People frequently ask if there's any reward for beating the campaign on legendary. I'll tell you right from the start that there's not: no secret ending, no unlockables (apart from the skulls). Nothing but a few minor changes to a couple of scenes. The only reward, if you want to call it that, is the enjoyment of playing an uncommonly deep game—a game that rises above the mindless shooting gallery mentality of so many other first-person shooters—in its most challenging form. On legendary, you'll be forced to think differently, to plan out and re-evaluate tactics, and to approach battles in new and unconventional ways. To its credit, the game usually rewards creativity with success.
In writing this walkthrough my goal is not only to help you survive, but also to showcase some of the depth and variety inherent in the combat. We won't always take the easiest path, or the most aggressive path, or the quickest path; we'll skip some battles that we could fight, and vice-versa. I make no claims that this is "best" route through the game. In the end, though, I hope that I can help you through the rough spots, and in the process show you some ways to approach the game that you may not otherwise have considered.
Changes from Halo 1
Veterans of Halo 1 will recognize a number of changes—some obvious, some not so obvious—to the combat. A comprehensive list of such differences would be enormous and not really within the scope of this project. Still, I thought it would be helpful to list a few of the less heralded ones that, in my opinion, most directly impact the combat.
There are a few techniques to which I will refer throughout this walkthrough that probably merit their own introduction. Again, this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather an explanation of certain methods that directly pertain to the path described in this guide.
As in Halo 1, a major key to surviving many of the game's encounters is learning to combine your weapons effectively so that their abilities complement one another. Generally, the idea is to use one weapon (usually the plasma pistol overcharge) to stun and/or remove the shields of an enemy and immediately follow up with a second weapon to finish him off. For example, you might be hard pressed to kill a gray elite with either the plasma pistol or the battle rifle alone; but by using the overcharge to remove his shields and immediately following up with a battle rifle headshot, you can drop one in a matter of seconds. Indeed, you'll find that this approach is more useful in the earlier stages of the game, when your main opponents are elites. Later on, when you're fighting mainly brutes and the flood, this sort of setup/follow-through approach is less useful.
Here are a few such combos that I've found to be effective (again, primarily against elites):
Plasma pistol/battle rifle
Crouching near the top of a jump gives you a little extra ground clearance, which in many cases can allow you to reach places that would otherwise be inaccessible.
When crouching just isn't enough, you can use the blast from a grenade to give yourself an extra push, if you time your jump to coincide with the explosion. Note that you'll have to adjust the timing of your jump differently for frag and plasma grenades.
This trick allows you to lunge at an enemy with the sword from vastly greater distances than would normally be possible. The idea is that when you zoom in with a scoped weapon and aim at an enemy from a close enough distance that the reticle turns red, it will remain red for a split second after you switch weapons. If your second weapon is the sword and you lunge during this split second window, it will behave as if you were locked on, and you will fly toward the enemy just as if you were lunging from the sword's normal range.
Specifically, in order to perform this trick, zoom in on any enemy until the reticle of your weapon is red, and then (in the default control scheme) hold Y, release it, and immediately press X and Right Trigger in quick succession. I don't know why pressing X is necessary, but apparently it is. I had a good deal of trouble getting this trick to work at first, and the bit of advice that finally helped me to get it right was to slide your finger from Y to X, and then press the Right Trigger as quickly as possible (almost simultaneous with X). While you're flying through the air, you can press A to jump even higher. It may be difficult to grasp from the description, but once you succeed and then practice for a bit to get the feel, I can attest that it becomes much more routine. Any scoped weapon—even the 10x zoom on the sniper rifle!—will work, as long as you're close enough to turn the aiming reticle red.
In my experience, this maneuver is useful not so much as a direct attack, but as a method for crossing open ground quickly or surmounting obstacles, allowing for a number of interesting shortcuts.
Important Note!As of the 1.1 update available via Xbox Live on 4/18/05, this trick no longer works with the sniper rifle or beam rifle.
Use whatever sensitivity feels comfortable. You'll sometimes hear people say that torturing yourself into playing at 10 sensitivity is a prerequisite for improving at the game. The rationale is usually that you'll be able to turn faster and thus better react to enemies coming from the sides or behind you. While that may be true, though perhaps more so in multiplayer than single player, it does not seem to me that it makes a big enough difference to be worth the trouble, especially considering the likely tradeoff in sniping accuracy. Odds are that if you let yourself get surrounded or severely flanked you're going to be dead in any case. So, if you like playing at 10, great, but there's no battle in the game that can't be conquered easily with the default settings.
Keep moving. At the risk of stating the glaringly obvious, I'll point out that becoming a moving target makes you harder to hit, and significantly increases your chances of surviving. If you're heading for cover while under fire, don't run in straight lines; weave back and forth as you run. Granted, it doesn't take long for your foes to adjust their aim, but given how fragile the Chief has become it can often mean the difference between life and death. Even if you're holding a more or less stationary position, strafe from side to side as you fire. I have the habit of rotating the left thumbstick while I'm dodging fire in the open, which strafes in a circular pattern.
Fire from alternate sides of cover. Enemies will usually remain narrowly focused (for a while, at least) on the point where they last saw you. Therefore, approaching them from another direction—even if it's just the other side of a crate—when possible will give you a bit of extra time to gauge your next attack before you come under fire.
It's possible to revert to your second-to-last checkpoint. If you die enough times (five should usually do it) shortly after reloading, you'll automatically revert to your checkpoint before last. Apparently, Bungie included this feature as a way to deal with the occasional unlucky checkpoint (when a sniper has you right in his sights, for example). So, if you receive a checkpoint not to your liking, you can achieve this effect deliberately by killing yourself quickly several times in a row (rockets are the best way). Just make sure that you don't let this happen inadvertently.
Weapons that you drop do not disappear. Weapons dropped by enemies will eventually vanish once enough other weapons have been dropped, but those discarded by you will lie there forever. Keep this in mind, if you want to preserve particular weapons for later use: just pick them up and drop them.
Dropped grenades can be a weapon in themselves. Explosions from grenades or flood carrier forms can cause a chain reaction, detonating any nearby dropped grenades (not, however, grenades placed there as part of the level). These secondary explosions can sometimes be exploited to finish off groups of enemies quickly (or, historically, to launch warthogs over certain arch-like geologic features on island beaches).
Arm your marines with powerful weapons. One advantage of your marines is that they never run out of ammo; if you can give them a weapon (that is to say, it isn't totally empty) they can keep firing forever. So, it can be helpful when you find yourself with a good weapon that's running low to hand it off to one of your marines, if possible. A marine with a SMG is pretty pathetic, but give him a sniper rifle, rocket launcher, or fuel rod gun with unlimited ammo and he suddenly becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Let marines with powerful weapons ride shotgun. Maximize your available firepower by making sure that marines armed with rocket launchers or sniper rifles hop into the passenger seat of the warthog, while the poorly-armed marines man the gun.
Gray elites = energy swords. Should you ever find yourself lacking an energy sword at an inopportune moment, gray elites can always be manipulated into producing one. Just get close enough to one and he'll start roaring, after which he'll whip out a sword and chase after you. Kill him, and it's yours. Just make sure to back off quickly, because he'll come out swinging.
Take advantage of the battle rifle burst. One of the advantages of the battle rifle over the single shot weapons like the magnum or the carbine is that the burst isn't just for show: it actually fires three distinctly separated shots with each trigger pull. The spread of these shots makes headshots somewhat easier to hit, as 1/3 is all it takes to kill a grunt, jackal, or unshielded elite. Sweeping the crosshairs across your target as you fire, either by strafing or with the right thumbstick, can increase your chances of a hit even more.
The targeting reticle indicates headshots. A small red dot will appear in the center of your targeting reticle when you're lined up for a headshot, which can be helpful for aiming. Note that you must be close enough to the enemy for the reticle itself to turn red. This feature is particularly useful when dealing with the flood, as their "headshot" zone is not always obvious, and it can make a huge difference in how quickly you kill them.
Only killing blows consume sword energy. Your sword's energy will not diminish unless you actually kill an enemy with the strike. So, you can lunge or swipe away at an enemy to weaken him and then finish him off with another weapon without losing energy. Just something to keep in mind, if you're trying to conserve your energy sword.
Circle-strafe when melee attacking. Elites and brutes can kill you in a single melee attack, so it's usually not a good idea to get into a head-to-head slugfest with them. However, if you circle around while bashing them, you can often dodge their attacks, and even manage to hit them in the back for an instant KO.
Plasma grenades make covenant ghost drivers bail out. Sticking a plasma grenade to a ghost can help take it out of play quickly, as the driver will usually jump out to avoid the explosion. This tactic can help even the odds if you're being harassed by ghosts while on foot.
Jump after sword lunging at brutes. Brutes are dangerous opponents at close range, and they can often deliver a lethal counterattack if you lunge at them head-on. If you hold back on the left thumbstick and jump immediately after the lunge, however, you can usually avoid their attack and set yourself up for a second lunge to finish them off.
Last updated: 5/09/05