Halo: Reach Will Be The Definitive Halo Experience

Halo: Reach to Channel Combat Evolved, Ratchet Up Tension To Create a Definitive Experience

January 25, 2010 Halo: Reach will be “the definitive” Halo experience according to mission leads creating the game at Bungie. The team behind Halo: Reach promises that it will be the ultimate Halo experience, crafting a game that explores the best and worst aspects of the previous Halo games to create a revolutionary adventure.

Speaking with Edge magazine, mission lead Niles Sankey and campaign lead Chris Opdahl explained how Halo: Reach will improve upon the other Halo games and take advantage of improved technology to create a game experience like no other.

The team behind Halo: Reach is taking a very serious approach to the creation of this new game in the Halo series. The game will take place on Reach, a human outpost that comes under attack early in the war against the alien Covenant forces. The story of Reach is one of loss. The humans can’t hold back the Covenant attack, Reach falls and, in desperate straits, the end of Reach is where Halo: Combat Evolved begins. Working within such dire circumstances, the team at Bungie has made it a priority to instill a sadness in the player by building up an affinity for the world of Reach.

The team promises that one of the focal points of Halo: Reach will be to introduce players to their fellow Spartans (you play as a Spartan III in Halo: Reach) and also to the planet. They want to create an experience that starts off slowly, building an intimate familiarity with the world that makes it more devastating when it is attacked and falls around them. Speaking about the opening missions of the game, Niles Sankey, mission lead at Bungie told Edge, “We’re putting bigger emphasis on this notion of epic wide-open landscapes that Halo is traditionally remembered for. We’re going for that more so than in the last couple of games, and really allow the player, at least early on, to explore this world and understand it so there’s some attachment to it for when it’s pulled apart.”

The open world environment is also a result of the Halo: Reach team looking over the Halo trilogy (including Halo 3: ODST) and recognizing that there is a significant benefit to having open-ended levels such as Silent Cartographer and Flawless Cowboy in which players could approach their attack plan several different ways. Halo: Reach will be about player choice. Rather than pushing a player than a linear experience, the developers want Halo: Reach to be an open-ended fight which will offer the player choice, exploration and replayability.

Speaking of allowing players to explore levels and take different approaches to accomplishing a goal, Sankey said, “It’s very important we retain that [open-ended play] while the rest of the industry goes in the direction of very exacting, linear, almost movie-like levels that play the same way every time. We are conscious that the strengths of Halo lie heavily in the ability to immerse players in this organic sandbox, and depending on how the player plays it changes.”

In addition to providing players with an open-ended game experience, the team at Bungie wants to make Halo: Reach a more dynamic, intriguing experience by racketing up tension. Speaking about the shields in the Halo series, Chris Opdahl, campaign lead, said, “In Halo: CE, the time between the shield being down and recharging was 14 seconds – seven stunned, and seven to recharge. That time slowly reduced through Halo 2 and 3. I believe it was just under seven seconds in Halo 3. We noticed that the longer it took, the more drama, the more tension you’d create. The player would lose their shields, run for cover, be in that moment of ‘Oh shit oh shit’ – and possibly an enemy runs around the corner and kills you.”

Halo: Reach will aim to increase the tension by once again making the shield regeneration process take longer. Doing so, the developers say, will lead to more dynamic situations in the game. The improved AI has the ability to truly make decisions based upon the situation at hand, and as a result, while you are hiding and waiting to have your shield recharge the enemy may retreat and hide itself in order to ambush you or they may move to your flank to attack you. There are a variety of choices the AI can make and the Covenant, as a result, will be a more formidable and terrifying opponent.

Halo: Reach is going to be a definitive experience for the Halo series and for the Xbox 360. Advances to the Halo 3 engine are going to push the Xbox 360 to its limits and will allow for much larger on-screen battles, a greater area to explore in each mission and will allow for a uniquely crafted world to take shape. The developers at Bungie are looking to create an experience that capitalizes on the loss and shock of the Reach attack. It will be a dark game fraught with desperate situations and small victories, and it will be an experience that pulls together the best aspects of this classic shooter series.

Halo: Reach is being developed by Bungie exclusively for the Xbox 360. It will be released during the 2010 holiday season and a public multiplayer beta will be available to owners of Halo 3: ODST sometime this spring.

Source: Edge