Bungie, in their ongoing quest for world domination, have outdone themselves by releasing the 2nd playlist update for their new game Halo Reach only 30 days from launch. Multiplayer focused games such as this usually get balance updates and new gametypes only a few times a year, or when the new paid DLC comes out, so it is truly a delight when developers promise and deliver free content updates such as this. Next time you put your boots down on Reach, here are the major things to look for in the new update.
Campaign Matchmaking: After online campaign co-op was introduced to the Halo universe in Halo 3, the next logical step was to include it in Bungie’s matchmaking system so you could find players to play with even during late night Mountain Dew fueled gameplay sessions. As of today, it is a reality. You and up to three random strangers from Xbox Live get matched into a lobby, and the computer picks a campaign level. You can vote on the difficulty (Normal, Heroic, or Legendary) or None of the Above, which brings up another level picked from the games nine missions. Note that, unlike other matchmaking playlists, you can veto the level multiple times, so it is possible to hold out for a level if you need to earn a specific achievement or beat that last level on Legendary.
Living Dead: Bungie has added two new playlists, upping the number of options in Matchmaking to 14. The first is Living Dead, a home for Infection games 24/7 away from Rumble Pit, allowing the FFA playlist to be devoted exclusively to more traditional gametypes. Right now, there are only two gametypes in the playlist, so here’s hoping the next update will include a little more variety and get me excited about a game of Zombies again.
Team Snipers:The other new playlist, satisfying another small vocal minority of the Halo playerbase. Expect plenty of out of nowhere deaths and tense shootouts from across the map. Protip to those not used to playing Snipers gametypes, don’t sprint towards a foe hoping for a quick melee kill. When sprinting, your head is exposed and prominent, handing your opponent a no scope kill and a Headcase medal on a silver platter.
Atom: One of two brand new maps injected into matchmaking for this update, Atom is the first community made map to be made official in Halo Reach. It is a large scale maze of walkways and gravity lifts that looks very confusing. But once you get a game of Big Team Battle going on the map, you can see why Bungie picked it. It’s a very chaotic map, including a Rocket Launcher and Gravity Hammer in the middle, giving players multiple targets to rush at the start of the round. This map is heaven for Jetpack lovers, as the air will be filled with easy targets from the man cannons, and you have a lot of cover from ground attacks. This map is already a personal favorite on several playlists for me.
Cliffhanger: The 2nd new map in the update, this is a very small map perfect for FFA and small team games. In fact, this may be one of the smallest maps every put into Matchmaking since Elongation in Halo 2. The map includes three small buildings and two teleporters to quickly move players to the top. There are also a couple of Sniper Rifles placed at each base, which seems out of place considering how tight the map is. Considering how big most Halo maps are nowadays, it was great seeing an arena type map in matchmaking again, and hope for more of it’s kind soon.
New Gametypes: A few new additions were also made to existing playlists for the update. In Team SWAT, we now have SWAT Magnums, a game where you have no shields and only a pistol to defend yourself. Compared to normal SWAT games where everyone has the high powered DMR, this is a better option for those who are not the typical audience for SWAT gametypes. Also new in the Score Attack playlist is Mythic Attack, which is just a more challenging version of the currently available Score Attack gametype.
Bungie has also recently announced the first DLC for Reach, and a contest for would be mapmakers to get their maps into Matchmaking, so it’s an exciting time to be a Halo fan. With the upcoming release of the next Call of Duty game, look for Bungie to bring their big guns out and agressivly campaign for your attention, which can only mean even more good things to come in the next update.