Gaming Moments of 2010 #9: Halo: Reach

All the big guns have come and gone. The best games are all now on shelves and we’ve just decided on our game of the year. Now we’re taking a look at our 10 favourite gaming moments of 2010. Be aware that these are just my subjective choices – feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below.

Working Out The DMR In Halo: Reach First, a little bit of context. I've been a huge fan of the Halo series from day one. I bought a launch Xbox, queued for Halo 2 and 3. Along the way, I've developed a huge fascination with competitive Halo and playing multiplayer online. In terms of my own skill level I probably peaked halfway through the lifespan of Halo 2 and those skills were pretty much transferable through to Halo 3. In a sense, Halo had become a series I was really comfortable with.

The staple of the competitive gamer through Halo 2 and Halo 3 was the Battle Rifle. A flexible weapon that allowed players to compete in mid-range and close-range battles, and alternate between the power weapons dotted around the map. I had become very familiar with that weapon and its mechanics, so when I heard that Bungie intended to reboot the weapon in the form of the DMR I started shaking my fists at clouds, a grumpy old bastard set in his ways, terrified of change and the challenges it might bring.

Still I was excited to learn a new weapon, and secretly hoped for an experience as rewarding as the Halo 1 pistol.

When I first got my virtual paws on the DMR, however, my heart sank. What fresh hell was this! Why weren't my shots registering - was Halo: Reach destined to be a lag-fest? I would constantly and consistently head for the DMR spawn, intent on showing off my prowess and skill, only to be instantly mowed down by two newbies spamming Assault Rifles.

I literally had no idea what to think. In Halo 3 I would have launched some nades, strafed like Baryshnikov, and out-shot these chumps in seconds - but here I was, headbutting my controller, spitting with rage, cursing Bungie for taking away my precious Battle Rifle. Shouting obscenties at the sky like a sunburnt, Scottish Abe Simpson.

But then, in one single moment of inspiration, everything seemed to click. I got it. I started trying to work with the weapon instead of against it. The secret to the DMR was timing and context and, in comparison to Halo 3's Battle Rifle, it slowly became a weapon that skilled players could use to outplay and outthink the opponent.

The secret was the bloom mechanic - spam your shots and they become less accurate. Time them perfectly, and you'll leave less skilled players wondering where it all went wrong. It adds a fresh layer of strategy. At distance it pays to line up and time your shots, yet at close range spamming the trigger works more efficiently. The DMR is a weapon that forces you to elevate your thinking above elementary 'point and blast' mechanics and, hence, increases the skill cap of Halo: Reach exponentially.

Don't get me wrong - the DMR is far from perfect. Debate rages in the competitive community with regards to its 'randomness', and I do agree that the bloom mechanic could do with a slight bit of tightening - but I have personally loved the process of learning how to use this beguiling weapon. I've loved the incremental rewards that I've had through practice, the frustrations perfectly offset with mini breakthroughs. It's a weapon that I feel like I'm still getting used to, a skill set that I'll continue to improve throughout the life-span of Halo: Reach.

Whereas Halo 3 placed me in a world coated in a drab layer of familiarity, Reach forced me to learn something new, and evolve as a Halo player. It was a new game, with new mechanics, and I'm glad I invested the time and effort because, ultimately, the reward was well worth it.


Comments

    Gotta agree with you here Mark. The mechanics of the DMR are fantastic, and as such it is very satisfying to win battles with it when you're one on one against another DMR wielding foe. I like it more than the BR as I suffered a lot due to lag with the BR. The fact the DMR is hitscan makes me weep with joy. SWAT is a freaking dream with this weapon.

    On the bloom, I quite like having the visual representation rather than the random spread the BR had. I know when I'm shooting too fast and I know when it's appropriate to use it at a simple glance. However I feel if the bloom is tightened any further it'll turn into the one-gun-for-all-situations weapon that was the BR, and will throw the balance out a bit.

      Yeah, the AR and Magnum are perfectly harmonious with the DMR and encounters are more about who used their weapon properly, vs who has the superior weapon. I'm glad for this because I always liked the AR, and the pistol in Halo3 was worse than useless.

        Yeah I agree with this. I actually love the pistol in Reach. It has this sort of last gasp risk/reward skill level to it.

        If you use it correctly at close range you can take someone out v. quickly. But it's a huge risk to use it against someone spamming the AR.

    I love the DMR... it's just about the best thing ever.
    When I first used it in the campaign, it was at range... and it just gelled, y'know?

      I loved it in campaign as well. Actually of the games released in the last half of the year, I think Halo: Reach is my favourite.

      I felt the same way the first time I played Gruntpocalypse. It feels like the gun was perfectly designed to mow down armies of grunts with headshots.

    I actually found the DMR a lot easier to use then the Battl Rifle. I love getting head shots with it.

    Also it shames me to say I actually haven't played Reach in about a month and a half. I have no idea why because it's a great game and a love the multiplayer but I just haven't found myself turning my Xbox on and putting in the disc.

    Minus points for not closing with some quip about how it made your combat evolve.

    A long time Halo ho myself, I went the other way. I never got the hang of the BR and my MP game on Halo 2 and 3 sucked as a result.

    But the DMR seems much more suited to me. I love it!

    I too am a big fan of the DMR.
    I like weapons that take a bit of skill to use, that have tricks you need to learn if you want to use them well.
    The Spartan Laser and Wraith Tank are like that too, you need to get the feel for it.

    It's no BR from Halo 2...

    Those were the days, when I was at my best. I admit I played day in, day out, but I felt unstoppable with a BR or the "Noob" combo. Halo 3 nerfed the BR and added the Assault Rifle as the starting weapon which was just a spray fest for n00bs. Halo Reach is much better than Halo 3, and I do like the DMR, but it will never bring me the joy the BR from Halo 2 did.

    i agree, the DMR is an awesome weapon, i liked and used the BR in halo 3 a bit, but didn't like the 3 shot burst, and i can't snipe, so the DMR was perfect for me! there is nothing more thrilling than headshotting an elite in legendary with a DMR, one of the best normal weapons in a game...

    although the best moment in reach (that i thought you were putting up) was the ending, (i would say that i'm about to reveal spoilers, but if you cared about the story of the game, you would have passed it by now!) really boosted that "going down fighting" feel the game had, and surviving waves of elites, all while cracks are covering your health and radar? genius! made me feel proud of my spartan!

    The DMR is by far my favorite weapon in Video Games. It takes finesse and patience and sometimes an icy resolve because if you get panicked in a situation and spam the trigger YOU WILL DIE.
    I prefer its semi auto action over automatic weapons. My multiplayer is mediocre at best and the pistola has been my savior a number of times.

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