Halo: Reach is the final Bungie-producedHaloFirst-Person Shooter, released September 14, 2010. It is a prequel, dealing with the events described in the Expanded Universe novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. It follows a group of SPARTAN-IIIs (and one SPARTAN-II) called NOBLE Team. You take on the role of the newest addition, Noble Six, as you fight through the fall of the human colony. It is a completely original game (unlike ODST) and is Darker and Edgier (700,000,000 people die on Reach, you can't change that.) The game is also structured more as a war film instead of featuring the Space Opera elements of the main trilogy.Weapons have been overhauled throughout the campaign so that there is no need for Dual Wielding. A major new feature is the Armor Abilities, individual upgrades that allow you to customize towards specific objectives such as Active Camouflage, Sprint, Evade, Armor Lock and a Jetpack. There is also a great deal of customization; the cosmetic changes you make to your personal Noble Six will transfer into the campaign and the multiplayer matches allow control over almost every aspect.
Halo: Reach provides examples of:
Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books written by Eric Nylund, it is stated that it was impossible for outsiders to tell a female Spartan from a male one in full MJOLNIR armor (this is backed up by the Halo Wars and the Spartan guest fighter Dead or Alive). Reach comes along, and gives Kat and Female Noble Six Hartman Hips and shapely figures. Could be Handwaved by the fact that Noble team wore heavily modified MJOLNIR armor. Though, looking at the physiques of Spartans in newer media, it's looking more like a Retcon. From a Doylist perspective, it's also because there'd be little point in having customizable player gender if one could not tell guy and girl apart. From a Watsonian perspective, the SPARTAN IIIs in the game have undergone less intensive modifications and training compared to the IIs from the earlier works so it may simply be a matter of technology changing.
A Day in the Limelight: When you play co-op campaign, player 2 is absent from cutscenes and technically doesn't exist in Halo canon. But if at the Lone Wolf level, player 2 survives longer than the player 1, (s)he gets the final death scene instead... Of course if you're playing over Live, this is where the game glitches out, picks a white helmet at random, and shows it on everyone else's Xboxes in the final cutscene.
Alien Sky: Almost every view from the surface of the planet makes it clear that this is not Earth, making extensive use of a moon or nearby planet with rings and a very hazy blue fog. Because it is a human colony and the place you are trying to defend, it is atypically "friendlier" than most uses of this trope.
Exactly one, the Dreaming Grunt, has any lines resembling English at all. It's only for a joke, obviously.
All There in the Manual: The Limited and Legendary Editions of the game come with Dr. Halsey's journal, which is a goldmine of information on the specific details and plenty of additional fuel for Wild Mass Guessing. The evolution of the Mjolnir armor, the progress of the Spartan Program (including the differences between SPARTAN-IIs and IIIs), key figures of the modern UNSC meeting for the first time, development of AI technology, newspaper articles on other battles in the Covenant war, examination of Forerunner ruins... the works.
The journal explains the Cortana that Six took to the Pillar of Autumn was in fact a fragment of the original Cortana, a sub-divided incarnation who had been spending months translating Forerunner text while the main Cortana was with Master Chief. They were merged back together shortly after the game ends. In addition, it's implied that Cortana had specifically translated information on the location of the first Halo ring and she took them there on purpose.
Anti-Grinding: There is a cap on the number of Credits you can earn per day, and the "cR" earned by a specific action go down the more it is done, based mostly on the rank of the Commendation(s) it relates to. The first time the Credit cap was hit (repeatedly by numerous people in the same way), one of the Bungie forum mods implied the guys hitting it were cheaters. Turns out they were playing Gruntpocalypse. Cue rumors of Bungie saying repeatedly playing the same gametype is cheating up until one of the Bungie staff members said that repeatedly playing your favorite gametype or checkpoint was perfectly legal.
If you're playing completely offline, you can ignore the above, as you gain around 1.1 Credits per second of gameplay (and nothing you do affects this rate), and it is truncated at the end of a session. When you take your Spartan online, however, you will be ranked down to a predetermined cap (if you're over it).
The initial online level cap was Lt. Colonel Grade 3, but the cR you earn continues to count towards your next rank despite the fact that you can't see your progress. Players jumped several ranks once the cap was lifted.
Apocalyptic Log: The whole game, to a certain extent. The Legendary Edition presents it exactly as such.
Artifact Title: There isn't a Halo ring in sight, at least for the campaign.
One does appear in Forge World, and right before the credits, when the Pillar of Autumn is flying toward Installation 04.
Artificial Limbs: Kat's right arm is actually a robotic replacement. You can also get one for your own Spartan, once ranked up enough, by buying one of 3 chest pieces.
Ascended Meme: In response to friendly fire, some Marines will yell, "Don't make me teabag you!"
Awesome, but Impractical: People who paid for the pimped out Legendary Edition of Reach got a bonus "Flaming Head" armor effect for bragging rights... and to discover how a flaming helmet is synonymous with a bulls-eye.
All the armor effects have this problem, as running around electrified or announcing your death with birthday confetti does wonders for the enemies' kill scores. Does cheer you up, though. Yay!
The assassinations may look cool, but they can be cancelled if you're killed and you can have your kill stolen.
Back Stab: While basic Assassinations remainnote though technically they're now called Beatdowns, which previously referred to all melee kills; general melees now get you a Pummel award, if you hold the melee button behind an enemy, a short animation actually shows you stabbing (or otherwise killing) the target. You're not invincible while doing so, and other players can kill you to cancel it note ("Showstopper!"), or, alternately, kill your helpless victim mid-animation ("Yoink!"), which makes successfully performing a fully executed Assassination a bit of a humiliation move.
Badass: How badass is Noble Six, even among other SPARTANs? When when he/she is run out of ammo during the final scene on Reach, he/she is taking on multiple Ultra-class and General Sangheili in hand to hand combat. He/she is finally killed by a Zealot Elite from behind with an Energy Dagger.
Noble Six, despite being a SPARTAN-III with fewer physical augmentations and less durable armour than the original SPARTAN-IIs, is the only SPARTAN aside from the Master Chief to have the combat rating 'Hyper-Lethal', and erased entire insurrectionist groups from existence single-handedly. If that doesn't say badass...
One of Emile's quotes during a round of firefight is: "And you thought you were the badass."
Jorge barely edges out Emile, due to his actions during "Long Night of Solace": With no other way out, Jorge sacrifices himself to active the warp drive smuggled aboard a Covenant ship, annihilating himself and half the cruiser. How does he get you out? By tossing you out of an airlock and letting gravity do the rest.
Beehive Barrier: The Drop Shield Armor Ability, based on a similar item from Halo3, except now it recharges your shields and health, but isn't invincible.
Big Damn Heroes: The entire campaign is about a team of six elite cyborg soldiers running around a doomed planet pulling progressively Bigger and more Damned Heroics until sacrificing themselves so Master Chief can be the Big Damn Hero for the rest of the war.
Bittersweet Ending: The game is Doomed by Canon since it takes place during the Battle of Reach. Also because no one on Noble Team, except Jun, survives the game. The only thing that keeps this from being an outright Downer Ending is the fact you got Cortana offworld, and Reach itself becomes a pristine, green world again... 34 years after the events of Halo 3.
Black Speech: The Covenant species no longer play the Aliens Speaking English trope straight anymore (not even the Grunts) and this trope is in effect in its place. A canny player might pick out a few recognizable words that are used in other contexts. Particularly, the proper names of various Covenant species and their respective homeworlds can be heard in the enemy combat dialogue. For an example, this is aRousing Speech given by an Elite commander during the "Deliver Hope" commercial.
Blatant Lies: Kat uses this, dripping with sarcasm, when she says she wouldn't know anything about where to find the resources necessary for the plan she just thought up, or the secret program denied by three successive administrations, and that Noble Six certainly has no experience in said program. See Suspiciously Specific Denial below.
Noble Six's damaged helmet is the first and last thing seen in the campaign.
The player's control of Noble Six also begins with the donning and removal of his/her helmet.
Border Patrol: This game introduces boundaries that give you ten seconds to return to the level before killing you. Height boundaries, too, where the warning appears if you fly too high in a Jetpack, and it will also show up while standing on the rooftops of some buildings in multiplayer/Firefight, most likely to stop campers with Sniper Rifles.
Boring, but Practical: The Covenant Plasma Pistol, due to its commonness and a slight retool, gains its greatest affinity with this trope since the first game; see Took a Level in Badass. Most classes of Elite in multiplayer will spawn with one.
The Assault Rifle has been given a small but nice boost in power and especially accuracy, and an awesome new look. At times, you may find yourself turning down the shotgun or magnum for the assault rifle.
The Sprint armor ability is arguably the default armor ability, as it is the one players always spawn with in campaign mode, and is present in virtually every multiplayer mode, including those which disable other armor abilities. It simply gives a player some additional running speed for a short duration, and recharges in a similar short amount of time. While it might lack the flash and uniqueness of other armor abilities, the option to quickly close to point-blank range, move swiftly between cover, or beat a hasty retreat makes it arguably one of the most versatile and useful abilities. It is now actually a fact that Sprint is the most commonly used armour ability. When people turn down jet packs so that they can run faster, you know this is what's happening. It's gotten to the point where 343 Industries are allowing the use of Sprint without it being an armour ability in Halo 4, because they know the same thing would happen.
Bonus Material: Gamers who bought the pre-ordered, or bought the Legendary or Limited Editions got differing amounts of extra goodies, ranging from exclusive armor pieces, flaming helmets, avatar items, a real-life replica of Dr. Halsey's journal, or a even a big ol' diorama of Noble Team.
Boss in Mook Clothing: Elite Generals and Brute Chieftains. The Elite Field Marshall seems to be an outright boss seeing as how he only appears in the final battle.
Hunters, as usual, count too. Zealots might count as actual bosses since there are only 3 encounters with them in the game (one of which is with the Field Marshall).
Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the Firefight voices in the Master Chief. If you preview his voice, one of the phrases the Chief says is "Did ya miss me?"
Broken Bridge: A literal example is in the mission "Tip of the Spear". Once completing the local objective, a Pelican flies by and drops a temporary spanning platform across said bridge, allowing the player to continue with the mission. Justified in that the local objective is to take town a Covenant anti-air cannon that is preventing your air support (like the Pelican that fixes the bridge) from getting close.
Canon Immigrant: At least in spirit, as Armor Abilities were actually first seen years ago in Red vs. Blue (the Halo2 era), of all places, where each Freelancer operative had a unique special ability permanently integrated into their armor. Tex had invisibility, York had regeneration, and Wyoming had the Game Breaker power of space-time manipulation. These Armor Abilities and the AIs used to run them were what distinguished Project Freelancer from its rival program, the SPARTAN program. However, neither Bungie nor Rooster Teeth have claimed Red vs. Blue as the inspiration for the feature.
Dr. Catherine Halsey features significantly in the HaloExpanded Universe as the creator and director of the SPARTAN-II program and is one of the leading human experts on the Forerunners. Reach is the first time she's ever appeared in any of the games.
Likewise, the idea that Cortana is an AI clone of Dr. Halsey, never contradicted in-game but first established in a tie-in novel, is finally confirmed by having the same person do voice-acting for both of them.
Call Back: Most of the achievements reference quotes from the rest of the series.
Hell, most of the level chapters reference quotes and chapters from other games. For example:
Two of the chapters from "Long Night of Solace". The first, "First Floor: Aliens, Beaches, Secret Launch Stations" references "The Library" from Halo, which used a variation of it, "Fourth Floor: Tools, Guns, Keys to Super Weapons". The second, "And The Horse You Flew In On", references the first chapter of "The Maw", "And The Horse You Rode In On".
If you demo Sgt. Johnson's Firefight voice in The Armory, he'll start his infamous "I woulda' been yo' daddy" line before stopping himself.
90 percent of what the old characters' Firefight voices say is callbacks.
Occasionally, if you are killed by an Elite in Firefight or Campaign, they will let loose their infamous victory yell from Halo 1: "WORT WORT WOOOOORT!"
Call Forward: Allied troopers will sometimes say "That was for Harvest!" Before Reach, the battle at Harvest was the largest human defeat of the war. In the main trilogy, ODST especially, you can hear characters saying "That was for Reach!"
Buck from Halo 3: ODST needs your help escaping the city. It was established in that game that Buck had fought at Reach. And in one of the levels in reach, you sometimes escort him between evac points
Cap: The initial release had a level cap of Lt. Colonel Grade 3 online, while offline had no limit. Gamers of such rank were teased with armor they couldn't buy until the entire Reach community completed 117 million Challenges. It was partially braggings rights and partially an Anti-Grinding test by Bungie, they wanted to become aware of any exploitable credit glitches before offering the whole armory.
On a more persistent level, there are different limits to how many Credits you can earn in a day, either online or off, to prevent players from abusing the system.
Captain Obvious: Your NPC allies, especially Noble Team, like pointing out the obvious.
Rebel: They're shooting at us!
Cast of Snowflakes: In terms of equipment permutations, this is much more true in this game compared to other titles in the series. This is not limited to Noble Team either, NPC allies, despite having nearly the same uniform, have many variations on the basic kit for different battlefield roles and situations, combined in several semi-randomized ways for each instance (though all such things are purely cosmetic in gameplay terms.) Understandably, this is because they use a variation of the same armor permutation system that was developed to allow the player to customizer their armor.
Chainmail Bikini: Averted as the female MJOLNIR armor is as covering as the male's. While the female MJOLNIR armor doesn't focus particularly on the chest area, comparative to the male model it does emphasize Kat's (and potentially Noble Six's) hips and butt. Understandable, as the MJOLNIR armor is really bulky and there's little else Bungie could have done to differentiate the female Spartan model from the males'.
In fact, the breastplate of the female armor is the same size as the male one. Though the female armor is thinner and there seems to be less of it around the shoulders.
Charged Attack: The new Plasma Launcher, in addition to series staples Spartan Laser and Plasma Pistol.
Cherry Tapping: The extended Assassination animations work like this: A simple melee attack will kill the enemy instantly, same as it always has, but holding the button slightly longer gives you a full neck snapping / kidney puncturing / Energy Sword impaling / dropkicking kill sequence. You aren't invincible for the 2-3 seconds it takes, and your target can be saved by a teammate (or an opportunistic enemy) by killing you before it's finished. An ally can even steal your kill! "Yoink!"
Chilly Reception: You're informed at the beginning that you're being brought in to replace a well liked member of the team who the others would have preferred to honour by leaving the spot empty. This doesn't have much of an effect on gameplay, but in a couple of cutscenes some characters are dismissive or just ignore you. Except Jorge. By the end of the game this is of course entirely gone.
Citadel City: Reach itself, being the main military stronghold of the UNSC. It's heavily guarded by a fleet of 100-150 warships at any given time, twenty orbital defense platforms (each capable of destroying a Covenant ship with one shot), a nuclear minefield, and enormous quantities of soldiers. Then the Covenant show up with an even larger invasion force.
Continuity Nod: Because the game takes place in the same timeframe as Halo: Combat Evolved, many of the gameplay elements are a callback to that game.
Your armor now has separate shield and health meters, and the shield recharges more slowly than in Halo 2 or Halo 3.
Elites dodge and strafe like crazy, just like they did in the first game.
Hunters fire explosive bolts instead of a continuous energy beam.
The pistol functions similar to how it did in the first Halo. In other words, it is awesome.
And yet still balanced by having a smaller magazine and closer range, making it doublyawesome.
Allied troopers are no longer Made of Iron, sadly, being reduced to near their (relatively low) Halo: CE levels of health (Although ODST are now tougher than regular soldiers). They can actually drive okay now, though.
Although some are capable of eating fuel rods for breakfast!
Brutes behave like they did in Halo 2 (no shields, but increased health and vulnerable to headshots if you knock off their helmet). Fortunately, they're still not as insanely durable as they were in Halo 2, and their berserker mode from that game hasn't returned either.
Cortana resembles her appearance in Halo: CE, with short hair and a very *ahem* child-like body.
In the mission New Alexandria, one of your objectives is to escort Sergeant Buck.
In the epilogue, look closely at the bodies on the ground. They're other Spartans.
Continuity Snarl: This game takes place in the same timeframe as the tie-in novel The Fall Of Reach. The two don't always agree. (The fact that Bungie has deliberately played fast and loose with continuity doesn't help things.) The biggest difference is that in Fall the battle of Reach seemed to take place over the course of maybe a few days, with only two main attack waves. In this game it is about 2 months of fighting, with an intial surprise ground force followed by an out-and-out slug fest for weeks. But Bungie has stated that any new information overwrites any previously-existing information.
Bungie had stated the problem lay in them being a bit too specific with stuff like dates in The Fall Of Reach. Justified in that they never expected the first game would be as successful as it was, so the possibility of a prequel never entered their minds until years later.
Dual-wielding was removed for the player, but some Elites will still do it. Not as bad as it sounds; they only dual-wield the Plasma Rifle, two of which is the equivalent of a Plasma Repeater.
Got those Elite Zealots, Field Marshals, or Generals in your sniper scope? While they're facing the wrong way? Well, they screen-watch. You read that correctly. The higher ranking Elites (on Heroic or Legendary) refused to be sniped, even if they're not "aware" that you are present. Aim at one, and they'll begin to inexplicably strafe and dive for cover, while not attempting to shoot, and while no other enemies react.
Even the Grunts become psychic at high enough difficulties, vastly preferring to suicide-run you with Plasma Grenades if you even think about activating Active Camo invisibilty near them.
Of course none of these compare to the worst and most blatant aspect - the enemies on Heroic and Legendary fire their weapons faster than normal. On Heroic it's noticeable, but on Legendary it's borderline Refuge in Audacity. Watch in horror as the Covenant turret that spots you starts firing about 20-30 shots at you in the span of 2 seconds, and you get hit with every single one of them yet die in 3 shots.
Cosmetic Award: Takes the customizable armor of Halo3Up to Eleven, with dozens of parts for many different parts of the armor available for Credits earned by doing pretty much anything. Upon launch it was revealed to be even bigger then previously thought. To the point to where you can edit your character's voice in Firefight.
Cosmetically Different Sides: Played straight in Spartan vs. Spartan multiplayer, but averted in the Spartan vs. Elite Invasion gametypes, for the first time in the series. And they aren't identical in base performance either, Elite shields regenerate slightly faster and their health will return to full given time, while the Spartans can take more damage.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Noble Teams ability to kill Covenant in cutscenes is remarkably greater than in actual gameplay. Particularly the AI members of Noble Team, who for balance reasons tend to not do more than draw fire.
Cutscene Incompetence: Kat, with shields inexplicably down, is killed by a shot to the head while running through an open area. A theory that the Covenant glassing going on at the time took out everyone's shields would turn this into a subversion, though it hasn't been confirmed.
The theory is pretty much debunked by the description of the Collar/Breacher variant worn by Kat: "Too bad they don't make artificial situational awareness." She simply forgot and/or wasn't paying attention.
An earlier point in the game has her mention that her shield generator was acting up.
Emile, also during the final mission, gets stabbed in the back by an Elite Zealot, who would've shown up on his armor's motion tracker. However, this could be Handwaved by the fact that he's very Ax Crazy, and may not have been paying attention to it while he was busy killing another Zealot.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Reach changes the control scheme considerably from Halo 3 to accommodate Armor Abilities and the removal of dual-wielding. Many accidentally used their Armor Abilities instead of switching grenades, or switched their grenades instead of meleeing.
Bungie overhauled the Banshee's controls in addition to its appearance. Tricks have been moved to the left bumper, and the Fuel Rod Cannon is now a separate weapon you have to switch with Y - but good luck figuring this out if you're playing on anything higher than Normal.
ODST's from the jetpacking "Bullfrog" squad have a tendency to quote the trope verbatim.
Death Seeker: From one interpretation, Emile. Officially stated that Emile cares about almost nothing but killing Covenant. His whole life has been nothing but that, save for watching his parents and homeworld be glassed.
Emile-A239: I'm ready! How 'bout you?!
Deflector Shields: In addition to the traditional recharging shields, one Armor Ability gives you unbreakable shields temporarily, but immobilizes you, while another creates a breakable Beehive Barrier that recharges the health of anyone inside it.
Since your Spartan is customizable for campaign as well as multiplayer, the helmet at the beginning and end of the game is the helmet your Spartan wears.
Out of all these helmets, by far the craziest looking is the GUNGNIR helmet◊, which eschews a visor for a teeny little camera nestled in a massive armor plate. Start a campaign wearing it and you'll realize that the hole in Six's helmet (no matter the make) is where it is because that's where the camera is on this one helmet.
When you first get the Jetpack, you can actually bypass having to use the elevator to get to the top of the building. You can use the Jetpack to get to a point where you can hijack in midair one of the ambient Banshees and fly to the top, saving yourself a whole lot of hurt and ammo.
And/or you can use a charged shot from a Plasma Pistol to short out a Banshee's engines (one of them will actually try to dive right near you) to make this much easier.
Whip out the pistol for the first time, Noble Six will cock it. Pull it out again after that, he/she merely flips the safety off. And this happens until you pick up a new pistol or respawn. The Covenant pistol works similarly, with Noble Six flicking a switch on the side the first time and just pulling it out every time after that.
Firing the assault rifle until the magazine's empty will result in Six pushing the firing bolt forward when reloading, chambering a round. Reload before you run dry, and Six will simply stick a new magazine in. A similar thing happens with the pistol and its slide. The sniper rifle has had a mechanic like this since the first game.
Because Forge World is one map and is only being customized from Forge, it means that Bungie is able to introduce entirely new maps to the online playlist without the need for a DLC update. That's right, new online maps for free!
Difficult but Awesome: The Grenade Launcher in a nutshell. Most online players completely ignore the weapon due to its very bouncy projectiles, and by doing so, never learn that the grenades can double as EMP bombs and impromptu trip mines. The regular mode isn't anything to laugh at either; you can become extremely lethal with the launcher if you're already good at bouncing your frags.
Due the skill required of it, the developers nicknamed it the Pro Pipe.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: One of the live-action commercials features a soldier using a rocketpack to fly up to an enemy command carrier floating above a city and destroying it with a bomb with a visible, beeping digital timer counting down that he had picked up off the ground. Unlike Duke though, he doesn't make it out alive.
Doing It for the Art: Even though Reach was never originally planned, it's clear from the many new features and remarkable polish that Bungie is by no means phoning it in.
Doomed by Canon: No effort was made to hide the fact that Reach falls before the Halo Trilogy even begins. Even if any character in the game survives, Reach itself is doomed.
Doppelgänger Spin: The Hologram Armor Ability creates a copy of you that moves in a straight line towards a point (or spot) you designate. It's designed as a decoy and can be a sniper's worst enemy. This creates some funny videos where players behave the same way a hologram does (running in a perfectly straight line, bouncing off of scenery and not firing) and are ignored by the enemy team while they run behind them...
Drought Level of Doom: Some levels follow this trope, especially on Legendary difficulty,. For example, in Exodus, you start out with only a pistol against Suicide Grunts, Skirmishers and Brutes, and ammo for it and the DMR is extremely sparse. Then the game starts throwing armored Brute Chieftains into the squads, coupled with Hold the Line sequences. Suitable Covenant weapons such as the Needle Rifle are also lacking. The worst is probably the part of the Pillar of Autumn where you have to Hold the Line for about 15 minutes against multiple waves of Brute Captains and Chieftains, with almost no ammunition for your good weapons.
Dual Wielding: While the player can no longer do like in previous Halo games, some Elites can. Cheaters.
Noble Six uses this for a moment when holding off Elites in his Last Stand with a pistol and an Assault Rifle
Dull Surprise: The troopers you are looking for in the first mission don't seem too shocked to encounter the Covenant at all when usually encountering Covenant means you are quite screwed.
Dummied Out: Inverted or "dummied-in", as some of the features added into Halo: Reach were things that Bungie planned to add to previous Halo titles, but those features themselves got dummied out of the earlier versions. For example, both low-gravity levels and the sprint feature were discussed in a magazine interview by Bungie prior to the release of Halo 2, but they never made it into that game. Reach eventually comes around, and they get the opportunity to add those features back in.
Dying Moment of Awesome: The player is allowed to give Noble Six a death worthy of any Spartan: having gotten Cortana to the Pillar of Autumn while watching the rest of Noble Team die, Six stays behind, and finally dies surrounded by dead Elites, fighting first with guns, then with his/her fists, to the very end.
Jorge, sacrificing himself by activating a UNSC warp drive in the middle of a Covenant super-carrier, tearing it apart.
Emile, after blowing up a heavy Covenant ship with an AA MAC cannon, getting a sword jammed through him, then turning around and stabbing the Elite in the neck while falling off the sword.
Carter, ramming the Pelican into a Scarab.
Easter Egg: It's a Bungie game, so there are plenty of them.
Then there's the whole business about the Data Pads, which are strewn about most of the levels, sometimes only on Legendary. Each Pad can be read to shed some... interesting light on the backstory of the Halo series.
There's also a few hidden switches that do a few neat things, like a pair on "The Package" that spawn four Banshees for the players if pressed simultaneously.
Another neat switch lets players fly Pelicans (and Phantoms). Yep, that vehicle that everyone's wanted to fly since Halo 1. Thank you, Bungie.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: At the end of the game, you must defend the Pillar of Autumn from a fleet of Phantoms and Banshees using, for the first time, a Mac Cannon.
Elites Are More Glamorous: Noble Team isn't the average SPARTAN-III group; it's comprised of a specially selected few equipped with MJOLNIR armour and counts a SPARTAN-II amongst them. Noble Six him/herself has an impressive pedigree in the backstory. And Noble has the two of the highest ranking SPARTANs with Commander Carter and Lt. Commander Kat.
Establishing Character Moment: Near the end of the first level, Noble Squad gets ambushed by Elites with Energy Swords. Your character gets tackled by one (really emphasizing how big they are compared to you), avoids a stab to the stomach and then punches the enemy in the jaw. Of course, it only serves to piss it off and you get saved by Carter, but it does demonstrate Noble Six's Defiant to the End personality.
Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Apparently whoever was making the subtitles had trouble understanding Jun in the beginning cutscene of Tip of the Spear:
Jun: Discharge link is loud and clear!
Subtitles: Time to bake that cake we made last night!
According to a developer commentary video, the euphemistic line about baking a cake was part of the original script, before they decided to change the line. Apparently this subtitle just never got corrected when that happened.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Noble Six is never referred to by name, only by "Six," "Lieutenant" and the more generic "Spartan." The only thing given in supplementary materials is the Spartan code B-312 (Master Chief is 117, the codes were effectively the person's last name).
Expy: The new Concussion Rifle fires explosive shots from a six-round magazine that fall slightly as they travel. Sound familiar?
The Needle Rifle handles exactly like the Covenant Carbine, save that it shares the Needler's capacity to detonate unshielded foes.
Carter: You're on your own, Noble. Carter out.(boom!)
Emile-A239: I'm ready! How 'bout you?!
Jorge-052: Tell them to make it count.
Noble Six: Negative. I have the gun. Good luck sir. (Last full sentences the player hears from Six)
Fan Nickname: Or rather, Developer Nickname. The Grenade Launcher can be used in two modes, both of which require careful aim and timing to use properly. The skill required for effective use has earned it the moniker "Pro Pipe", in contrast to the so-called "Noob Tube" grenade launcher in Modern Warfare.
Featureless Protagonist: Even on the official records, Noble Six's full name, date of birth, place of birth, and gender are redacted.
Fictional Document: Halsey's journal, shipped with the Limited and Legendary Editions of the game. Full of juicy tidbits about the Spartans and Halsey herself, including the fact that Miranda is her and Capt. Keyes' love child.
Fission Mailed: Noble Six's last objective is to survive. (S)he doesn't.
Five-Token Band: Noble Team, whose members all appear to have different ethnic backgrounds. It's justified given how diverse the UNSC colonies are.
Fling a Light into the Future: In a small-scale sense, the ending is bittersweet because you successfully got The Package to the Pillar of Autumn, and cleared an escape route for it to leave Reach. That Package, in turn, led to the discovery of Halo, the Covenant Civil War, and humanity's ultimate survival when the war ended with the Battle of the Ark.
An Invoked Trope, as the point of the game is pretty much to experience first-hand tragedy that was previously only alluded to.
Foreshadowing: Kat when getting hit by enemy fire will sometimes remark that the shields failed for a moment.
From Bad to Worse: First the missing patrol turns out not to have been captured by rebels, but killed by Covenant troops. Then you find a mysterious structure that is some kind of teleportation and cloaking device, so you disable the shields and a frigate is send in to destroy it. While debris is still coming down, the frigate is shot to pieces by a colossal super-carrier that was just decloaked right above it. One level later the carrier is successfully destroyed, but not even ten seconds beyond that a massive fleet arrives that starts to completely wipe out all life on the planet...
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Several things. Notably Emile, who in promotional background material is portrayed as a particularly bold Spartan (bordering on berserker level aggression) who specializes in close combat assaults. In gameplay, his AI is much more timid. Almost never purposely closing to the effective range of his shotgun and even falling back when the moves into it that range without firing a shot.
Gamebreaker: The orbital bombardment designator. It's only really balanced out by the fact it only appears in one mission in the single-player campaign, and it's rare in Firefight. For obvious reasons it's not available in multiplayer. How nasty is it? Point it next to a Phantom as it's about to unload a wave of multiple weak enemies like Grunts, and you're pretty much guaranteed a Killionaire. If you're anywhere close to the designation zone, you will be murdered just from the splash damage.
Fuel Rod guns in most versions of firefight count too.The weapon's high power, relatively large clip and fast firing rate means it outclasses most other weapons in sheer splash damage.This wouldn't be a problem (the gun can hold about 30 rounds and ammo isn't common), if it wasn't for Unlimited ammo.
Gentle Giant: Jorge, the huge SPARTAN-II member of the team, is also the nicest and most amicable member of the group, especially towards civilians. Played with in that he's still a killing machine.
Stands also as a commentary on the differences between SPARTAN-IIs and IIIs. While Jorge is clearly regarded as the most dangerous and toughest soldier in Noble, he is also the most clearly emotionally stable, and shows the most humanity. The SPARTAN IIIs are all a little off, especially Emile. It's stated at that he doesn't actually care as much for Reach's survival as he does for killing Covenant.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: All Noble Team members who remove their helmet are shown to have at least one significant scar, evidence that they have had a long career of combat.
Goomba Stomp: Performing an aerial Assassination will sometimes result in this. It doesn't look like much until you remember that a fully-armored SPARTAN weighs about 1,000 pounds.
Go Out with a Smile: While we do not see the actual moment of death, the last we see of Jorge is him smiling at Noble Six before throwing Six out the airlock to fall to safety, telling them to "make it count".
Gratuitous Foreign Language: Justified. The majority of Reach's inhabitants are of Magyar descent, explaining why Hungarian is the local lingua franca.
Gravity Screw: So far there are three multiplayer maps that show the Heavy Zone/Light Zone dynamic: Zealot has a low gravity zone above the map, Anchor 9 has one along one side, and Condemned has one in the middle. There is also a section of the campaign mission Long Night of Solace where you fight through a Covenant Corvette in the same low gravity environment.
The Greatest Story Never Told: Implied by Halsey at the end. While not as anonymous as the Rookie's role in Halo 3: ODST, Halsey laments that Six never got to see the battle won, and that her/his role is almost forgotten in the grand scheme of history. His/her story is tied to the fall of Reach, and will probably remain a footnote, thus Halsey vows to never forget his/her efforts.
Green Hill Zone: In effect, of all places. Winter Contingency allows you to get used to the controls and fight several of the common enemy types, with a "boss fight" consisting of a few Zealots at the end. The area before the Visegrad Relay is even full of lush vegetation.
Ground Punch: Anyone using the armorlock ability enters this pose, becoming temporarily invincible and potentially deadly to any vehicles trying to ram them.
Guide Dang It: There's a ton of easter eggs hidden in the game, but most are nearly impossible to find without looking them up. The drivable Pelican and Phantom on New Alexandria are especially tough. Of course, none are necessary to finish the game.
Gunship Rescue: Sometimes you are the one doing the rescuing, other times you're the one being rescued. And it's subverted just as often. In the "Invasion" gametype, if you manage to hold off the enemy from getting your Data Core, the game ends with your faction arriving with air vehicles and killing the enemy team.
Harder Than Hard: According to Bungie, Reach's Legendary difficulty is harder than any other Halo game. And of course, you could always turn on all the "Gold" skulls and go for the semiofficial "Mythic" difficulty.
Officially, there's also LASO (Legendary All Skulls On), which includes you having to use the Blind skull (no HUD or weapon displayed onscreen). Bungie felt so bad about this one that when they started including the mode in online challenges, they edited the requirements to exclude Blind.
Hartman Hips: It may just be the armor, but still noticeable for female Spartan soldiers.
Jorge. He thought he was saving the planet. He didn't.
Carter. Crashes his Pelican into a Scarab to allow you to get to the Pillar of Autumn.
Subverted with Emile. Initially he's manning the MAC gun, and is going so stay behind to cover Six's escape. If not for the backstab from the Zealot, he'd be the one going out in a Blaze of Glory instead of...
Noble Six, who stays behind on Reach to fire the MAC gun and cover the Pillar of Autumn's retreat. Of course, you play this all out...
It was heavily implied for Jun (i.e., to get Dr. Halsey to safety) in the dialogue during his last appearance, but it's ultimately averted due to Bungie's Word of God that he lives, which is further confirmed by his appearance in Halo: Initiation, which takes several months after Reach.
Hope Spot: Even though you know what's going to happen, the destruction of the Long Night of Solace seems like a major victory for the UNSC that at least slows the covenant invasion down considerably. But mere 30 seconds after the initial detonation the automated orbital sensors report *Slipspace rupture detected.*
At the Playable Epilogue after the credits roll, when Noble Six is standing alone in the shipbreaking yard as the Covenant move to consolidate their hold on the area. Six seems calmly observant, as though considering what to do. The chapter title reads "There'll be another time..." and the player is assigned a new objective: "Survive" (with the detail text "Spartans never die..."). One might be forgiven for thinking that maybe, just maybe, Noble Six will make it out of this. They do not.
Hypocritical Humor: In The Flood, many players disliked Chief's action movie hero-style personality; but if Bungie does it, and you can hear it (in the form of a Firefight voice), it suddenly becomes so much better.
I Work Alone: Noble Six's rep. S/he's even referred to as the former Trope name "Lone Wolf".
Insufferable Genius: Halsey is presented like this initially (and she is known to be like this in the EU). But her journal sheds light on her verbal altercation with Carter in the game. She was under the impression that the Spartans she personally trained (the SPARTAN-IIs, which include Jorge and Master Chief) were the only Spartans in the UNSC. It wasn't until after Noble Team's first mission that she discovered the existence of SPARTAN-IIIs, which means she was actively deceived by her peers for years. By her second interaction with Noble Team they appeared to have earned her respect.
Interface Screw: In the post-credits game, when you take damage, cracks appear in your visor/HUD. The first time this happens, it also takes away your ammo counter, which makes the fight even more difficult.
Interface Spoiler: Some of the achievement names are fairly subtle spoilers to the fact Noble Six dies at the end of the game. The most egregious one is "Send Me Out...with a Bang," which is Sgt. Johnson's last words from Halo 3.
Irony: At one point in the level "Long Night of Solace", when you're making your way to the launch facility, the AA guns are shooting at the dozens of Seraphs buzzing overhead. The AA guns' purpose is to protect the building from airborne damages. Well, the guns hit a Seraph, and it goes spinning down out of control in flames... crashing into the facility at high speed. Oops.
A huge bit of irony is called up when the individual deaths of Noble Team are scrutinized:
Carter, the leader of Noble Team, died by crashing a Pelican into a Scarab; essentially the leader went down with the ship.
Kat, the tactician of the group, died from a single Needle Rifle shot through the brain. This is also due in part because she was not paying attention as a Covenant Phantom flew overhead.
Jorge, the heavy weapons expert, died in a giant explosion.
Emile, the CQB expert, died from being stabbed in the chest.
Jun, the stealthy one, lives.
Noble Six was told in the very first level that he/she was to stop acting as a "lone wolf" and be part of a team. He/she dies alone.
Kill Sat: The Covenant and UNSC both have this weapon, though the Covenant's weapon is far more destructive and widespread.
Lampshade Hanging: If you use Emile's voice for firefight, it seems like he's perfectly aware that he was built up to be the team badass in the game. I.E. his quote: "And you thought you were the badass."
The Last Dance: Noble Six remains on Reach and battles an endless horde of Covenant.
Objective: Survive. Description: Spartans never die.
The golf club, available by customizing a load out in Firefight. It's essentially the gravity hammer in the shape of a monster golf club.
Leeroy Jenkins: Thom-293, formerly Noble Six on Noble Team, died prior to the game. The Player Character is there to replace him. Carter and Kat both feel personally responsible for his death. While this trailer showed the explosive (actually a nuclear weapon) he threw into the Covenant ship was going to go off in 2 minutes (and you can see him try to run away after he throws it), the official profiles on the main website have their commanding officer consider his death a blatant example of this trope.
Leitmotif: While many of the game's themes evoke Halo, it avoids direct call outs to any past themes most of the time given that the game is not galaxy spanning Space Opera like the rest of the series and a more narrow Military Science-Fiction when taken alone. However, a few snippets of the "Halo" theme can be heard during the large battle at the start of one level, also when Cortana is introduced, her 'Rescue' theme from Halo 3 is played, and during the last cut scene the same music from Halo:CE's opening is heard as the ending is a shot for shot match to the start of the first game.
Level Grinding: Playing Gruntpocolypse on the Score Attack gametype (single player Firefight) was noticed as the most efficient method of credit farming. Assuming you can finish the round in the alloted time, it is almost a guaranteed 2,000 cR for about 10 minutes worth of playing.
Also averted in a sense: the amount of credits you get scales upwards the higher your rank becomes—while you get around 60 cR max for custom games as a Captain, you get 165 when you're a Colonel.
Level In Reverse: The Package and ONI Sword Base border this and Remixed Level. The geometry is altered, yes, but you also start in different locations in each level.
Lightning Bruiser: The highest ranked skirmishers have as much health as Brutes, and move around faster then Drones.
Luck-Based Mission: The final bit firing the MAC gun will, on harder difficulties, be impossible to complete on your first attempt. And if the Mythic Skull is on, the CCS-class battlecruiser you have to shoot down will gain double health as well, needing TWO MAC shots to take down. Even Tyrant, the legendary Mythic speedrunner, admitted this portion on Mythic difficulty is virtually entirely based on luck.
And you better finish off that squad of Elite Zealots before you move on, or you will get screwed by the autosave, getting caught between trying to shoot down incoming enemy ships and Elites shooting you in the back.
Mordor: Reach itself began to look like this towards the end thanks to the glassing. It was a barren wasteland, dark with no sunlight at all, and a storm was going on all the time.
Multi-Mook Melee: Firefight can be this, if you so choose. The campaign ends like this.
Mythology Gag: The Focus Rifle's beam is very similar to the beam Locusts fire due to its range and sound effect.
Emile bears more than a passing resemblance to The Meta. It's not just his EVA helmet, but also the color of his armor and his use of brown CQB shoulder pauldrons. He's also not quite as sane as the other members of Noble Team, and prefers close-range/physical combat over anything.
Bungie once again loves playing with numbers, especially the number 7. The game begins in 2552 (2+5 = 7, 2+5 = 7, or 7/7, Bungie Day) and ends on July 7 - 7/7 (again, Bungie Day) - 2589; the year is 2+5 (7)-8-9.
Names of recruitable Marines include not only members of the game's development staff, but, in at least one instance, creators of Red vs. Blue ("PVT G. Sorola" at about 1:00).
Watch the Grunt Assassinations. They are identical to the ones used by Cal and Dutch in Halo Legends during "The Babysitter"
Three guesses what happens in the level "The Package". You rescue Halsey from the Covenant, just like Halo Legends
Red vs. Blue fans, admit it, when you saw the damaged helmet in the opening, you thought of Tex's helmet from Revelation. It can't have been coincidence, Rooster Teeth and Bungie must have tied in their development together to deliver a shout out to each other.
Jossed. When Rooster Teeth first saw Reach's opening cutscene, the company immediately changed the series' title card because they thought Noble Six's damaged helmet would become a plot point in Reach (just like Tex's helmet did in Revelation) and wanted to avoid being too similar to Bungie's magnum opus.
Negated Moment of Awesome: The Covenant just love doing this to you, with perhaps the most brutal being when Jorge sacrifices himself to take out the supercarrier... and less than one minute later, the Covenant reinforcements arrive.
Nerfed: Allied human soldiers are noticeably less durable than they were in Halo 2 and Halo 3. ODST are actually tougher than normal soldiers, though, and can take about as much damage as human soldiers in Halo 3 could (in other words, roughly on par with a shielded Minor Elite).
Nigh Invulnerable: As per tradition, the Hunters. Their armor is invulnerable to nearly any attack (you can see the more visible ammunition like Needlers and Spikers completely bounce off). They only have a few orange colored weak points in the neck, torso and back where you can deal damage. Armor on their back will break off if you do enough damage to the soft areas but they still have a large amount of health. They can take several rockets and several Plasma Grenades to the face, or upwards of six Needle Rifle supercombines before they go down.
Additionally, the unofficial Mythic difficulty, which is legendary with all skulls on.
No Fair Cheating: Everyone that deliberately performed the "Challenge Credit exploit" had their cR and unlocks completely reset. Bungie's also set up a system to automate this and perform such resets (and possibly further bans) automatically.
The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The hidden Data Pads reveal that many of the events of the Halo universe were caused indirectly by the AIs, who have been secretly guiding the course of humanity's progress as a species.
One Bullet Clips: This trope is in effect, as per usual. Notably, when using some of the game's weapons (like the sniper rifle), the player will actually be punished for reloading from an empty clip with a longer reload animation.
Palette Swap: Averted. Previous titles (excluding the Brutes in Halo 3) had different ranks of the same Covenant species distinguished usually by the color of their uniforms. Now, every different rank and role, even within the same Covenant species, has its own geometry for its uniform.
Playable Epilogue: Although the only point to it is to see how long you can last against the endless waves of Covenant forces.
Pretty Little Headshots: As usual for the series, given the absence of gore beyond blood splatters. Parodied with the Grunt Birthday Party skull, which, when active, makes headshots on the weakest enemy species cause their heads to explode... into confetti, accompanied by the sound of a cheer from Viva Piñata.
You can purchase an armor effect for 100,000 Credits that makes you explode into confetti with cheers when you get killed in multiplayer. Beware, as this could make you a more attractive target, and give away your nearby teammates' positions.
Rank Inflation: In each of Reach's three playable modes (Campaign, Firefight, and online multiplayer), you can earn "Commendations" for continually doing particular feats, such as murdering leader-class enemies, performing Assassinations, or just driving an ally while he mows down the opposition. Each mode has its own Commendations, all of which can be upgraded to a max of five ranks (Iron to Onyx) and serve no purpose other than to award you some bonus Credits and right to brag.
Real Is Brown: Poked fun at in Forge; the "next gen" effect lights everything through a distinctly brown filter.
In the campaign, in keeping with the game's tone, Reach has a very bleak and washed-out feel compared to previous Halo games. The color pallete has a hazey look to it, even in space. That said, the game is still much more colorful than most uses of this trope.
Reality Ensues: The death's of Noble Team. Carter and Jorge both have a Heroic Sacrifice, but it doesn't stop or deter the Covenant. Emile kills a Zealot, and is then quickly impaled from behind. Noble Six remains on the planet, and is finally overwhelmed and killed by the endless forces. Kat's death is the most brutal version of this. She may a genius Spartan, but if her shields are down and she's not paying attention to her surroundings, she can be killed by a sniper round to the head like everyone else.
Recurring Boss: The Elite Field Marshal is first fought in a cutscene near the end of the first mission, then fired upon after Kat's death in New Alexandria, only to escape again, then is finally taken down in a proper battle on The Pillar of Autumn.
Deliberately invoked by UNSC propaganda: Spartans are never reported dead. They are only listed as missing in action. Because, you'll never know for sure...
Retcon: The entire game is essentially a rewrite of the latter part of The Fall Of Reach, which portrayed the Covenant attack as a complete and utter surprise (no advance attack force as depicted in-game), made no mention of the Forerunner excavation and had the Autumn already on its way out of the star system with a complete Cortana well on board when the battle began.
Certain aspects of Covenant tech have gotten revamped as well. Among the most radical changes are the ones to the design of the Elite Zealot armor (now a vibrant maroon instead of gold) and the layout of the Banshee (the characteristic engine pods have been removed or "hidden from view", to avoid the Fridge Logic of how the craft could fly with the pods shot off). Most of these have since been retconned in turn as aesthetic choices specific to the Covenant on Reach.
The Reveal: Sword Base is sitting on top of a Forerunner structure, and the Covenant want it real bad.
Rule of Drama: People have pointed out inconsistencies with Kat's death, although justifications have been pointed out as well.
Running Gag: Almost once every level, Noble Six gets knocked down (via enemy, explosion, atmospheric freefall...) in a cutscene (sometimes with a first person perspective) and has to grab the nearest weapon available.
Save This Person, Save the World: Cortana holds all the data the UNSC have on the Forerunners and Halo, Reach will fall but any chance to survive the Covenant war rests on Noble Team getting her to the Pillar of Autumn and off Reach.
Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: Reach, before and after. Early in the game, before the Covenant arrives in force, you get a lot of nice-looking scenery. Afterwards (especially in "Exodus", "New Alexandria", "The Package", and "Pillar of Autumn", most of the map is in ruins, there are fires everywhere, and in "The Autumn" there's this really freaky looking black cloud on the left side of where you are, almost like the big cloud in "The Storm" in Halo 3. Reach returns to its natural beauty in the future, July 7, 2589.
The Sabre launch scene in "Long Night of Solace" looked gorgeous.
Serial Escalation: Forge World was originally five separate maps designed for Forge mode set in similar environments. During development, one concept artist combined them all into a single map several times the size of any normal map, all seamless, playable, and massively customizable.
Lampshaded at their Comic-Con panel, where it turns out that the team member building those 5 maps was building them in one file for simplicities sake at the time, as they all used the same resources. When he was nearing the end, he just asked why they were bothering to break it up. The answer? They never even considered the possibility of making a map that big. And neither did the fans.
Tip Of The Spear: Noble Team lead a UNSC assault against the Covenant forces, beat them back and lower the shield around the pillar. A frigate comes in and blows it up, and then it is destroyed by a Covenant Supercarrier. The entire mission has been rendered moot, due to that thing's appearance.
Long Night of Solace: Noble-Six and Jorge lead a Sabre battle against the Covenant and then attack a Covenant corvette. Most of the Marines with you die, and then Jorge sacrifices himself to destroy the Covenant corvette and supercarrier. And then the rest of the fleet shows up...
Hell the only reason the entire freaking game doesn't qualify is the fact you got Cortana offworld, and Reach itself becomes a pristine, green world again... 34 years after the events of Halo 3.
Watch how the female Noble Six walks during her last stand. It is identical to a motion from the end of Firefly made by Zoey, gun pose and all. May have been unintentional, but given that Bungie are known fans of the show...
The frequent use of grainy security footage during cutscenes seems like an homage to Neil Blomkamp, the director whose Halo short films, and feature-length District 9 (which evolved out of the failed attempt at a full-length Halo movie) frequently uses this style.
Most of the Daily and Weekly Challenges are shout outs. For instance, the one for killing a certain amount of people with an automatic weapon is I Have A Machine Gun. Another, for killing a certain amount of opponents, is Aggressive Negotiations.
The Office of Naval Intelligence, AKA ONI. Considering Bungie's habit of referencing previous titles, the odds of this being a coincidence are rather slim.
It may be both; the US Navy maintains a Real Life Office of Naval Intelligence, established in 1882.
The achievement "I See You Favor a .45" is a reference to The Wire. Also Jamie Hector who played the ruthless drug kingpin, Marlo Stanfield in The Wire voices Emile.
The achievement "That's A Knife" is a reference to of all things, Crocodile Dundee
Shown Their Work: Possibly overlapping with Fridge Brilliance, in one mission, the player is thrown out of the Covenant ship by Jorge, into space. He/She seemingly shakes off the re-entry with only a mild sprain or two. One would think "Hey, the Master Chief dropped from in atmosphere, and was messed up for a while! What gives?" Well, if one pays close attention to the cutscenes, you can spot an armored pack on Noble Six's back, just before he/she's flung from the ship, labeled 'Re-Entry Unit'.
It gets better. A lot of people wonder why Jorge elected to stay behind when it is perfectly possible to have marines along who could have activated the slipspace bomb. When Jorge goes aboard the Pelican holding the bomb, a computer voice warns him that his re-entry pack is disabled. He took it off himself!
Halsey's Journal manage to reference and tie together so much of the extended universe, from the supposed inconsistencies between Reach and Fall of Reach, the Spartan-III program from Ghosts Of Onyx, the Orion program, etc.
In the extended "Deliver Hope" trailer, sharp eyes can spot everyone from Noble team (Carter, Emile, Jorge, etc) in the video.
0:10 Kat (obviously), 0:35 Jorge, 0:36 Emile (Left of explosion), 0:53 Jun (HUD), 1:00 Carter (at bottom) and of course, 1:30 Thom who takes the bomb.
When The Pillar of Autumn takes off, look closely. Those booster rockets are just that - booster rockets. After they've expended their thrust, they fall off individually.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Kat: "A good place to look might be... I don't know, the nearest nonexistent launch site in the nonexistent Sabre Program, dismissed by three administrations as preposterous rumor... And in which our newest member was certainly never a pilot."
Take Up My Sword: The ending states this is what happened in spirit. Which means it's implied that Noble Six could have been one of the heroes/heroines of the Halo Trilogy had he/she chosen to evacuate along with everyone else.
Team Mom: Dr. Halsey to Jorge, and eventually the rest of Noble team. Her initial hostility is understandable due to the Back Story, but eventually, she cares for her "adopted" SPARTANs, including and especially Noble Six.
The War Sequence: The Pillar of Autumn, which features you in the middle of a giant human vs. Covenant battle while you blast your way through to get to a shuttle for evacuation, and The Package, which has a sequence at the end where you have to defend Halsey's lab against a bunch of Covenant infantry, tanks, and Banshees. Also, Firefight mode.
Took a Level in Badass: The A.I. and combat skills of the entire Covenant roster has been noticeably improved. Most notably, Elites are now much more agile and intelligent and play a lot like multiplayer opponents — some even use Armor Abilities like Hologram and Armor Lock. Higher ranking Grunts can now fire overcharge shots. And Hunters no longer have any easily exploitable weakness at all now that they can use the shields on their arms to block attacks. All of Noble Team are invicible during gameplay, so there is no real need to escort highly trained soldiers.
The Pistol has been restored to be comparable to its Halo: Combat Evolved glory. It does the same amount of damage as the DMR, and can fire almost as quickly as its shield-eating Halo 2 counterpart. Fortunately these factors are balanced by a smaller clip and more reticle bloom relative to the DMR.
Likewise, the Plasma Pistol's power has been significantly increased, even more so than it originally was in Halo: Combat Evolved. Granted, its rate of fire still pales in comparison to the first game's incarnation, but it still does as much raw damage as the DMR or Pistol.
In ODST, the Spiker was completely useless because you couldn't dual wield it. Now, it has bite. A LOT of bite.
The Sniper Rifle is actually an anti-materiel weapon now!note The AM for "anti-materiel" has been in the various rifle models' designations since the first game, but their shots always inexplicably bounced off vehicles. Who woulda thunk? You can now take out a tank by shooting it in the treads/thrusters (or its driver by shooting off the cockpit canopy), and the gun can generally three-shot most light vehicles, including Banshees.
There Are No Therapists: Averted; several members of Noble Team have undergone treatment for PTSD, though Kat refuses it. Jorge even recommends a full psychatric workup for a civilian survivor of a brutal Covenant attack.
Useless Accessory: Armor customization lets you add extra armor, bandoliers, pouches, and other unusual things that are purely asthetic and don't affect gameplay in the slightest.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing a civilian results in your character's instantaneous demise (and yet you can still teamkill your fellow troopers as much as you like). Fortunately, civilians have a crazy amount of health and are completely immune to explosives to prevent this from happening by accident during the "Exodus" mission.
Unless you accidentally land a headshot.
Averted with regards to your fellow troopers. In all the previous Halos, you took significant extra damage when shot by a marine, which was implemented to make sure you lost if you decided to be a jerk and turn against them. This is no longer the case in Reach, allowing you to slaughter entire platoons of human forces if you choose to.
His absence from the reprint of First Strike would imply he died defending CASTLE with Red Team, but Word of God and Halo: Initiation says he survived Reach.
Sara Sorvad, the young woman you rescue at the end of the first mission, has a unique character model and gets just enough screen time that you suspect she could have a role later on in the plot. She's never seen again, and is dismissed as "irrelevant" by Halsey in her only other mention.
Word of God is that she was originally intended to have become Noble Team's science adviser.
Colonel Urban Holland, Noble Team's C.O. just drops off the face of the planet after ordering Noble Team to revisit and demolish Sword Base at the end of "New Alexandria." No one ever says anything even hinting towards his fate.
While Rome Burns: Club Errera in New Alexandria, after you hit a hidden switch, has a Brute DJ playing "Never Surrender" from the Halo 2 OST, while the city is under siege, and the Grunts dance to it as well. As an additional Easter Egg, there's a switch on the roof that changes the song to "Siege of Madrigal".
Worth It: An achievement in this game for getting a Double Kill from the grave is called "Totally Worth It."
Wrong Genre Savvy: In the "New Alexandria" mission, there's a panicking Trooper hiding in a corner (a homage to a similar character seen in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST). If you stop to listen to him, he goes on about how he's heard that if a Grunt bites you, you turn into a Grunt.
The marines in Combat Evolved and 3 at least were referring to the Flood, who would turn you into one of them if they killed you.
Zerg Rush: Starting off slowly, the game soon features more and more Covenant arriving on Reach to the point where there is nothing any player can do to stop the onslaught. In more than one section all you can do is hold a position for a time and then run away.
Spartans never die...they're just waiting to respawn.