In Part I of this guide, we covered the strengths/weaknesses and uses of the weapons found in MLG gametypes. In Part II, we’ll be talking about some of the tricks, tactics and strategies commonly used in MLG 1v1 combat situations that come up during both 4v4 and FFA games. Although in a 4v4 game there is almost always a lot going on at any given time, many of the battles still splinter off into–or can be thought of as–1v1 match-ups. Then again, a lot of battles will be 2v1, 2v2 and often even larger. However, we will save those for a future installment of the guide that covers team tactics (coming soon). It’s true that a good team will find a way to help each other with battles as much as possible, but that will not always be what happens, and you will inevitably find yourself in a lot of 1v1 situations. So let’s take a look at some of the things that can help you to be as successful as possible in Halo 2 combat.

The first rule of fighting alone is: Try not to fight alone.


OK, so he’s not exactly a ninja, but check out this guide for a number of ways to quickly kill any opponent

Halo 2 is an extremely teamwork-oriented game (the team guide is coming next). The reason that competitive play evolved to focus so much on teamwork is that people found it very difficult to be one-man-army’s against other skilled players. Therefore, it became necessary for players to work together to effectively accomplish their goals.

Why can’t one great player do all the work for their team? Well, consider this: In most battles in MLG Halo 2, the combatants will only have a BR. On a playing field where nobody has anything but a BR, your chances of winning a 1v2 battle are very poor. While you would have to shoot a minimum of four times to kill just one of the targets, they would each only have to shoot you twice, effectively being able to kill you in the time it takes you to shoot two shots. While this is admittedly a generic example, it serves to show that Halo 2 is just not a game built for these kinds of underdog victories (in Halo: CE it was possible if your pistol were really good). As you can see, the game rewards you for making the effort to help your teammates win battles. The end result of teaming up on the lone player is that your team gets a kill without any casualties. For all intents and purposes, you never want to take on two opponents or more alone unless you are in a good position with a power weapon or are able to get the jump on them and kill (or mostly kill) some of them before they are able to react.

Of course, we all know that getting help from teammates is not always an option, and we still find ourselves in a ton of 1v1 battles during any gametype. Well, here are some things that are commonly understood in MLG play that will help you to compete, understand the capabilities and dangers of your opponents, and hopefully prevail. Most of these tactics assume that you are fighting with a BR, because quite simply, that is the best weapon that you will have most of the time.

Taking Advantage of your Arsenal

Even when all you have is the BR, you still have an incredible range of options at your command during combat. Make no mistake that the BR is a formidable weapon. Along with the ability to kill in four shots at a decent rate of fire, the BR has both a good range and relatively fast reload. Add to that your standard ability to melee and the two grenades you start with, and you will come to realize that you have a good set of tools from the get-go with MLG gametypes. It is important to note that everyone has these same tools right from the spawn, so the focus of MLG combat is not so much on having superior tools, but rather on superior tactics and efficiency. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your starting abilities:

Shooting and Reloading

  • Always be aware of when the enemy’s shield is about to be depleted, because at that point a head shot with the BR, carbine, sniper rifle (of course) or magnum will lead to a sure kill. Also, any melee or grenade will finish the job.
  • Know when to reload and when to wait for a better time.
  • Many times in a 1v1 situation, players will make a kill and automatically assume that they are out of danger and can safely reload. They will find that doing so will sometimes get them killed as an enemy pops up out of nowhere and gets a head start on the shooting.
  • Often, other enemies will be aware of the fight you are having, and will gravitate toward your position. If those enemies turn the corner and enter your field of vision, you do not want to be caught in the middle of a reload. Always be sure that you will not need to fight again immediately before reloading (unless your clip is empty or too low to do you any good).
  • Get behind cover while reloading, or toss a grenade at the entry point to your position to keep any would-be attackers at bay long enough for you to reload safely.
  • If you begin a reload and suddenly need to be able to shoot again for whatever reason, press Y, Y as quickly as you can on your controller. This will switch to your secondary weapon and then back to your primary very quickly, which cancels your reload and allows you to shoot again. This can save you some extremely valuable time in combat when you get caught off your guard.
  • There is also a way to cut down on the time you need to wait on your reloads before using your weapon again. After you press X to reload, that same Y, Y button combination can also be used to cancel the final parts of your reload recovery wait. After a certain point in the animation, pressing Y, Y will skip the remaining animations of your reload, but will still give you a full clip and the ability to fire right away.
  • The timing for pressing Y, Y is different for every weapon, so you will need to learn the visual cues of each. Pressing Y, Y too early will cancel your reload and leave you with whatever ammo you previously had in the clip.
  • This is a small but incredibly useful technique that is standard in MLG play, meaning that if you don’t bother to use it you will actually be at a disadvantage because you can safely assume that everyone else is using it to be more efficient.
  • To use the Y, Y glitch, it is necessary to have a second weapon to switch to (the Y button does nothing if you only have one weapon, obviously), so be sure to pick up the first random weapon you come across that is conveniently accessible each time you spawn. Even if you never intend to use that weapon (needler anyone?), it still enables you to use a number of valuable and time-saving glitches.


Halo 2 has a number of glitches and exploits that actually add to the depth of the combat in the game, and you must master them to survive in competitive play

  • Another shooting glitch that is quickly coming into prominence is the “double-shot,” which is executed by hitting the R, R, X buttons with a very precise timing. It is actually a very tricky glitch to get the hang of, but if done correctly it will allow you to shoot two bursts from your BR directly in a row, allowing you to get a leg-up on your opponent but putting out more shots in less time.
  • For a further description of how to perform the double-shot, please see Royalness’ extremely helpful and comprehensive Weapon Glitches Database. This awesome resource lists out most of the known weapon glitches (and all of the most useful ones) and offers detailed descriptions of how to execute them. As he says in his guide, many of the tricks build upon each others’ underlying principles, so be creative with how you combine the tricks in order to make your combat as efficient as possible. Although there is a wealth of knowledge in his guide, focus particularly on the ones he highlighted in blue, as they are the most practical and consistent ones used in MLG play.

Melees

  • The melee attack is extremely powerful, and has become the mainstay of close-range combat in MLG games. While the melee was intended as a formidable method of attack (well, since Bungie revamped it in the 1.1 patch anyway), it is enhanced to near-ridiculous levels by glitches and exploits, making it in many cases the preferred way for you to inflict damage at close range.
  • Melee attacks will do different amounts of damage depending on how you are moving at the time you hit someone with a melee.
  • If you do not have forward momentum when you melee an enemy, most of their shields will be taken off. If you have forward momentum when you connect with a melee, the enemy’s entire shield will be removed. If you hit someone with a melee while you are at the height of or coming down from a jump, you will do slightly more damage than a forward-moving ground melee.
  • With regular weapons it is not worth the added damage to bother trying to connect with a jumping melee (unless it’s actually the more convenient way to make the attack), because once you jump you have very limited control over your movement and the attack is much harder to land. The added damage of the jump melee is insignificant with standard weapons.
  • Note that objective items (the flag and the oddball) have more powerful melee attacks than standard weapons, landing you a one-hit kill with a jumping melee, and two-hit kill no matter what (unless they have an overshield). Objective items also have a very fast melee rate by default.
  • All other weapons have identical melee damage except for the sword (for obvious reasons) and the brute shot, which is not found in any MLG gametypes. While different weapons have different melee speeds, the playing field is largely leveled by the use of glitches and exploits to enhance the efficiency of melees.
  • The most commonly used melee glitch is the “double-melee.” This is executed by exploiting a glitch that allows you to cancel the recovery animations of a melee. First, hit the melee button. Wait until the hit registers on the opponent (you can visually tell by watching for their shield to light up). Once the damage has been dealt, hit the X button, and then the melee button once again. If done correctly, you will have meleed your opponent twice in a very short time–much more quickly than if you just hit the melee button over and over again as fast as you could.
  • Although it’s referred to as “BXB” or the “double-melee,” this move can actually be chained indefinitely (BXBXB, etc.). However, your enemy will typically be dead after two melees anyway, which is precisely what makes it so effective. Never assume that any melee attack will kill your enemy. Always cancel your melee (after the hit registers) by pressing X, because if the enemy didn’t die you are prepared to strike again quickly. You should even do this when attempting to assassinate someone, because we’ve all had those situations where the enemy turns around just in time to shield their back from your melee, forcing you into a standard fight.
  • While you will find yourself using BXB in virtually every game you play, there is actually an even faster way to use melees to dispatch an opponent–although it has somewhat limited use. This technique is referred to as “BXR.” Another combat glitch that adds depth to Halo 2′s combat, BXR is an amazingly effective technique that can kill an opponent almost instantly–much faster even than the double melee. To execute the move, melee an enemy, cancel the melee using the X button after the hit registers, and then simply pull your R trigger to shoot your weapon.
  • While BXR works with any weapon, it is primarily used with the BR. The idea behind the trick is to use the melee to deplete the shield, and then cancel the recovery animation and shoot your BR to get a quick head shot for the kill. Once you try this, you will see that you can kill someone in literally the time it takes to press the three buttons, making it very tempting. However, it has one notable limitation…
  • You must have a full clip or it will not work. This makes it somewhat more difficult and less opportune to use than BXB, but the allure of being able to kill an opponent so quickly will cause many players to try to close the distance to an enemy without shooting in order to go for the BXR kill instead. The key is using good judgment about when to try it and when to use alternate fighting methods.
  • BXR is most easily used in situations where you first meet an enemy in close quarters and had not already been shooting your gun. The technique offers a lot of incentive to keep your weapon fully reloaded whenever possible in case an opportunity to use it arises unexpectedly.
  • This technique is becoming very prominent in MLG play, and is well worth taking the time to master. There is an alternate way to execute BXR that does not require a full clip, but it is not considered to be very reliable. You can read about it in the forum thread beneath Royalness’ guide.

Tactical Jumping

  • Jumping limits your ability to change directions until you land, so you should be smart about which situations you do it in or risk being an easy target for shooters.
  • It is very easy to tell where someone will land once they have jumped, so do not jump to avoid gunfire in most situations–you are actually just providing them with a predictable movement arc to shoot at. Staying on the ground enables you to change directions at a moment’s notice. Resist the urge to jump that so many players have when they are taking fire.
  • Jumping during a BR fight right after you know the next shot will kill you if it’s a head shot can actually save your life and buy you a bit of extra time to even the battle out. Due to Halo 2′s magnetism and the slow speed at which a player can adjust their aim vertically, you can often make an enemy miss the first shot that was aimed at your head by jumping right before they shoot.
  • As mentioned before, once you jump you are an easy target, so be sure to hold off on jumping until the point where you will die if they hit you in the head. This will often buy you one more shot or grenade’s worth of time to kill your opponent, as their shot will likely hit your body and not kill you. Be aware however, that they will almost always have adjusted their aim after that first miss and will finish you off with their next shot if you don’t kill them first. It is often worth trying, but if you were too far behind in the battle it may not save you.
  • There are many jumping exploits and techniques that enable you to traverse the map more quickly and access routes and vantage points that are otherwise impossible. At this point, there is little mystery left in jumping techniques, as every experienced player knows about almost all of the jumping shortcuts and tactics. However, that really just makes it even more important that you know about them.


It’s vital to be aware of your surroundings at all times, as it’s often difficult to turn a losing battle around in Halo 2

  • One could write pages and pages just about jumping techniques, but suffice it to say that you need to spend time finding out about the tactical jumps and shortcuts for each of the MLG stages. Luckily, MLG gametypes only utilize the six most competitively balanced maps (Midship, Lockout, Beaver Creek, Warlock, Ivory Tower, Sanctuary), so you can focus all of your efforts on learning the jumps on those maps.
  • It would take forever to go through and describe for you where all of the major jump-shortcuts are on these maps, so I will instead direct you toward some important pages that have videos demonstrating the most vital ones that you should know. Be sure to check out Jump Tactics, Jukesbox.com, and Mr. Jukes Guide to Trick Jumping for a variety of helpful videos that will show you pretty much all you need to know about trick jumping.

Grenades

  • Grenades are unbelievably useful, and can help you kill someone or turn the tides of almost any battle in an instant. Since throwing a grenade is not like shooting a bullet in Halo 2–it travels fairly slowly and is affected by gravity–it requires a lot of anticipation and skill to throw good grenades. As such, those who are masters of grenade placement can worm out of almost any situation and pull off some kills from angles that would otherwise be impossible.
  • Greeting an unsuspecting enemy who is coming around a corner with a grenade is often the best possible way to start a fight, as their shield is almost always depleted if the grenade made decent contact. Your chances of winning the fight at that point are great because you will often only need a shot or two to finish the job. Because of this (and so the same thing doesn’t happen to you), you should put a lot of emphasis on being aware of your surroundings at all times and knowing all of the possible paths by which you can be attacked. Knowing this will allow you to toss grenades in the path of attackers and weaken them before they have a chance to harm you. A well-placed plasma grenade can even kill an enemy outright through a stick or by landing right at their feet.
  • Knowing which type of grenade to use for which situation will go far toward your success as a grenade thrower. Plasma grenades are more powerful, but have a slightly longer fuse. They will stick directly to the ground once they hit, and will drop straight down from any wall they hit. In contrast, the fuse of a frag grenade is activated as soon as it hits a wall or floor, and it is very short. Since it takes a short bounce off of any surface, it can blow up in mid-air and be ricocheted around corners to hit people who are not in a line of fire. You must be able to quickly decide which type of grenade will serve you best in each situation, as it can often be the difference between life and death.
  • Grenades are perhaps the best defensive weapon in the game. One of their main uses in MLG play are to put a barrier between you and oncoming attackers, particularly when you are injured, losing the fight and needing to get away. If you are able to get around a corner and out of the line of fire, you can toss grenades at the ground or walls along the path behind you to ensure that anyone who tried to follow you would be heavily damaged. Most players know better than to follow an injured player around the corner unless they know that they’re out of grenades, but if someone is foolish enough to do so, they will suffer heavy damage and the fight will suddenly be very even and you have a chance to win it.
  • There are dozens of different ways in which you can use a grenade to protect yourself, so constantly be thinking of ways to use them that will punish enemies for trying to attack you. The key is anticipation.

(Be sure to check back soon for the next installment of this guide, which will cover teamwork and mind games)