Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack review

Halo fans waiting for new content after the September 14 release of Halo Reach don’t have to wait any longer – the Noble Map Pack is here and it’s a welcome addition to the Bungie downloadable content family that ranks up there with Halo 3’s Legendary and Mythic Map Packs.

Noble Map Pack comes with three maps that all offer unique settings, map sizes and play styles. Each is distinct with attributes that have yet to be seen from the previous maps seen in Halo: Reach, so they are most definitely a welcomed addition; especially for fans of team-based and objective match types.

Beginning with the smallest, Anchor 9 features one of my favorite aspects of any of the maps: zero to low gravity. A giant shield provides a barrier from space and the hangar bay that players fight within. Inside the hangar bay, the combat remains in tune with what many players have come to expect from Halo titles. It’s outside of the barriers that combat takes an exciting turn. A stimulating change of pace, the blue energy shield is perfect for quick escape from a firefight. Once in the low gravity environment, players will float after jumping and encounter a twist on combat. The only downside is that the space setting is tiny and not big enough for large-scale battles.

Anchor 9’s setup paves way for tense firefights that often range from close to mid-range battles. There wasn’t much time for sniper battles as it’s designed for free-for-all and team slayer matches with up to 8 players. There weren’t many choke points that were necessary to accomplish victory, but entering space did permit excellent safety from incoming fire since bullets are repelled by the shield.

Continuing to increase in size of maps, Tempest has two forerunner bases that are equipped with turrets to repel invasion of enemies. Mancannons are at the head of each base for quick travel. For objective matches such as Capture-the-Flag, it’s essential to make use of the mancannons if the tunnels are occupied with opponents.

It’s much larger than Anchor 9 and suitable for Big Team Battles and smaller affairs for Team Slayer. With numerous tunnels for escape, Tempest is a great look at Bungie’s stellar record for outside environments. It’s not as accepting for 8-player Team Slayer matches as Anchor 9 is, but it’s much more applicable for the battles in the smaller nature than Breakpoint, the last map introduced in the Noble Map Pack.

Breakpoint is the largest of the bunch and has a crazy amount of options for attack and defense. Two bases separated by a mountain in the middle, Breakpoint brought back great memories of Halo: CE’s Sidewinder. Snowy terrain and rocky cliffs make up the lush world to explore as players fight over of the two banshee spawns, multiple sniper hiding points, and connected bases that are superb for close quarters.

It’s an even better map than Tempest for objective and Big Team Battle forays, so it’s evident what Bungie’s focus was with Noble Map Pack: larger objective affairs that allow a high amount of customization in Forge. Fans of Invasion matches should find Breakpoint better than Spire and Boneyard.

None of the maps are from Halo Reach’s single-player campaign, so players shouldn’t expect a good sense of familiarity when playing through them. Each has been well balanced and the power weapons are well hidden. The only cause for concern is that Breakpoint can be easily dominated by players well equipped with air combat techniques.

In addition to the maps, there are seven new achievements that are rather easy to earn such as destroying a vehicle with Armor Lock, blowing up the research facility in Invasion mode when playing Breakpoint, killing a player at long distance with a DMR in a Slayer match, and earning a double kill with a shotgun.

Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack is set to release on November 30, so players should fine tune their skills and prepare for one of the best releases in Halo DLC history.

Recommendation: Buy it!