How to Get Better at Halo: Reach



Halo: Reach is Bungie's latest and final addition to the franchise. Microsoft has claimed the title and from now on 343 Industries will be working on the Halo franchise. In my opinion, Bungie's last game is the best out of all of them. These are some tactics and bits of advice that I've picked up.


  • Any button directions I have given are made using the Recon control diagram. If you use Default or Bumper Jumper, etc., check the manual for equivalents.

Armor Lock Block

Depending on who you talk to, Armor Lock is either an MLG tactic or a noob's best friend. I'm sort of sitting on the fence on this one, but it is most useful in a close quarters situation. Once you're in a shootout, close the distance between you and your target. When you're close enough, he is most likely to go in for a melee. Anticipate the shot and tap armor lock. His melee will hit the armor lock. This negates the damage he was supposed to have dealt to you and makes him move a bit slower for a few seconds. He is likely to go in for another melee. Keep on predicting the next hit and armor lock accordingly. 

If you can land a melee of your own in the gaps when he is recovering from being knocked back, it will help a lot. If you've used up your armor lock the last block should release an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP: it will disable the enemy's shields) when you come out of armor lock. After the enemy's shields are down, proceed to stick the butt of your gun into his face (or any other part of the body) and he will die. Good job! You have either noobed your way into a kill or pwned someone with your MLGness'...depending on who you talk to, of course.

Armor lock is extremely useful or overpowered either way you look at it. Not only can it help you excel in close quarters, it can save your ass from being stuck by a grenade/explosion. Or if you're in the path of a vehicle that is boosting at you, you can drop into armor lock and pulverize it. It's basically like a really, really, REALLY bad car crash. Not only can you use the EMP release for popping shields, but you can also disable vehicles within range of the pulse for a few seconds.

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

                                EMP. Only fair that you get to look like a BAMF while doing it.

Sword Clang

Anyone who has played Reach long enough has probably been charged by a guy with an energy sword before. These things kill you with one shot and like any power weapon, are scarce. If you found one, terrific! Go shred someone up with it. If you're the one staring down the long glowing blade at your throat, that's another story. To defend yourself from being rushed by this weapon is simple, but hard to do under the pressure that the circumstances presents. When he is about to take a slash at you, melee. If you've done it right, then you will have knocked the opponent back. Your shields will have popped due to bleed-through damage, and the enemy's shields should be partially damaged. 

From there 4 things could happen:

  1. You finish him off with a weapon like the shotgun.
  2. Your teammate will assist you. 
  3. You can escape or keep clanging (that won't last for long due to bleed-through)
  4. None of the above happens and you get a sword stuck through your stomach. Have fun with that.

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

                                                               Or not.

The Assassin

In the Halo games, a solid punch to the spine kills an enemy. In Reach, however, you can also hold down the B button to commence an elaborate assassination animation. These have two purposes: to make yourself feel like a beast, and to humiliate your target. Either way they are awesome. 

One way to get a clean hit to the back of an enemy is to use stealth (obviously). This is hard considering most players keep keen eyes on their motion sensors (something you should do as well). 

How to avoid being detected while going around a corner? Slow down. The motion sensor cannot detect you if you are moving with a slow walk. If you cannot manage your speed yourself, then crouch. While crouching you will always be moving at a speed that cannot be detected by a motion sensor. Unless you are convinced that the guy you're planning to sink your knife into is completely pre-occupied with shooting an enemy or something similar, I suggest you go dark to the motion sensor. Or confuse him with the Active Camouflage Armor Ability. This will place phantom blips on his sensor and will make you almost transparent (think back to the Predator movies). However, the faster you move while in camo, the more visible you are. The enemy is likely to panic and throw a grenade. The splash damage will probably flare your shields and he will then be able to detect you. This is why I prefer to ditch the camo.

Another obvious way is to reach your opponent's back before he has time to react to your imminent blade. The Sprint Armor Ability is the best choice for this approach. You could also try an in-combat assassination. This is cumbersome but will look awesome if you're into that kind of stuff. It usually just takes luck and some tricky maneuvering for this. Or finally, assassinate the assassin. 

Any blip on the sensor that is behind you in close proximity and hasn't already started firing is probably looking forward to plunging a knife into your throat. This is a risky move because if you don't time it correctly it can end up with your face being smashed into the gravel in an aerial assassination performed by some 10-year-old salivating over his controller. When you think he is close enough and close to performing the assassination jump backwards and whack him in his back. If done correctly, the encounter will end with you laying the failed assassin on the ground after snapping his neck and leave you with a proud grin on your face.

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

          At this point blue team probably would've already thrown their controllers at the TV.


Congratulations to me! I finally got my hands on a sniper rifle. A sexy Anti-Material rifle with four massive rounds in the mag and...wait. I'm crap at using sniper rifles!

A situation you may find yourself in.

How to avoid this? To be honest, the only complete way to be good with the sniper rifle is to practice. The sniper rifle in Halo takes skill even though it is completely opposite to its Call Of Duty (COD) counterpart. In COD, the aiming reticle is really large because of its unpredictability without being mounted in the hand of the average Joe soldier. In Halo, the sniper reticle is the size of a pinhead due to it being calculated by the computer system in your armor. 

I found that in a fight I would always swing my gun one way and then realize that the shot was off and try to re-position it quickly. This resulted in me jiggling my massive gun around and never getting the shot in. Then from that, getting owned *grumble*. 

Try to 'drag shot'. Anticipate where the enemy's head is (if you've been playing for long enough, this should be easy) and position the reticle appropriately before the fight takes place. Then move your gun left or right accordingly to the opponent's head's position (no vertical movements).

When you use up all the rounds in the clip you have to re-cock the gun. This makes the reload a bit longer. You can cut off one second of the reload process if you think it is necessary. Just after he slides the magazine in, double-tap the Y button to skip the cocking animation. While it's not really that practical, you see it in a lot of commentary videos, so if you want to look like a professional you might want to make it a habit. 

If you are decent at sniping then you may want to take it into some close combat fights. In these cases you'll have to almost always "no-scope" (fire your sniper with out scoping). A useful tactic in these situations is to do the "one-two punch". That is, land a body shot (this will pop the opponent's shields) and then proceed to pummel the enemy or vice versa. If performed correctly, this should get you a quick kill. 

Don't forget that your sniper rifle is Anti-Material. This means it's meant to pierce armor rather than ordinary personnel. Five shots can easily take out a fully armored banshee aircraft. As you become more confident with sniping you can try other shots like a 360 (doing a 360 degree turn and then killing the enemy with one sniper shot) or a long range no-scope. You'll be feeling like a pro once you pull these shots off. For practice, jump into the team snipers playlist. If that's not treating you well, then organize a custom game with a friend where you can choose a custom map and you can arrange honor rules. Try it out.

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

              A clean shot to any players head with this gun, shielded or not, will take them out.

Electro-Magnetic Pulse

As mentioned before, an EMP can disable an enemy's shields or disable a vehicle's engines for short periods of time. The various equipment that can do this are: Plasma Pistol, Grenade Launcher and Armor Lock.

Plasma Pistol: One of the easiest to use. Hold down the trigger until the gun is overcharged (trust me, you'll know when this happens) and release. To get a better shot, get close enough so that it can track the target. You'll know when it is capable of doing so when an additional 3 smaller triangles appear red on the reticle. The shot will track but that doesn't guarantee a hit. This is particularly useful against vehicles.

Grenade Launcher: Still reasonably easy to use. Sometimes referred to as the pro-pipe. In COD, these weapons are called "noob-tubes". However, it doesn't get you really cheap kills like it does most of the time in COD. In the normal fire mode, you cannot control the fuse on the explosive and it will explode a few seconds after touching another solid. This explosion is more powerful than the EMP explosion and it gets the job done (also leaves room for some awesome rebound kills ;D). To use the EMP capabilities of the grenade launcher, hold down the trigger. The grenade will be fired, but will not explode until you release the trigger. If fired like this, the explosion will be less powerful but it will release an EMP. This EMP is only really good against vehicles as it is does not fully disable an enemy's shields in one shot. It is the go-to weapon for anti-vehicular purposes. Especially against aircraft. After EMPing a vehicle, proceed to bombard it with normal explosives from the pro-pipe.

Armor Lock: I've already explained this in the first section, so there is nothing much more to be said.

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

                             Noob tube, pro pipe, 'nade launcher, tube, the list goes on...

Heavy Armor Weak Spots

The Scorpion Tank and the Wraith mortar tank both have weak spots that are especially vulnerable to weapons. On the Scorpion Tank there is a vent at the back under the main gun, and on the Wraith there is a small fuel exhaust hole located midway up the back. When the Wraith boosts, it is more visible due to the small blue flame it emits. A couple of well-placed sniper shots will blow these vehicles up nicely. Anything will do—even sustained assault rifle fire can take it down from these weak spots (Still not advisable).

How to Get Better at Halo: Reach

                                 Wraith Mortar Tank. Notice the exhaust hole on the back.

Noob Combo

The noob combo has been in use since Halo 1 but it was more widely noticed in Halo 2. Basically you dual-wield a magnum (Pistol) and a Plasma Pistol. You charge up the Plasma Pistol and EMP the victim and then follow it up with a quick headshot. Fortunately, it is not as widely used as it was in Halo 2 or 3 because you can no longer hold two weapons at once and the Magnum is a bit harder to use. It is still usable though, and it may help you survive in your first few games of multiplayer. I suggest you start moving on from it and challenge yourself a bit more. You sure won't earn any respect from the community if you use it all the time.


  • Make sure you pace your shots, especially with the DMR. Otherwise the reticle bloom will become too large and you'll just be spraying hopelessly.
  • If you are familiar with the Halo 3 controls, I suggest you change to the Recon control diagram. It is very similar to the Halo 3 controls and it will save you some time trying to synchronize with the new controls.
  • Reload at every calm spot or temporarily break in the combat.
  • Using the Jetpack Armor Ability on multi-leveled maps like Sword Base can give you an edge.
  • Be familiar with the maps you play on. Explore them in Forge mode and make sure you remember where the weapons you want are.
  • In a heated battle, it is sometimes best to just tap the B button instead of going for the assassination animation. Be careful though, this can still occasionally initiate the animation.
  • Frequently check your motion sensor.
  • If you know there is an enemy around the corner, try to rebound a frag grenade to his position and then move in for the kill.
  • If you are unsure what Armor Ability to go with, I suggest Sprint.
  • Plasma weapons strip shields faster but are not very effective against unshielded players. Whereas a firearm that shoots bullets doesn't take down shields as fast but is effective at ripping up an unshielded opponent.
  • To switch to the bomber firing mode in the Banshee press the Y button. It will take a few seconds to reload after each shot.
  • To perform evasive maneuvers in the Banshee, tap LB and push the Left Stick in the direction you want to go. Make sure you don't crash into anything.
  • Plug some music in while you're playing. Halo doesn't always have to be purely competitive. There are plenty of wind-down playlists. Arcade Firefight and Griffball are some examples.
  • Always strafe when getting shot at. This should come natural to a gamer.
  • The teabag. If you get teabagged, you might consider doing it back once to the offender to add to his humiliation. (You shouldn't need a tutorial on this.)
  • When driving a Ghost or Revenant always be cautious. Don't always go straight in for the splatter. If someone looks like they want to get splattered, they're probably waiting to armor lock your Sunday Driver ass.
  • If you really don't want to hear 10-year-olds in gamechat boasting about how much he noob combo-ed someone because he is MLG or listen to some 30 year old pedophile breathing heavy into his microphone then toggle mute all in the options.
  • Try not to take it too seriously. You're bound to rage. ;)


  • Don't rage-quit too much in the middle of a game. You'll probably land yourself a temporary ban.
  • Don't boost or AFK in Firefight. Don't stand in the corner and do nothing so you can sap off the team's credits at the end. You will be reset. Not even the smallest violin will be playing for you.
  • If you betray too much, some guy will probably get pissed off and boot you. Not advisable.

Closing Comments

There is a lot more to Reach. There is Forge: An object editor where you can make new maps or mix up the ones you love. There is Campaign: A very compelling story (nerds cry here) is in there and you can play co-op over Xbox Live in Campaign. There is theater mode: You can review your past games here in real time. You can record it, slow it down, fast forward it, pause it or snap a screenshot (And no, Halo didn't get this from Black Ops. We've had it since Halo 3. Sorry to disappoint). There is Firefight: Kind of like Horde mode from Gears of War 2. And the massive Multiplayer Matchmaking playlists. I might post some more map guides in future but until then I'll be riddling your Halo character with bullets.

Front page photo by commorancy

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"10-year-old salivating over his controller.." Lol

my god this is in depth. bravo, very interesting.

oh lol, it got front paged?

Yup! Rachel sent you an email about it. Hope to see more from you soon!

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