Bungie details Halo: Reach beta

Discusses maps, jetpack use.

The Halo: Reach multiplayer starts on 3rd May and Bungie's opened up about what we can expect from it.

All four maps - Boneyard, Overlook, Powerhouse and Swordbase - support jetpacks. But note that Halo: Reach has fall damage.

"It's not Halo 3 style where you can John Rambo off of the top floor and you're absolutely fine when you hit the ground," Bungie's Chris Carney told IGN. Fall damage won't be "brutal", he said, but should make fuel consumption a consideration on longer flights.

Jetpacks will undoubtedly be popular, but Carney believes experienced players will soon opt not to use them.

"We try to balance all of the armor abilities against the sandbox. Yeah, you can have a jetpack and you can fly high in the air but you move slow and it's really loud," he said. "Most new players tend to gravitate towards the jetpack but more experienced players stay away from it. It's like screaming 'Pull!' when someone uses it in Powerhouse and flies up in the air."

Carney said that sniper hidey-holes to camp in and shoot from hadn't been placed "intentionally" by Bungie, but will probably be found during beta nonetheless. Rest assured, though, that Bungie is going to tweak the experience so jetpack-plus-sniper rifle doesn't equal win.

Of the four maps, Boneyard is the least known. This has been built for Invasion games and will be have "hot vehicle on vehicle action".

"I like Boneyard," revealed Carney, "which is completely crazy and probably one of the biggest maps we've done. I think we were inspired by the beaches in Bangladesh where they pull in those oil tankers and other big ships and cut them apart. We're doing that essentially with space frigates on Boneyard."

Overlook is a campaign map tweaked to work in multiplayer. It's asymmetrical and similar in layout to High Ground from Halo 3. Bungie needed this map to stress-test the network. A result of this is the Network Test 1 mode, aka Generator Defense. As the name suggests, both Spartans and Elites take turns defending the generators, and are at times even able to lock them down for brief respite.

Nevertheless, Network Test 1 is "ultimately a test scenario" and may not make the final cut.

"As much as the Reach Beta is an awesome demo of our game, it is just as much a huge test of our matchmaking. We are going to be getting tons and tons of data on people's network connections, how matching times behave, how the game feels," said Carney.

"Network Test 1 is really our way of saying that we need to test these really stressful network conditions, let's come up with a game type that allows us to test those conditions and then put it in its own playlist. We call it Network Test 1, bear with us.

"This should be a really cool, fun game type for you guys to play but ultimately it may not ship with the game," he added. "We're doing it to stress the net code and give us your feedback on your networking experience."

Powerhouse is the outdoor, pioneer-themed level. There's plenty of architecture to take in as you float about as well as inside areas to provide an alternative to the "cool, breezy outdoor space".

Finally, Swordbase is a small asymmetrical Slayer map set in an atrium. Carney described it as "the stepson of Prisoner and Boarding Action". There are man cannons here (and on other maps) to allow for quick vertical loops. There are even things called "ninja rails" to speed up travel further. Multiple game modes work on this "small and intense" map.

Halo: Reach is due for release exclusively on Xbox 360 this autumn.

Our Halo: Reach gamepage below has much more information.

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