Following on from our review of Invasion, the Halo Reach beta has provided yet another new game-type for the fans to tear apart. Generator Defence, titled Network Test 1 on the playlists, is a 3 on 3, Spartans versus Elites affair, where the Spartans must protect a trio of generators the Elites seek to destroy. Whatever the result, in the next round the Spartans become the Elites, and vice-versa.
Unlike the majority of the beta, Generator Defence is suffering a fair few hiccups. Significant delay can be noted between button-prompts and on-screen actions, not to mention a sense of sliding when moving forward. It explains the title, Network Test 1, emphasis on 'test', but some fans believe it's because Bungie are not only testing the multiplayer servers, but the co-op, too.
Like Invasion, Generator Defence can only be played on one map, Overlook, a sprawling rural vista located in Reach's mountainside. It's a beautiful map, with Spartans spawning in a dimly-lit barn, Elites on a rocky outcrop across the map. A river carves across the middle of the map, and the Elites must climb either a steep hill, boulder-strewn field or the exposed middle-ground to reach the generators.
The objective for Elite's is simple. Shoot, melee or grenade the generators until they explode. However, Spartans can 'lock' each generator, gifting it invincible for thirty seconds. Games often devolve into a maelstrom of bullets, as Elites pound generators, unaware of locking mechanism, as Spartans cluster to besieged generators, ignoring the other two, rendering them defenceless.
The loadouts for Generator Defence are identical to the third tier of Invasion. Spartans can equip Shotguns with Armour Lock, Assault Rifles with Jetpacks and Grenade Launchers with Sprint, among others. Elites can carry Energy Swords, Needle Rifles and Plasma Repeaters with Evade, Invisibility or Jetpacks. So expect plenty of airborne Spartans and Elites, and explosions below.
Added to the mix are weapon drops, which occur at the start of the game. A Longsword surges by overhead, dropping four weapon-crates for the teams to fight over. Sniper Rifles, Rocket Launchers and Spartan Lasers can be found, and in the wide-open, exposed areas of Overlook, all three can be deadly and turn the tide.
A Good Offense
As a Spartan, it's often difficult to decide how to approach things. Do you remain near a generator, huddled behind a wall or boulder with a Shotgun? Or do you take the fight to the Elites? Sprint to the mounted turret and pick them off as they begin their approach from across the river? I find either strategy can be effective, if you're team balances its duties. If someone is on turret duty, the others must be mindful of the three generators, whose survival is vital to success.
As an Elite, what poses a dilemma is what generator to attack. The nearest, C, can actually be sighted from the Elite spawn-point. A Needle Rifle can hit the generator from the right angle, but it would take a long time and a lot of ammo to even dent it. B is nestled in the barn, but a variety of gaping doorways and makeshift entrances mean getting inside isn't difficult. A can be found in the top right corner of the map, hidden behind a scattering of boulders probably crawling with hidden Spartans.
The main-problem with Generator Defence at the moment is the latency issues. Lag is heavy, and the sense of 'ice-skating' around the map is annoyingly noticeable. Obviously, these kinks will be ironed out by release, but for the purpose of reviewing and critiquing the game-type, it's difficult to properly assess it when you're trying to destroy a generator and your hurled grenade flies into the ether.
Overall, however, I enjoy Generator Defence. At first, I found it to be somewhat plain and pedestrian. But once I played a few more games, got to grips with the respective duties for each side, I found myself enjoying it a lot more. As a Spartan, I like to whip out a Shotty and Armour Lock and lurk, motionless, behind boulders and walls, in wait for my Elite prey. As an Elite, though, I prefer the stealthy approach, creeping up into Spartan territory, invisible and spraying pink needles of death.
Tune in to Dealspwn on May 19th when the Halo Reach beta is whipped away from our disc-drives and returned to the Bungie incubating-chambers. We'll be reviewing the beta, what we liked, what we didn't like, and how we think Bungie can delivery later this year. So enjoy the last few days of Halo Reach, and we'll see you on the 19th, when we shuffle back Modern Warfare 2.