Bungie unveiled Firefight 2.0 at E3 this year, but it didn't pull the curtains back on every feature. In addition to the full matchmaking support and completely customizable games shown back in June, Bungie is letting loose a couple of new Firefight modes and a new map. And I got to play them at a special press event during a recent trip to the developer's studio.
The new map is called Courtyard. It features a mostly gray, largely lifeless look that feels a bit like a more compact version of the Last Exit map from Halo 3: ODST. There's a building at one end where Spartans spawn near a rock face opposite a rather thin central courtyard. The center rift curves around a bit to a second spawn point, only you won't find any Spartans appearing there…
Bungie used Courtyard to unveil a brand new Firefight variant. That other spawn point is where a second team will begin when playing the new Versus Firefight mode. This is a two-on-two affair, still pitting swarms of Covenant fighters against a pair of Spartans. The two human-controlled Covenant players join the battle as Elites with the sole objective of taking down the Spartans.
For those playing as Spartans, the game continues as usual. Points are awarded for killing the Covenant, and if they run out of lives or the timer runs out the game is over. Killing an Elite will actually give you a bonus life and a huge score boost, but that comes at the risk of dealing with a human controlled Covenant foe. Sometimes it's best just to run from the Elites and rack up points by killing Grunts.
The Elites don't actually score points, but they do get an unlimited number of lives to torment the Spartans with. When the timer runs out or the Spartans run out of points, the teams swap sides for a repeat match to see who ends up with the highest score.
We also played this game mode on the map Overlook, which sheds further light on what Bungie was up to with the Generator Defense game type in the multiplayer beta earlier this year.
Bungie also had two other new Firefight variants on display. One was called Gruntopacolypse. It's the same as standard Firefight, except all skulls are turned on and only Grunts appear to fight. The mode is a bit like the bonus round that came at the end of each set in Halo 3: ODST's Firefight. The other new gametype shown is called Score Attack. It allows for no game customization and makes every wave standardized instead of the normal random enemy spawns. That way, there will be a set game type that does not change, allowing for proper leaderboards.
The fun part about all of these variants is that -- aside from Score Attack -- you can mix and match features. Want to play a Rocket Fight with only Grunts in a Versus situation? We actually set that up by accident in about 15 seconds. Firefight has gone from an extremely limited but fun time to a totally open and customizable experience.