One of the biggest criticisms leveraged against Halo: Reach was the astonishingly low quality of the multiplayer maps included in the retail version. The original offerings were either spaces taken from the campaign or Forge World creations and remakes of older maps. Even the Noble Map Pack, released by Bungie on November 30, didn’t measure up to the maps of the previous Halo games, though they were better than the base offerings.
Interestingly, Halo: Reach’s second map pack, the Defiant Map Pack, was crafted by Certain Affinity, who made the Blastacular Map Pack for Halo 2. The Defiant Map Pack includes two new multiplayer spaces and a Firefight arena, but what makes this particular DLC worth your hard earned space bucks?
The two multiplayer maps, Condemned and Highlands, are the most visually interesting arenas in a Halo game to date. They each feature some really impressive backgrounds with Condemned showing a space battle and Highlands featuring two Covenant ships glassing the planet as you play. The actual playable sections of the maps themselves are really well done too, with several natural hotspots that condense the action.
Both maps are well suited to Slayer and objective play, giving them great versatility compared to the other maps, which are built specifically for one game mode. Condemned is actually really fun to play with a King of Hill gametype, especially when the hill is in the central section of the map where the gravity is turned down, much like the top area of Zealot. Both maps are quite well balanced, with power weapons and the vehicles on Highlands spread out equally.
The Firefight map included with the Defiant Map Pack, Unearthed, takes place in a mining facility and focuses more on vehicular combat, giving players access to the Rocket Warthog, previously only available on Beachhead. Unearthed is less busy visually than the multiplayer maps, but I guess that’s forgivable given how crazy a typical Firefight match can get. Players mainly stay within the mining facility, but it’s a ton of fun to rip around the grounds with a Rocket ‘Hog and tear into Covenant vehicles and troops.
Overall, the Defiant Map Pack is the finest bunch of maps available for Halo: Reach, but given the lackluster nature of the shipped maps, this isn’t that much of a surprise. What’s more surprising is that Bungie failed to deliver in a field they’ve typically been great in, and it took a third party developer to make some excellent maps for Reach’s multiplayer.
I know we don’t typically talk about map pack DLC around here, but the Defiant Map Pack is such a quality offering that I thought you guys should know about it. If you’re still holding onto your Reach disc and you’re hesitant on plunking down more Micrsoft Points on another Halo map pack, rest easy in this choice.
Has anyone else played on these maps? How do they stand with the rest of the Halo series, from Combat Evolved all the way to Reach?