get too close are treated to an EMP blast when you exit the lock and the longer you're locked down, the bigger and more powerful the effective radius becomes. While you're in Armor Lock, you can't be melee'd or assassinated, either.

So, what's the downside? You're a sitting duck. While you are temporarily invincible, if you deploy Armor Lock carelessly out in the open, you can bet someone will be lining you up from long range. Watching. Waiting.

See Me Rollin'[modifier]

Evade lets you make a leap of faith in any direction. It's fast, it's tricksy, and it's something you'll be getting a lot of mileage out of as an Elite. It will shed locks and tracking and makes for one nasty juke when you're in close quarters combat.

Now you see me, now I'm assassinating you.

HR-Evade MP Beta (render).jpg

You also grunt when you evade. A lot. And it's awesome.

I Believe I Can Fly![modifier]

Jet Pack should be pretty self explanatory. You can hold the button for an extended burst or feather it after a jump for just a little more height. If you're get too close to the sun, you'll need to worry about the landing, so make sure you save some juice to soften the approach.

HR-Spartan Jetpack 02 MP Beta (render).jpg

Of course, while you're aloft, you're completely without cover and your ability to get shifty is severely hampered. If someone has you in their sights, your only real recourse is to fall away and hope you find cover before they clip your wings (though you can return fire from your airy perch).

You're also susceptible to EMP bursts from Plasma Pistol charges and the Grenade Launcher. While you're controlling the skies, make sure you keep your head on a swivel. You might feel like Superman, but you won't be stopping any speeding bullets, Clark.

I was Running and Running...[modifier]

Sprint is Spartan only and should be pretty self-explanatory. It gives you a quick burst of speed, but while you're at a dead run, you can't get all offensive. If you want to engage, you have to let off and regain your composure.

HR-Spartan Sprint MP Beta (render).jpg

It's weapons down during the duration of your marathon session.

Weapons Up![modifier]

We've been seeing a lot of confusion swirling around Reach's ordnance. Since the dust has settled a bit after the recent media barrage, let's do some clean up.

Straight away, Sage wanted me to clear a couple of things up. On our most recent Podcast, he said some things he thought we should address. First, the Assassination Train scenario won't make Beta. You won't be playing the caboose to a deadly ten player choo choo.

That'd be inappropriate anyway, right? Get your mind out of the gutter.

Secondly, grenades will not asplode when you shoot them on the ground. Didn't make it into the build in time, but it's still in the works for retail. You can still shoot grenades out of the air, though, and frags will still do minor impact damage should you bean another player with a direct shot. Which is awesome. And hilarious.

I'm sure we'll all make do and nobody will start a thread about how Reach is now destined to fail as a result of these two minor omissions from the Beta. Because we are all polite, understanding adults who refuse to succumb to hyperbole and immaturity, right?

Uh huh. Anyway, here's the rundown on some stuff that is in.

Five Shottin' Fools[modifier]

You've probably heard that both the Designated Marksman Rifle and the Magnum are now five shot kills. Four anywhere followed by one to the face. So, how then, are these two weapons different? One of the big tenets of Reach's core multiplayer weapon design was to give each weapon its own unique role, right?

Right. But better grab hold of something solid, I'm gonna totally freak you out right now. Ready?

As is, in the Beta, the Magnum will take down a fully shielded player, from start to finish, almost twice as quickly as the DMR will. Still with me? Good. Deep breaths, there's some big caveats.

HR-Magnum MP Beta (render).jpg

First, the Magnum gets squirrely if you go all out and squeeze off rounds as fast as you possibly can. Real squirrely. You're better off sticking with the proper cadence relayed to you through the reticule bloom. That's your sweet spot. Know it. Respect it.

Second, the Magum's maximum effectiveness is found at short to mid range, fitting snugly between the Assault Rifle and the DMR. And while the DMR may take some extra time to take down a player, at mid to long range, it's easily the more effective weapon due to its magnified scope and reduced recoil.

If you have the Magnum, you don't want to engage a DMR user at long range. Unless you want to die. Then, by all means.

HR-DMR MP Beta (render).jpg

And the Assault Rifle? It's your go to rifle at close to mid range. You'll definitely want to feather the trigger to take down shields and make your assault as personal as possible, just like you did in Halo 3, even though it's been tuned a little to favor accuracy over straight up aggression.

HR-Assault Rifle MP Beta (render 01).jpg

Ultimately the choice between the Assault Rifle and the Magnum may come down to personal preference, play style, and the situation you happen to find yourself in. It's nuanced. Good thing is you'll get tons of hands on time with all three by way of the Beta. And of course, we need to mention, that all of these details, every single one, are subject to change.

Plasma What?[modifier]

Plasma Repeater. It's a bit different that the Plasma Rifle you've become accustomed to. It still sends out a steady stream of bright blue plasma bolts, but the cadence will taper off as the weapon overheats. And while you'll never need to worry about it rendering the weapon useless as it cools, you'll need to vent it out if you want to run it at full speed using the reload button.

HR-Plasma Repeater MP Beta (render).jpg

Since dual wielding is out, our guys needed a more effective native weapon to strap into an Elite's hands. The Repeater is, essentially, the Assault Rifle's counterpart, but it's a little too effective for use in campaign. So when you're in that space, you'll likely see Elites utilizing the Plasma Rifle you're already familiar with.


The Plasma Launcher can send a volley of one to four plasma explosives toward your opponent, depending on how long you keep your finger on the trigger. How many rounds you're prepping is communicated to you through a nifty combination of visual and audio cues. And when you see and hear it coming your way, you need to find some cover. Fast.

HR-Plasma Launcher MP Beta (render 01).jpg

The rounds will track both infantry and vehicles, but don't freak out, the magnetism is more akin to the Needler than it is the Missile Pod. Vehicles are much easier to hit, given their size, but if you play it right, you can affix an explosive round to some poor sucker's face.

Suffice to say, if it's featured on a map, you'll want to know where it is at all times.

Stay Focused[modifier]

The Focus Rifle takes the Sentinel Beam and the Beam Rifle and combines the two weapon's traits for some deliciously deadly peanut butter and chocolate type death dealing action. Zoom in and hold the focused beam on your opponent and you'll tear through their shields and take out their health pretty quickly. Even if you don't kill your enemy, you can bet they'll be encouraged to give up their ground and get behind something that doesn't smell like burning.

HR-Focus Rifle MP Beta (render).jpg

It's a bit like herding goats. With a laser beam. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge.

Prepare to Launch[modifier]

The Grenade Launcher, or "Pro Pipe" as it's come to be known inside the studio on the heels of Hoovaloov's Multiplayer Trailer dissection, is also something you'll want to spend some quality time with. If you point and shoot with a single pull of the trigger, you'll send an explosive round out into the world. If it hits your target dead on, it will explode. If it bounces, it'll arm much like a frag and explode after a short spell.

HR-Grenade Launcher MP Beta (render 01).jpg

But if you hold the trigger after you fire, the round will not detonate until you release your death grip. If you let the round come to rest, it'll remain in play until you decide that it's your opportunity to blow. And if you want to arc it and time the detonation mid air using the same method, you can do that, too.

The round itself will do impact damage to an opponent even if you don't detonate it, much like frag grenades now will, and when it does explode it also produces a fairly sizable EMP blast that will damage and deactivate the type of stuff you would expect it too.

Mount Up[modifier]

The vehicle stable at play in the Beta are all machines you should feel comfortable with when you get behind the wheel, but there are some small differences you need to know about.

The Warthog's chain gun will now overheat after prolonged use and the Scorpion once again features a secondary machine gun turret (which looks hilariously awesome when occupied by an Elite).

HR-Warthog MP Beta (render 01).jpg

The Ghost, the Banshee, and the Wraith are largely identical to their Halo 3 counterparts, and as you can see, they, along with just about everything else, have been pimped out and prettied up something fierce.

HR-Wraith MP Beta (render).jpg

Sharp Knees[modifier]

Oh, and we know some of sweet delectables from the recent batch of sweet screenshots feature Spartans with some strange lookin' knees. Bugged, researched, and resolved. When you suit up in the public Beta, your delicate knee caps will be fully protected.

HR-Spartan Jetpack 01 MP Beta (render).jpg

No Roadhouse action, Miho.

They're Taking Bravo![modifier]

Speaking of builds, we closed out our internal Alpha this week. It's a testament to the team's hard work, resolve, and wealth of experience that even at Alpha the game is loads of fun. But while the games were good, we also got some good data and we're using it to better the experience across the board.

Internal Beta will go live shortly, featuring all kinds of fancy improvements. If things change significantly from there to Delta, which again is what you will come to know as the public Beta, we'll make sure you get up to speed.

For the Trees[modifier]

And speaking of improvements, Marcus continues his campaign crusade with no signs of slowing. If you want to get the latest insights into the Halo: Reach development cycle, you should head over to Noble Actual on the double. I hear there might be some good information (and a pretty picture) waiting for you.

Reach Fools 2010[modifier]

If you missed our April Fools' offering, don't worry. We're not going to take it down this year. It was a bit, you know, obvious. We'll inline it in case you weren't in on the joke.

Blame Stosh[modifier]

Stosh made time in his packed schedule to dig out this little gem. He's so good to you.

[Élément indisponible]

That's it for this week. More en route. Stay Tuned. Look for all the high resolution assets to go live in our official Halo: Reach project page early next week, including some additional info included in the Field Guide for good measure.