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It took exactly one match of Halo Infinite multiplayer (which surprise released earlier this week) to remember just how different it is from every other multiplayer shooter out there. Literally none of the muscle memory I’ve developed from more recent hours of Rainbow Six Siege, Battlefield 2042, or Warzone do me any good when I’m in the boots of a slow, weighty spartan. If you’re a lapsed player like me, you probably forgot just how important grenades are, too.

But even if you’re a brand new Halo player, Infinite seems like a really great place to become a fan. It’s got everything I love about Halo combat and more. The only catch is that it can be pretty unforgiving. Here are my best tips to get acquainted with Halo combat if you’re coming from other shooters.

Get comfortable with grenades

Grenades are a fundamental pillar of Halo combat. As you’ll quickly notice, players lob them at each other constantly, and for good reason: Halo’s high TTK (time-to-kill) means that both players have an opportunity while shooting at each other to gain an edge in the fight. The first spartan to break the other’s shield is probably going to win, and a burst of grenade damage is one of the best ways to do that.

The standard frag grenade hits hard, flies far, and is highly bounceable. It’s a bit tricky to learn its flight path if you’re new to Halo, but after an hour or so of practice you’ll start to learn a few common tricks to make your frags land close to your target (bouncing a frag off the ground in front of you to send it forward is a good start).

On the same note, learn when enemies are most likely to throw grenades so you can dodge them. If you’re in a firefight and an enemy breaks off to reload, get ready: they’re about to throw a frag to keep you at bay.

Learn the shoot-melee combo

Halo’s other combat pillar is the melee attack. More than any other FPS around, a lot of Halo fights begin or end with a melee attack. One gun smack will take out your entire shield, and two hits is always death.

Melee is best used in conjunction with your gun: a tried-and-true strategy of the past 20 years of Halo is to whittle an enemy’s shield down to near-zero with bullets and then finish them off with a single melee strike. The tactic doesn’t have an official name I could find, so let’s call it the shoot-melee combo. This happens so much, it’s not uncommon for two players to kill each other by meleeing at the same time.

Melee is great, but there’s also a wrong time to use it. It’s generally a bad idea to melee someone if it isn’t going to kill them, because if it doesn’t, you’re vulnerable to attack during the animation’s wind down. You can usually tell based on feeling if an enemy’s shields are low enough to die from melee, but you can also refer to the brightness of the shield itself. In Infinite, damaged shields glow brighter and brighter until they eventually pop. Just before that pop is when you’re safe to melee, in my experience.

Remember: Headshots don’t matter until shields are down

Generally speaking, shield shots are shield shots. A shot to a shielded head does no more damage than a shot to a shielded leg. With this in mind, don’t make fights harder for yourself by exclusively going for critical hits. There’s a reason Halo Infinite’s assault rifle is so good: it can tear through shields quickly with easy torso shots.

And when the shield finally breaks, a single headshot from a precision weapon will do the trick (but for maximum satisfaction, I recommend the Sidekick pistol).

There’s one major exception to this rule, and that’s the S7 Sniper Rifle. The sniper is (and will always be) a one-shot-kill to the head from full health. That’s its whole deal. It’s also a powerful two-shot-kill to the body, so you don’t have to be godlike to deal some damage with it.

Remember: Plasma breaks shields, bullets break people

There are a variety of new ammo types in Halo Infinite, but the two main types to remember are Kinetic (normal bullets) and Plasma. Kinetic guns like the Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle, and Sidekick deal increased damage to unshielded enemies. Plasma guns like the Plasma Pistol, Pulse Carbine, and Needler deal extra damage to shields. Naturally, it’s good to have one of each on you when possible and swap between them as needed.

Crouch to disappear on radar (motion tracker)

Every spartan is equipped with a motion track in the bottom-right of the screen that periodically pings enemies around the player. You can draw extra attention to yourself on the motion tracker by shooting and sprinting, but you’ll disappear from it entirely while crouched. Use this to sneak up on objective sites and score cheeky melee kills!

Swap grenades for the right situation

There are four grenade types in Halo Infinite right now, and each one is good at different stuff:

  • Frag grenade: Bouncy, high area-of-effect explosive damage
  • Plasma grenade: Smaller explosion, but sticky and a one-hit-kill if an enemy gets stuck
  • Spike grenade: Lower damage, but sticks to walls/vehicles and shoots ricocheting spikes
  • Dynamo grenade: Doesn’t explode, but persists and causes electrical damage over time to anything in its area (and disables vehicles)

You can hold two types at once and swap between them, but the default bind on keyboard is garbage (B and N). I recommend swapping it immediately (I mapped it to one of my mouse thumb buttons).

Use the AI scan to find power weapons

Mapped to Z by default, your personal AI can scan the area around you to conveniently mark available power weapons, vehicles, or powerups. Use it often if you find yourself running in and dying with the weapons you spawned with.

…and then start learning weapon spawns

The AI scan is a big help, but once you learn the maps, you won’t need it anymore. Map knowledge is huge in Halo. Power weapons either spawn in contested chokepoints or less-traveled side paths, and it’s a good idea to know all of them.

The team that controls a map’s power weapons has a major advantage, so don’t give them up so easily. Grab that rocket launcher, even if you’re not planning to use it. If you don’t care for it, use the new “drop gun” button (I remapped mine to G because of old Counter-Strike reflexes) to give it to a teammate.

Use equipment for a quick getaway

Spartans may be a bit slower than the athletic heroes of Apex Legends, but new equipment pickups give you a lot of potential movement options. The sweet Grapple hook is definitely the most flexible way to get around, but don’t sleep on the Thrusters or Repulsor either. Thrusters are great for instantly repositioning around a corner or getting extra distance out of a jump and blasting the Repulsor at the ground while you jump is basically a makeshift double jump that I use constantly.

Stick with a buddy or two

Solo players don’t survive in Halo for long. Unlike Rainbow Six Siege or Call of Duty, you’re unlikely to win a 1v2 fight without a small, plasma grenade-shaped miracle, so it’s crucial to have a friend nearby to draw some fire and crossfire with you.

If you’re driving, don’t stop

When driving a Warthog with a buddy in the gunner seat, the best service you can do them is to not stop in the middle of an open field. You want to be a moving target, but you also don’t want to jerk the wheel around so much they can’t aim straight. 

Best bet? Take a lap around the map on a main road, and only slow down if your gunner is shooting at someone and needs to finish the kill. Then speed back up and get the heck out of there! There could be a rocket launcher nearby, or worse, an enemy lying in wait to grapple you out of the truck.

Honk twice to tell teammates your Warthog has open seats

Halo Infinite’s lowkey best feature is a new notification that tells the team your vehicle has open seats when you honk twice. As a longtime Halo fan that has spent collective hours of his life honking at teammates that don’t realize I want them to hop into my Warthog, this is a godsend, and even cooler that the notification is noticeable, but non-intrusive.

There’s a ping now, and you should use it

Speaking of non-intrusive notifications, Halo has a ping button now. It defaults to X, which is a pretty good spot for a tool you should use constantly. The ping is most useful when you’re also talking to friends in-game or on Discord, but being able to say “battle rifle is up” while also pinging its exact location is so nice. You can also use it to ping general enemy locations, which is a lot better than just saying “there’s a dude on that rock up there.”

Old Halo rules that have changed for Halo Infinite

  • The Plasma Pistol no longer EMPs vehicles with a charged shot. That’s the job of the new Shock Rifle, Disruptor pistol, and Dynamo grenade.
  • Unlike Halo 5, sprinting will not interrupt your shield recharge. Sprint away!
  • In Capture the Flag, flag carriers are only revealed to the other team if they sprint.
  • Halo 5’s ground pound and spartan charge are gone, but the thrusters return in the form of limited-use equipment.

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