Hands-On With Halo: Reach’s Defiant Map Pack

by Tim Turi on Feb 24, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Today at the Microsoft Games Showcase in San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down with the maps from Halo: Reach’s new Defiant map pack DLC. I shot my way through team deathmatch in the ill-fated space station of Condemned, repelled the Covenant horde in Unearthed, and got a tour through the massive Highlands map.

The Condemned map takes place after the fall of Reach, as the Covenant destroy remaining human ships and scorch the planet’s surface. Taking a look outside the space station’s windows reveals this desperate view, and it’s truly a sight to behold. This is one of the most vibrant multiplayer maps I’ve seen in Halo series so far. It’s mid-sized and optimized for 4 vs. 4 battles.

 The layout is reminiscent of Halo 2’s sci-fi corridors, with hues of blue and purple accenting the interior. Passages twist and turn, opening up into medium-sized rooms with plenty of ramps and obstacles to vault over while gunning down enemies. Eventually the map opens up into a huge low gravity chamber, taking the fight airborne for a short time. Bring a Needler or sniper rifle into this room to pick off floating enemies like low-hanging fruit.

The Defiant Map pack’s Firefight level is called Unearthed, and it reminds me of the final, fateful act of Halo: Reach. An industrial complex stretches out into an outdoor area, with catwalks and conveyor belts stretching overhead. Phantom drop ships deploy Covenant troops at the far end of the spawn point behind a small building, and out in the open sides of the map. Hijacking a Ghost or hopping in a Warthog is recommended, as driving circles around enemies while shredding them with intersecting fire is a blast.

The last new map, Highlands, is designed for gigantic battles. Opposing buildings are spread in wide rows alongside a stream and lush green fields, similar to the opening section of Reach’s single-player campagin. A huge Covenant ship hovers above the distant mountainside, laying waste to the trees and creating a beautiful but disturbing spectacle of lights. 343 Studios is looking to satisfy fans of big team battles with this map, taking time to craft a location that hosts great classic modes like capture the flag.

The Defiant DLC map pack releases March 15 on Xbox Live for 800 MS Points. The additional maps are shaping up to be a lot of fun, and are gorgeous to boot. Keep this one on your radar if you’re interested in dusting off Bungie’s final Halo game for goodbye romp.