You'll have to wait a little longer for the full review of Halo: Reach, but that doesn't mean I can't provide a little more info about this eagerly-anticipated title. With less than a week to go before the massive FPS lands on store shelves, take a look at these ten facts to help tide you over.
1. Control changes
If you've been playing the hell out of Halo 3 and ODST in preparation for Reach, be ready to learn a slightly-altered control scheme. You'll be using Reach's armor abilities quite a bit, and they're activated with the LB button. That bumper was previously used to switch grenade types, but you'll be pressing B now if you want to swap between frag and plasma. You're probably used to hitting B to melee attack, but you'll need to hit RB in Reach to KO your enemies from behind. The X button activated equipment in 3 and turned on your visor in ODST, but it'll be your reload button this time around instead of RB.
2. Armor abilities change the game
The equipment in Halo 3 was an alright distraction for a while, but most players didn't use these pickups frequently. Instead of one-time use items, the new armor abilities all operate on a cooldown timer. Whether you're jetpacking around an objective-based multiplayer map, activating Armor Lock just in time to save your life, or sending holograms left and right to confuse your enemies, you'll find yourself using these frequently and to great effect.
3. Missions are more varied than ever
All of the previous Halo titles featured solid campaigns to varying degrees, but all of them had their repetitive moments. Oftentimes you'd find yourself navigating what looked like identical areas for long stretches of time, and you couldn't wait to just move on to the next part. Reach doesn't feature moments like these, and changes the pace frequently throughout the campaign. Without giving too much away, you'll be cycling through different gameplay throughout the campaign. You'll be tiptoeing around corners one second, jetpacking across large gaps the next, and running into massive firefights the next, all in the same mission.
4. A smarter Covenant
The Halo series has always featured intelligent A.I., but it's more advanced than ever in Reach. Toss a grenade into a group of enemies and you'll see a few Elites activate their own Armor Lock ability. If you choose to Armor Lock to protect yourself against a charging Brute, he'll back off before its short-range EMP goes off. Once it's clear, he'll continue on his warpath. Bungie made the Covenant speak their own language again in an effort to make them more scary, but it's their intelligence on the battlefield that does that job better than anything else.
5. Customizable multiplayer
Like Halo 3's robust multiplayer, Reach's lets you tweak every little aspect of a match to a ridiculous degree. You can create your own maps, make your own match types, tweak the gameplay speed and gravity, set the weapon options, and plenty more. When you're done with a particularly wild match, you can go into theater mode and snap pics and record videos to your heart's content. The amount of options is truly staggering, and it offers far more customization than any other console FPS.
6. The Armory
You'll be earning credits throughout your time with Reach, and The Armory is where you'll be taking them when you're in a spending mood. Basic armor customizations like helmets, visors, and shoulder pads are available, but you can also get goofier stuff if you'd like. Save up plenty of money and you can surround your character with stink clouds or lightning bolts, or even have hearts and confetti emanate from your outfit. If you'd like to drop 150,000 credits, you can even attach Master Chief's voice to your character.
7. Huge battles
Halo has never skimped on the amount of onscreen enemies or the size of its battles in the past, but Reach cranks up the battlefield intensity significantly. Small skirmishes are the exception rather than the rule, as you'll be bombarded with Covenant dropships and waves of enemies time and time again. Noble Team faces an urgent crisis from the moment the game starts, and it doesn't let up for a second.
8. Space is just a small part
You may have seen a bit of what Reach's space combat looks like, but don't expect too much of it. What's there is superbly done, but this is an FPS, not Starfox. Have your fun with it while it lasts, but don't expect it to be a major part of the campaign.
9. Daily challenges
Every day, Bungie will be posting challenges that reward you with extra credits. These can feature a variety of objectives across the board, and aren't confined to multiplayer. Some will force you to beat missions solo on Legendary, while others could be Firefight-specific. These daily challenges will earn you about 500 to 1,000 credits, but weekly challenges can rake in between 2,000 and 5,000.
10. Forge mode is drastically improved
While the original version of Forge allowed you to slightly tinker with existing levels, Reach's Forge and the new Forgeworld map allows you to make a wide variety of crazy creations.