Bungie has detailed multiplayer changes planned for Halo: Reach ahead of the upcoming beta test, which kicks off on 3rd May.

Speaking to Shacknews, the developer outlined plans for improved social options, matchmaking and giving hardcore players stuff to do once they max out.

The best and most frequent players will want to focus on Arena, where they jostle for position in five skill divisions over month-long seasons.

Matches will focus on Slayer and Team Slayer playlists, and in order to qualify players will need to gain a certain number of "Daily Rankings", each of which requires a certain number of games to be played a day.

Once you're in a division you'll be able to move up and down, and even get promoted or relegated, based on determinations derived from your number of kills, kill/death ratio, assists and other factors.

As well as giving the hardcore players impetus to keep playing even when they max everything out, Arena should also mean it's easier for new players to avoid being matched with opponents way beyond their skill level.

Meanwhile, everyone should benefit from changes to the way Halo: Reach lets you keep track of friends and play together.

You'll be able to see information on what your friends are doing within the game, rather than having to use the Xbox 360 Guide, and rather than waiting for a friend's match to finish and then joining manually, you can tell Reach to automatically pair you up when your friend becomes available.

Reach also streamlines partying-up, and treats groups a bit more intelligently. For example, if you're in a group of four and want a four-on-four game, Reach will try and find suitably skilled opposition.

But if you're in a group of six looking for a four-on-four, it may split you across the two teams because it's more likely that you're just trying to have some fun together.

There will also be more voting options, allowing you to favour more combinations of things you want to do, rather than having to vote down things you would actually be quite happy playing.

Not content with all that, matchmaking will be more customisable, so you can try and avoid bad connections, look for players of differing skill levels, and even find people speaking your language.

Halo: Reach is due out this autumn and you can read our X10 Halo: Reach preview elsewhere. The beta begins on 3rd May and will be open to anyone who bought Halo 3: ODST, and to loyal Halo 2 fans.

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