Halo: Reach came out way back in September of last year. Since then it has seen numerous free updates that have balanced and tweaked the gameplay. Map packs are a different story. These cost money, and the going rate for the Halo franchise has been ten bucks for three maps. The Noble Map Pack DLC came out near the end of last November, and sadly, no co-op-friendly Firefight maps were included. Tomorrow, March 15th, marks the release of the Defiant Map Pack DLC, and this time, a brand-spanking-new Firefight map is part of the deal. We got our hands on the new co-op map called Unearthed and here are our impressions on how it stacks up.
Unearthed takes place at giant titanium mine. There's at least one Warthog armed with a rocket launcher turret available. It is very reminiscent of the Firefight map, Holdout. Both slope downward toward a huge drop, and both have a large installation with buildings that you can't really snipe from (Return to battlefield? B-o-o-!). They even seem to share the same color palette.
After reacquainting myself with the menus I checked my level progression. Funny. I'm still a Warrant Officer Grade 3. I thought that I would have leveled up by now... I started off my first round of Firefight the same way I start every Halo game after a long hiatus. I attempted to look down my sights, and immediately threw a grenade. Boom. Shield down. So far, so good. Matchmaking isn't enabled for the new maps yet, so I played local split-screen matches with my wife. She's played every Halo from start to finish, so she knows what she's doing. (And no, she doesn't play that weak-a$$ easy mode.)
We tasted the sour grapes of total defeat after about five minutes, three of which were spent running from Hunters and screaming, "Oh god, oh god, why do we suck at this?" We both remember Firefight being much easier. Then I realized that Matchmaking Firefights have totally different presets than offline matches. To the game options! Let's see here... Invulnerability, check. 300% damage, check. Rockets, double check. Ah, yes. I remember now. In the next battle we both immediately jetpack up into the air and puke rockets down upon our enemies. Firefight at its finest. What can I say? It's one more map in which you can blast the Covenant. If you like Firefight mode, you'll like this map.
Check out the new locales in motion.
The Defiant Map pack has three maps, Condemned, Highlands, and Unearthed. Condemned and Highlands are both multiplayer versus maps. I ran around on each one without any opponents, just to get a feel for them. Condemned takes place on a ruined space station. You can see an ongoing battle outside; Covenant and Marine Ships bombard each other. In the distance, the surface of Reach glows under the fire of the Covenant force's onslaught. Unfortunately, the map itself feels sterile. It's your standard corridor affair, with areas of low gravity.