May 12th through May 18 was the short time period we had to try the multiplayer gameplay of Halo Reach. This was, for all intents and purposes, a demo and should not reflect the final product in any way... except to say "Reach will be an awesome multiplayer experience!"
Anyway, I got to try it out, and during my limited time playing it, I took pictures with my crappy camera. If the images don't impress you, don't worry, the game is much better looking. I also think a video would better demonstrate the gameplay experience, so here's a random video I found on YouTube.
Reach Beta only showed us the multiplayer aspects of the game and nothing of the campaign, which is said to be the primary focus of the game. As far as this beta goes, the multiplayer is the focus, so I will judge this game purely on its multiplayer features and not take off for lack of single player features.
As always, graphics on this Halo game are superb. I could find no flaw. Screen transitions were seamless and smooth. I did find one small, miniscule flaw, and that's that the text was sometimes too small. I imagine a better television is expected when playing Xbox 360 games, so I will ignore this annoyance.
While a picture is worth a thousand words, it's still nice to hear those words pronounced out loud, and this game does not disappoint. In fact, the announcer might have become a little annoying after saying "Ball taken, ball dropped," several hundred times. I hope the announcements are tweaked to say events less repetitively.
I also could not talk on the mic and listen to music at the same time. This might not be a big deal in most games, but Halo Reach Beta did not have any music, and I get tired of just sound effects. I gotta amp myself for battle by listening to my Halo OST or "Download This Song."
The gameplay is the most important factor in whether or not you should buy this game when it comes out. The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, definitely.
The classic Slayer, Oddball and CTF modes are present, along with several new modes, including Invasion and Stockpile. Stockpile is my favorite mode, by far. Two teams rush to capture three flags in a set time limit. The first team to collect ten flags wins. Basically, if the flags are at your base when time's up, you get a point for each one, making for a frustrating but fun exercise.
Invasion is split into two "sub modes," Invasion and Invasion Slayer. Invasion Slayer is just typical Slayer with Invasion's objectives pointlessly thrown in. Invasion's all about completing a set of objects. Players are devided into teams of Spartans and Elites. Spartans try to keep the Elites from accomplishing their goals, while Elites aim to accomplish three tasks, which consist of waiting inside a designated area and retrieving the 'core'. The core is basically the flag from CTF, but it looks different. Fun fact: the announcer says "Flag dropped" when you drop the core.
Invasion is, by far, the most popular and most intense multiplayer mode, but a lot of the Halo veterans prefer to stick with the classics, Team Swat and Team Slayer. That said, core aspects of the game have changed drastically.
Spartans get to choose between four base classes or "loadouts" before, well, loading into the game. The four classes are Scouts, Guards, Stalkers, and Airbornes. Scouts get a sprinting ability, allowing them to charge toward or away from an enemy. Guards can generate energy fields around their armor which prevent practically anything from harming them. Also, the Guard's shield effect can harm anyone who touchs it. Stalkers are given the classic active camo ability from back in the Halo 1 days, but their camo also makes their radar stop working. Finally, Airbornes get super awesome jetpacks! All kidding aside, Airbornes are great for outdoor environments or for finding high platforms nobody else would normally reach, making the Airborne class perfect for snipers.
Elites have similar classes, but they have no use for scouts, as they run as fast and jump as jump as far as a scout without using the sprint ability. This gives the Elites an advantage over Spartans, but I've noticed Elites also lack the Guard class. Also, the energy sword can be parried by a well-timed melee attack. It is unclear whether gravity hammers are also affected.
Beyond the fundamental changes to the gameplay, there are many new weapons and weapon remodels. The battle rifle was remodeled to be a little more affective for headshots, making Team Swat pretty dangerous. The pistol has its classic zoom-in scope, making it a nice all-around back-up weapon. It's also useful as a fast piercing shot, if you like to rapidly press the trigger.
The new arsenal includes a grenade launcher, a plasma grenade launcher, a heat-seeking missile launcher (I think, only used it once) and many other insanely dangerous weapons. However, if you're crafty, you can take out most opposition with just a pistol or SMG and your fists. The classic hit-to-the-back instant kill tactic has changed into a timed assassination animation that can lead to you dying instead of your target, if someone stops you. This brought a nice balance to stealth and quick reflexes.
DO A BARREL ROLL!
The physics are a little more over-the-top and extreme compared to Halo 3 and ODST. The deaths sometimes get insanely awesome and result in characters doing barrel rolls in mid air. Assassinations are also sometimes pretty awesome, involving Spartans hopping on Elites' backs for a piggy ride. Yeah, this is way different from previous Halo games.
Halo Reach Beta also introduced a new level-up scheme, similar to the rank system in Halo 3. The big difference is you get credits to spend on armor upgrades. These armor upgrades are mostly aesthetic, but they do alter your character's abilities slightly, and there are some limitations to what you can equip, so you won't be outclassed in most situations. It's still best practice to make friends with the good crowd and form alliances to move up the ranks.
Halo Reach Falls 2010.