From the beginning, you know the end…
09/07 | A Reach premium theme is up on Marketplace.
09/07 | A round up of pre-order bonuses and promotions is here.
09/07 | Bungie has released a behind the scenes video on the audio aspects of Reach.
The review embargo is Saturday, September 11th at 9:01 PM Pacific time.
Yes, Reach will load faster when installed to the hard drive, unlike Halo 3.
Xbox Live Reach Promotions
Xbox Live Launch Festivities
Scoring a Retail Copy Early
No, Microsoft/Bungie won't ban you for a retailer selling you a copy early. Pirated copies, that's another story.
A summary of SKUs, resources and the top-level features. Consider this the short version of the thread.
Release Date | Japan - 09/15 | Everywhere Else - 09/14
SKUs | Click thumbnails for full sized images.
Regular | $60
-The game disc and manual, in a box.
Limited | $80
-The Regular edition housed in a "recovered ONI black box” package.
-An exclusive set of Elite MP armor (Live download).
-Artifact bag containing Dr. Halsey’s personal journal, classified documents and other items, created by Eric Nylund, Bungie and 343 Industries.
Legendary | $150
-The complete Limited Edition package (which contains the regular edition).
-Individually numbered Noble Team statue from McFarlane Toys.
-Flaming Spartan MP armor effect, applicable to any Spartan armor configuration (Live download).
-Access to behind the scenes videos on the making of Reach (via Live).
-A very large UNSC-themed box.
Hardware Bundle | $400 | Releases same day as the game
-A silver, Reach-themed Xbox 360 'slim' console. The console replaces two standard sound effects for ones from the game (click here for details).
-Two silver Reach-themed wireless controllers.
-The standard edition of the game.
Pre-Order Bonuses | Yes, there are two.
A set of Recon armor, via a download token packed in the box of the first wave of copies shipped.
Gamestop and GAME exclusive "UA Multi-Threat Mjolnir Mark V(B) Armor" to all online and in-store Gamestop and GAME pre-orders.
A prequel to Halo 1, Reach's campaign tells the tale of a squad of Spartan soldiers called Noble Team trying - and failing - to defend the planet Reach from Covenant invasion. Options include 4-player online co-op, skulls, scoring, and difficulty which scales the AI to the number of players.
Halo's classic multiplayer, expanded with new gameplay, improved matchmaking features, much improved net code, new vehicles, weapons, game types and the deepest custom options the series has seen.
First seen in Halo 3: ODST, Firefight is a cooperative arena mode pitting players against AI opponents. Features include full matchmaking support, deep custom options and a versus mode.
Halo 3's collaborative object editor returns with a greater focus on map creation. Reach's iteration improves the UI significantly and includes an enormous canvas map called Forge World to build custom maps on.
Multiplayer, Firefight and Campaign all feature full matchmaking support. Campaign and Firefight allow drop-out, but not drop-in.
As with Halo 3, games from all gameplay modes (Campaign, Multiplayer, Firefight, Forge) can be played back as game data, and thus viewed from any angle or speed. Custom clips and screenshots can be culled from games and to save or share.
Custom game types, maps, screenshots and saved films can be published to the community using the File Share system. Shared content across the entire Halo community can be searched, rated and downloaded both in-game and on Bungie.net.
Service Record & Bungie.net
Reach expands on Halo 3 and ODST's online support. The player's game history details, lifetime stats and accomplishments to date as well as in progress are part of the Service Record, which is integrated both into Reach and in greater detail on bungie.net.
Player Investment & Reward
An large suite of features spanning all the game modes to reward play, replacing Halo 3's multiplayer XP and rank system. Players earn Credits (in-game currency) for playing any game mode of Reach, which can then be spent to unlock a huge volume of (cosmetic) armor and other items to customize their Spartan and Elite characters. Challenges (in-game goals updated weekly by Bungie), career Commendations, an ultra-competitive multiplayer seasonal Arena system and lifetime Rank system round out the package.
-Campaign | Splitscreen: 2 | Live/LAN: 4
-Firefight | Splitscreen: 2 | Live/LAN: 4
-Multiplayer | Splitscreen: 4 | Live/LAN: 16
-Forge | Splitscreen: 4 | Live/LAN: 8
Achievements | Listed and described in this Bungie Weekly Update
-Official Media | Trailers and ViDocs | Screenshots | Character, Weapon and Vehicle Renders | Artwork | Halo Waypoint's Youtube Channel (excellent resource for convention coverage and full-length gameplay videos)
Reviews | Coming September 11th, after the embargo is up. I'll just link to the Gamerankings & Metacritic sites here at that time.
Press Coverage | Recent notable previews and interviews
Over-arching systems encompassing all or multiple gameplay modes.
Reach retains Halo's core gameplay (guns, grenades, melee; recharging shield; two-weapon limit, etc), but makes several additions and expansions over the previous games in the series.
The player's targeting reticule will expand and recede with each shot fired, indicating the decay in accuracy between shots. Firing quickly will be less accurate that spacing shots out, so players need to learn each weapon's ideal rhythm at various ranges.
Similar to Halo 1, Reach features a health meter beneath the recharging shields which must be replenished with health packs when depleted. In a more significant change, non-power weapons will not have their damage carry through shields to the health below, no matter how little shield is left. For instance, a melee strike when the shield is only 10% up will pop the shield - and no more.
In a return to Halo 1 (and ODST), fall damage is included in Reach. It is not severe, but it should give you pause when leaping from great heights. Crouching upon impact will reduce both the damage and the brief stun that occurs when leaping from great heights.
An evolution of Halo 3's equipment, armor abilities are a "fourth leg" to Halo's combat. Players can equip one at a time, selected as part of a load out or picked up in certain game modes. Their effects vary, from invisibility to a jet pack. See the Weapons & Ordnace section for more details.
Used in Multiplayer and Firefight, Load Outs are game-specific bundles of weapons, grenades and Armor Abilities which can be selected at the start of each game, and between spawns. They feature in Firefight and Multiplayer, and can be customized for custom games.
Spartans vs. Elites
While the Spartan is the default player model for Campaign and most MP game types, certain one-sided gametypes and Firefight Versus will pit Elites against Spartans.
Relative to Spartans, Elites are significantly larger, have more health, move much faster, and recharge their shields more quickly.
Spartan health bars recharge in sections: up to the nearest third lost. (i.e., lose nearly all your health, it recharges 1/3 back). The remainder requires health packs. Elites health recharges completely.
Optional flourish added to from-behind melee kills, triggered by holding down the melee button. Over 40 unique assasinations exist, many specific to either Multiplayer or Campaign/Firefight.
Player Investment & Customization
Reach replaces Halo 3's XP and rank system with a larger set of features to encourage and reward play, this time encompassing all gameplay modes (Campaign, Multiplayer, Firefight, Forge).
Credits are an in-game currency which is earned by playing the Reach, and completing objectives such as Commendations, Achievements and Challenges. cR are spent in the Armory on cosmetic armor upgrades, are the basis for a player's Rank.
A large set of metrics (several dozen) covering player behavior, such as headshots, assists, etc. Commendations have five levels each: Steel, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Onyx; a large number of cR are paid out at each threshold.
Dynamic, in-game objectives that Bungie will be updating weekly, which span across all game modes; think of them as a stream of new Achievements, in perpetuity. Each week will feature five Daily Challenges and one Weekly Challenge. Selecting a Challenge from the menu will drop you into the appropriate lobby with all the settings necessary to complete the Challenge. Completed Challenges pay out Credits, and the Challenges you complete are recorded in your permanent Service Record.
A store to blow your cR on cosmetic armor permutations and other player customization, such as Firefight voices. There is a Community category of armor that unlocks when the aggregate credits earned by entire Reach player base reach certain threshholds, at which point the armor will unlock for everyone. The level of customization is different between Spartans and Elites.
Spartan|Dozens of configurations of armor across ten categories, from Helmet to Knee Guards.
Elite | A set of several unique skins based on the Elite classes from Campaign. The selected skin will be used in game types featuring Elites, such as Invasion.
Consistent Player Identity
The Spartan that you customize, Noble Six, will be featured in Multiplayer, Firefight, Forge and Campaign (including the Cinematics). They can be male or female, and feature a different base model and voice actor for each sex.
A military rank earned via a player's lifetime cumulative credits. Rank is the representation of a player's time spent and accomplishments achieved in Reach. It is not a factor in Matchmaking, which is purely TrueSkill driven.
Campaign, Multiplayer and Firefight vary in player count, but share the same matchmaking systems. The Reach launch playlists have not been detailed yet, but expect a few Firefight and at least one Campaign hopper, in addition to a mix of 4v4, 6v6 (for Invasion) and 8v8 playlists, in addition to Arena.
Accept the initial map/gametype combo, or vote for one of three alternatives - or none of the above.
A list of all Friends playing Reach, the members of their Party, their status, and player details integrated into the main UI. Useful for quickly pulling teams together, or joining one. It is essentially an upgrade of Halo 2's "Y-button menu".
If a Friend is in a non-joinable game (i.e., Matchmaking), this will automatically add you to their Party when they become joinable.
A set of personal settings to express what kind of player you'd like to be matched with: chatty or quiet, lone wolf or team player, what language they speak, etc. These will inform but not dictate matchmaking.
-Social vs. Ranked
Reach has eliminated the distinction between Social and Ranked games. Under the hood, all games are matched based on True Skill ratings, and your Social Settings. The True Skill rank is hidden, never exposed to the player. Party splitting will only occur if you enter a playlist with more players than one team supports (for instance, entering a 4v4 playlist with 5 players in the party). There is an ultra-competetive subset of Matchmaking for Multiplayer, called The Arena. See the MP section for details.
Custom Content Sharing
User-created content, which consist of custom maps, custom game types, screenshots and saved films can be shared with friends and the community at large, both in-game and on bungie.net.
Similar to Halo 3, the File Share is an online space for players to share their custom content to the community. Custom maps, game types, screenshots and film clips placed in the File Share can be downloaded by anyone in the community via Bungie.net and in-game. (Files can also be sent to individuals.) Six slots and 25 MB of online storage comes standard for all players.
An expanded File Share and access to video rendering tools via bungie.net is available via a Bungie Pro subscription.
A tool built into Reach to search for custom content, by category or keyword, where ever it is: locally saved, shared within the community or recent player history.
-Local Storage Limit
One thousand pieces of each content type (maps, game types, films, screenshots) can be saved to the HDD, assuming there is space.
The Service Record provides an overview of a player's Reach career: the customized Noble 6 is displayed alongside Rank, Commendations, time spent playing, Arena rating, lifetime credits, past and in-progress Challenges, etc. It also includes details of every game ever played.
An aggregated summary of every game played, from every game mode (Campaign, Multiplayer, Firefight, Forge). Career stats can be seen in aggregate, or filtered by mode, map, playlist and gametype. This area includes things such as total career medals earned, enemies and vehicles killed and the tools used to do so. Individual games can be drilled down into for a wealth of stats, from medals earned to the number of Grunts killed in an individual wave of Firefight.
-Custom & Community Content
Bungie.net will serve as a hub for user-created content (maps, game types, films, screenshots). The past 30 screenshots taken in the Theater mode will be automatically uploaded to that player's Service Record, in addition to any content in the File Share. Across the Reach community, all custom content can be searched, tagged, rated and queued for download to your 360, where it will download automatically the next time you sign in.
Similar to Halo 3's theater, saved films can be viewed for all games in Campaign, Firefight, Multiplayer and Forge for viewing later.
Highlights can be clipped out of any game (Campaign, Firefight, Multiplayer, Forge) and saved for later viewing or sharing. (Side note: we can rewind Campaign and Firefight this time around, as well.)
Screens can be taken and saved from any film. A rolling record of the last 30 screenshots are saved automatically to the player's Service Record on bungie.net.
-Players | Splitscreen: 2 | Live/ LAN: 4
Enemy AI and numbers will scale with the number of players.
As with Multiplayer, Campaign includes matchmaking support through the Matchmaking menu; select the Campaign playlist to find other players.
As with Halo 3 and ODST, this option enables Firefight-style score keeping and medal displays during Campaign.
Easy, Normal, Heroic, Legendary. Bungie recommends Heroic for a "just right" solo game for experienced players.
Skulls are modifiers which change change aspects of the game; Gold skulls increase difficulty and are multipliers in scored games. Silver skulls are just for fun.
Mythic | Enemies have 2x health.
–-Catch (Gold) | Enemies like to throw grenades. A lot of grenades.
---Tough Luck (Gold) | Enemies are especially skilled at dodging projectiles, vehicles and grenades.
---Famine (Gold) | Weapons dropped by fallen foes have 1/2 the normal ammunition.
---Cloud (Gold) | Say goodbye to your radar.
---Tilt (Gold) | Shields deflect bullets, armor reflects plasma.
---Black Eye (Gold) | Your shields will no longer recharge, and can only be replenished by meleeing an enemy.
---Grunt Birthday Party (Silver) | Headshot Grunts for a fun party.
---Cowbell (Silver) | The physics impact of explosions are enhanced. Big time.
---IWHBYD (Silver) | Rare in-game dialog is common, common dialog is rare.
Story | From the beginning, you know the end.
Set just prior to the start of Halo 1, Reach tells the story of one of the largest battles in Halo lore: the Covenant invasion and, ultimately, the destruction of the planet Reach, home of the UNSC military machine and to the Spartan program.
We play as Noble Six, the newest member of Noble Team, a squad of Spartan III's (and one Spartan II) as they do their best to slow the inevitable.
Noble Team | http://www.bungie.net/news/content.aspx?cid=24530 Noble Team bios. From left to right: Carter | Emile | Jorge | Kat | Jun | Noble Six