The seventh installment of the Halo franchise, Halo 4 is the first game in the series' second main story arc (later known as the "Reclaimer Saga") and the first game produced by 343 Industries (after Bungie's departure from the series). An enhanced version of the game was later included in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection compilation for the Xbox One and PC.
Halo 4 returns players into the role of SPARTAN-II super-soldier Master Chief, over four years after the Human-Covenant War, the activation of the Installation 04B (an incomplete Halo ring) and Master Chief's cryogenic incubation in the wreckage of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. After the ship wreckage crash-lands inside the mysterious Forerunner shielded world of Requiem, Master Chief must communicate with the UNSC Infinity vessel (which also crash-lands into Requiem), deal with the rampancy of his A.I. companion Cortana, and fight not only a newly-formed splinter Covenant group (the Storm Covenant), but a faction of dangerous Forerunner A.I. constructs (known as "Prometheans") led by The Didact (an ancient Forerunner warrior, accidentally revived by the actions of Master Chief, who holds a strong grudge towards humanity).
Along with traditional Covenant enemies, players now have to fight a new group of robotic enemies known as "Prometheans", each with their own variety of "hardlight" weaponry that players can use (such as the Scattershot shotgun and the Binary Rifle sniper rifle). The game includes new Armor Abilities, with sprinting moved to a dedicated button (outside of the Armor Ability system). The game's multiplayer modes are also updated, including a customizable loadout system (similar to the Call of Duty franchise), Personal Ordnance Drops (in which players, after reaching a score threshold in "Infinity" game modes, can summon a weapon, grenade, or power-up at their location after reaching a score threshold), and several new customizable game modes. Forge Mode has also been updated with new dynamic lighting and object locking options.
As a tie-in to the in-game fiction, the multiplayer modes (collectively known as "Infinity") are based on the SPARTAN-IV program in the UNSC Infinity after the actions of the main campaign. The competitive multiplayer mode, known as "War Games", are training simulations inside the UNSC Infinity. Rather than a Firefight mode, the game includes a new mission-based mode called "Spartan Ops", which are episodic co-operative campaigns (each including its own pre-cinematic dealing with the crew of the UNSC Infinity). Both modes allow players to use their customized SPARTAN-IV (each with their own unlockable armor permutations, identification, custom loadouts, and experience level, known as "Spartan Ranks").
Prior to the game's release, a live-action webseries, titled Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, was ran between October 5, 2012 and November 2, 2012 to promote the game. Set 32 years prior to the game, the story follows Officer Cadet Thomas Lasky (who plays an important support character in the game) as he struggles through the Corbulo military academy only to help Master Chief defend the academy against the Covenant.
The game's online servers were later discontinued on January 13, 2022, removing the matchmaking, file sharing, challenge, and player customization systems.
The game opens with a conversation between Dr. Catherine Halsey, creator of the Spartan-IIs, and a UNSC official. The official makes various arguments as to the Spartan-II program having been unethical, including the facts that the program involved the kidnapping of children, that the Spartan-IIs were originally developed to stop human rebellion, and that the Spartan-IIs have shown sociopathic tendencies. Halsey justifies the program by stating that her work saved humanity from the Covenant and works out that she is being interviewed because the UNSC are trying to replace the Master Chief. The scene ends with Halsey telling the official not to underestimate the Spartans and not to underestimate the Master Chief specifically.
Forward Unto Dawn
The game then snaps to the wreckage of the derelict starship UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, in the year 2557 (four years after the events of Halo 3), as it drifts closer to an artificial Forerunner planet. Detecting a strange disturbance aboard the ship, Cortana wakes the Chief from cryo-sleep. They then make their way through the ship, finding Covenant are boarding and attacking them, despite a truce being declared four years ago with the Elites, and experience the ship being scanned by unknown technology. The two soon discover that they are not just in proximity of one Covenant ship, but a whole fleet. The Chief is able to use the weaponry of the Forward Unto Dawn to destroy the Covenant cruiser closest to them, however a gravity well opens on the world which begins to pull the ship in.
The Chief and Cortana make their way towards the escape pods, although as they do Cortana starts exhibiting bizarre behaviour. As they reach the escape pods, the force of the gravity well begins tearing the Dawn apart and pulls the Chief out into space. After being knocked unconscious by flying wreckage he awakens inside the planet, where Cortana begins acting mentally unhinged. Despite her immediate response that there is nothing wrong with her, the Chief persuades her to tell him that she is in the first stages of a process known as rampancy, in which AI become increasingly mentally unstable and eventually cease functioning altogether. She explains that the average operational lifespan of a UNSC AI is seven years, and that she is now in her eighth year of operation. Although she tells the Chief that she cannot be fixed, he insists that they will find a way back to her creator, Dr. Halsey, so that she may be repaired.
The Chief fights his way through more of the Covenant forces, which are composed of the “Storm Covenant”, a hostile splinter group of the religious faction. Cortana also detects a transmission from the starship UNSC Infinity, which the two attempt to reach the source of. Making it deeper into the planet, they manage to access a computer in an attempt to track the signal, and discover they are inside a Forerunner shield world called Requiem. The system quickly locks up, but the two are able to bring it back online and Cortana is able to use it to find that the Infinity's signal appears to be coming from the shield world’s core. They then travel to a point on the other side of the facility to open a portal from which to reach Infinity.
Once they reach the destination from which the portal can be opened, Cortana notes that attempting to contact the point in the planet’s systems closest to the core caused them to return the Forerunner glyph for Reclaimers (i.e. Humanity), which the Chief assumes has to indicate that the Infinity must be there. A number of unusual robotic beings then spring up around the two and a portal to the planet’s core seems to spontaneously open. The Chief grabs Cortana’s data chip and runs into the portal.
After the two arrive in Requiem’s core, Cortana informs the Chief that the machines they saw were some kind of advanced defence AI, and they discover that while the Infinity is not stationed in the core of the planet, a satellite relaying the signal from Infinity is. However, Cortana also notes that there are two pylons on the planet interfering with the signal which they must disable if they are to contact the Infinity. While working to bring down the pylons Cortana works out that the metallic enemies they are now facing are called “Prometheans” and displays further signs of rampancy. She later discovers that Infinity isn’t inside the planet, but that it is orbiting it, and appears to be responding to the distress beacon from Forward Unto Dawn. Cortana begins repeated attempts to contact the Infinity, trying to ward it away from the planet, so it is not sucked into the gravity well as the Dawn was.
After shutting down the first pylon, the two discover that the Covenant are heading to the second pylon, but the Chief manages to fight through further waves of both the Prometheans and Covenant, and successfully shut down the pylon. Despite the lack of interference, Cortana finds that the transmitter in the Master Chief’s armour is not strong enough to transmit the necessary signal to the Infinity, and so they use the planet’s portal system to reach the satellite in the core, from which they may be able to broadcast a more powerful signal.
After fighting their way to what they believe to be a broadcast system, and attempting to use it to contact they Infinity, they realize too late that they have been deliberately mislead; this is not a communications system, but a prison system, and their actions have accidentally released a Forerunner criminal known as the Didact. They discover that he had manipulated Infinity’s signals as a trap to get them to release him, and declares that the Forerunner are returning and that he intends to destroy Humanity, whom the rest of his race had declared their successors, the Reclaimers. He easily knocks the Chief unconscious before taking a ship and escaping in it through a slipspace portal. The Chief wakes up with Cortana telling him that the Didact’s use of slipspace destabilized the core of the planet, and that they must leave it immediately. At this point the Infinity also starts broadcasting an emergency signal indicating that they have been pulled in by Requiem’s gravity well.
The Chief escapes the core in a Ghost which he eventually manages to jump through a portal. After arriving on the other side of the portal, he sees the Infinity flying overhead and hears a broadcast from it as the ship prepares to crash land. Cortana and the Chief set a course for the Infinity, seeing the Didact’s ship also going in pursuit of it.
The Chief finds the Didact’s ship near Infinity’s crash site and manages to make brief radio contact with the Infinity before making his way towards the ship. Inside the ship he meets with Commander Thomas Lasky and Spartan-IV, Commander Sarah Palmer. He discovers that the recon team the Infinity sent out after they landed have become stranded, and won’t be able to return to the ship on foot. At this point Lasky asks the Chief to secure the area so that the recon teams may be safely recovered, which he obliges.
As the Chief and Cortana attempt to help recovery of the recon teams, Cortana becomes worried by the increasingly intense signs of rampancy she is showing, despite the Chief’s reassurance. As the Chief successfully secures a landing zone for Pelican-class ships to bring back the stranded soldiers, Lasky sends out a transmission indicating that the Covenant have managed to get into the Infinity and that all soldiers are immediately ordered to return to the ship. The Chief manages to make his way back to Infinity where he meets with Captain Andrew Del Rio who tells him that the Didact has managed to disable the ship’s defences and is extracting data from it is mainframes. The Chief manages to use a Mantis-class mech to fight off the Covenant in the ship, and destroy the jammers that were preventing the ships defences from functioning.
With defences back online the Infinity is able to use its MAC cannons to fire on the Didact’s ship, causing it to retreat. At this point Del Rio orders the ship’s forces to stand down, and the Chief, Cortana, Lasky, and Del Rio come together to assess the situation. Lasky explains that the purpose of the Infinity was to establish bases to study the Halo installations for decommission. After excavating a Forerunner artefact part of the Infinity science team were killed, but a series of co-ordinates were recovered that led the Infinity to Requiem. Despite the Chief’s view that it would be an opportune time to attack the Didact while he is vulnerable, Del Rio instead makes it the mission of the Infinity to escape Requiem’s gravity well and file a threat assessment with the UNSC Fleet Command.
Del Rio mobilises the Infinity’s forces, including Chief, Cortana, Palmer, and Lasky, along with a number of vehicles, including a Mammoth-class troop transport, to take down particle cannons within the planet so that they can make their escape. Cortana again displays signs of further rampancy and expresses her worry over the situation, but she and the Chief eventually reach the particle cannon command post where an elevator takes them directly to the co-ordinates provided to them by the Infinity, leading them to think that they are walking into a trap.
Within the facility the two encounter “what remains” of a long-dead Forerunner known as the Librarian. She explains that her memories had been stored within the facility to help Humanity adopt the Forerunner philosophy of "the Mantle", but that the Didact threatens that plan and must not be allowed to leave Requiem. She then informs the Chief that the Didact seeks a weapon known as the Composer which can contain the Forerunner’s greatest enemy, humanity.
The Librarian details a war fought between humanity and the Forerunners long ago, after humanity were seen doing what they believed to be aggressively expanding their control over the universe. Humanity overcame entire star systems before the Didact rose up and used his warriors to push them back. After a millennium of slaying humanity, the Didact was sentenced to punishment and the Forerunners discovered too late that humanity were not trying to expand, but were rather running from the Flood. Weakened after the war, the Forerunners started to fall easily to the Flood.
The Forerunners made plans to use the Halo rings, the Ark, and the shield worlds to save all life in the galaxy, however, the Didact refused to yield to the philosophy of the Mantle and devised his own plan. The Composer was intended to be a tool to make the Forerunners immortal by allowing life to be converted from an organic to a digital form, which would have protected them from the Flood, as the Flood only consume and can survive by consuming organic tissue. However, the Composer could not convert sentient minds properly, and when the Forerunners attempted to return lifeforms to their organic state, it created only what the Librarian describes as “abominations”. The Didact used the Composer to take his revenge on humanity, with the Prometheans being the result of human beings being converted to a digital form. The Didact had intended to convert all of humanity, however, the Composer was forcibly taken from him and he was imprisoned.
When humanity was preserved so that they could repopulate the galaxy after the Forerunners had eradicated the Flood, the Librarian hid the “seeds” of humanity from the Didact. She had done this in part of a plan for the future of humanity, however, before the Librarian can inform the Chief of what this plan is, they are discovered by the Didact. Before the Chief leaves, the Librarian is able to biologically modify him to be impervious to the effects of the Composer.
Regrouping with Infinity’s forces, he and the ship manage to destroy the gravity well. Del Rio, the Chief, Cortana, and Lasky, then meet once again on-deck. After explaining what the Librarian had told him the Chief tells Del Rio that it is imperative to humanity’s safety that the Didact is stopped, however, Del Rio insists that their mission is still to leave Requiem, dismissing the story of the Librarian as a hallucination. After an outburst of rampancy from Cortana Del Rio orders Lasky to confiscate the data chip containing Cortana so that she may be decommissioned (read: executed). The Chief takes the data chip before he can do so, and refuses orders to surrender it to Del Rio, leading him to call Palmer to arrest the Chief. However, she does not comply, and the Chief then leaves with Cortana, instructing Lasky to send word back to Earth.
As Chief prepares his weapons Cortana stares at the Sun outside and laments her inability to actually know if it looks and feels real, eventually turning and telling the Chief to promise that, before their current conflict ends, he will figure out “Which one of us is the machine”. Lasky arrives on deck with orders to prevent the Chief from leaving, but instead provides him a combat-ready Pelican with which to pursue the Didact.
The Chief and Cortana find the Didact’s ship with its shields up and Cortana devises a plan to take them down by exploiting two nearby stations which are acting as traffic control for resources flowing to and from the ship. The Chief makes his way inside both of the stations to use them to send an override code into the ship, forcing it’s defences down. The Didact becomes aware of their plan and manages to speak to the Chief directly, despite Cortana being unable to hear him, and uses Promethean and Covenant forces to try and keep them from achieving their objective.
After they successfully drop the ship’s shields, Cortana directs Chief to another tower from which the ship is controlling a number of defence spires, with the plan being that if the Chief turns them against the Didact’s ship, he can be prevented from leaving. The Cortana and Chief make their way to the control room at the top of the tower where Cortana attempts to use the defence spires to lock the Didact’s ship in place, but her rampancy causes her to malfunction and lose control of the spires. With the Didact and his accompanying Covenant about to leave, the Chief takes Cortana and jumps from the tower onto a Covenant Lich-class vessel which he is able to ride on, as it, the other Covenant vessels, and the much larger Forerunner vessel which the Didact’s ship now occupies, leave Requiem via slipspace.
The ships emerge near Halo ring Installation 03 where they attack the nearby UNSC scientific facility that is in possession of the Composer, Ivanoff Station. The Chief enters the Covenant ship he is riding on, managing to kill its occupants, and makes contact with a Sandy Tilson on the station, however, their communication is cut short, and the ship crashes when Cortana once again malfunctions due to rampancy. The Chief wakes up on-board a damaged section of the station with Cortana emotionally unstable and apologising.
The Chief communicates with Tilson again, who explains that they are trying to evacuate the station, but that Covenant have taken control of the landing bay. The Chief is able to secure an evacuation route for the scientists, bring the station’s shields back online, and clear the station of Covenant. Upon reaching Tilson the Chief declares that the Composer needs to be removed from the station, however, Tilson explains that they literally cannot move it. Despite the initial objections of Tilson, he decides that if the Composer cannot be moved then it can be prevented from falling into the Didact’s hands by annihilating it with nuclear weaponry.
The Chief and Cortana manage to make it to the station’s defence grid controls to bring its defences back online, while the science team prime the nuclear bomb to destroy the Composer. Cortana, who is becoming increasingly rampant, asks the Chief that if she and he should make it back to Dr. Halsey, for him not to tell her how unstable she got, to which the Chief agrees. Before the Chief can meet back up with the science team, the Didact discovers the exact location of the Composer, and the Chief requests that the science team provide him with the nuke, despite it not being ready yet. The Chief manages to fend off Covenant making their way into the area housing the Composer, using a Mantis mech, but before it can be destroyed, the Didact manages to lift the Composer out of the station and into his ship.
The Chief returns to the scientists as the Didact’s ship takes aim on the station. Cortana finds that the station defences will not respond and the Didact manages to use the Composer to kill everyone within the station, apart from Cortana, and the Chief, who is knocked unconscious. When he awakens Cortana appears emotionally disturbed as she explains that she heard the digitized scientists being agonizingly converted into Prometheans. She then begins to speculate about how if she dies the UNSC will try to pair the Chief with another AI, possibly another version of Cortana, and tells the Chief “It won’t be me, you know that, right?”. The Chief tells Cortana that he won’t let her die and assures her that “It’s not over yet”, but it is clear Cortana no longer believes this.
The Didact's Ship
The Chief and Cortana arm a Broadsword-class fighter with the nuke and fly it off-station, into the Didact’s ship as it flies into slipspace again. As the Chief fights his way across the Didact’s ship in the Broadsword, he stays in contact with UNSC forces, most notably Lasky, aboard the Infinity, who has taken the position of Captain after UNSC Fleet Command objected to Del Rio abandoning a legendary war hero like the Master Chief on Requiem. The Didact’s ship heads towards Earth, and the UNSC's orbital defences prove ineffective in stopping it.
The Chief is eventually able to disable the particle cannons on the ship, allowing the Infinity to punch a hole in the hull which he can fly the Broadsword into. Once inside the ship’s hull, free of the Broadsword, and carrying the nuclear device with him, the Chief inserts Cortana into the ship’s systems, where she is able to manipulate a portal system, similar to the one on Requiem, so that the Chief may reach the Didact. However, when the Didact begins fighting back against Cortana she has difficulties simultaneously fighting him and keeping control over her rampancy.
The Chief is eventually able to reach the room where the Didact and the Composer are housed. Here Cortana begins injecting the mentally instable and continually dividing versions of herself into the Didact’s system, in an effort to bring down his shields as he powers up the Composer. The Chief makes his way around the chamber, manually inserting Cortana into the systems, using her rampancy to sabotage the Didact. Despite the Chief lowering his shields, the Didact is able to fire the Composer on Earth, hitting part of what is currently known as North America.
The Chief reaches the core of the chamber where he crosses a light bridge to arm the nuke and destroy the Composer, but becomes cautious as the Didact no longer appears to be with the Composer, but hidden elsewhere. The Didact appears behind the Chief, encouraging him to fight him, but as he tries to do so the Didact is able to knock the nuke free from him and telepathically paralyse him. However, the rampant copies of Cortana in the ship’s systems manipulate the light bridge to restrain the Didact, and the Chief manages to plant a grenade into his chest, the detonation of which causes the Didact to stumble and fall from the light bridge into the Composer’s beam. The Chief then crawls towards the nuke and detonates it manually.
The Chief finds himself without Cortana in a blue translucent sphere in space that appears to have properties similar to a hologram or light-bridge. A physical manifestation of Cortana appears to him, but upon asking on how they can get out of this space, Cortana tells him that she can’t go with him. She explains that most of her was on the Didact’s ship and that she only saved enough of herself outside of that to protect the Chief and take him off the ship. The Chief insists that the two of them leave together, but Cortana informs him that it is impossible. For the first time Cortana physically touches the Chief, something she says she has been waiting a very long time to do, and he implies that he feels as though he failed in his duty to protect her. Cortana tells him that they were meant to take care of each other, and did so successfully. Cortana walks away from the Chief, despite him asking her to wait, and tells him “Welcome home, John” before disappearing entirely. Shortly after, the sphere around the Chief disappears and he begins floating off into space.
A Pelican eventually recovers the Chief who returns to the UNSC Infinity. On-deck in the ship he stares out at the Earth and is joined by Lasky who empathises with him over his loss. The Chief tells Lasky that as soldiers it is their duty to protect humanity, whatever the cost, to which Lasky responds that humanity and soldiers are not different things, and that soldiers are people, not machines. Lasky leaves the deck as the Chief remembers Cortana’s earlier suggestion that he may be more like a machine than a person. The game then cuts to a closing message from 343 Industries, declaring that this is the start of a new journey with Halo, and that they thank their fans for joining them and trusting them with the Halo universe.
The game’s epilogue features UNSC soldiers exploring the city of New Phoenix, where the Composer’s beam hit and left cities standing, but people entirely eradicated. Played over this is a speech by the Didact, apparently made millions of years ago, when he was defending himself against the crimes that got him locked up on Requiem in the first place. He speaks of the Forerunner defeat and how important they are to the universe. The game then cuts to the Chief, who is walking along a long corridor in the Infinity, as the Didact declares that he has been accused of the sin of 'preventing the Forerunners taking a less prominent role in the universe as other forces become more powerful.' As the game cuts to a scene of John having his armor removed, the Didact claims that Humanity is the greatest threat to the universe, that they must be stopped by the Forerunners, and that they have unfairly begun the process of 'Reclamation'. The last shot of the game is the Master Chief’s helmet being removed, wiping to black. The Legendary ending replaces the wipe with a brief glimpse of John's eyes; his full face is not seen.
Halo 4 includes a variety of new weaponry for players, including human weapons used by the UNSC (including the M363 Sticky Detonator, Carbine-920 Railgun, and M739 SAW), and Forerunner weapons used by the Promethean A.I. (including the Z-110 Boltshot, Z-130 Suppressor, Z-180 Scattershot, Z-250 Light Rifle, Z-390 Incineration Cannon, and Z-750 Binary Rifle). Other weapons also make a minor upgrade (mostly for cosmetic purposes), including the BR85GB SR Battle Rifle (replacing the BR55HB SR Battle Rifle). The Covenant's arsenal is mostly intact from Halo 3 (excluding all Jiralhanae weapons except the Gravity Hammer), though the Type-25 Plasma Rifle has been replaced by the Type-55 Storm Rifle.
Along with the UNSC Frag Grenade and the Covenant Plasma Grenade, the arsenal now includes the Forerunner Pulse Grenade, which generates an energy sphere that slows vehicles and drain shields and health. This replaces both the Spike Grenade and Incendiary Grenade from Halo 3.
- Magnum - A semi-automatic handgun useful for short-to-medium ranged combat. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Secondary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "M6H Personal Defense Weapon System".
- Assault Rifle - A fully-automatic assault rifle useful for short-to-medium ranged combat. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "MA5D Individual Combat Weapon System".
- Battle Rifle - A battle rifle with a three-round burst and a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification) useful for medium-to-long ranged combat. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "BR85HB SR Battle Rifle".
- DMR - A semi-automatic marksman rifle with a scope attachment (supporting 3x magnification), useful for medium-to-long ranged combat. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "M395 Designated Marksman Rifle".
- Shotgun - A pump-action shotgun that is deadly in close-ranged combat. Formally known as the "M45D Tactical Shotgun".
- SAW - A light machine gun very useful for suppression and close-ranged combat. Formally known as the "M739 Light Machine Gun".
- Sniper Rifle - A semi-automatic sniper rifle (with an electronic scope that supports both 5x and 10x magnification) that is deadly in long-ranged combat. Formally known as the "SRS99-S5 AM Sniper Rifle".
- Spartan Laser - A large weapon that fires a very powerful long-ranged laser beam that can cut through multiple enemies and deal heavy damage to vehicles. Each beam must be charged fully (which takes roughly 2-3 seconds), in which the weapon emits a loud sound and shines a red targeting laser. It cannot be replenished by picking up ammo (and must be dropped after being depleted) and fires up to four shots. Formally known as the "M6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle".
- Rocket Launcher - A powerful rocket launcher with a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification). Formally known as the "M41 SSR MAV/AW".
- Sticky Detonator - A weapon that fires an adhesive grenade (allowing it to stick to any surface). The grenade is remotely-detonated (also with the fire button, meaning that only one grenade could be fired and detonated at a time). When the grenade is fired, a small radar pops out of the weapon, showing enemies that are nearby. Formally known as the "M363 Remote Projectile Detonator".
- Railgun - A weapon that fires a quick-moving high-explosive grenade. Like the Spartan Laser, it requires a charging phase (which is shorter, quieter, and does not have a targeting laser, but noticably glows blue). Formally known as the "Asymmetric Recoil Carbine-920".
- Frag Grenade - A standard timed fragmentation grenade with a three-second fuse. Can bounce off of surfaces. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Grenade choice. Formally known as the "M9 High-Explosive Dual-Purpose Grenade".
- Combat Knife - A standard combat knife that is only used in assassination kills. Cannot be selected as a weapon.
- Plasma Pistol - A semi-automatic energy-blasting firearm that, while generally weak in short blasts, can be overcharged (by holding down the Fire button over time) into a larger superheated bolt that automatically locks onto enemy infantry (draining their shields) or enemy vehicles (causing the vehicle to become inactive for a short time). It does not require reloading, and cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Secondary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Type-25 Directed Energy Pistol".
- Storm Rifle - A fully-automatic energy-blasting weapon (similar to the Plasma Rifle from previous games) useful for close-to-medium ranged combat. Continuously firing causes the weapon to overheat, in which the weapon must enter a cooldown phase. It does not require reloading, and cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Type-55 Directed Energy Rifle".
- Covenant Carbine - A semi-automatic marksman rifle with a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification). Firing a powerful green blast useful for medium-to-long ranges, it becomes more inaccurate in quick blasts. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Type-51 Carbine".
- Needler - A fully-automatic projectile weapon that rapidly fires sharp purple crystalline shards. These shards lock on to enemies, impales them (dealing some damage), and detonate harmlessly after some time. However, seven or more impalements at one time causes all of them to detonate powerfully (known as a super-charge), killing that enemy. Formally known as the "Type-33 Guided Munitions Launcher".
- Beam Rifle - A semi-automatic energy-blasting equivalent of a sniper rifle with a scope attachment (supporting both 5x and 10x magnification). It does not require reloading, but can overheat if continuously fired (in which it must enter a cooldown phase). It also cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Formally known as the "Type-27 Special Application Sniper Rifle".
- Fuel Rod Gun - An energy-blasting equivalent of a rocket launcher. It does not deal as much damage as the Rocket Launcher, but each clip contains more explosive blasts. Formally known as the "Type-33 Light Anti-Armor Weapon".
- Energy Sword - A sword composed of glowing energy that is devastating for close-ranged combat. The Melee button performs a normal slash while the Fire button either performs another normal slash or, if the player's crosshair is over a close enemy, performs a lunging slash. The sword loses its energy after striking any surface. Formally known as the "Type-1 Energy Weapon/Sword".
- Plasma Grenade - A timed energy grenade that sticks to surfaces (including enemies and vehicles). Unlike the Frag Grenade, the three-second fuse occurs after the grenade sticks to a surface. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Grenade choice. Formally known as the "Type-1 Antipersonnel Grenade".
- Boltshot - A semi-automatic hard light firearm that, while generally weak in short blasts, can be charged (by holding the Fire button over time) into a powerful close-ranged burst shot. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Secondary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Z-110 Directed Energy Pistol".
- Suppressor - A fully automatic hard light weapon useful for close-to-medium ranged combat. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Z-130 Directed Energy Automatic Weapon".
- Light Rifle - A hard light rifle that fires in both three-round bursts (when fired from the hip) and in semi-automatic rounds (when zoomed in). Useful for medium-to-long ranges. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Primary Weapon choice. Formally known as the "Z-250 Directed Energy Engagement Weapon".
- Scattershot - A hard light equivalent of a shotgun, firing multiple bolts (per blast) that can bounce off surfaces and deal great damage at close range. Formally known as the "Z-180 Close Combat Rifle".
- Binary Rifle - A semi-automatic hard light equivalent of a sniper rifle that sacrifices magazine size for incredible long-ranged power (allowing players in multiplayer to kill other players, anywhere in the body, with one shot). Supports both 5x and 10x magnification. Formally known as the "Z-750 Special Application Sniper Rifle".
- Incineration Cannon - A highly-dangerous hard light equivalent of a rocket launcher, launching a powerful short-ranged munition that, when exploded, separates into four less-powerful munitions slightly outward. Formally known as the "Z-390 High-Explosive Munitions Rifle".
- Pulse Grenade - A grenade equivalent that generates an energy area-of-effect sphere that slows vehicles and drains both sheilds and health. Can be used in custom loadouts as the Grenade choice. Formally known as the "Z-040 Attenuation Field Generator".
- Balls/ Flags - Balls (in the Oddball gametype) and Flags (in the Capture the Flag gametype) can be used to pummel people with melee attacks. In addition, carrying a flag in the Capture the Flag gametype while having the Magnum as one of the weapon slots allows players to dual-wield both the flag and the firearm. Pressing the fire button (while not dual-wielding) drops the object.
- Flood Talon - The main weapon of the Flood players in the Flood multiplayer gametype. Functions exactly like the Energy Sword (with infinite ammo).
Armor Abilities are re-usable active abilities (introduced in Halo: Reach) that must be re-charged over time after every use. Unlike Halo: Reach, players can now sprint without requiring an armor ability.
In Campaign Mode, they must be picked up manually at certain points in the game. In multiplayer modes, players can customize them for use in custom loadouts.
- Promethean Vision - Allows the player to locate enemies by showing a special visor (similar to VISR mode from Halo 3: ODST). It allows players to see these enemy signatures through walls at short-to-medium range (shown as red outlines). However, enemy radars show a red wave emitting from a point (showing where the player is) and how far he can see enemy signatures.
- Thruster Pack - Allows the player to dash (in similar vein to the Evade ability in Halo: Reach), moving a short distance in the player's current moving direction. It breaks lock-on with certain weapons, but temporarily prevents the player from firing.
- Hologram - Allows the player to summon a decoy of themselves for a short period of time, which runs towards a marked waypoint (set on the crosshair). When shot, the hologram flickers around, making it easier to tell.
- Jet Pack - Allows the player to manuever in mid-air by thrusting upward (depending on how long the ability button is held).
- Hardlight Shield - Allows the player to defend themselves from most weapons by deploying a protective hard light barrier. The shield is vulnerable to melee attacks and explosives and depletes after absorbing a large amount of damage.
- Active Camouflage - Allows the player to hide from their surroundings by blending into the environment (with varying degrees of effectiveness, depending on the environment and the player's movement). It also toggles a radar-jamming effect for nearby enemies (making it harder to find the player, but notifies those enemies that a camouflaged enemy is nearby).
- Autosentry - Allows the player to deploy a powerful stationary turret that automatically targets enemies. Deploying the autosentry makes the player temporarily vulnerable (and loud).
- Regeneration Field - Allows the player to deploy a short-range energy field that heals the health and shields of nearby players (both friendly and enemy). Not encountered in the Campaign.
The Sprint ability from the previous game has been reworked and added to the main game as a permanent function. Players under fire sprint more slowly (to make escaping away or charging towards more difficult). The infamous Armor Lock ability, which sacrificed mobility for temporary invincibility and a close-ranged EMP blast, was removed from Halo 4 (and slightly replaced by the Hardlight Shield). The Drop Shield ability was replaced by the Regeneration Field, removing the ability to block all weapon fire.
As a tie-in to the in-game fiction, the multiplayer modes (collectively known as "Infinity") are based on the SPARTAN-IV program in the UNSC Infinity six months after the actions of the main campaign. There are two distinct modes within the Infinity multiplayer: War Games (competitive multiplayer) and Spartan Ops (cooperative multiplayer). Infinity also includes Forge Mode (where players can create variations of War Games maps for use in custom games) and Theater Mode (where players can watch film clips of War Games matches).
Both modes allow players to customize their SPARTAN-IV soldiers with unlockable armor choices, color schemes, unlockable emblems, callsigns, and unlockable custom loadouts (including which weapons they spawn with, what type of grenades, which armor ability they start with, and what type of passive abilities they have).
Like Halo: Reach, the game includes an experience system (in which players gain XP points by completing War Games and Spartan Ops matches, winning those matches, performing well on War Games matches, and fulfilling daily, weekly, and monthly challenges). However, they are no longer used as currency. The concept of military ranks (which, in Halo: Reach, is based on the total accumulated currency, or "credits") have been replaced by numeric "Spartan Ranks" (or SR). Each Spartan Rank grants Spartan Points (which can be used to unlock specific parts on custom loadouts, such as specfic weapons and abilities) and sometimes unlockable gear (such as armor choices, emblems, and an increase in custom loadouts). Prior to using a Specialization (see below), the maximum SR achieved is SR-50. If the player reaches that rank or the maximum rank for their current Specialization, they can no longer accumulate experience until they switch Specializations. (If they reach the maximum rank for all Specializations, at SR-130, they can no longer accumulate experience at all.)
New to Halo 4 is the Specialization system, which allows players to upgrade their Spartan Ranks even further while unlocking new armor permutations, emblems, weapon skins, and passive abilities. There is a total of eight Specializations to choose from, each with ten Specialization Ranks. Players must reach the maximum Specialization Rank in order to switch to another Specialization. Each player's Spartan ID card (in game lobbies) shows their current Specialization (or "SPARTAN-IV" for no Specialization).
Each Specialization follows the same Rank pattern for unlocking their assets:
- Foreground Emblems
- Chest Armor
- Shoulder Armor
- Helmet Armor
- Weapon Skin and Background Emblems
- Visor Color
- Chest Armor (Variant Skin)
- Shoulder Armor (Variant Skin)
- Helmet Armor (Variant Skin)
- Passive Ability
Prior to February 4, 2013, new players only started with the Wetwork and Operator specialization choices (unless they have accessed the Specialization Priority Alpha DLC, which was included in the Limited Edition version and was given to all players who have played the game within the first two weeks of launch). Two new specialization choices were unlocked every week between January 21 and February 4, until all eight choices were unlocked.
Wetwork (WK) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Stealth support upgrade, which dampens footstep noise while sprinting, increases the speed of triggering assassinations, and lowers visibility on enemies that are using Promethean Vision (showing up blue instead of red, and staying completely hidden behind walls and other objects). Players can also earn the Wetwork armor set (and its "SHARD" skin set), a blue-on-orange visor, and the "NOBLE" skin for the DMR (yellow diagonal stripes).
Operator (OP) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Wheelman tactical package, which restricts the EMP effect against the vehicles they drive and increases the shield regeneration rate of the vehicles they drive. Players can also earn the Operator armor set (and its "SURFACE" skin set), a orange-on-purple visor, and the "STATIC" skin for the Magnum (cyan digital camo).
Pioneer (PR) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Fast Track tactical package, which grants a XP bonus (around 20%) for the match based on the amount of time it was used. Players can also earn the Pioneer armor set (and its "ADEPT" skin set), a light blue visor, and the "FRACTURE" skin for the Plasma Pistol (light blue tiger camo).
Pathfinder (PT) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Gunner support upgrade, which increases the amount of time required to overheat their current vehicle weapon and removes the movement speed restriction when carrying a detached turret. Players can also earn the Pathfinder armor set (and its "CORE" skin set), an green-on-orange visor, and the "PREDATOR" skin for the Assault Rifle (grayish-blue tiger camo).
Engineer (EN) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Drop Recon support upgrade, which shows the time remaining and location of upcoming Ordnance Drops (even other Personal Ordnance Drops). Players can also earn the Engineer armor set (and its "EDGE" skin set), a purple-on-blue visor, and the "SHATTER" skin for the Suppressor (cyan camo).
Stalker (SK) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Nemesis support upgrade, which creates a waypoint (visible on the HUD for four seconds) over the last person who killed them. Players can also earn the Stalker armor set (and its "CRUSH" skin set), a yellow visor, and the "DUNES" skin for the Battle Rifle (orange camo).
Rogue (RG) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Stability support upgrade, which reduces recoil from taking damage while zoomed in. Players can also earn the Rogue armor set (and its "FOCUS" skin set), a red-on-purple visor, and the "REIGN" skin for the Covenant Carbine (orange camo on gray).
Tracker (TK) - Players who finish this Specialization earn the Requisition tactical package, which grants the ability to "re-roll" Personal Ordnance Drops (by pressing Up on the D-Pad, players get three new choices to replace the old ones). Players can also earn the Tracker armor set (and its "ADROIT" skin set), a purple visor, and the "PISTON" skin for the Boltshot (turquise camo on light gray).
New to Halo 4 is the concept of customized loadouts (making use of the loadout system from Halo: Reach). Players start with one custom loadout slot (with the Assault Rifle, Magnum, and Frag Grenades). As players progress their Spartan Ranks, they gain new custom loadout slots (at SR-06, SR-14, SR-26, and SR-41, for a maximum of five slots) and new options for custom loadouts.
Custom gametypes can make use of optional gametype loadouts (which can be used alongside or in place of custom loadouts), in which all components do not need to be unlocked (by Spartan Rank) or purchased (by Spartan Points). Passive abilities from Specializations cannot be used in gametype loadouts. These loadouts can also use any weapon for the Primary and/or Secondary Weapon slots.
Primary Weapon - The player's primary loadout weapon. Can be switched between Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle, DMR, Storm Rifle, Covenant Carbine, Suppressor, and Light Rifle. The DMR and Battle Rifle are unlocked at SR-02 and must be purchased for 1 SP each. The Storm Rifle and Covenant Carbine are unlocked at SR-05 and must be purchased for 2 SP each. The Suppressor and Light Rifle are unlocked at SR-22 and must be purchased for 2 SP each. Players can also use special unlockable primary weapons with modified paint jobs.
Secondary Weapon - The player's secondary loadout weapon. Can be switched between Magnum, Plasma Pistol, and Boltshot. The Plasma Pistol is unlocked at SR-08 and the Boltshot is unlocked at SR-18, both of which must be purchased for 2 SP each. Players can also use special unlockable secondary weapons with modified paint jobs. Equipping the Firepower Tactical Package replaces this slot with another Primary Weapon slot (see above).
Grenades - The type of grenade the player starts with. Can be switched between Frag Grenades, Plasma Grenades, and Pulse Grenades. Plasma Grenades are unlocked at SR-08 and the Pulse Grenades are unlocked at SR-18, both of which must be purchased for 2 SP each.
Armor Ability (unlocked at SR-03) - The player's active armor ability. Promethean Vision and Thruster Pack are unlocked at SR-03 and must be purchased for 2 SP each. Hologram and Jet Pack are unlocked at SR-06 and must be purchased for 3 SP each. Hardlight Shield and Active Camouflage are unlocked at SR-10 and must be purchased for 3 SP each. Autosentry and Regeneration Field are unlocked at SR-16 and must be purchased for 3 SP each.
Tactical Package (unlocked at SR-07) - One of the player's passive abilities. Mobility and Shielding are unlocked at SR-07. Resupply and AA Efficiency are unlocked at SR-14. Grenadier and Firepower are unlocked at SR-24. All of these must be purchased for 1 SP each. Wheelman, Fast Track, and Requisition must be unlocked after completing their respective Specializations, and cost no SP. Abilities included after Title Updates are unlocked automatically.
Support Upgrade (unlocked at SR-12) - One of the player's passive abilities. Dexterity and Ammo are unlocked at SR-12. Awareness and Sensor are unlocked at SR-20. Ordnance Priority and Explosives are unlocked at SR-26. All of these must be purchased for 1 SP each. Stealth, Gunner, Drop Recon, Nemesis, and Stability must be unlocked after completing their respective Specializations, and cost no SP. Abilities included after Title Updates are unlocked automatically.
Each SPARTAN-IV can customize which two passive abilities (perks) they have in their custom loadouts by selecting a Tactical Package and a Support Upgrade:
- None - No benefits.
- Mobility - Allows unlimited sprinting.
- Shielding - Increases the recharge rate of shields.
- Resupply - Allows the player to recover grenades from dead players.
- AA Efficiency - Increases the recharge rate of Armor Abilities.
- Grenadier - Increases the player's grenade capacity.
- Firepower - Replaces the Secondary Weapon slot in the custom loadout with another Primary Weapon slot.
- Wheelman - Unlocked after completing the Operator Specialization. Increases resistance of the EMP effect against the vehicles the player drives and increases the shield regeneration rate of the vehicles the player drives.
- Fast Track - Unlocked after completing the Pioneer Specialization. Grants bonus experience points, at the end of the round, to the player based on the amount of time he/she has equipped a loadout with the Fast Track package.
- Requisition - Unlocked after completing the Tracker Specialization. Allows the player to "re-roll" (by pressing Up on the D-Pad) his/her Personal Ordnance Drops to replace the current three choices with three new ones.
- Resistor - Unlocked after downloading any Title Update after August 19th, 2013. Allows the player to retain full mobility while under fire for a short time.
- None - No benefits.
- Dexterity - Increases both the player's reload speed and the speed at which the player switches weapons.
- Ammo - Increases both the player's ammo capacity and the ammunition of weapons picked up from Ordnance Drops.
- Awareness - Allows the player to retain their HUD radar while zoomed in with a scoped weapon.
- Sensor - Increases the range and sensitivity of the player's HUD radar.
- Ordnance Priority - Reduces the amount of points required for Personal Ordnance Drops.
- Explosives - Increases the damage dealt with explosives while decreasing the damage taken by explosives.
- Stealth - Unlocked after completing the Wetwork Specialization. Dampens footstep noise (even while sprinting), increases the speed of triggering assassinations, and lowers visibility on enemies that are using Promethean Vision (showing up as blue instead of as red, and staying completely hidden behind walls and other objects).
- Gunner - Unlocked after completing the Pathfinder Specialization. Increases the amount of time required to overheat the player's current vehicle weapon and increases the player's movement speed while carrying a detached turret.
- Drop Recon - Unlocked after completing the Engineer Specialization. Shows the time remaining and location of upcoming Ordnance Drops (even other Personal Ordnance Drops).
- Nemesis - Unlocked after completing the Stalker Specialization. Creates a waypoint (visible on the HUD for four seconds) over the last person who killed the player.
- Stability - Unlocked after completing the Rogue Specialization. Reduces recoil from taking damage while zoomed in.
- Recharge - Unlocked after downloading any Title Update after August 19th, 2013. Decreases the amount of time it takes for the player's shield to fully recharge.
- Survivor - Unlocked after downloading any Title Update after August 19th, 2013. Automatically ejects the player out of a vehicle about to explode.
Commendations (awards that are unlocked by performing specific feats throughout the entire game) also make a return, but are more numerous in War Games (such as including each weapon as a commendation) and very restricted in both Spartan Ops (restricting it to type of enemy killed) and Campaign (restricting it to completing each level in the Legendary difficulty). Completing the highest level in a Commendation can also unlock specific armor pieces.
Competitive multiplayer in the Halo franchise now falls under the banner of "War Games", taking place in virtual reality training exercises aboard the UNSC Infinity. This is the first time in the franchise where competitive multiplayer is part of in-universe lore. Up to 16 players, with their customized SPARTAN-IV soldier, can participate in free-for-all or team matches (with up to 8 teams) under a variation of customizable gametypes. Unlike every game in the Halo franchise (with competitive multiplayer) since Halo 2, players can no longer play as Elites in any way.
The War Games mode includes ten new maps (one of which is a remake of Halo 3's Valhalla, which is a loose remake of Halo: Combat Evolved's Blood Gulch and Halo 2's Coagulation), a variety of downloadable maps, and a variety of new game modes, including Dominion (a team objective-based mode in which teams gain points by maintaining control of special "bases"), Extraction (a team objective-based mode in which teams gain points by successfully capturing "extraction sites"), and Regicide (a deathmatch-based mode where the leading player, either in general or for each team, is designated the "king", who slowly gains special abilities while granting "bounty points" to players who kill him/her). Slayer, Oddball, Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill each make a return from previous Halo games. Infection mode has been replaced by Flood, which makes more use out of player loadouts and replaces zombie Spartans with the Flood. The soccer-inspired Grifball mode has also been included as its own game mode.
The game also introduces the concept of Ordnance Drops, in which weapons, grenades, and powerups are dropped (or teleported indoors) throughout the map at certain intervals. In game modes with Personal Ordnance (such as Infinity Slayer), players can earn their own specialized Ordnance Drop (in which they can choose between three choices of weapons, grenades, and power-ups) at their designated location after reaching a certain score threshold. Forge Mode also makes a return, with three new Forge maps and new features (dynamic lighting, player zones that change the player's abilities, the ability to connect pieces together magnetically, the ability to instantly duplicate objects, and the ability to lock objects into place).
Maps and DLC
The game includes ten shipped maps and three Forge environments. Nine maps were added as three separate DLC map packs (which can be purchased either separately or together with the Halo 4 Season Pass DLC). One Forge environment was added as a free DLC map.
Abandon - A small-scale, asymmetrical map set in a mysteriously deserted ONI research facility on the surface of alien planet Erebus VII.
Adrift - A small-scale, symmetrical map set in a CAA mining vessel orbiting a large gas giant, slowly drifting towards its inevitable destruction.
Complex - A medium-scale, asymmetrical map set in the ONI science facility Galileo (on Requiem), featuring a mix of indoor and outdoor combat.
Exile - A medium-scale, partially symmetrical map set in an open canyon surrounding a survivor camp made from the wreckage of the crashed ammunition ship UNSC Diadochi.
Haven - A small-scale, symmetrical map set in a resonant Forerunner power facility high above Requiem.
Longbow - A large-scale, partially symmetrical map set in the Longbow Station of human colony Concord (developed prior to the Human-Covenant War) in the frozen regions of an unknown planet.
Meltdown - A large-scale, symmetrical map set in a deep canyon of a snow-covered moon (in which one of the Forerunner power reactors is having a catastrophic failure, melting the ice and snow off a part of the map).
Ragnarok - A large-scale, symmetrical map set in a sparsely-forested valley in Requiem (with a Forerunner beacon at each end). It is a remake of the Halo 3 map Valhalla (itself a loose remake of the Halo: Combat Evolved map Blood Gulch and the Halo 2 map Coagulation).
Solace - A medium-scale, symmetrical map set on a dark, mysterious Forerunner facility built onto a natural cliffside.
Vortex - A large-scale, asymmetrical map set in a particularly dark and windy area of Requiem, where ONI has set up a base to research nearby Forerunner structures that seem to harness the wind for power.
Along with two-to-three maps, each downloadable map pack includes a set of achievements that require players to perform a specific feat in any of the maps in that particular pack.
Bundled in the Limited Edition versions of the game and released online for $24.99, players can download a Map Pass (which includes access to the first three three map packs at a $5 discount, plus two unique in-game helmets and a unique emblem). The fourth map pack is bundled with the Champions Bundle DLC (for $9.99), which also includes various cosmetic items.
Crimson Map Pack (Released on December 10, 2012 for $9.99)
Majestic Map Pack (Released on February 25, 2013 for $9.99)
Castle Map Pack (Released on April 8, 2013 for $9.99)
Bullseye Pack (Released on August 20, 2013 for $5.99)
- Pitfall - Remake of the Halo 3 map The Pit.
Erosion - Set in a very large cavern in the moon Eudemon X49-05 (colonized by the UNSC after the Human-Covenant War). Features a large area with rocky quarry, several man-made structures (including a large "hidden" room used as a Grifball court), and a large subterranean green lake.
Impact - Set on two asteroids floating in space (with small human-developed structures on them). The game comes with its own predefined Forged variation, titled Relay, which is a small-scale symmetrical map resembling a Forerunner structure.
Ravine - Set in a natural seastack of Requiem (with aesthetics similar to the Halo: Reach environment Forge World), featuring a large grassy plateau and a Forerunner structure, both separated by a deadly ravine.
- Forge Island - Also set in a natural seastack of Requiem (similar to Ravine), featuring three plateaus of different sizes. Also features a unique "green screen" object for machinima purposes. Downloadable for free in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Bullseye Pack (released August 20, 2013 for $5.99)
- Two new maps: Pitfall and Vertigo.
- One new armor set: Ricochet.
- Early access to the Ricochet game mode.
Infinity Armor Pack (released August 20, 2013 for $2.99)
- Three new armor sets: Mark V, ODST, Prefect.
Steel Skin Pack (released August 20, 2013 for $2.99)
- Ten new steampunk-inspired weapon skins: Assault Rifle "TURBINE", Battle Rifle "STEAM", DMR "MONOCLE", Storm Rifle "COMPRESSION", Covenant Carbine "LOCOMOTIVE", Suppressor "MECHANICAL", LightRifle "INDUSTRIAL", Magnum "COMBUSTION", Plasma Pistol "BOILERPLATE", and Boltshot "ENGINE".
Champions Bundle (released August 20, 2013 for $9.99)
- Everything from the Bullseye Pack, Infinity Armor Pack, and Steel Skin Pack.
- New armor skin sets: Defender "COLUMN", Infiltrator "PYTHON", Oceanic "SOLID", Enforcer "TRACER", and Venator "BAYONET".
- Five new weapon skins: Assault Rifle "TRAUMA", Assault Rifle "TEETH", Battle Rifle "SALVAGE", Magnum "INDIGO", and Magnum "FLARE".
- Eight new player card stances: Menace, Grandstand, Seasoned, Confident, Lookout, Drawn, Loyalty, and Flank.
- Early access to the Resistor tactical package.
War Games Gametypes
Halo 4 includes eight basic gametypes (and one gametype used for custom map variants) in disc. Various gametypes from the game's predecessors (including Assault, Juggernaut, Territories, Headhunter, Stockpile, and Invasion) have not been implemented. Halo 4 also removes various pre-defined gametype variants (such as Neutral Flag and Rocketball), but maintains the high level of customizability for all gametypes (old and new) as previous games.
Common gametype variants in matchmaking include Rumble (which are built for 8-player free-for-all play), Doubles (which are built for 2-on-2 play with a lower point limit), and Big Team (which are built for large 8-on-8 play with a higher point limit and no friendly fire). Infinity and Pro variants function identically with Infinity Slayer and Slayer Pro (with some exceptions).
One new gametype, Ricochet, was added in a later Title Update as a timed exclusive for the Champions Bundle DLC set. It is the first official gametype (not just a variant) in the Halo series to be released post-launch. Two returning gametypes, Race and Rocket Race, were added in a later Title Update.
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Standard deathmatch in free-for-all or team scenarios. Players/teams earn points by successfully killing enemies. The player (or team) that reaches a certain number of kills first (or the player/team that has the most kills after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
By default (Infinity Slayer), the gametype includes personal ordnance.
Slayer Pro - Players have three loadouts to choose from: one with the Battle Rifle, one with the DMR, and one with the Assault Rifle. All loadouts include a Magnum, one Frag Grenade, and no abilities. Players have no personal ordnance and no motion tracker, but have 110% movement speed.
SWAT - Originated as a custom gametype in Halo 2 built for "realism". Players have two loadouts to choose from: one with the DMR and one with the Battle Rifle. Both loadouts include a Magnum and no abilities. Players have no access to grenades, no shields, no ordnance of any kind, and no motion tracker. Friendly fire is disabled. Headshots are instant kill while three bullets (from DMR/Magnum) or three bursts (from Battle Rifle) anywhere else on the enemy are enough to kill.
- Infinity Rumble - Available after any Title Update after December 9, 2013.
Used primarily for the Team Snipers playlist, these variants are built for pure sniping action with the game's traditional Sniper Rifle.
- Snipers - Players spawn with a Sniper Rifle (with infinite ammo), no secondary weapon, and no abilities. Players have no access to grenades, no ordnance of any kind, and no motion tracker. Death cam and friendly fire are disabled. Players must wait five seconds before respawning.
- Shotty Snipers - Similar to Snipers, but players also spawn with a Shotgun (also with infinite ammo) and two Frag Grenades.
Used primarily for the SWAT playlist, these variants are built for a "realism" experience (where players rely on basic precision weapons and have no shields, making headshots very reliant).
The traditional SWAT variant is included in the base game.
- Forerunner SWAT - Similar to SWAT, but players instead spawn with a LightRifle (with infinite ammo), a Boltshot (also with infinite ammo), and Pulse Grenades.
- Covenant SWAT - Similar to SWAT, but players instead spawn with a Carbine (with infinite ammo) and a Plasma Pistol (also with infinite ammo).
Action Sack Variants:
Used primarily for the Team Action Sack playlist, these variants are party-style modes built for mindless fun. Usually, these variants include hidden bonuses that cannot be applied in the game's variant editor (such as changing the size of the player or having confetti pop out of dead players).
- Binary Slayer - Players spawn with a Binary Rifle, Energy Sword, and Thruster Pack (which can quickly recharge). Players also have no access to grenades, no ordnance of any kind, no shields, 50% melee damage, infinite ammo, 150% movement speed, 125% jump height, 75% player gravity, and no fall damage. Lower point limit.
- Rock n' Rail (Formerly "Rockets") - Players spawn with a Rocket Launcher, Railgun, and Jet Pack (which can quickly recharge). Players also have no access to grenades, no ordnance of any kind, infinite ammo, and no motion tracker, as well as 120% movement speed and 110% jump height. Slightly lower point limit.
- Fiesta - Players have personal ordnance after each spawn and each kill, consisting of the following table. Players also have infinite ammo, 150% shield recharge rate, 120% movement speed, and 110% jump height.
|Left Choice||Middle Choice||Right Choice|
Speed Boost (66.6%)
Rocket Launcher (11.1%)
Incendiary Cannon (11.1%)
Fuel Rod Cannon (11.1%)
Sniper Rifle (25%)
Gravity Hammer (25%)
Damage Boost (25%)
Energy Sword (25%)
Binary Rifle (25%)
Spartan Laser (25%)
- Fiesta Classic - Players spawn with random weapons. Players also have no ordnance of any kind, 150% shield recharge rate, 110% movement speed, and 110% jump height. Prior to May 6, 2013, players who die emit the Grunt Birthday Party effect (with confetti and sound effects).
- Mini Slayer - Players are scaled down to a fraction of their normal size. They also spawn with the Assault Rifle, no secondary weapon, no grenades, and the Mobility ability. Killcam and Melee are disabled.
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A "kill the man with the ball" objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must find and maintain possession of the titular Oddball to score points (for both the player and, if the team variation is enabled, for the team). The player (or team) that holds the ball (overall) for a certain amount of time (or the player/team that has the most time holding the ball after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
Players who hold the Oddball can not sprint, use armor abilities, use weapons, throw grenades, or drive vehicles, and always has a waypoint marked on their position (making them easy targets). They can, however, melee (and assassinate) enemies (dealing more melee damage), ride the passenger seat of vehicles, and, new to Halo 4, throw the ball manually (either to pass it to teammates or make it harder for enemies to grab).
Capture the Flag
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A "capture the flag" objective mode (with teams) where players must take possession of enemy flags and bring it back to their team's flag zone to score points for their team. Players must also protect their own team's flag (by killing flag carriers and making sure their dropped flag is untouched for a certain amount of time, in which it returns back to base). The team that reaches a certain number of flag captures first (or the team that has the most flag captures after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
Players who hold enemy an flag can not sprint, use armor abilities, use weapons (other than a dual-wielded Magnum with unlimited ammo that is automatically given when in possession of a flag), throw grenades, or drive vehicles. They can, however, melee (and assassinate) enemies (dealing more melee damage), ride the passenger seat of vehicles, and drop the flag manually. Players can only possess one flag at a time.
By default, it takes 35 seconds for a dropped flag to reset back to its home. Players do not need to have their flag at home in order to capture an enemy flag. Random ordnance takes three minutes to respawn (with no random time variance). If multiple teams are tied for first place, then the game goes into a one minute overtime (where the first team to break the tie of first place wins).
Common variants change the properties of dropping and returning flags. For example, Doubles CTF take 15 seconds to reset (rather than 35), and the Capture the Flag variant used for the Forged map Simplex allows players to stand on their dropped flags for three seconds to return it (while requiring players to have their flag at home in order to capture an enemy flag).
Action Sack Variants:
- Lightning Flag - Players spawn with a LightRifle, no secondary weapon, and no abilities. Players have no access to grenades, no shields, no motion tracker, 150% movement speed, 200% jumping height, and 200% player gravity. All damage is instant kill. Players carry the flag on their backs (allowing them to use their weapons simultaneously) and can instantly return flags by touching them. Quickly gaining score grants the player a personal ordnance from the following table. Players who die emit a confetti effect (in similar vein to the Grunt Birthday Party effect).
|Left Choice||Middle Choice||Right Choice|
|Hardlight Shield (75%)||Covenant Carbine (75%)||Hologram (75%)|
|Autosentry (25%)||Concussion Rifle (25%)||Thruster Pack (25%)|
King of the Hill
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A "king of the hill" objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must maintain possession of special zones (known as "hills") to score points. They possess the hill by keeping their position inside a specially-marked boundary and making sure it is uncontested (in which no enemy is also inside the boundary). The player (or team) that reaches a certain amount of time in possessed hills (or the player/team that has the most time in possessed hills after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
The hill (including its possession status) is always marked with a waypoint, and will switch to a different position in the map after a certain amount of time.
New for Halo 4.
A deathmatch mode mixing between the game's Slayer mode and the Juggernaut mode of the franchise's past, players (or teams) earn points by successfully killing enemies. The player with the most amount of points is given the title of "King", and bonus "bounty points" is given to players who kill (or assist in the death of) enemy Kings. The player (or team) that reaches a certain amount of points first (or the player/team that has the most points after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
In the free-for-all version, only one player is designated the King. Once another player surpasses the King in points, that player is now designated the King. In the team-based version, each team has a designated King. Once a teammate surpasses their King in points, that teammate is now designated the King. Kings always have a waypoint marked on their heads shown to all players. If a King survives one minute, he/she is granted the Overshield powerup. If a King survives two minutes, he/she is granted the Double Damage powerup.
The bounty points for killing Kings increase as the King retains his title (all the way to a maximum value). Currently, in matchmaking, it is always at a static 20 points.
New for Halo 4.
A "conquest" objective mode where teams must capture and maintain possession of three outposts located at different points throughout the map. Teams earn points each time they capture an enemy or neutral outpost, and each time they fortify or resupply a friendly outpost (which occur automatically after maintaining possession for a certain amount of time). The team that reaches a certain amount of points first (or the team that has the most points after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
Soon after a team maintains possession of an outpost, the outpost's defenses start fortifying (including destructible door shields that block weapon fire and enemy combatants and destructible turrets). After fortification, every time the outpost is possessed for a certain amount of time, the outpost's weapon ordnance locations get resupplied (giving players a choice between various ordnance weapons).
In the occurrence that one team is able to capture all three outposts at once, a "Last Stand" round begins. If the team that maintains all outposts is able to eliminate all members of the opposing team (who are now outfitted with the Overshield powerup, but have waypoint markers placed over their heads) before they retake a outpost, then that team automatically wins the game.
- Lockdown - A crazy rendition of "king of the hill", the gameplay focuses on one central base (instead of three outposts), which has an instantaneous capture time. Teams earn 5 points per capture and fortification (which takes 15 seconds) and 10 points per resupply (which takes 25 seconds). Point limit is significantly reduced and "Last Stand" is disabled. Players have no sensor and 110% movement speed.
New for Halo 4.
An objective mode similar to the Assault gametype of the franchise's past, teams earn points by "extracting" assets in various "extraction sites" by planting one of their Spherical Translocation Beacons in it and protecting it from opposing teams for a certain amount of time (in which they can re-program the Beacon in their favor, resetting the timer). The team that reaches a certain amount of extractions first (or the team that has the most amount of extractions after the overall game timer depletes) wins the game.
By default, only one site is available for extraction at a time. Once that site is extracted, it moves to another site located in another part of the map (designated alphabetically in the HUD). Variations in matchmaking change the amount of time it takes to extract a site, or allow two sites to be available for extraction at the same time.
Originated as a custom gametype in Halo 2 (as "Zombies") and as an official gametype in both Halo 3 and Halo: Reach (both as "Infected"). Unlike those modes, the brown-suited (or green-suited in the Halo 2 gametype) "zombie Spartans" were replaced by Spartans infected by the parasitic Flood (with their own unique appearance).
A non-competitive objective mode with two undefined teams: Spartans (as Yellow Spartans) and Flood (as the Flood Combat Form). Each round starts with most of the players as Spartans, whose goal is to survive for the entire round. The remaining players, as Flood, must "convert" each Spartan by successfully killing them. Spartans who are "converted" (either by getting killed by Flood players or by suicide) are automatically switched to the Flood team. The round ends after either three minutes (in which the survivors get bonus points) or all Spartan players are converted.
While the teams are present in this game, players can only win individually by earning the most amount of points after all three rounds are complete. Spartan players earn points by killing Flood players (10 pts. each), being the last remaining Spartan (for 15 pts.), and surviving the entire round (for 25 pts.). Flood players earn points by killing Spartan players (10 pts. each) and killing the last remaining Spartan (for 25 pts.).
Spartan players have three loadouts to choose from: Guard (with the Hardlight Shield ability), Operator (with the Promethean Vision ability), and Scout (with the Active Camouflage ability). Regardless of loadout, all Spartan players have a Shotgun (starting with 18 shells) and a Magnum (with 24 bullets). There are no ordnance or grenades. The last remaining Spartan in the team (the "Last Man Standing") deals 125% weapon damage and 150% melee damage, but always has a waypoint marked on his/her position.
Flood players have three loadouts to choose from: Hunter (with the Thruster Pack ability), Stalker (with the Promethean Vision ability), and Lurker (with the Active Camouflage ability). Regardless of loadout, all Flood players must use the Flood Talon as their weapon (which function exactly like Energy Swords and have infinite ammo). Flood players have 200% melee damage, 150% movement speed, and 150% jump height. (However, they have 50% damage resistance and cannot use vehicles). Players who start off as the Flood are "Alpha Flood" players, which gives them 300% melee damage, 170% movement speed, and almost double sensor range. Regardless of Flood type, Flood players have enhanced armor abilities.
In the variation used for matchmaking, friendly fire is disabled.
- Hivemind - A simpler, slower variation that requires coordination and teamwork on both sides (especially Flood). Loadouts, abilities, "Alpha Flood" effects, and armor color restrictions are removed. All players have 90% damage resistance and slow shields (20 seconds to wait to recharge, 10% recharge speed). Spartan players now start with an Assault Rifle instead of a Shotgun, can pick up ammo and weapons dropped by dead teammates, and can find weapon ordnance scattered around the map (both Initial and Random). Although Spartans can no longer use vehicles and have 90% movement speed, they can now instantly kill with melee attacks. The Last Man Standing now has shields reminiscent of normal game modes, double sensor range, and double damage output. Flood players have significantly weaker damage output (50%), requiring multiple attacks to kill enemy Spartans, and only have 125% jump height (as opposed to 150% in normal Flood). However, they now have almost double sensor range.
Originated as a custom variation of Neutral Bomb Assault (in both Halo 3 and Halo: Reach) that is created by the people behind the Red Vs. Blue machinima series (hence the "Grif" player, using the colors of the Grif character).
A soccer-inspired arena objective mode (for two teams) in which players, armed with an infinite-ammo Gravity Hammer and an infinite-ammo Energy Sword, must possess a ball (with the appearance and properties of the Oddball) and deliver it to their enemies goal (a small "drop zone"), in which the area soon explodes (dealing damage to nearby players), giving the team a point. Unlike the classic version of Grifball in the game's predecessors, the game does not play in rounds (the ball respawns after the goal explodes). The team that reaches a certain amount of points (or the team that has the most amount of points after the game timer depletes) wins the game.
All players have a significant damage increase (in which successful direct hits are one-hit-kill), and must use specific melee timing tactics depending on what weapon each combatant currently equips (the Gravity Hammer, the Energy Sword, or the Ball). The ball carrier (colored Yellow-Orange to match the character Grif from Red Vs. Blue) gains the Overshield powerup, damage resistance, and increased speed (at the cost of being able to sprint). Players always spawn near their goal. Friendly Fire is always enabled.
The game can only be played in special Forged maps. Updates in matchmaking after the game's release tweaks some of the gametype's balancing (such as weapon damage).
- Grifball Pro - Like classic Grifball, the game is played in five rounds (each ending after one detonation, which happens as soon as it's armed). Players must pick up the bomb manually (similar to an Oddball or a Flag).
New to Halo 4. Added on August 20, 2013 as a timed exclusive for the Bullseye Pack DLC (and was made available to all on September 3, 2013). Can only be played after saving the matchmaking variant to the hard drive.
A sports-themed objective mode (mixing elements of handball, basketball, and American football) where players from two teams must possess a ball (similar to the ball used for Oddball and Grifball) and deliver it to their enemies' "zone" (a rectangular area similar to a hill in King of the Hill) either by running inside the zone while holding the ball (for 50 pts.) or by throwing the ball into the zone (for 20 pts.) The team that reaches a certain amount of points (or the team that has the most amount of points after the game timer depletes) wins the game.
Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved (but based on the Halo: Reach version). Added on December 9, 2013. Can only be played after saving the matchmaking variant to the hard drive.
A free-for-all objective mode where players race nearly-indestructible vehicles around custom-Forged racetracks. All players spawn in the same vehicle type (Mongoose, Ghost, Warthog, or Banshee) and must complete laps around a series of checkpoints. Players who die or have exited their vehicle for five seconds quickly spawn in their vehicle at their last reached checkpoint. The first player to reach the final checkpoint (or the player that has the most amount of checkpoints reached after the game timer depletes) wins the game.
Originated in Halo 3 (but based on the Halo: Reach version). Added on December 23, 2013. Can only be played after saving the matchmaking variant to the hard drive.
A rally-themed objective mode where players from up to six two-player teams race their team's nearly-indestructible Mongoose towards a single pre-determined "hill" (modeled after those from the King of the Hill mode). Once a team's Mongoose has reached the hill, that team gets a point and the hill is moved to another position. The team that reaches a certain amount of points (or the team that has the most amount of points after the game timer depletes) wins the game.
Each team consists of one Driver (who drives the Mongoose around with no motion sensor, attempting to reach the hill) and one Gunner (who rides in the Mongoose with a Rocket Launcher and a motion sensor, attempting to thwart and disorient the other Mongooses). Players who die (by throwing themselves off a cliff) or have exited their vehicle for five seconds quickly spawn in their vehicle. Unlike previous versions, where players can only kill players who are not in a vehicle, players can not kill other players at all.
Firefight Mode, Halo: Reach's co-operative wave-based survival mode, has been replaced with a new mission-based mode called "Spartan Ops", which are episodic co-operative campaigns (split into ten "episodes", with each episode split into five missions, or "chapters").
Each episode includes its own pre-cinematic dealing with the crew of the UNSC Infinity, six months after the events of the main campaign, as they unlock the mysteries of the planet Requiem (with help from infamous scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey) while fighting off both the Storm Covenant (led by Sangheili shipmaster Jul 'Mdama) and rogue Promethean A.I. These cinematics also deal with a group of SPARTAN-IV soldiers known as Fireteam Majestic. Up to four players (each with their custom SPARTAN-IV and custom loadouts) team up on each mission as Fireteam Crimson, as they clear waves of enemies and fulfill objectives (in custom levels, in sectioned-off parts of Campaign levels, and in certain War Games levels).
While players can form lobby games for any mission in Spartan Ops, players can also join others in matchmaking sessions. There are five playlists in matchmaking, one for each mission. All playlists change weekly, usually switching to a different episode. Some weeks have a "Best Of" group of playlists, including popular chapters.
Episode releases for the first half started on November 6, 2012 and ended on December 3, 2012. Episodes releases for the second half, which requires a separate free download, started on January 21, 2013 and ended on February 18, 2013.
- Didact's Hand
- Memento Mori
Maps (Episodes 1-5)
- Cauldron - A unique Forerunner structure. (E1C5, E2C2, E4C4, E5C4)
- Fortress - A snowy area based on an area in the third Campaign mission (Forerunner) where the Master Chief has to disable power cores. (E1C3, E2C3, E4C3)
- Galileo Base - The Multiplayer map Complex. (E3C2, E4C5)
- Gate - A sectioned-off part of the second Campaign mission (Requiem), at the entrance of the first Forerunner structure. (E2C1, E3C5, E5C1)
- Quarry - A sectioned-off part of the fifth Campaign mission (Reclaimer), between the shield generators and the beginning of the trench. (E1C1, E3C1, E5C5)
- Refuge - A unique Forerunner structure. (E1C4, E2C5, E5C2, E5C3)
- Sniper Alley - A sectioned-off part of the fifth Campaign mission (Reclaimer), between the end of the trench and the entrance of the Forerunner structure. (E1C2, E2C4, E4C1)
- Two Giants - The Multiplayer map Ragnarok. (E3C3, E3C4, E4C2)
Maps (Episodes 6-10)
- Apex - (E7C1, E8C1, E9C3, E10C3)
- Cyclone - The Multiplayer map Vortex. (E6C4, E8C2, E9C1)
- Control - A sectioned-off part of the second Campaign mission (Requiem), at the entrance of the second Forerunner structure. (E6C2, E8C5, E9C2)
- Lockup - (E6C1, E8C4, E9C4, E9C5)
- Harvester - (E6C5, E10C1, E10C5)
- Infinity - (E7C2, E7C3, E7C4, E7C5)
- Warrens - (E6C3, E8C3, E10C2, E10C4)
The popular "Forge" map-editing mode that was first introduced in Halo 3, and subsequently improved in Halo: Reach, is present in Halo 4 with even more upgraded functionality. These new additions to the Forge toolset allow Forgers in Halo 4 to make maps with more creative geometry and aesthetically appealing designs than was possible in Reach:
Dynamic Lighting: In Reach, the Forge pieces that players could use to build their maps cast no shadows on the canvas map (typically Forge World) or on other pieces, and did not accept real-time shadows from the global light source of the map. This fact, along with the uniform gray color scheme of the Forge pieces, led to most Forge maps looking very similarly bland, which was a major source of complaint amongst the community. In order to help address this problem of poor aesthetics, the Halo 4 Forge mode features a new "dynamic lighting" system which allows the Forge pieces to accept real-time shadows from the global light source, and to cast shadows of their own, allowing for more variability in map design.
Player-Trait Zones: In Halo 4's Forge, map makers have the ability to designate special areas of the map and give players within those areas unique traits or abilities with the addition of "Player-Trait Zones" to the Forge sandbox. Player-Trait Zones can be manipulated in the Forge space the same way that soft-kill zones or objectives zones (Hill markers, etc.) were in Reach. Forgers can use Player-Trait Zones to create a portion of the map where all players are invisible, for example, or create a zone with lowered gravity and increased jump height.
Object-Magnetism: While building a map in Reach, objects could be moved precisely by using a zoomed-in camera or even by changing their exact coordinates, but it was still cumbersome for a player to perfectly align separate pieces. The Halo 4 Forge mode has a "magnet" feature that streamlines the process of aligning Forge pieces. Players can magnetize specific objects, which allows them to snap to other objects automatically for easier map building.
Highlighting: Objects are illuminated in green when the player's reticle is hovering over them. This feature was added to make it less frustrating for Forgers to select the correct piece when modifying a map, because in Reach a player could not easily tell which piece they were selecting when there were many objects in close-proximity.
Duplication: Forge Objects can be easily duplicated simply by highlighting the object and then selecting the "duplicate" option from the Forge menu.
Locking: Objects can be locked in place, preventing them from being moved until the player chooses to unlock them. This feature was added to help players preserve their work-in-progress designs and keep pieces from being accidentally moved.
Halo 4 Original Soundtrack (Neil Davidge)
|2.||Belly of the Beast||2:38|
|12.||117 (composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi)||7:28|
|15.||Green and Blue||8:01|
Halo 4 Original Soundtrack - Special Digital Edition
|16.||Awakening (Gui Boratto remix)||1:34|
|17.||To Galaxy (Sander Van Doorn & Julian Jordan Remix)||2:38|
|18.||Ascendancy (Caspa Remix)||1:02|
|19.||Revival (DJ Skee & THX Remix)||1:01|
|20.||Requiem (Bobby Tank Remix)||1:00|
|21.||The Beauty Of Cortana (Apocalyptica vs. Neil Davidge)||1:57|
Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Remixes
|1.||Awakening (Gui Boratto Remix)||7:24|
|2.||Green And Blue (Koan Sound Remix)||4:02|
|3.||Requiem (Bobby Tank Remix)||5:36|
|4.||Ascendancy (Caspa Remix)||3:55|
|5.||To Galaxy (Sander Van Doorn & Julian Jordan Remix)||6:48|
|6.||Haven (Hundred Waters Remix)||4:22|
|7.||Revival (DJ Skee & THX Remix)||3:37|
|8.||Ascendancy (Matt Lange Remix)||5:04|
|9.||Nemesis (Alvin Risk Remix)||4:39|
|10.||Solace (Maor Levi Remix)||7:17|
|11.||Arrival (Norin & Rad Remix)||4:00|
|12.||Green And Blue (Andrew Bayer Remix)||3:24|
|13.||Foreshadow (James Iha Remix)||2:51|
|14.||The Beauty of Cortana (Apocalyptica vs. Neil Davidge Remix)||5:08|