by: M.S. Smith
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Halo Reach, the latest installment in the Halo franchise, is very similar to previous Halo games. Players who are new to the Halo series, however, may be confused by the game's unique tactics. This guide will help you with Halo's strategy.
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Halo Reach Strategy Guide
Halo Reach is a complex game that demands a lot from players. The campaign and multiplayer modes are both very challenging. They’re fashioned in the traditional mold of old-school first person shooters – players are relatively tough, combat is long, and weapons are big, nasty and flashy.
This can be hard to get used to if you’re a veteran of more realistic games like the Modern Warfare or Battlefield series, where weapons are not flashy and players die quickly. In those games, perception and quick reflexes tend to dominates. Halo Reach, on the other hand, focuses heavily on tactics and proper weapon selection. This guide will help you get up to speed with Halo Reach multiplayer.
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In Halo Reach multiplayer you play as a Spartan (or, sometimes, and Elite – the same difference). As a Spartan you have two things that keep you alive – first your shields and then your health.
Your shields will begin to regenerate a few seconds after your top taking damage. When you shields are gone, you begin taking health damage. You can tell that the shields of opposing players are down when you see that they’re covered in a graphic that appears to be yellow electricity (I’ve heard this referred to as a “shield pop" graphic) – this lets you know that they’ll be taking health damage and can be killed relatively quickly.
There does appear to be some minimal health regeneration, but it is not complete – if you are nearly killed your health bar will remain red unless you find and use a medkit somewhere on the map.
Players in Halo Reach are tough compared to other games. The only weapons capable of instant kills are powerful high-explosive guns like the Rocket Launcher and the Sniper Rifle (but only if you manage a headshot). Most standard weapons won’t kill a Spartan in less than three headshots. This encourages a play style that focuses heavily on ducking-and-weaving or circle-strafing opponents.
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Halo Reach Strategy - Identifying Common Attacks
Before you can run, you must walk. So let’s focus on a few common attack patterns you’ll find people using in Halo Reach, how you can identify these patterns in yourself, and how to counter them.
First, you’ll have players who use a charge strategy. These players are pretty easy to spot because they’ll make a bee-line towards you while shooting at you. When they reach you they will try to hit you with a melee attack to finish you off. You can also identify this style of play in yourself easily (do you always run at opponents? Well, then you’re a charger).The charge style is intimidating, but usually not the best way to play. If you encounter players who use this, simply back away from them and go for headshots. The people who use this style generally run straight at you, so their head is very easy to hit.
Another common tactic is a simple circle strafing strategy. These players, when they encounter an opponent, will immediately start walking sideways in order to make themselves a harder target. Given enough time they will make a complete circle around their opponent. This style is a bit more advanced than charging, but still easy to counter. This is where you learn to use your grenades. Circle strafing players often just pick on direction and stick to it, so it is easy to lay a grenade in their path and then mop them up.
New players must remember not to fall into these habits. So, what style should you use? That depends. If you’re in a closed space, make use of the terrain. Frag grenades can bounce off walls and into the face of an opponent hiding in a corner, or you can duck behind a wall to regenerate your shields if you feel you’re losing a fight. If you’re in the open, use an erratic pattern to throw of your opponent. Instead of simply strafing just right or left, practice strafing back and forth with unpredictable timing. This is actual rather difficult because you’re also trying to keep your aim steady (this is why so many players simply pick one direction and strafe in that direction no matter what) but once you master it you’ll be much more effective in wide-open firefights.
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Learning Halo Reach's Weapons
The way weapons work in Halo Reach is also much different from other popular Xbox 360 multiplayer games. It is entirely possible to use a machine gun to kill someone a hundred yards away in Modern Warfare 2, but this is impossible to Halo Reach. Weapons tend to have very specific effective ranges, and having the wrong weapon out at the wrong time can mean death. The shotgun, for example, isn’t a good choice if your opponent is more than a stone’s throw away.
You have two weapon slots in Halo Reach. Depending on the game type you may or may not be able to select between pre-defined weapon loadouts. If you do have the chance to choose make sure you choose something that is appropriate for where you’re spawning. For example, on the Invasion maps you will have the chance to spawn as an Elite with an Energy Sword. However, this may not be a good choice if the objective has already been carried outside because the Energy Sword is terrible outdoors. You’d be better of going with a weapon most people consider less powerful because it is better suited for the situation.
Halo Reach includes five new powers, called armor abilities, which can give you an advantage in certain situations. You won’t always be given the choice between them, but when you are given the choice it is important to choose one that fits what you want to do.
Armor Lock – This ability makes you invulnerable for a few seconds. You can’t move, fire or take any other action while Armor Lock is active. If Armor Lock’s entire duration is used the ability will generate a strong blast when Armor Lock is released. This is powerful enough to kill players and destroy vehicles. Armor Lock is a great ability for players who want to try and play a “tank" by distracting enemy fire from allies, and when allowed to fully charge it can be used to kill multiple enemy players in close quarters.
Bubble Shield – Using this ability deploys a shield that can’t be penetrated by weapons fire. You can’t fire out, and no one can fire in. Players and vehicles can still move through the bubble, however. The bubble shield is best used as a way to restrict the tactics enemy players and teams can use. Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to return your team’s flag from the middle of the map to your base. However, enemy snipers are killing you and your teammates. You can deploy a bubble shield to stop this – enemies can still try and attack, but they’ll have to run all the way to the shield and then engage in melee combat with your teammates. Note this shield can be prematurely destroyed by a concentrated attack, but only vehicles like tanks really put out enough fire to shorten the shield's life.
Camo – This ability renders you largely invisible, making it possible to sneak up on enemies. Players can still see you to some extent, but will need a sharp eye. Your Camo will, however, be partially compromised when you are firing or taking damage. When you are using Camo your radar will be jammed (random false contacts will appear) and the opponent’s radar will also be jammed (tipping them off that someone with Camo is nearby. This jamming effect is not entirely a bad thing, however. In team games a single player with Camo can mask the approach of their entire team by jamming enemy radar.
Dodge – A replacement for Sprint, this ability is only available to Elites in certain game types. It lets the Elite dodge in the direction they’re moving at an extremely rapid pace. This is the same as the dodge the AI Elites use in the campaign mode. Dodge can be used twice in a row before it has to recharge and makes it possible for an Elite to quickly retreat to cover. Bolder Elites will use it to quickly close for an Energy Sword kill, but you’ll have to be careful with this because it is easy to over-shoot your target. Also, be careful on maps with ledges – you might end up dodging right off the side of the map!
Jet Pack – This is what you’d expect –a frickin jet pack! Lot of people made a big deal about this in the beta and said it would change the way the game is played. It isn’t that powerful, but it is useful. The Jet Pack lets you reach areas of the map that would otherwise be impossible and also take shortcuts. It is best used by players who enjoy long range combat, as the Jet Pack lets them find sniper perches that enemies won’t expect.
Sprint – This give you a burst of speed, making it possible to cover short distances quickly. This makes it easier to retreat from a fight or quickly respond to an opponent who is trying to take an objective you’re guarding. You can also use Sprint to improve your melee combat ability – you can strike at your opponent with your weapon until his shields are down and then surprise him by sprinting into his face and killing him with a melee attack. Even experienced players are easily taken off-guard by this tactic.