Attack of the Fanboy

Halo Reach Defiant Map Pack Review

by William Schwartz

The “Halo: Reach” Defiant Map Pack introduces three stunning new battlefields for the most critically acclaimed shooter of 2010, and will include all-new Achievements worth a total of 150 Gamerscore. With maps set on a giant orbital station high above the burning surface of the planet, hidden inside the forest of a military wilderness training facility, and dug into the remnants of a civilian mining site, the Defiant Map Pack brings awesome new environments for Firefight matches and all competitive multiplayer modes.

As with all map packs for popular and well made games, this one extends the life of Halo: Reach quite well.  Although, I think more importantly it was nice to see that the Halo franchise is in good hands now that Bungie has left as the developer in charge of the franchise.  If you hadn’t heard about this news, you likely wouldn’t notice much of a difference, which is a good thing.

Since the map pack consists of two multiplayer maps it was good to see that 343 would be able to handle such a highly regarded franhcise on the Xbox 360.  I’m not gonna lie.  I was a bit worried when I heard that Bungie would no longer be supporting the game, and that the responsibilities had shifted.  Of course, they are working with a core set of tools that Bungie had created, but a the job was well done nonetheless.

Weapon balancing throughout the new maps is well done, and the maps themselves feel a bit larger than before, but it does give them the ability to be played on many more gametypes in the Defiant playlist.

For 800 Microsoft Points you get three maps.  Two which focus on the competitive multiplayer aspect, and one which is delagated to firefight duties.  As I breifly mentioned above.  The maps are well done.  There’s some nice eye candy on the maps, giving each of them a unique feeling.  Highlands is a huge map, it’s got caves, a giant water pool in the middle, and plenty of spaces to snipe from.  It’s one of the best maps in the pack, if not the game right now, when it comes to the larger variety.  Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from the map pack.

Condemned: Condemned takes place aboard Orbital Station Gamma, a massive space station high in orbit above the planet Reach. Prior to the Covenant’s overwhelming invasion, Orbital Station Gamma provided long range communications for UNSC fleets and a vital lifeline between Reach and Earth. During the Battle of Reach, the station suffered terrible punishment at the hands of the Covenant but a few fortified sections remain intact, fully pressurized, and ready for combat. Condemned supports 6 – 12 players in a variety of action-packed game types, including Team Slayer, Team Objective and Free for All.

Highlands: Highlands takes place on the top-secret Military Wilderness Training Preserve on Reach. The Preserve is a large, wooded area where Spartan super-soldiers trained long before the war with the Covenant began. During the Battle of Reach, the Preserve was the site of key battles between the alien invaders and a group of Spartans who used their familiarity with these UNSC training grounds to significant tactical advantage…but not everyone who enters these woods makes it out alive. Highlands expands the fight with massive-scale engagements for 8 – 16 players in Big Team Battle, Team Slayer and Team Objective.

Unearthed: Unearthed takes the battle for Reach to a large Titanium mine and refinery located in the Viery civilian sector of the planet. This particular mine was built to take advantage of the exposed titanium inside a massive meteor crater. The titanium produced here is used in much of the UNSC hardware, from the chassis of the Warthog to the meters-thick armor plating of capital ships like the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. While this facility was quickly abandoned when the Covenant arrived on Reach, it still has significant tactical (and economic) value and it won’t be long before both humans and Covenant return to battle for control. Unearthed allows up to 4 players to launch a counterassault against the Covenant in Firefight and Firefight modes such as Generator Defense.

Depending on how much you play Halo Reach the price on the map packs might be hard to swallow.  If you don’t play that often and just wanted to check out the new maps.  You aren’t missing anything groundbreaking here.  And for $10 bucks that price point might be a little high for you.  If you play Halo on a regular or semi-regular basis though, you’ll have plenty of fun mastering these new maps.

Although there’s only two multiplayer maps, so The Defiant Playlist has been a little dry.  The size of the maps make it possible to play a wide variety of games on the maps, but I didn’t see an invasion game mode in the time I spent with the maps and it would have been a perfect fit  for a map the size of Highlands.

I think I can speak for the majority of the Halo: Reach community when I ask you to ditch the Firefight map on the next pack. Either three multiplayer maps and a firefight map, or three multiplayer maps.  The firefight matchmaking servers are dry as bones with much of the remaining community soaking up multiplayer with bulk of their time.  That’s not to say that people don’t still play Firefight at all, but the numbers are obviously slanted towards MP.

The Defiant Map Pack for Halo Reach did a couple of things for me.  For one, it keeps the Halo: Reach Multiplayer experience feeling fresh.  Even if the multiplayer part recieved only two new maps, the maps in the pack are perfect for a lot of multiplayer’s better game modes in my opinion.  However, I would have liked to see 343 ditch the firefight map and just include another multi, maybe one that included an Invasion mode preferably.  Second, it proved that someone other than Bungie would be able to carry the game going forward.  That’s not to say when it’s time to move the series forward, the game will be better realized with 343.  But with the Defiant Map Pack being their only work to judge, it looks like the franchise is in good hands.


Halo Reach: Defiant Map Pack

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  • Developed By: Bungie
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  • US Release Date: Spring 2011
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