When I look back at my time spent with Halo 3, I immediately remember all of the competitive multiplayer matches with friends. Looking ahead to Halo Reach, I find myself excited for the campaign co-op experience. Why is that? There's just something about Halo's campaign mode that's addictively fun, despite its limitations. Sure there are only so many times you can run through the story mode, but while multiplayer may be what fans latch onto for months on end, the campaign has been (and will be) a massive driving force for Halo Reach's sales. Join me, as I unofficially declare this upcoming week to be 'Halo Reach Week', and take you on a journey that most PS3 fans will ignore.
Perhaps this is a unique perspective, but I've never felt there to be any tension in the world of Halo unless the player was pitted against the Flood. The covenant was never a big enough threat really, you spend the greater part of three games stomping across every single thing the alien collective has on a regular basis. Playing the game as Master Chief does have that effect however, which is why I look forward to experiencing the fun as Noble Team. From the very start, they're simply more human (and therefore more realistic) than the Chief ever was. We see them without helmets, as they prepare for battle, and we understand they each have their own personalities and preferences. They are first and foremost human beings, and depicting the Spartans as such has never really been
done in the series.
Keeping this in mind it's a lot easier to sympathize with Noble Team, and their goal which has yet to be disclosed in full. Thankfully, we do have a few hints as to how the storyline may pan out. Taking place entirely before the events of the first Halo, the game pans out over the fall of planet Reach. So far Bungie has hinted that the entire team is working for a greater purpose than just resisting the Covenant, which could be anything from delivering Cortana to preventing Earth from being discovered by enemy forces. Furthermore only one of the team members is particularly qualified for this task, though if the plot runs the way most sci-fi epics do we can already guess who that may be (hint: it's the main character).
One of the few questions I would have in advance is how will each of the new characters be introduced, and will we be able to sympathize with them on an individual level? That sort of connection is what really pushes any campaign from being just plain fun, to being memorable. Perhaps this is out of line to say, but very few missions in Halo 3 were memorable for more than just being obnoxious on the hardest difficulty. Here, with more vocal and clearly vibrant character design, Bungie has the potential to create missions that are actually engaging. Like a combination of what ODST delivered, only on a much grander action-packed scale.
The story of Noble Team's creation, trials, and eventual end should pan out quite nicely for Reach's co-operative mode too. The biggest complaint about Halo 3's four person multiplayer was how, outside of the Arbiter, the teammates had little to no fleshed out identity. It seems trivial in some respect, but being able to enter the game as a very real identity adds a lot of depth. Each member of Noble Team has a very detailed history, and such detailed characters will no doubt make their own individual mark on the battlefield. Being able to work with friends, each taking control of a key team member should be much more fun this time
What will make Reach truly special for a lot of players will be knowing that the series has finally met something of a 'full circle' closure. The entire story, from beginning to end, will be settled with this game. Knowing that the series begins with the fall of Reach makes things much more interesting however, as Bungie has designed the storyline to progress in such a way that we know the end of the planet is inevitable. This doesn't mean that reaching the end won't give players a sense of accomplishment though, as there's still a mission to see through till the end. A fitting way to being the series to a (perhaps temporary) conclusion, one that players should be enjoying for a long time.