The fourth game in the main Halo series (after Halo 3), Halo: Reach is a direct prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved and chronicles the Covenant invasion of the planet Reach (a human colony world that served as the nexus for the United Nations Space Command) in the late summer of 2552. Players control the customizable SPARTAN-312, also known as "Noble Six", in an elite team of SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III super-soldiers known as Noble Team. It is the last game in the series to be developed by Bungie, as future development went to 343 Industries. An enhanced version of the game was later included in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection compilation for the Xbox One and PC.
The game brought various additions and changes to Halo 3's gameplay mechanics. Some aspects were returned to their Halo: Combat Evolved roots (namely the removal of dual-wielding and the return of the health/shield system). The deploayable equipment system was replaced with unique rechargable "Armor Abilities" and players can now perform a unique assassination animation. Armor customization options have been revamped, adding more customization options and allowing players to purchase new armor sets with "credits" (cR, earned through playing the game). New features include gametype-specific loadouts, distinct gameplay differences when playing as Elites, and space combat (in the Campaign only). A revamped version of Firefight mode from Halo 3: ODST was also included.
The game received a multiplayer beta that was accessible through copies of Halo 3: ODST. It ran from May 3, 2010 to May 20, 2010 and included four maps (Boneyard, Overlook, Powerhouse, and Sword Base) and a variety of new and existing gametypes.
A special variation of the game was included as the Multiplayer component in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. This version only includes Multiplayer with a limited number of maps (six maps, all of which are remakes of maps from previous games) and Firefight with one new map.
The game's online servers were later discontinued on January 13, 2022, removing the matchmaking, file sharing, challenge, and player customization systems.
Halo: Reach remains very close in style to its predecessors in terms of movement and aiming. The combination of regenerating health (in which health regenerates up to the nearest third) and regenerating shields returns from Halo: Combat Evolved, requiring players to pick up health packs when needed. Unlike the previous Halo games, shields now must be fully depleted in order for players to take health damage (though certain attacks negate it). The ability to dual wield weapons has been removed altogether (though A.I. Elites sometimes akimbo Plasma Rifles).
New to Halo: Reach is the concept of Armor Abilities, which grant skills that can be activated by pressing a certain button (left bumper by default). This is a general replacement of equipment from Halo 3, though the Bubble Shield returns as the Drop Shield active ability.
In Campaign levels, the player starts with the Sprint ability, and can only replace it by finding armor abilities throughout the level. In all other modes, the player's armor ability is determined by which loadout they use (which is determined by the game mode itself). Each armor ability have different cooldown timers that prevent the player from using the ability until it has recharged fully or to a specific percentage.
- Sprint - Causes players to run faster for a short period of time. However, this lowers their weapon, preventing them from firing from the hip.
- Evade - Causes players to perform a quick roll that breaks lock-on from certain weapons.
- Armor Lock - Causes players to become completely invulnerable (at the cost of being immovable and unable to fire weapons). Enemies close to the player have their shields removed from the EMP burst.
- Jet Pack - Propels player into the air (until it runs out of fuel/needs to recharge).
- Active Camo - Makes the player nearly invisible. However, the faster they move, the more visible they are. Active Camo also disrupts enemy radar (along with the player's radar) with extra random blips. Audio becomes muffled as well.
- Hologram - Creates a hologram of the player which can be used to distract enemies. The hologram walks wherever the player has their reticle pointed at and disappears after being fired upon too much (or after a certain amount of time).
- Drop Shield - Creates a blue-tinted bubble shield around the player's location, blocking all weapon fire. The shield also heals the player and all teammates inside, and can be destroyed by taking too much damage.
Loadouts in multiplayer and Firefight modes determine which armor ability, weapons, and grenades the player can start with. They can be switched during the respawn window or during the start of the match. Loadouts cannot be customized for matchmaking, as they are restricted into each gametype. Players can only choose from up to five loadouts at a time. In Invasion gametypes, Spartans and Elites can have their own loadout selection, which change according to how far the game has progressed.
Unlike Halo 2 and Halo 3, in which picking an Elite is a pure aesthetic choice, playable Elites in Halo: Reach are now faster, stronger, and bigger than Spartans. They do not need to use health packs, as their health fully regenerates. Because of these differences, Elites are only playable in Elite Slayer or Invasion (in the Elite team).
New to Halo: Reach, holding down the melee button when attacking someone from behind triggers a third-person animation, depicting the player silently killing the enemy with a knife or plasma sword, depending on their species. Neither player is invulnerable during this animation, and quick players can either rescue those who are being assassinated or steal the kill by killing the player being assassinated. A assassination can change or not even happen if the player isn't looking at the right angle.
All weapons in Halo: Reach are now subject to reticle bloom. The reticle now gets larger as a weapon is repeatedly fired, showing their worsened accuracy. In order to maintain consistent accuracy, players must wait for the reticle to return to normal size after a short delay. Crouching reduces this bloom. Certain weapons also have a " ghost reticle", which assists players by showing how far ahead the player needs to aim to hit a target.
New to Halo: Reach is the concept of space combat. In two sections of "Long Night of Solace", players pilot a YSS-1000 space craft (known as a Sabre), fighting Banshees, Seraphs, and Phantoms before disabling a Corvette. The Sabre is very mobile, similar to the Banshee, and have both regenerating health and shields. Players can choose between a machine gun cannon and homing missile launchers.
- Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) - A mid to long ranged single shot rifle. It takes 5 shots to kill a fully-shielded Spartan and 6 shots to kill an Elite. Essentially a superior version of the old Battle Rifle.
- M6C Magnum - Like its Halo: CE counter part it can be very lethal. Takes 5 shots to kill a spartan and 6 to kill an elite. This is a mid to close range weapon. It has a higher rate of fire than the DMR but it is less accurate and more subject to reticle bloom.
- MA5C Assault Rifle - Very similar to the model in Halo 3, except that it now has weapon bloom, and short bursts are more accurate at long range.
- M41 Rocket Launcher - Similar to Halo 3, yet the vehicle targeting from Halo 2 is back (only against ground vehicles). Also immune to shield pop.
- M45 Tactical Shotgun - Farther reach than the shotguns in previous Halo games as not all shots stay within the reticle, immune to the requirement of a shield pop at close range.
- M319 Grenade Launcher - If it hits its target it explodes. If it does not it bounces around like a frag for a short delay, then explodes. If the trigger is held down after firing it will act as a remote detonation and explode when the trigger is released. The grenade also lets out a small EMP blast disabling jet packs, vehicles and the such.
- SRS99D Sniper Rifle - Appears the same as Halo 3, now has a weapon bloom effect that appears to be primarily as an indicator of when the next shot can be fired. Immune to the shield pop requirement.
- H-165 FOM (Target Locator) - After a charge time and orbital bombardment comes from the sky and destroys anything in its radius. Can be used to paint either a wide area or individual targets. Only available in Campaign or Firefight modes.
- Plasma Repeater - The Covenant version of the assault rifle. It sends out a steady stream of plasma. Fire rate slows as it heats up but never overheats, as fire rate slows, accuracy increases. Pressing the reload button will cool it down and bring it back up to speed. Able to be partially cooled, and cooling can occur during melees and grenade throws.
- Plasma Launcher - It fires off 1 to 4 rounds of plasma bombs depending on how long the trigger is held: The plasma will lock on to both people and vehicles with a similar lock on as a needler. The shots stick to people and vehicles like plasma grenades.
- Focus Rifle - If the beam rifle and the sentinel beam had a baby this would be it. It a zoomable laser that drains health and shields very quickly. At the current build, it takes about 1.5 seconds to kill a target.
- Needle Rifle - Covenant equivalent to the DMR. Fires very long needles, if three needles stick to an unshielded opponent, a super-combine explosion occurs like the needler, it is a one-shot headshot kill on an unshielded opponent as well. It is less inaccurate than the DMR when fired quickly, but does less damage with each individual shot.
- Plasma Pistol - Now carries an area of effect component that allows the charged shot to hit multiple targets. It takes from 7 to 10 shots to kill a fully shielded Spartan player.
- Needler - Improved tracking compared to it's Halo 3 version. Also features the "ghost reticle" effect. Shields must be down before a super combine will occur.
- Energy Sword - Similar to Halo 3, but it can now be countered by a normal melee strike.
- Concussion Rifle - An Elite equivalent of the Brute Shot, fires a large ball of plasma that explodes on impact.
- Plasma Rifle - The iconic Covenant weapon from all of the past Halo games returns in Reach.
- Gravity Hammer - No changes from Halo 3.
- Brute Spike Rifle (Spiker) - A returning weapon from Halo 3. No noticeable changes made. It is good in close range for taking down shields, though short, controlled bursts are recommended for medium to long range. Its projectiles have a slight arc, so players should aim higher when firing at longer ranged targets.
- Fuel Rod Cannon - Covenant equivalent to the rocket launcher. Fires 5 rounds before needing reloading. Its shots are capable of bouncing off of surfaces.
- Warthog: Classic Halo vehicle, mostly used for offensive maneuvers. It can carry one driver, a gunner and a passenger. It's armed with either a M41 12.7mm LAAG chain gun, a M68 25mm ALIM canon, or finally a M79 65mm MLRS rocket launcher. The chain gun now overheats after extensive use and has a speed reduction of 25 km/h.
- Scorpion: A tank that makes up in power what it lacks in speed. It disposes of a M512 90mm canon as well as M257 7.62mm secondary gun turret.
- Falcon: The UH-144 is a versatile, transverse-rotor multipurpose utility helicopter. Two Falcons can transport a fully-equipped infantry squad faster than any previous system, and provide overwhelming support fire, in most weather conditions.
- Mongoose: The high speed, light weight troop transport returns. With Forge, players can now change the base color of the Mongoose depending on which team color it spawns with.
- Pelican: Transports more soldiers than a Falcon (10 instead of 3) and has room for a vehicle. This bird doesn't have any sort of weapons.
- Sabre: A Space superiority fighter, it transports both a pilot and a radar expert and uses a heavy cannon and Medusa missiles.
- Longsword: The previous generation of space superiority fighter, can also serve as a bomber while in atmosphere.
- Ghost: Minor aesthetic revisions, but otherwise unchanged from Halo 3. Still equipped with 2 plasma canons with little protection for the pilot.
- Wraith: No changes from Halo 3. Fires plasma mortars and has a plasma canon. Its weakness is its backside.
- Banshee: Aesthetic overhaul, otherwise unchanged from Halo 3. A new Banshee, the space Banshee, can now go in space.
- Spirit: The original Covenant dropship. It is capable of carrying up to 30 infantry and 2 vehicles. It is armed with one heavy plasma auto-cannon.
- Revenant: A cross between the Ghost and a Wraith and about the size of a Warthog, this pink beast is fast and furious with mobile plasma artillery. A second seat is available, though there isn't anything for the passenger to do. Like the Ghost, the crew has very little protection.
- Seraph: A Covenant space superiority fighter that has great handling as well as powerful shields. It's armed with 2 heavy plasma cannons.
Bungie has gone to great lengths to continue the evolution of the multiplayer gameplay expected from a Halo game. That evolution involves many of the changes detailed above. Halo: Reach multiplayer contains Armor Abilities that modify the Spartan or Elite armor allowing for different style of play from each player. Additionally, Reach brings back the idea of Halo 2's Y menu with the addition of Active Rosters. Most multiplayer maps were actually designed and then placed into campaign. Elites return to multiplayer with very different characteristics. Most noticeably, Elites are significantly bigger than Spartans - for example, in a crouched position, they are nearly as tall as a standing Spartan. In addition, Elites default run speed is almost as fast as a Spartan using the Sprint Armor Ability. Further differences from previous Halo games MP include, Spartan non-regenerative health, Elite regenerative health, and species specific Armor Abilities and Loadouts. Despite pre-release rumors, multiplayer is not strictly class based, however, the addition of Loadouts, granting players the ability to choose what Armor Ability and weapons they can start the match and re-spawn with, makes it very close to a class based system.
The game includes 14 maps from the start (6 of which are built on Forge World, which has no standard map), with 11 maps added later as downloadable packs for a total of 25 maps.
In addition, players can use Forge to alter map geometry and weapon layouts (sometimes creating brand new arenas).
- Boardwalk - A long map used in almost all matchmaking playlists for various gametypes.
- Boneyard - The map is specifically designed for the new Invasion gametype, which is speculated to be a 6v6 variant featuring one team of Spartans against one team of Elites. It is a large map that allows for areas to be progressively opened as the match progresses. The map is set around the construction yard of a UNSC space frigate.
- Countdown - This symmetrical map is set in a UNSC base and features a shotgun, Concussion Rifle, and Energy Sword.
- Powerhouse - A former hydroelectric station that has since been put to use by the UNSC military. Powerhouse is designed to support small-team games, such as Slayer. The default map variant features plenty of weapon variety. There are several DMRs, Magnums, Plasma Pistols, Needlers, and Needle Rifles scattered about the map. There are also some important power weapons available: a Gravity Hammer, a Focus Rifle, and a Rocket Launcher.
- Reflection - Remake of "Ivory Tower" from Halo 2.
- Spire - The game on Spire relies heavily on air combat. It has 16 player Invasion.
- Swordbase - With a design inspired by a pair of fan favorite maps from Halo: Combat Evolved, Prisoner and Boarding Action, this map is small and asymmetrical -- perfectly-suited for Slayer and one-sided Objective matches. There are three power weapons available for players to fight over: an Energy Sword, a Plasma Launcher, and a Sniper Rifle.
- Zealot - A Covenant themed map drawing map/aesthetic design cues from Midship, though is significantly different in layout. The largest difference being the large third floor that takes place in space. This allows for zero-gravity combat and quick travel from one side of the map to the other.
- Asylum - Remake of "Sanctuary" from Halo 2.
- The Cage - Strongly resembles "Lockout" from Halo 2.
- Grifball Court - A standard arena court for the popular community variant Grifball.
- Hemorrhage - Remake of both "Blood Gulch" from Halo: Combat Evolved and "Coagulation" from Halo 2.
- Pinnacle - Remake of "Ascension" from Halo 2.
Noble Map Pack (Released on November 30, 2010 for $9.99)
- Anchor 9 - A small map set in a UNSC space station for refueling and rearming various ships. The outer portion of the map is actually in space and features reduced gravity compared to the rest of the map. It is optimized for 4v4 play and is reminiscent of Halo 3's "The Pit" map.
- Breakpoint - The largest of the first three DLC maps is set in a cliff-side UNSC research installation near a Forerunner artifact. It is designed around the Invasion gametype, but will also support Big Team Battle. The Invasion scenario puts the Spartans on defense against the Elites, which are on offense.
- Tempest - A mid-sized map, set on the Halo ring, that supports almost every gametype and size. It is reminiscent of Halo 3's Valhalla and features functional symmetry, vehicles and numerous power weapons.
Defiant Map Pack (Released on March 15, 2011 for $9.99)
The pack also included the Firefight map "Unearthed".
- Condemned - A medium-sized indoor map set in a Human space station overlooking the battle of Reach from orbit. Best suited for Team Slayer and small-scale objective gametypes. Contains a zone of reduced gravity in the center of the map, similar to Anchor 9.
- Highlands - A large-scale outdoor map set in a Spartan training facility on Reach. Used primarily in Big Team gametypes.
Anniversary Map Pack (Released on November 15, 2011 for $14.99)
All of these maps were also included as the Multiplayer component for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. The pack itself was also made available to Halo: Reach via a downloadable add-on in Halo: Combat Evolved anniversary. The pack also included the Firefight map "Installation 04".
Two versions of each map were included: a "remastered" version (with several alterations) and a more accurate "Anniversary" version. The Anniversary versions were included in the Multiplayer component for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and are only available in Halo: Reach by downloading through Temporary History.
- Battle Canyon - Remake of "Beaver Creek" from Halo 2.
- Breakneck - Remake of "Headlong" from Halo 2.
- High Noon - Remake of "Hang 'em High" from Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Penance - Remake of "Damnation" from Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Ridgeline - Remake of "Timberland" from the PC version of Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Solitary - Remake of "Prisoner" from Halo: Combat Evolved.
Ranked matches in Halo 3 were plagued with boosters - high level players who would create second accounts to start out at rank 1 and take advantage of poorer players on their way back up the ladder to level 50. To prevent that problem from happening in Reach Bungie has replaced ranked matches with a new playlist - the Arena.
The Arena is broken up into month long seasons. Each season players can place within one of 5 divisions. The divisions are Onyx, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. The players division rank for each season will stay with their gaming history. In interviews Bungie has compared players divisional placement history to the stats on the back of a baseball card. This provides an incentive to stay with one account so not to lose that history. Moreover, divisional assignments are made rather quickly, so a high level player will be playing other high level players within just a few days of the start of a new season.
To place in a division players will have to play a minimum number of matches over a minimum number of days. Players need to complete 3 Arena matches in a day in order to receive a Daily Ranking. The player is assigned to a division after receiving 3 daily rankings.
The players daily ranking will be based on the three best matches they played during that day. And the seasonal ranking will be based on the players three best daily rankings throughout the month. Therefore, once the divisional assignment is complete, the player can only climb in the rankings. Once the divisional assignment is made no amount of bad play can lower ranking, but a day or two of great play can increase it.
The players ranking for each match will be based on how well they play as a member of a team. No longer will assists and K/D ratios be discounted in favor of pure kills. A player with 0 kills, 5 assists and 5 deaths will receive a higher ranking than the player who got 20 kills, no assists, and 20 deaths. Being on a winning team still matters, but now if the player is the only one on the losing team that went positive, they’ll be rewarded and may even get a higher rating than some under performing members of the winning team.
Forge has seen significant changes from the forge mode in Halo 3. The mode remains purely an object editor without terrain editing. However, the built-in structures allow one to create much more complicated levels than Halo 3's Sandbox or Foundry. The most important new feature is the ability to change an objects physical property from normal (object is affected by gravity like Halo 3), fixed (object is not affected by gravity), and phased (object now has no collision detection and can be pushed through walls and other objects). Each piece has further useful settings such as increasing the effective radius and shape of a teleporter or changing the color of the object to match team specifications. Several of maps that come on disc are direct remakes of older Halo maps, and each shows the variety of maps that can be produced in the new Forge.
- Arena - A set of playlists, such as Free-for-All and Team Slayer that are similar to the Ranked Playlists of the Halo 3. The Arena uses a new rating system that counts other factors than wins to rank the player in 5 divisions in month long seasons. Players can move up or down in the season divisions, and play players in their division. They are then ranked in their division, and to qualify for a "daily ranking" players can also play a certain number of matches in a day.
- Active Roster - Active Roster takes much of the information that was in the Halo 3 players' profiles under "Halo 3 Party" and puts it on the main menus. This tells the player his/her friends' current parties, games being played in, score and remaining time.
- Queue Joining - Allows the player to wait in a lobby for a friend, rather than wait for a match to end to join a friend, as in Halo 3, or actually join the match, as in Modern Warfare 2.
- Veto 2.0 - Gives the players three maps and gametypes to choose from in the lobby for the players to vote on.
- New Party-Up System - After a match, all players are kept in a lobby to move into the next match together, rather than looking for new players every time. There is an opt-out to still go into a brand new lobby.
- New Preferences System - The game now has a preferences system for Chattiness, Motivation, Teamwork, and Tone
Halo: Reach has 12 multiplayer gametypes and one gametype specifically made for Forge, each customizable in many ways. Some official Bungie gametypes are not built-in to the game and must be downloaded from either a search or by playing that gametype in Matchmaking. The VIP gametype from Halo 3 has been removed, as well as most gametype variations from previous Halo games.
By default, players start with the Assault Rifle and Magnum and have five loadouts: Sprint, Armor Lock, Active Camo, Hologram, and Drop Shield.
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Standard deathmatch in free-for-all or team scenarios.
In default variations, players/teams earn points by successfully killing enemies and lose points by killing themselves (or teammates).
Options that can be changed include:
- Adding special traits to the player who has the most kills at the time (the Leader).
- Changing the scoring system. This includes positive/negative points for kills, assists, deaths, suicides, betrayals, headshot kills, and melee kills (both normal and assassinations).
- Slayer - Basic Slayer. Drop Shield replaced with Jet Pack.
- Slayer Pro - Slayer for more hardcore players. Players choose one of two loadouts: Marksman (starts with the DMR and two frag grenades) or Warden (starts with the Needle Rifle and two plasma grenades). Players can only use the Sprint armor ability. Motion tracker is disabled. Vehicles are limited to Mongooses. All weapon locations are replaced with a special "Arena Standard" set.
- Elite Slayer - Slayer with Elites only. All weapon locations are replaced with Covenant weapons. Players start with two plasma grenades (and a Plasma Pistol as a secondary weapon) and have access to five loadouts: Zealot (Evade with a Needle Rifle), Dark Assassin (Active Camo with a Needler), Deceiver (Hologram with a Plasma Repeater), Saboteur (Armor Lock with a Needler), and Ranger (Jet Pack with a Plasma Repeater). Later matchmaking versions replaced the all vehicles with Covenant vehicles.
- Classic Slayer - Slayer reminiscent of previous Halo games. Loadouts and armor abilities are disabled. Later matchmaking versions allowed players to use the Sprint ability.
- SWAT - Originated as a custom gametype in Halo 2 built for "realism". Loadouts are disabled, with players limited to DMRs and Magnums (both with infinite ammo). Grenades, grenade spawns, and weapon spawns are disabled. Players can only use the Sprint armor ability. Motion tracker is disabled. Shields are disabled, although players now have +100% damage resistance. Later matchmaking versions disabled both vehicles and turrets.
- Slayer DMRs
- Snipers Pro
- Big Team Slayer
- BTB Classic
- BTB Snipers
- BTB Heavies
- SWAT Magnums
- MLG Team Slayer
- Anniversary Team Slayer
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A "kill the man with the ball" objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must find and maintain possession of the titular Oddball to score points. They earn points over time by having one player hold onto the ball. Players who hold an Oddball cannot use weapons or armor abilities, but they can melee enemies for bonus damage.
Options that can be changed include:
- Adding special traits to ball carriers.
- Changing the scoring system. This includes a kill-based system involving the ball carrier.
- The number of Oddballs in play.
- Having the ball detonate sometime after being held.
- Oddball - Ball carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat), have their motion tracker disabled, move 25% slower, and have a waypoint that is visible to everybody else.
- Hot Potato
King of the Hill
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A "king of the hill" objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players/teams must maintain possession of a marked area (known as the "Hill") to score points. They earn points over time by keeping their position inside the Hill's specially-marked boundary and making sure it is uncontested (in which no enemy is also inside the boundary).
Options that can be changed include:
- Adding special traits to players inside the Hill.
- Whether or not the Hill moves after a predetermined amount of time (in a predictable or random order).
- King of the Hill - Free-for-all. Hill remains at one place throughout the map. Players can not use their armor abilities while inside the Hill.
- Crazy King - Free-for-all. Hill is moved to a random location every 30 seconds. Players can not use their armor abilities while inside the Hill. Later matchmaking versions replaced Drop Shield with Evade.
- Crazy King Pro
Capture the Flag
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A team-based "capture the flag" objective mode (with up to four teams) where players must take possession of enemy and neutral flags and bring it back to their team's flag zone to score points for their team. Similar to Oddball, players who hold an enemy flag cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies for bonus damage.
In default variations, flag carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat) and move -25% slower.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to the flag carrier, adding a temporary player effect to players who drops the flag manually, and allowing teams to capture the flag while their flag is taken.
- Capture the Flag / Multi Flag CTF - Each team has their own flag, and must capture the flags of enemy teams while protecting their own. It takes 15 seconds for an ally to return their dropped flag (by standing on it), and 30 seconds for the flag to return automatically. Their flag must be at their flag zone to capture the enemy flag.
- Neutral Flag CTF - Teams fight over possession of a single flag that is placed in the middle of the battlefield (which anybody can grab).
- One Flag CTF - Two-team round-based variant. Each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have no flag to guard, and have three minutes to capture the Defenders' flag once. The round ends when the time is up or the flag is captured. Dropped flags take 30 seconds to respawn, regardless of whoever is near it.
- One Flag Pro
- One Flag Classic
- Two Flag Pro
- Two Flag Classic
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A free-for-all objective mode where players race nearly-indestructible vehicles around custom-Forged racetracks. Land mines can be scattered throughout the track, knocking players off-balance (although this can be disabled).
- Race - Players must complete a multi-lap race in Mongooses through a series of checkpoints. Players who die or have exited their vehicle for five seconds quickly spawn in their vehicle at their last reached checkpoint. Land mines can be scattered throughout the track, knocking players off-balance. Grenades and motion trackers are disabled. Options that can be changed include the vehicle used (Mongooses, Warthogs, Ghosts, or Banshees).
- Rally - Players in Mongooses earn points for being the first to enter the marked area (which changes to a new location each time its reached). Land mines can be scattered throughout the track, knocking players off-balance. Motion trackers are disabled.
- Rocket Race - Two-player teams in Mongooses earn points for being the first to enter the marked area (which changes to a new location each time its reached). Each player spawns with infinite-ammo Rocket Launchers, which can be used both off-vehicle and in the passenger seat to knock other teams off-balance (and to eliminate players who are off-vehicle). Grenades are disabled. Motion trackers are disabled for all but passengers. Options that can be changed include player effects on gunners, passengers, and players who hijack other players' vehicles, and whether or not the next hill is based on player position.
- Rocket Hog Race
Originated in Halo 2.
A two-team "assault" objective mode where teams must take possession of their Bomb, bring it to the enemy's base (shown as a waypoint), and protect it until it detonates. Similar to Oddball, players who hold a Bomb cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies for bonus damage.
In default variations, bomb carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat) and move -25% slower. It takes 5 seconds to arm, 10 seconds to detonate, 5 seconds for it to be disarmed by the enemy, and 30 seconds for dropped Bombs to return back to base.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to the bomb carrier, the Bomb arm/fuse/disarm/reset times, and whether or not the game is played in rounds (with the round resetting after a successful detonation).
- Assault - Each team has their own Bomb, and must detonate theirs at the enemy base while protecting their own base.
- Neutral Bomb Assault - A single Bomb is placed in the middle of the battlefield (which anybody can grab).
- One Bomb Assault - Round-based variant. Each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have access to the Bomb and has three minutes to plant it at the Defenders' base. The round ends when either the time is up or the bomb is detonated.
- Grifball Evolved
- Vanilla Grifball
Originated in Halo 2.
A team-based "conquest" objective mode (with up to four teams) where teams fight to capture marked areas (known as "Territories") to score points. Teams earn points either by capturing Territories (if Capture Lock is enabled) or over time depending on the number of Territories held (if Capture Lock is disabled). Territories are captured once a player in that team keeps their position inside the Territory's specially-marked boundary uncontested.
In default variations, players in Territories cannot use active abilities.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to those inside a Territory, the number of Territories, whether or not contested Territories contribute to score (when Capture Lock is disabled), and whether or not Territories can be recaptured.
- Territories - Round-based two-team variant. Each team take turns twice as Attackers and Defenders. Defenders start with all Territories captured, cannot re-capture Territories, and have four minutes to prevent the Attackers from claiming each Territory. The round ends when the time is up or Attackers capture all Territories. 30 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.
- Land Grab - Three rounds. Five neutral Territories are placed throughout the map. Territories can not be re-captured. Each round ends when all Territories are captured. 30 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.
- 3-Plot Territories - Similar to King of the Hill. One round. Three neutral Territories are placed throughout the map. Teams earn points over time depending on the number of Territories held uncontested. 5 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.
Originated in Halo 2.
A free-for-all deathmatch mode with a twist: one player is randomly selected to be the unique "Juggernaut". One random player starts off as the Juggernaut and the player who kills the Juggernaut becomes the next one.
- Juggernaut - The Juggernaut has +100% damage resistance, +100% shields, +50% movement speed, +50% jump height, +200% melee damage, and assassination immunity. They are also limited to using the Gravity Hammer (and cannot use grenades, active abilities, or vehicles), cannot recharge their shields, and have a waypoint that is visible to everybody else. Kills against the Juggernaut give double points, with the next Juggernaut getting 10 seconds of invulnerability. Players start with one less frag grenade and are limited to Sprint. Loadouts are disabled.
Originated in Halo 3.
A non-competitive round-based objective mode with two undefined teams: Humans and Zombies. Each round starts with most of the players as Humans, whose goal is to survive for the entire round. The remaining players, as Zombies, must "convert" each Human to their team by successfully killing them. While teams are present in this mode, players can only win individually by earning the most amount of points after all five rounds are complete. Rounds end when either the Human team is empty or after the game timer depletes.
In default variations, only one player starts out as a Zombie. Zombies have the Evade ability, Energy Swords (with double damage and infinite ammo), +20% movement speed, and +50% jump height. However, they have no shields and cannot use vehicles. Humans start with the Shotgun and Magnum. Grenades are disabled. The last Human remaining gains +50% max shields, +10% movement speed, but their location is visible to everybody else. All players gain points for kills and lose points for suicides/betrayals. Humans also gain a point for surviving a round.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to Zombies, to the last human standing, and to humans in the Haven.
- Safe Havens - Humans deal half damage. A marked area (known as "Havens") is now located on the map that grants Humans full damage and invulnerability. Havens move to a new random location on the map 15 seconds after a Human enters it.
New for Halo: Reach.
An objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must collect skulls dropped by enemies and drop them off at special "Drop Points". Players can only carry up to 10 skulls at a time and drop all of their possessed skulls (plus their own) on their death.
In default variations, the game uses two Drop Points that move every 30 seconds. Players who are carrying skulls have a waypoint that is visible to everyone. Players who capture 10 skulls at once automatically win the game. Drop Shield is replaced with Jet Pack. Mongooses only.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to those carrying a skull and to those carrying 10 skulls at once.
- Headhunter Pro - Players can only drop their own skulls through headshot deaths. Players choose one of two loadouts: Marksman (starts with the DMR and two frag grenades) or Warden (starts with the Needle Rifle and two plasma grenades). Players can only use the Sprint armor ability. Motion tracker is disabled. All weapon locations are replaced with a special "Arena Standard" set.
New for Halo: Reach.
A team-based objective mode (with up to four teams) where players must take possession of multiple neutral flags and bring them back to their team's marked area (known as "Stockpiles"). Teams earn points when a flag remains in their Stockpile for a certain amount of time (in which that flag is "collected" and moved to a different location). Similar to Capture the Flag, players who hold a flag cannot use weapons or armor abilities, but they can melee enemies for bonus damage.
Options that can be changed include adding a player effect to the flag carrier, adding a temporary player effect to players who drops the flag manually, changing the amount of flags, changing whether the Stockpile collection is "synchronized", and allowing teams to "lock" flags to their Stockpile (disallowing other teams from stealing or sabotaging them).
- Stockpile - Four flags are available at once. If the Stockpile has at least one flag in it for the whole minute, all flags in it are collected. Players can also sabotage enemy Stockpiles by stealing/throwing flags out of them. Flag carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat), move 25% slower, and have a waypoint that is visible to allies.
- Stockpile Pro
New for Halo: Reach. Only three maps are playable in this mode (Boneyard, Spire, and Breakpoint).
A round-based multi-phase objective mode of Spartans vs. Elites. Each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders, with one side as Spartans and the other as Elites. Each of the three phases has a certain objective (either Territories, One Bomb Assault, or One Flag CTF, corresponding to each of the three other game modes) and unlocks a new section of the map and a new set of loadouts (if enabled). If the Attackers fail any Phase, the round ends.
- Invasion - the first two rounds are Territories while the final round is One Flag CTF (with a Datacore). Each of the two sides have their own unique sets of loadouts. The game also includes variants designed for the maps themselves (Invasion: Boneyard and Invasion: Spire).
- Invasion Slayer - One round mode where instead of attack-defense objectives, teams earn points by killing enemies. Teams can also fight for special Territories that grant vehicles and "power weapons". As the match progresses, teams are given new sets of loadouts (based both on team score and game timer).
Firefight returns in Reach from its introduction in Halo 3: ODST with a wealth of new options and features. The core concept remains the same, that being a set number of players fight against waves of AI enemies with increased difficulty through difficulty modifiers. The additions to Reach come in the form of improved matchmaking and network support, instead of the invite only nature of ODST. Furthermore, Firefight has been given a overhaul in terms of customization, allowing the user to tweak the mode to their liking. The player can change a multitude of options such as the weapon drops, types of enemies, the way in the which the enemies behave, and much more. The addition of new types of objective-based gametypes inside of Firefight adds more variety as well, such as the Generator Defense gametype (seen in the multiplayer beta) asks the players to defend a number of generators against Covenant forces.
There is also the newly announced Versus Firefight which is a 2v2 gametype. 2 players are Spartans and there goal is to score as many points as possible in the allotted time frame, with a set number of lives. The other 2 players plays as Elites with Covenant reinforcements being dropped off just like regular Firefight, the Elite players' job is to kill the Spartans as fast as possible. The Elites score no points and have infinite lives to kill the Spartans, however the Spartans gain an extra life and point boost every time they kill one of the Elite's. When the round ends team switch sides and whoever scores the most points wins the game.
- Beachhead - Set in a natural park in the metropolitan city of New Alexandria, on the planet Reach.
- Corvette - Set inside a Covenant cruiser in orbit above Reach, the combat on the map is focused inside a hangar bay.
- Courtyard - Wage war in a Courtyard outside an ONI building on Reach. Walkways, connecting rooms and plenty of cover make this a frantic space to fight in. It may not prove to be an effective weapon but feel free to jump behind the wheel of a Forklift if so inclined.
- Glacier - This map has been added in the latest patch. Glacier is an underground level where players defend the base from Covenant troops.
- Holdout - Set in the outside of an industrial factory, Holdout is a multi tiered level where players defend against the Covenant.
- Outpost - Set affront a massive Covenant AA gun.
- Overlook - Fight against the Covenant in this settler dwelling set amidst the rugged Reach countryside. Take advantage of turret emplacements to hold off the Covenant crossing the river but beware the occasional Wraith.
- Waterfront - A night based map set in a pumping station on the shores of a large body of water. It was the first Firefight map revealed during E3 2010.
- Unearthed - Included in the Defiant Map Pack.
- Installation 04 - Included in the Anniversary Map Pack.
The armor is split in to the following categories:
- Left Shoulder
- Right Shoulder
- Visor Color
- Knee Guards
- Armor Effect
- Firefight Voice
- Emblem & Colors
The player uses Credits (accumulated by completing challenges, killing enemies and essentially playing the game) to purchase different pieces of armor. Some armor pieces may be locked (or not even viewable in the menu) until the player is of a higher rank. The Spartan that the player creates is used for Single player/ Co-Op Campaign, Firefight and Matchmaking.
Halo: Reach improves upon the persistent experience of Halo 3.
The experience system used in Halo: Reach uses "Credits" (abbreviated to cR), which can be earned in a variety of ways in all game modes (after finishing the match):
- Game Completion - Completing the match (or exiting out of a non-matchmaking match) earns all players the same amount of cR. (Which varies according to game mode and match duration)
- Commendations - Commendations are given by earning medals (given under special circumstances) in the match. Players also earn cR through special awards (known formally as Commendations) that are tracked among all games the player has played on that mode (Campaign, Multiplayer Matchmaking, and Firefight Matchmaking).
- Challenges - Each day brings four new Daily Challenges, which gives players a specific task to perform (such as completing a Campaign level on a certain difficulty with certain skulls on or killing a certain number of players in Matchmaking). Each week also brings one Weekly Challenge, which gives a harder, more demanding challenge.
- Slot Machine - Matchmaking only. A random bonus is given to each player, usually around 100 cR.
Players are ranked according to how much "Credits" they collect throughout their entire Halo: Reach career. Buying things from the Armory does not reduce the player's amount of experience or rank. Once players reach certain ranks, more gear is unlocked (or uncovered) in the Armory.
Commendations are special awards that players earn throughout their Halo: Reach career. Performing certain actions multiple times increase their Commendation's level. When the level gauge is filled, their Commendations upgrade and the player receives cR. The Commendations list in each player's service record is sorted by the most upgraded Commendation. There are six milestones in each Commendation, each with their own emblem. (Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Onyx, and maximum Onyx) There is a total of 45 Commendations, split into three different categories: Campaign (green Commendations), Multiplayer Matchmaking (blue Commendations), and Firefight Matchmaking (red Commendations).
- Cannon Fodder (Campaign) / Target Practice (Firefight) - Kill an Infantry-class enemy.
- Close Quarters (Multiplayer) - Kill an enemy in close-quarters combat (Melee, Shotgun, Energy Sword, Gravity Hammer).
- Demon (Campaign) - Complete a Campaign mission.
- Downshift (Multiplayer) - Be the driver of a vehicle while a passenger on a mounted weapon kills an enemy.
- Flawless Cowboy (Campaign) / Perfectionist (Firefight) - Complete a Campaign mission (on Heroic or Legendary) or a Firefight Matchmaking round without dying.
- Jack of All Trades (Multiplayer) - Earn a specific medal. (Such as First Strike, Revenge, and Killjoy)
- Leadership Element (Campaign) / In Command (Firefight) - Kill a Leader-class enemy.
- Nice Arm (Campaign) / Grenadier (Multiplayer) / Pull the Pin (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a frag or plasma grenade.
- Pinpoint (Campaign) / One Shot (Multiplayer) / Dome Inspector (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a headshot.
- Precisely (Campaign) / Crack Shot (Multiplayer) / Longshot (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a precision weapon (DMR, Needle Rifle, Focus Rifle, or Sniper Rifle)
- Rear Admiral (Multiplayer) - Perform an assassination on an enemy.
- Right of Way (Campaign) / Grounded (Firefight) - Blow up an enemy vehicle.
- Small Arms (Campaign) / Sidearm (Multiplayer) / Trigger Happy (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a Magnum or a Plasma Pistol.
- SpecOps (Campaign) / Specialized (Firefight) - Kill a Specialist-class enemy.
- Splash Damage (Campaign) / Heavy Weapon (Multiplayer) / Get Loud (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a heavy weapon (Rocket Launcher, Grenade Launcher, Plasma Launcher, Spartan Laser, Concussion Rifle, Fuel Rod Gun, or Target Locator).
- Standard Issue (Campaign) / Trigger Man (Multiplayer) / Riflin' Through (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with an automatic weapon (Assault Rifle, Needler, Plasma Rifle, Plasma Repeater, or Spiker).
- Super Soldier (Campaign) / Any Spree (Multiplayer) / Methodical (Firefight) - Earn any type of spree, (such as Killing Spree and Wheelman Spree).
- Support Role (Campaign) / Assistant (Multiplayer) / Backup (Firefight) - Earn an assist.
- Walking Tank (Campaign) / Multikill (Multiplayer) / Numbers Game (Firefight) - Earn a multikill.
- War Machine (Campaign) / Mobile Asset (Multiplayer) / Vehicular (Firefight) - Kill an enemy with a vehicle.
Although nameplate emblems (special icons that appear next to the player's emblem in multiplayer lobbies) have existed since Halo 2, they were only to show that the player is a Bungie.net member or a Bungie employee. While nameplates can still only be changed through a Bungie.net, they can be customized in one of 13 different options:
- Blank - Default.
- Septagon - Unlocked once the gamertag is linked to a Bungie.net account.
- DMR - Unlocked by subscribing to the Bungie Pro service.
- Marathon - Unlocked by playing the full version of the Xbox Live Arcade version of Marathon: Durandal.
- Halo 1 - Unlocked by entering a product key for the PC or Mac version of Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Halo 2 - Unlocked by playing the Xbox version of Halo 2 before April 14, 2010.
- Halo 3 - Unlocked by playing Halo 3.
- Halo 3: ODST - Unlocked by playing Halo 3: ODST.
- Assault Rifle - Unlocked by playing the Halo: Reach beta.
- HALO - Unlocked after earning the Halo 1, Halo 2, and Halo 3 emblems.
- Spartan Helmet - Unlocked after earning four of the following emblems: Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Assault Rifle.
- Star - Unlocked by participating in "Bungie All Star" community challenges on Bungie.net and having the entry chosen by the community manager.
- Bungie - Bungie employees only.
Limited Release SKUs
Much like its predecessors, Halo: Reach will come with two limited edition choices, as well as two specially themed accessories.
- Game disc housed in recovered ONI "Black Box".
- An exclusive Elite armor set for use in multiplayer modes.
- Artifact bag containing Dr. Halsey's personal journal and other classified documents and effects that unravel long held secrets from the Halo universe.
The same as the limited edition release plus the following:
- Noble Team Statue crafted by McFarlane Toys.
- USNC themed custom packaging.
- An exclusive Spartan armor feature for use in multiplayer modes, a flaming helmet that was exclusive to Bungie employees in Halo 3.
- Exclusive downloadable video content.
Xbox 360 Bundle
- New Xbox 360 "S" in limited platinum color which also features new sounds from the console, one for when the 360 is powered-up and one for the disc tray.
- Two platinum controllers.
- Halo Reach Game (Standard Edition).
Japanese Xbox 360 S Bundle
- A download code for the game was bundled with Monster Hunter Frontier, Fable III, and Gears of War 2 in a Japanese-exclusive "value" bundle.
Halo: Reach Wireless Controller
- Features artwork created by Bungie, inspired by Halo: Reach, the blockbuster prequel to the award-winning Halo trilogy.
- Features all the functionality of the award-winning Wireless Controller while fitting in perfectly within the Halo: Reach mythology.
- Includes a token for a Banshee aircraft Avatar item.
Halo: Reach Wireless Headset
Features all the functionality of the Wireless Headset, a distinctive silver color and artwork created by Bungie that was inspired by Halo: Reach, the blockbuster prequel to the award-winning Halo trilogy.
The avatar awards are the helmets of the other members of Noble Team. It is unknown whether or not they will come via Halo: Reach or Halo: Waypoint which currently is used to unlock every other Halo avatar award. A Noble 6 Helmet and any Noble armor suit are not available as Awards. The armor for Jun, Jorge, Carter, Emile, and Noble 6 can be bought in the Avatar Marketplace. A Noble 6 helmet is available as a code giveaway to people lucky enough to get one.
- Carter's Helmet - Clear a Campaign mission on Legendary without dying.
- Emile's Helmet - Earn a Bulltrue medal in either multiplayer or Firefight Matchmaking.
- Jorge's Helmet - Earn a Killtacular in multiplayer Matchmaking.
- Jun's Helmet - Kill 100 enemies in a row without dying in either the Campaign or Firefight.
- Kat's Helmet - Avenge a teammate's death in multiplayer Matchmaking.
The Halo: Reach soundtrack was released on September 28th. It was once again composed by Martin O'Donnell.
- Overture - 4:46
- Winter Contingency - 12:08
- ONI: Sword Base - 8:27
- Nightfall - 5:40
- Tip of the Spear - 6:05
- Long Night of Solace - 11:46
- Exodus - 7:18
- New Alexandria - 8:41
- The Package - 6:55
- The Pillar of Autumn - 9:40
- Epilogue - 4:29
- From the Vault - 4:59
- Ashes - 2:45
- Fortress - 1:07
- We're Not Going Anywhere - 1:13
- At Any Cost - 2:29
- Both Ways (Remix) - 2:17
- Walking Away - 1:53
- Ghosts and Glass - 2:41
- We Remember - 2:05