From IGN’s early experience with the Beta:
Bungie is adding some new weapons and vehicles to the Halo armory for this fall’s Reach, but those toys aren’t what everyone is going to be talking about. No sir. The big deal this time around is armor abilities and loadouts. The developer recently went into detail about all of these new changes to help get you ready for that May 3 public beta. We’ve picked the highlights out here to fill you in on what’s what.
But first, a word about Elites. These warriors are going to be unlike anything you’ve experienced before, according to Bungie. Bigger, faster, and with better shields, these are not the same guys you remember from the first Halo game. Normally, they’re roughly the same speed as a Spartan, but with the new Evade roll maneuver, they are described as “easily the most agile combatants on the battlefield in multiplayer.” Add in health that recharges fully without the need for health packs and at a faster clip and you might start to think that these guys are a bit unbalanced. Bungie apparently thinks so, too. In some modes, the games will only be Spartans vs. Spartans or Elites vs. Elites. No mixing of species here. However, there are some modes that Bungie is not detailing just yet in which the classic foes will face off.
Now, back to the equipment. Armor abilities are not something that you’ll find and pick up on the map, as you did in the past with the overshield or active camo. They come packed in Load Outs, which is essentially Halo’s new class system. Each gametype or matchmaking list will have a set of Load Outs defined by Bungie for you to choose from. These will include which armor ability you get, as well as your starting weapons. Some options shown included the Air Assault Load Out (pistol, rifle, 2 frag grenades and the jet pack) and the Operator (shotgun, pistol, 3 frag grenades and the armor lock ability). If you kill someone, their weapons will fall and be up for grabs as usual but the armor ability will not. That can only be had by choosing it in your Load Out, which can be changed mid-fight before spawning back in. Other weapons, as always, can be found in select places around each map.
For the beta, Bungie has revealed five armor abilities. Active Camo is available to both Elites and Spartans. It becomes less effective the faster you move and also jams radars, including your own. Armor Lock is a “burst of invulnerability.” Hit it once for a quick bit of protection or hold it down for a longer temporary shield. When you use it, you can’t move. Nothing can move you in fact, not even a vehicle which will find nothing but an impassable wall. Projectiles will even get deflected. Evade is a speed burst in the form of a rolling dodge, and it is used only by Elites. The last two have already been talked about a lot and are fairly self-explanatory — the jet pack and the spring move.
Each of the returning weapons (SMGs and battle rifles are out) have been reworked and tweaked a bit, so you can expect to relearn how they handle when the beta launches. This was a necessity for several reasons, though it stands to reason that the biggest reason for some changes is the removal of dual wielding. It’s out in Reach. One weapon at a time for you.
Some of the new weapons introduced so far include the Plasma Repeater, which is a bit different than the Plasma Rifle in that it slows down as it heats up and it requires a reload instead of a recharge. It’s a bit more effective than the traditional Rifle, which will still probably be the go-to weapon for Elites in the campaign. Another new Covenant weapon is the Plasma Launcher. This puppy can send a stream of four plasma explosives which then will track any opposing player or vehicle, similar to the Needler. The last new Covenant weapon introduced so far is the Focus Rifle. This is described as a combination of the Sentinel Beam and the Beam Rifle. You can zoom in with it and the launch a beam of death.
For the human tech, there’s a new grenade launcher. The neat part about this is that if you hold down the trigger after firing, the grenade won’t explode. This allows you to decide when that grenade will go off and I can already see pros using this to make inexperienced players look really bad.
No new vehicles are being introduced for the beta. The Warthog, Ghost, Banshee and Wraith will all make appearances. The only major change is that the chain gun on the Warthog will now overheat.
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