Ho, boy. Lots of ground to cover this week. Let’s headshotted the easy stuff out of the sky right at the top.
Hey, did you see the sweet new multiplayer ViDoc we dropped on Thursday morning? Spartans strapped with Jet Packs weren’t the only high-flying things we put on offer. Our acrobatic team really let the expletives fly!
Bam! That was super awesome. We hope you enjoyed it. Most of the team won’t claim to be Roger “-blam!-” Clemens, but here at Bungie we do love us some inside baseball. These ViDocs, first and foremost, are designed to give you a first look at all the new stuff directly from the perspective of the team who whipped it up. When they get the opportunity to show off the goods, they tend to get amped up. Apologies if they were a little animated.
If you were looking for something a little more slick on the marketing side, don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for that stuff in the not so distant future. It won’t be long now. The Beta (it’s super awesome) hits in just ten days – going live in the early morning on May 3rd. And since we dug into some of the sweet game types last week without saying spit about Invasion, let’s clear that sweet little chestnut up while there’s still time.
What’s there to say about Boneyard? Well, it’s big. Really big. (That’s what she said!) It’s also beautiful. Check out an overhead image Shishka snapped back in March after he’d just swapped computers.
Hard to believe that’s the same space. It’s pretty amazing to see what this team can do in such a short span of time. You? You’re gonna have to get up to speed double time. Invasion moves fast. Let’s give you the rundown of how it’s gonna work in the Beta.
You won’t have to run any reconnaissance to pick out the decommissioned UNSC frigate, Commonwealth. She sits front and center amidst Boneyard’s dusty battleground. The grounded vessel makes for a really interesting play space, but it also segments Boneyard visually into some seriously enormous sections.
The first space you need to be familiar with is the exterior expanse set between the cliff wall and the frigate itself. This ground is where the attacking Elites will be spawning at the outset the match. Scraps from derelict and dismantled machinery provide plenty of cover from the hail of DMR fire the Spartans will be raining down on you from above.
You’ll want to stay mobile, but make sure you scrub the sand for treasures; there are a couple of carefully placed Needle Rifles strewn about. As you might have picked up on while watching the latest ViDoc, Evade is a great way to stay on your toes and out of fire. Or, you know, just cloak it up and sneak your way towards the enemy stronghold, ninja-style.
Once Phase 2 is underway, this area is also where Elites should head if they’re looking to get their vehicular manslaughter on, but at the outset, as noted, you’re on foot. More on the differences between each Phase in a few.
If you’re still alive, it’s time to head up into the Commonwealth itself. Currently, it sits atop the universe’s largest cement trailer blocks. As such, you are free to check the hull’s undercarriage for leaks from below if you’re feeling nosy. Of course, you might want to hustle up one of several stairways up into the interior instead, since that’s where all of the sweet ass-kicking action should be taking place.
Action From Every Angle
The interior proper is sizable, but the layout is nice and simple. Defending Spartans will generally stand their ground, positioning themselves around the generators in the central bay while the attacking Elites attempt to flank from various entry points. You might imagine that things get chaotic here. That’s ‘cause they do. You got a good imagination!
Every once in a while, a Spartan might get cocky and force the issue, coming down to meet you on the ground instead of waiting for you to spring up into the frigate's guts. When that happens, remember that as an Elite, you’re bigger, faster, and stronger than they are. Tuck, roll, and annihilate any stragglers. Or simply communicate his or her presence to your team and leave them down low while their squad up top contends with your assault shorthanded.
Once you’ve successfully powered down one of the generators and pushed beyond the frigate, you’ll find yourself on the business side of Boneyard. Phase 2. This open area features cranes, catwalks, rooftops, vehicle bays, and all kinds of other geographical features for you to explore. There are also a few small buildings to scrap over and a sizable smelting refinery nestled against the far rock face. This “back” half is where the Spartan’s vehicle bays are positioned once Phase 3 hits, and once you’ve made it that far, all of Boneyard’s sweeping expanse will have become fair game to fight over.
Now that we’ve paid some lip service to the map itself, let’s talk about the gameplay. In the Beta (it’s super awesome), Invasion is going to be a one-sided affair. You’re either on defense as a Spartan, or you’re attacking as an Elite, one or the other, and you don’t get to choose your side. In the finished product, we’ll likely give you the chance to execute on both sides of the ball in a single match of Invasion for fairness sake, but in an effort to introduce a little extra matchmaking churn into the mix (moar gamez), we’re running things a little lopsided for now.
Does that mean you might be a bit outgunned by a team of monstrous Elites looking to turn you into steaming hot Spartan soup? Yup. But Spartans are used to uneven odds. You should know that by now. You do read the novels don’t you? Geez. Besides, Spartans start off on the high ground, Obi Wan Kenobi-style.
Invasion on Boneyard begins exactly as you would expect it to. A team of Elites has been deployed to a UNSC dry dock facility in hopes of getting their claws on a data core packed with invaluable tactical information, and a squad of Spartan-IIIs have been dropped in to stop ‘em.
To get past the Frigate’s electrofuturistical laser doors, the Elites will first need to target one of two generators positioned inside the Commonwealth. Twenty seconds is all it takes on either designated territory to power the security systems down, but you don’t have all day to get the job done. Fail to shut down the generators in the four minutes allotted for Phase 1, and the Spartans will win. Cue the Marty music and start the celebration.
In all phases of Invasion, if Elites are in control of the current objective the game will go into Sudden Death!
Warrior (Plasma Repeater, Plasma Pistol, 2 Plasma Grenades, Evade)
Assassin (Needler, No Secondary, 1 Plasma Grenade, Active Camo) - only available in Invasion, not Invasion Slayer
Vehicles On Map
Scout (AR, Magnum, 2 Frags, Sprint)
Marksman (DMR, No Secondary, 1 Frag, Sprint) - only available in Invasion, not Invasion Slayer
Once the Elites have pushed beyond the frigate, they’ll want to target one of three newly marked territories. Two are tucked inside the refinery and the third sits in plain sight right beside the Spartan’s vehicle bay. Again, twenty second in any of these territories will shut down the security measures, but this time, there are no laser doors that need bypassing. Four more minutes have been added to the clock to get this phase of the job done. Once the security drops, the data core itself will be ripe for the taking.
Dark Assassin (Needler, Plasma Pistol, 2 Plasma Grenades, Active Camo)
Zealot (Needle Rifle, Plasma Pistol, 2 Plasma Grenades, Evade)
Guard (AR, Magnum, 2 Frags, Armor Lock)
Recon Marksman (DMR, Magnum, 2 Frags, Sprint)
Vehicles On Map
Rolling Right Along
Elites, snatch the core and tote that sweet piece of tech outside and deliver it to the Phantom that just descended onto the scaffolding near the ridge. Of course, getting it there is gonna be a problem. While you have it in tow, you’re a high priority target for any Spartans in your vicinity and you’re also significantly slowed by the tremendous weight of all of those precious megabytes! You’ll want to have some escorts providing you with cover fire. How much time do you have to get it done? Yup, four minutes.
Ranger (Plasma Repeater, Plasma Pistol, 2 Plasma Grenades, Jetpack)
Royal Zealot (Needle Rifle, Plasma Repeater, 3 Plasma Grenades, Evade)
Gladiator (Energy Sword, Plasma Repeater, 2 Plasma grenades, Evade)
Champion Assassin (Needler, Plasma Repeater, 3 Plasma Grenades, Active Camo)
Airborne (AR, Magnum, 2 Frags, Jetpack)
Expert Marksman (DMR, AR, 3 Frags, Sprint)
Operator (Shotgun, Magnum, 3 Frags, Armor Lock)
Grenadier (Grenade Launcher, AR, 3 Frags, Sprint)
Vehicles On Map
Hey, you. Get your damn hands off her!
So, what are the Spartans doing all this time? Simple. They’re killing the Elites and defending their territory. If the Spartans can hold out during any one phase, the game is over and they score a victory. In celebratory fashion, UNSC Longswords will fly overhead and scrub the zone with a tactical strike, rendering any and all data stored on the core completely de-datafied! Skunked!
You might notice that some Loadouts offer as many as three grenades. In the Beta, you’ll only be able to collect and store two grenades of each type, Frag or Plasma, at any one time, but via Loadouts you’ll be able to gain a small boost at spawn and carry three. If you do elect a build with three nades, once you toss one out onto the battlefield, you’re once again limited to two of each type until you meet your demise and respawn again.
Cue the explosions! Bam!
. At the beginning of each game, players will be placed into two man fireteams. You don’t get to choose who you pair up with, but if you came in with an even-numbered party, we’ll make sure everyone in your crew gets to play on fireteams all together now. Come in with an odd one out all Yoko-style, and well, I’ll let you do the math. Sorry, we can’t pull any King Solomon type action. Whole players only.
So, what are fireteams? Well, they’re important. In Invasion, you’ll be able to choose where you respawn by pressing up on the d-pad. One of those choices will always be to spawn on the other member of your two man army, battle bro style. If they’re presently out of combat, you’ll pop in right on their six. If they’re in a vehicle that has a jump seat or a turret, you’ll be able to slip right into their fast mover on the fly. Do it right, and it should be a significant advantage.
If they’re currently engaging, however, they’ll be notified that you’re attempting to spawn in on their position. If they’re able, they might pull back and bring you in to even up the odds or gain the tactical advantage. If they don’t (and you don’t elect to pick another spawn) you’ll end up adding crucial time to your respawn window. As long as you stick on your bro, we’ll wait you out until you get in the action or they die, at which time, you’ll need to pick a new location.
Of course, if they’re just not able to get you in, or you simply don’t think they’re in a great spot, you can press up to pick a new spawn at any time. There's plenty of options to choose from, including your team's vehicle bay. The power is yours!
Invasion Slayer is a little easier to explain. It’s still Spartans vs. Elites, but instead of focusing on specific sections of the map and the objectives each contains, you’ll be focusing on making the other team eat lead. Loadouts will become more and more powerful as the game moves through its three phases, each of which are triggered by either time or kill count, whichever comes first. They breakdown like this:
Phase 1 (0-25 kills, or until the 4 minute marker)
Spartan Weapon Drops: Power Weapons (Rocket Launcher, Sniper Rifle)
Elite Weapon Drops: Power Weapons (Plasma Launcher, Focus Rifle), or a Ghost
Phase 2: (26-50 kills, or until the 8 minute marker)
Spartan Weapon Drops: Power Weapons, or a Warthog
Elite Weapon Drops: Power Weapons, or a Ghost, or a Banshee
Phase 3: (51-75 kills, or until the 12 minute marker)
Spartan Weapon Drops: Power Weapons, or a Warthog, or a Scorpion
Elite Weapon Drops: Power Weapons, or a Ghost, or a Banshee, or a Wraith
You’ll find randomly positioned territories throughout Boneyard. Capture them and you’ll initiate an airdrop that will be deployed 10 seconds later. Keep it secure long enough and you’ll be able to snag the spoils listed above, either weapons or vehicles. Of course, while you wait out the drop, you’re bound to attract some unwanted attention. Keep your eyes peeled. Once the bounty drops, anyone can grab it.
First to 100 kills wins.
If Invasion isn’t your thing, then you’re probably one of those people who are impossible to please. Because it’s super awesome. Seriously, it’s really fun. But it’s not the only really fun thing we have planned for the Beta (it’s super awesome).
If you’re looking to schedule some vacation around your most anticipated playlist, the current calendar of events we’ve got in the works is listed just below. All dates are approximate and subject to change. Not everything will available all at once – we’ll be rolling out playlists as the Beta goes on to helps us keep the player population and our testing efforts a bit more focused. Once a playlist launches, it’ll remain online and accessible for the duration, unless something major malfunctions.
Grab Bag – May 3
FFA – May 3
Arena - May 3
Invasion - May 7
Network Test 1/Generator Defense - May 14
So when does it end? Well, we don’t have the exact date for you just yet. It all depends on how things go. You can expect a minimum of two weeks and probably no more than a month. Hopefully, you’ll throw a full on fit when we sever the cord, but we won’t be pulling the plug because we’re jerks, we actually have a game to finish making. Keeping the Beta running is a lot of work. Besides, we don’t want to totally spoil what’s to come – we’ll run the Beta as long as we need to in order to hit our testing goals. Then we have to rip it out of your hands until the Fall. Sorry. Nothing personal.
While you are busy with the Beta, you can bank on finding five really fun playlists to explore. Next week, we’ll launch our Beta (it’s super awesome) guide on Bungie.net and give you some insights into how each playlist breaks down by specific game type. For now, here’s the breakdown on stuff we’ve already covered that hasn’t yet sunk in for one reason or another:
Yes you can play split-screen in the Beta. 2-way in Generator Defense, 4-way in everything else. Guests are also good to go. Bring friends. All you’ll need is a valid Xbox LIVE Gold account (there’s no offline play) and that copy of ODST in your drive when it comes time to launch the Beta. You do know where your copy is, right?
Seems there was a bit of confusion coming out of the most recent press previews (and from some of leftovers we neglected to strip out of the menus. Whoops!). Here’s some stuff you won’t find in the Beta (it’s super awesome): Scarabs, the Mongoose, Night Vision, Brutes, Push to Talk, Race, Squad Regrouping, puppies that never die, that purple WIP map from the ViDoc, Team Chat, melees from behind that don’t kill dudes with one pop, muffin tops, Bumper Jumper…oh wait, Bumper Jumper is
So yeah, we made some changes to all of our control schemes. You’ll want to take a minute to get familiar with the new setup. What you shouldn’t spend any amount of time on is learning how to use the fancy new stuff on the d-pad. You won’t find any of the features featured on the pad in the shots below featured in the Beta (it’s super awesome).
Lars Bakken Green Thumb
Recon (You Can Haz)
Team Chat is now back to its always open state with proximity voice in full effect for all players on the battlefield. You won’t have to push to talk. That could change for the final retail offering, but for Delta, that’s how it’s currently set up.
If you’re the type of person who likes to plan ahead, you should take note. All stores everywhere are now accepting pre-orders for Halo: Reach. There are three flavors on offer.
Standard comes with all the standard stuff. The game disc and manual.
The Limited Edition game disc comes secretly ensconced inside an ONI strongbox and includes an artifact bag containing Dr. Halsey’s personal journal and other classified assets that speak to long kept secrets held by the Halo universe. If you’re a fan of the fiction, you will definitely want to get your eyes on all this totally classified intel. We worked directly with Eric Nylund to ensure that the details contained therein married up perfectly with our game fiction as well as the fiction explored in the novels.
You’ll also have access to an exclusive set of Elite armor for use in Reach’s multiplayer.
The Legendary Edition comes with everything the Limited Edition has to offer. All of it. The ONI strongbox, Halsey’s Journal and other classified assets, and the Elite armor permutation. Additionally, it also comes with the magnificent statue of Noble Team McFarlane Toys painstakingly crafted to match the in-game models right down to the scuffs on each Spartans boots. Plus, just look at that crate. How sexy is that?
Some people have postulated that this sucker really won’t be all that exclusive, hearkening back to the Halo 3 cat helmet from yesteryear that hit retail shelves in mass quantities. Microsoft is ensuring us that they won’t be going down that path this time out, noting that the Legendary Edition will truly only available in a limited run and that they fully expect all copies to be spoken for at launch.
In addition to those goodies, players who opt to go big will also score a sweet armor effect that will light their head on fire in multiplayer. It’s not tied directly to any one helmet, so no matter which Spartan gear you strap on, you’ll find the flames work perfectly in tandem.
Links to pre-order each edition are embedded in the images above.
Sometime in the middle of last week, while a handful of devoted Halo 2 players were still valiantly slugging it out over Xbox LIVE, our direct feed to the mother ship was unceremoniously severed and our Halo 2 player count fell to zero.
Once again, we’d like to thank not only the handful of stubborn ass players who supported our studio and our game until the bitter end, but also the thousands who showed up for our final hurrah and the millions who, at least once, picked up controller and threw down in Halo 2’s multiplayer. We hope you had fun. We know we did.
If you’re looking for a more tangible reward, you’ll have to wait it out a little while longer. Tantrums won’t help your cause. Private Messages, either. We do have a small number of Friends and Family codes that we’re planning on granting to a select few players so they can have early access to the Halo: Reach Beta (it’s super awesome), specifically one for the player who came closest to guessing the final game, one for the player who snagged the final kill we have on record, and one for a player who kept on keeping on, well after our connection was severed. If you’re one of these three, we’ll let you know it. Please don’t bombard us with PM’s and emails. (We’ll get cranky.)
We’ll also be compiling a list of players whose April 14th stats impressed us enough to warrant some other sweet prizes. Those folks will be getting stuff like Bungie Pro and Render Minutes for use in Halo 3, ODST, and the Reach Beta (it’s super awesome), and a few might even receive a select handful of other sweet and more tangible prizes depending on their individual mettle. More on that when we have it all sewed up.
Of course, anyone who played, ever, will be getting some visual love once Reach rolls around, as long as the gamertag you’re currently using tallied up an online game of Halo 2. We know you want to know exactly what it is, but to be honest, we haven’t finalized the flair just yet. It won’t be something as grand as a suit of armor, but we’ll make sure that other players are able to pick you out of a lineup based upon your Halo 2 loyalty. When we hammer out some more details, we’ll get in touch to hammer them home.
10 more days. More to come next week. Stay tuned.