While it may have been dethroned long ago by the Call of Duty series as the most popular first person shooter franchise, the Halo series is still one of the most influential shooters in gaming and maintains a large, devoted fanbase to this day. First released in 2001 as a launch title for Microsoft’s fledgling Xbox console, Halo is synonymous with the Xbox brand and is pretty much single-handedly responsible for establishing the shooter genre on consoles. Of course, any good shooter lives and dies on the strength of its weapons and fortunately, Halo has one of the greatest and most diverse arsenals in the business. With Halo 5: Guardians releasing this week for the Xbox One, we thought it would be a good time to count down the best weapons in the Halo series.
10. Spartan Laser
First introduced in 2007’s Halo 3, the Spartan Laser is one of the most powerful weapons in the series, but takes a considerable amount of skill and patience to use properly. Essentially a big powerful death ray, the Spartan Laser’s overwhelming power is kept in check by a considerable charge time and limited shot count. Despite the weapon’s notable drawbacks, any seasoned Halo player knows to fear and respect the Laser’s power. When you have the misfortune of seeing that red tracking beam aimed in your direction, it’s best to run for cover because nothing is surviving a direct shot from this thing.
9. Plasma Pistol
The plasma pistol has been a Halo staple from the very beginning and is generally considered to be a great set-up weapon, as an overcharged shot can completely deplete an enemy’s shield and leave them open for a kill shot. The weapon became even more useful in Halo 2 and beyond, when the ability to stall vehicles with an overcharged shot was introduced, which remains a key part of anti-vehicle strategy in the series to this day. Sure, the plasma pistol kind of stinks at actually killing anything, but it’s such an uniquely versatile weapon that it almost always deserves a spot in a player’s weapon rotation.
8. Assault Rifle
The assualt rifle isn’t particularly good at one thing in particular, but what it lacks in flash or raw power it more than makes up for with its sheer versatility. The assault rifle was a favorite in the first Halo, to the point where its absence in Halo 2 was a major point of contention among fans (duel-wielding SMGs, as cool as it looked, just wasn’t as effective). Luckily, it has been included in almost every game since. While it’s easy to write the assault rifle off as a weapon that’s not particularly effective in any area of combat, the truth is that its sheer averageness makes it one of the best all-around weapons in the Halo arsenal. A great default starter weapon, the assault rifle’s close to mid-range effectiveness make it a great tool in any capable player’s hands. Of course, it should be ditched for more powerful weapons without delay, but the assault rifle still gives a player a fighting chance in any battle.
7. Energy Sword
One of the Halo series’ most iconic weapons, the Covenant Energy Sword is a deadly close quarters melee weapon that can absolutely control a multiplayer match.
The energy sword dates back to the first Halo, where only enemy Elites could wield it, making it both a weapon to desire and fear. Its inclusion as a playable weapon in Halo 2 was one of that game’s main selling points and it has remained one of Halo’s most popular weapons ever since. The sword’s two-pronged instant death-dealing, either with a traditional melee attack or nifty lock-on ability, make it both a terror on the battlefield and an occasionally-frustrating weapon to use, as the wrong attack type can lead to an unforseen death. Seasoned Halo players have learned that the best strategy to dealing with a sword-user is to just keep backing up and firing, but especially on smaller maps, the Energy Sword is an absolute beast and should always be feared.
6. Plasma Grenade
There’s nothing wrong with a traditional frag grenade but when it comes to the best thrown explosives in Halo, nothing beats the sticky plasma grenades. Simply put, the plasma grenade is one of Halo‘s most entertaining (and useful) weapons, as they can be attached to any player or vehicle, dealing massive damage to both. There aren’t many better feelings in Halo multiplayer than landing a successful “stick” on another player (barring that the wielder isn’t killed in the resulting explosion, of course). Other kindsof grenades have been introduced over the years, including incendiary types, but nothing beats having a pair of plasmas on your belt.
Although it’s as old as the series itself, the Needler is still arguably Halo‘s most unique and fun to use gun. An alien weapon that rapidly fires a stream of pink crystals that explode on contact, the Needler has been a pretty divisive weapon over the course of the Halo series, primarily because its usefulness seems to ebb and flow with each new game that’s released. In some titles, like Halo 4, the Needler has been a death-dealing beast, while in other titles, particularly Halo 2, it was practically useless. While the fact that the Needler isn’t always up to snuff is a bit of a letdown; when it’s on its game, it’s a fantastic weapon to use and inspires fear in those on the receiving end.
4. Sniper Rifle
The weapon of choice for many in Halo multiplayer matches, in the right hands, the sniper rifle is the series’ deadliest weapon. Featuring incredible damage output and one-shot kills when aimed for the head, the sniper can easily turn the tide of a match. Unlike a lot of other shooters though, Halo‘s sniper features some notable weaknesses in the interest of weapon balancing. The thing is incredibly loud and also leaves a noticeable trail when it’s fired, which is key to sniffing out the whereabouts of a camping sniper in tense matches. Still, these minor drawbacks don’t limit the weapon’s usefulness and it has remained such an integral component of the Halo experience, it’s really no surprise that it’s stayed pretty much the same across all games in the series.
The antithesis to the sniper rifle, Halo‘s shotgun absolutely dominates on smaller maps. Featuring a releatively quick fire-rate and absolutely deadly damage output at close range, the shotgun is one of those weapons that puts an extra spring in your step when you stumble across it. Naturally, the weapon is pretty much useless if an enemy is more than a few feet away, but for the patient player who loves to hide behind corners, the shotgun is as essential to the Halo gun game as the rocket launcher or pistol. Just remember to reload!
We debated back and forth whether to include the Battle Rifle in this spot, but in the end, we had to give the edge to the Designated Marksman Rifle (or DMR). While the Battle Rifle has the advantage of three round burst fire, the DMR has superior range and is arguably just as versatile in medium range combat situations. It’s also easier to land headshots with the DMR which, as every Halo player knows, is the key to scoring kills. The Battle Rifle is still a fantastic go-to weapon, but given the choice between the two, we’ll almost always choose the DMR. We’d like to think the Master Chief would agree.
1. Halo 1 Pistol
It’s pretty much impossible to talk about the “best” Halo weapons without bringing up the legendary pistol from Halo: Combat Evolved, which pound-for-pound and shot-for-shot remains the best overall weapon in the series. Much like the assault rifle, battle rifle, and DMR, the pistol’s main stregth lies in its versitality, but the main reason that it’s so revered has more to do with its ridiculous power. The pistol is able to put an enemy down with three headshots and when you take its much larger ammo capacity into consideration, that arguably makes it even more useful than the sniper rifle. More so than any other weapon, the pistol gives the player a fighting chance in every kind of battle, close range or long range. Of course, this also means it is considerably overpowered and the weapon has never been as powerful as it was in that first game. Still, even though its never again achieved its initial glory, the pistol retains its status among most Halo diehards as the best weapon in the series.