I've been playing the Beta the last two nights. Some quick impressions:
The visuals are definitely improved. It might be hard to notice immediately, but play some of the Beta and then pop in Halo 3 and you will notice.
Gameplay still feels like Halo and it didn't take me long to adjust to the slight control changes (reload is back to the 'X' button, RB is now melee, and the LB is for your special ability).
While I've found some enjoyment with the Beta, for the most part I just can't stand Halo multiplayer. It is just not for me. After playing CoD, I find it very hard to go back to the way Halo does things, with enemies requiring far too many shots to kill (unless using some of the more powerful weapons), and weapons being very unbalanced. And Reach is similar enough that all my problems with the way Halo plays online carries over. I believe I've covered these in the past, but I'll cover them again.
- Success in Halo depends way too much on what weapon you have. If you (or your team) control the weapons on the map you have a significant advantage over your opponents.
- The default weapons are FAR too weak (assault rifle and pistol). This goes back to my point above. So you are pretty ineffective and at a severe disadvantage when you respawn. I much prefer CoD's system of each player being able to choose their weapon loadout, and the fact that all weapons are balanced to the point that one does not have an advantage over another.
- I just don't enjoy the circle and spray combat Halo seems to require. Here is a typical "encounter" with another opponent, lets say with the default assault rifle. You turn a corner, you and your opponent see each other, you both hold down the trigger and unload your ENTIRE clip as you circle each other, and if you are both still alive at this point (now with depleted shields and low health), you close in to try and bash them with a melee attack.
A variation to the above scenario is first throwing a grenade at each other if you are far enough away, and then unloading your entire clip into each other.
What then usually happens is that whoever won that battle, is now shieldless, with no energy, reloading their weapon and another opponent shows up and shoots you once and you die.
- Going back to how pathetically weak the assault rifle is, here's a scenario. In CoD, if you find yourself behind two enemies who do not know you are there (lets say they are 20 feet away), you can easily kill them both with your weapon, as you should. Maybe the second guy will have time to turn around and get a few shots off, but you got them (as long as you don't suck.) Yeah, this won't happen in Halo. Engaging two enemies at one time when you have your default weapon is a suicide mission. Even when you have the clear element of surprise. Since it will basically take your entire clip to kill the first player, the second will easily be able to turn around and dispatch you.
Alright Halo fanboys, relax, I am not hating on Halo multiplayer. I am not saying it "sucks", just that it is not my style. If you are one of the millions that enjoy the way Halo plays, with weapon pick-ups, shields, lots of grenade throwing and punching, that is cool. The game controls extremely well, the maps are great, and it can be fun, but I just can't get into it on a consistent basis. After a few matches I find myself longing for CoD.
That being said, I will definitely be buying Reach, because I am a HUGE fan of Halo single-player.
Anyway, those are my two-cents on the Beta. I'll continue to give it a try, who knows, maybe I'll adapt, but right now it just seems like more of the same with only slight tweaks to the formula.