After the crushing disappointment that was Halo: ODST (with the exception of the glorious Firefight, of course), people wondered if another Halo could ever bring the series back to its original glory.

I’m here to tell you that the Halo Reach multiplayer beta will make a believer of you once again. Of course the funny thing is that there’s really nothing so
different about the game. This is the Halo 3 multiplayer with a few
modifications, nothing more. A few downloadable packs could have
seemingly turned the three-year old title into this.

But those additions add even more polish to the multiplayer, making it feel almost like a new experience. Almost. Bungie has obviously listened to the players and given more thought to different game modes that focus on fun and fast action.

Jumping in you’ll notice a few immediate changes, like the controls, which are a bit different. The melee attack has moved to the right bumper, and you switch grenades with B now. Also, you can’t duel wield anymore. This was done to include the new “Use Equipment” button on the left bumper to activate each class’ special power.

Yep, this time you can select classes each time you respawn. Different weapon loadouts and armor are an important part of the strategy here. Each armor comes with a different special power that’s activated by hitting that left bumper, and a new icon on the bottom left corner above your map shows you when it’s available. Here’s a short list of the four different types.

The Scout class has a Sprint, which finally allows for running in a Halo game. Course it’s only good for a short burst and requires time to recharge, like all the other powers.

Guards have Armor Lock, which makes your guy crouch down and become invulnerable for a short time. Here’s a hint- don’t do this while surrounded by foes, as they’ll just wait till it expires and just gun you down anyway. But as a decoy, it’s awesome.

The Stalker class gives you the fan-favorite Active Camouflage ability, which is good for sneaking around undetected and dealing out brutal assassinations on unaware folks.
Airborne gives you by far the coolest ability, a jetpack! It allows you to get an impressive amount of air and really changes the dynamics of the game. Defense gets a whole lot more interesting when you have guys flying in from every which way.

There are some other new additions, like assassinations when holding down the melee button behind people (a flashy move that leaves you wide open), and brand new weapons like the Needler rifle which is basically a long range needler, and a Plasma Launcher which fires off sticky plasma grenades. There are also different looks for your armor which you can purchase with XP gained from each match.

But the best part of the beta is undeniably the many different game modes. Stockpile seems destined to be a favorite. In this mode it throws a bunch of neutral flags around the map, and your objective is to get as many as possible back to your base. There’s a circle that collects the flags every minute, so the objective is to get them all piled up on there and keep them there until they’re collected, while trying to pull them off of your enemy’s base. There’s also a mode called Headhunter in which you try to take skulls from downed opponents and bring them to specific locations to get points. The more you carry, the bigger of a target you are.

Bungie has an extensive Beta guide up, so I’d recommend you brush up on the different abilities and game types before heading off to war. The classes are integral to your success here- when you’re attacking in a Capture the Flag map you might want to play as a Scout or Airborne to get there quickly, or to sneak in. On defense you might like throwing a grenade at your feet and going into an Armor Lock, which a friend in active camouflage can sneak around and mop up the remainders. A mix of classes on each team is key.

So pop in that ODST disc and start up some matches, and you’ll find yourself soon sucked back into the world.

Now if only they could try for a compelling campaign once again…