Smilin' Like a Butcher's Dog

Halo Reach: Max Rank and Thoughts

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Being unemployed has had it's benefits. I was able to max my NHL 11 character within 1 week and now I have maxed my Halo: Reach rank at Lt Colonel Grade 3 just short of three weeks after picking it up. With that in my rear view and no sign of the rank cap being lifted until late November per the rumor mill I wanted to put out my thoughts.

First of all the move by Bungie last Tuesday to move the SWAT gametypes to their own playlist was a wise one. SWAT was popping up too often in the Rumble Pit and Team Slayer game types for my taste. It's no secret I don't like SWAT. I don't play modern shooters, SWAT is a little too much like them.

They also made some changes to Armor Abilities last week, removing the Bubble Shield from Oddball was a smart move. As for Armor Abilities in general I am split. I like the concept but I see some really bad uses of them that are affecting gamepaly balance. The big offender is Armor Lock. I wish it were gone from the game, period. I really don't like the idea that I can sticky someone, and all they need to do is Armor Lock to avoid the otherwise guaranteed death. I see Armor Lock being overused in Oddball. The player with the ball is holding the ball and then dropping it for Armor Lock, waiting for the Timmies to kill each other and then picking the ball up again. I'm just not a fan. I honestly feel that Sprint & Jet Pack have few holes. I like Armor Abilities, they need some tweaking and fine tuning in the name of balance still.

As for Game Types beyond the last update to the matchmaking lists Infection types need to be dialed down. Every time I go into Rumble Pit with 7 randoms its a 75% chance they choose Infection/Safe Havens. I'm not a fan of the Zombie game type to begin with and Safe Havens is useless as no one cares about the safe zones. I played Juggernaut for the first time tonight and based off of the oen game I played with 6 Geezers it need to go right back to custom games. The Juggy now has uber jump to go along with his high shields and super speed. One of our Juggernauts even commented it wasn't fun being the Juggernaut. Classic CTF games are rare these days with Headhunter (which is ok) and Stockpile (which is eh) taking their place. I've only seen Territories in custom games (on a really cool Forge map by Frag).

Firefight is pretty solid. We do need more maps (or maybe put Glacier in FF Matchmaking). Generator Defense needs to go. It's stupid and no one ever plays it. The same for Crash Site on Score attack as it is in essence Genny Defense single player. I would honestly consider dialing the difficulty down on normal Firefight. Heroic is fine for Sniperfight and Rocketfight.

Invasion is the headache I remember from beta. It is an interesting gametype but the lack of variety with Boneyard and Spire being the only maps makes it hard to play this playlist for more than 30 minutes or so. if you expand the types out to Invasion Slayer you can incorporate Hemmorage, the homage to Blood Gulch, which is one of the most unbalanced maps in the game.

On that note this is one of the weakest groups of maps from Bungie I've ever seen. Recreations of older maps like Pinnacle are ok. Sword Base, Countdown and Powerhouse are ok, but when you get into some of the others like Spire and especially Hemmorage the bad design comes out. It you are Blue (water side) on Hemmorage it will take pretty terrible gameply from your opponents to let you sniff a win. They have a cliffside on the back of their base that allows snipers to have a field day with you. The Red teleport is a much more strategically advantageous position on the map and in general the Reds benefit from an overall tactical advantage. It has been said that the Halo 3 maps were a step back from Halo 2. Reach's maps are an even larger regression.

This can be solved in part by the much improved Forge mode which allows you to restrict angle of rotation of objects and even align them based on a coordinate system. Good designers will have a field day with the massive upgrade to the Forge system.

As for the Cr system to garner more stuff for you character. I do like the system or armor permutations as it allows Halo players to really customize their characters. However having made Lt. Col Gr3 by earning 450k Cr i can say that some of the prices for things is ludicrous. I get that they want Armor Effects to be high priced. It makes sense. otherwise you'd have 16 Grunt Birthday Parties and everyone would tire of it . However pricing Shoulder Pieces at 80k is stupid.

I'm a Halo player from Day 1 and knowing that this is the last installation of my beloved series gives me a moment of pause. Reach is a solid game mechanically. Bungie puts more into their games than anyone. However they have to get some things tweaked with respect to game balance. I am interested to see where to community around this game sits in a year, after Black Ops and MOH steal most of my Geezer players away and just the die hards are left. We'll see.