The Halo: Reach public beta was just a taste of what's to come. The floodgates are now officially open and new maps, armor abilities, and vehicles are being revealed left and right. Here we'll take a look at a classic Halo 2 map remade for Reach, a spiritual successor to another Halo 2 map, and a brand new Invasion map that puts all other vertical maps to shame. Also, we'll give you the lowdown on the hologram armor ability. Excited? You should be.
The Halo 2 maps being remade and re-imagined are Ivory Tower and Midship, now known as Reflection and Zealot respectively. Reflection is pretty much a perfect remake of Ivory Tower without much changed aside from new dimensions made to fit the Halo: Reach physics. The layout is identical, straight down to the weapons platforms and elevator leading up to the sniper balcony. If you know Ivory Tower, you know Reflection.
That said, Reflection plays a lot differently than Ivory Tower did. Jet packs and the sprint ability make some of the trickier jumps a walk in the park. The shinier walls make the whole map feel brighter. And the hologram armor ability makes camping around corners a perilous affair. This armor ability sends a hologram of your Spartan out in a straight line running towards a point that you determine. It fools people camping corners with a sword just about every time. Suffice it to say, the hologram is quickly becoming one of my favorite armor abilities.
Zealout is one of the most impressive and ridiculously crazy Halo maps I've ever seen. It's not a 1:1 remake -- think of it more like the spiritual successor to Midship. The lower layout of Midship remains familiar. Two bases sit on opposite sides of a small symmetrical ring, offering two levels to fight over. The change comes in the new third level which actually takes place in outer space. Using a jet pack or man cannon, you can blast off into the outer hull area where gravity is reduced and Spartans can gracefully float through the air. The semi-permeable shield allows players to pass through to the roof area, but bullets and other projectiles are blocked. This new third level adds a circular loop to the map, creating a more spherical layout as opposed to the traditional ring.
The third stage we'll talk about here is Spire. This map is built for the Invasion game type that was briefly included in the multiplayer beta, only this time the Elites are the defenders while the Spartans invade. It begins on a beach before giving way to a gigantic spire that sticks up several stories into the sky. Make it to the last stage of the Invasion and the Elites will be bunkered down at the top of the spire, attempting to snipe Spartans below while using energy swords to take down any foes that manage to get atop the platform.
For me, Spire shows the true strength of the Invasion game type. It slowly funnels players into an intense fight atop a towering platform, has a great open space for vehicles, and offers a great variety of gameplay as the map slowly opens up. After just a couple games on Spire, I'm ready to declare it leaps and bounds above Boneyard. Oh, and though the default matchmaking has Invasion games at six on six, you're free to make custom Invasion games up to a full eight on eight.
Remember, these three maps are only half of the new areas I got to try out at the recent press showcase. Be sure to head over to our Forge World feature for more.