Racing is one of my favorite things to do in Halo Reach. Still, the default “Race” game type has some quirks that you might not expect your first time out. I’m going to do a quick run through of everything you need to know about racing in Halo Reach.
Jumping the gun
The first thing you’ll notice when you play a game of “Race” in Reach is that things get off to a quick start. There is no pre-game countdown, no loadout screen. You’re dropped straight into the action. The one problem this can cause is that players don’t spawn into the game at the exact same time. This means some players will find themselves with a split-second head start over the rest of the pack.
In some cases, map makers have used creative forging to build various forms of starting gates. These can involve barriers that prevent drivers from moving at the start of a race, or gaps in the track that can’t be crossed until a missing piece spawns into place. Here’s a look at the starting gate I built for my Coastline Racetrack.
By default, all players spawn into a game of “Race” with a mongoose under them. However, there is technically nothing stopping players from getting off their mongoose and proceeding on foot. While this sounds useless when it comes to racing, some players can’t resist the temptation to go on foot and throw a couple of grenades at their competition.
As problematic as this sounds, in reality it isn’t anything to worry about. Players and vehicles are 100% resistant to weapon damage in “Race”, so anyone attempting to ruin the game by throwing grenades will be quickly disappointed.
Another default element to the “Race” game type is that any player on foot will have their mongoose spawned back underneath them after a few seconds. This is a particularly valuable fact to remember. If you ever manage to get your mongoose wedged or stuck between pieces of geometry, all you need to do is get off the mongoose, walk into the middle of the road, and wait for your vehicle to reappear under you.
Show me the way
Once the race begins, you will see a waypoint marker on your HUD. These markers are called checkpoints, and are placed by the map maker for 2 reasons. They help guide drivers around the track, and they also act as respawn points. If you meet your demise at any point, you will respawn at the last checkpoint you passed. You can move the camera around as you wait to respawn, but just remember that your vehicle will be placed facing the direction you were looking with your respawn camera.
With a physics engine like Halo’s, it is completely possible to end up somewhere on a map that the designer did not intend. A funny bounce over a stray fusion core, and you just might achieve low orbit before landing half way across Forge World. In a perfect world, the map maker would prevent players from venturing off the track with an impenetrable net of kill boundaries. In reality, creating a perfectly air-tight track is almost impossible. No matter how many kill boundaries are placed around a track, there is always a chance that you might fall through a gap and end up somewhere off-road with no way back to the road.
If you ever find yourself in this situation during a race, your first option is to take a quick look around and see if there is any way for you to get back to the track on foot. Remember, you only have a few seconds before your mongoose respawns under you, but that’s sometimes all you need to jump back on to the road. Failing that, you only have one other option: a swift and timely death.
Even if you fall off the track and slip between kill boundaries, there’s a good chance you’re not too far away from a kill zone. A few seconds of driving, and you’ll probably hit one. If you’re anywhere near water, you can always go for a nice quick swim and wait for your respawn.
My freakin’ ears!
One last little tip: Do yourself a favor and play some tunes while you race. The in-game announcer’s voice saying “Checkpoint Reached” every 5 seconds will drive you insane real fast unless you have something to drown him out. So crank up a custom soundtrack, and put the pedal to the metal!