Although Halo isn’t quite the juggernaut that it used to be, it will always have a special place in gaming history as the franchise that ushered in modern FPS genre as we know it. Millions of gamers have fond memories of spending long hours blowing each other to pieces in Halo multiplayer, thanks in no small part to its catalogue of memorable and satisfying weapons.
It’s not uncommon in FPS games to have a bunch of guns that hardly feel different from each other — but not in Halo. Since the very first entry, the Halo games have been loaded with unique weapons. As a way to pass the time while we anxiously await more news on Halo: Infinite, we decided it’d be fun to rank the top ten Halo weapons.
Note: This list is based off the sheer cool factor of the weapon. Because the strength of weapons fluctuates so much between games, their effectiveness in battle is not the leading factor.
10 – Turret
I decided to place this last on the list since it’s not a conventional, equippable weapon, but what would Halo be without its turrets? One of the best moments of Halo 3 was when you first realized you could straight-up detach one of these bad boys from their stand and run around gunning Spartans down. Since then, detachable turrets have become a series staple, appearing in many different forms — the standard gatling gun, rocket launchers, etc. Picking up a turret greatly reduces your mobility, and it’s often not the best option, but damned if it’s not satisfying to try to wreck shop with it anyway.
But the turret also deserves a spot on this list because the Warthog functionality. One of the most fun parts of Halo is the game of wits played between Warthog drivers, and everyone else. A clever group of players can easily stop a Warthog cold, but hell hath no fury like a master warthog driver paired with a good gunner. There are, truly, few things that feel better in Halo than racking up a Kilimanjaro from Warthog turret mastery.
9 – Pistol
We’re putting the pistol on the tail-end of this list because, aside from Halo 1, while it is a fun weapon to use, it doesn’t really do anything more unique or interesting than every other magnum-like pistol you’d find in any other FPS.
That Halo 1 pistol though… that infernal little gun is legendary. Anyone who played Halo 1 in its glory days will remember the utter force of destruction that the pistol was. It was such a surprise when you learned of its devastating power. After all, it’s just the side arm. It’s the gun that you literally ALWAYS have. It’s a lame little pea-shooter that you only resort to when your other bigger, badder guns run out of ammo, right?
Wrong. The first iteration of the pistol may as well have been a sniper rifle and a shotgun in one. Stupidly accurate at long distance, with bullets that packed a fierce punch, any player who mastered the pistol was a Spartan to be feared. The pistol isn’t quite as OP in the other Halo games, but it has always remained, nonetheless, a very useful side arm.
8 – Shotgun
Have you ever seen memes about video game shotguns? A common joke about them is that they’re death incarnate when you’re, like, two feet away from your opponent, but they shoot “glorified confetti” when there’s pretty much any amount of distance between you two.
Well, we pretty much have the Halo shotgun to thank for that. The shotgun has been retooled here and there through each Halo game, but the premise has mostly been the same — terrifying force of destructive nature up close, piece-of-garbage confetti shooter with distance. This, of course, isn’t really how shotguns work in real life, but it’s a fun dynamic to have in a video game.
In Halo multiplayer, a Spartan with a shotgun could only be one of two things — a worthless scrub, or the literal embodiment of death. There was rarely any in-between, and that’s what makes this weapon fun.
7 – Binary Rifle
We were tempted to put the standard Sniper Rifle on this list, but if you’ve played Halo 4 or Halo 5, it’s hard to deny that the most satisfying sniping experience comes from this Promethian monstrosity. One thing we have always liked about the Forerunner weapons is their tendency to dissolve people into particle dust, and when you’re using the Binary Rifle, that’s just the cherry on top of an exquisite sniping experience.
Our favorite Halo weapons are the ones that you literally can’t stop yourself from using once you pick them up, tactics be damned. You know, those weapons where you’re committed to using them down to their last rounds of ammo, or die trying. For me, the Binary Rifle is one of those weapons. Once I pick it up, it’s sniping time. That’s it, case closed. Sometimes this results in compulsive decisions which quickly get me killed, but every once in a while I end up landing that Binary Rifle killstreak, and it’s all worth it.
6 – Plasma Grenade
Halo’s Plasma Grenades may not seem like anything special if you weren’t around when Halo reinvented the FPS genre. Many games since then have adopted the concept of a sticky grenade, but it’s important to remember that Halo was the game that made the sticky grenade cool. And, you know what? We’re going to say that the Plasma Grenade, to this day, is still the king of sticky bombs.
There are a few reasons why. The scarcity of them is one; not every chump has sticky grenades (in most of the games, anyway), so there’s that element of catching your enemy by surprise when you pull out that glowing blue bomb. And that’s another part of it — how bright and obvious it is once you throw it. If you ever want to know how true satisfaction feels, it’s when you throw a plasma grenade and it just barely attaches to your opponent’s ankle. There may be a futile attempt at escape, but that’s it. They’re toast.
The last thing that we love about the Plasma Grenade? Revenge kills. Of all the weapons in the entire game, the plasma grenade is the one that’s most likely to bring your opponent down with you. We’ll never, ever get tired of hearing the Halo announcer say “From the Graaaave!”
5 – Plasma Pistol
The Plasma Pistol introduced a unique mechanic into FPS weapons. Its design philosophy is interesting. It’s like, “What if we made a weapon that was total trash at dealing damage, but it leaves the enemy open to insta-kills?” And that’s exactly what the Plasma Pistol does. No Spartan in their right mind would try to actually kill their enemy with one of these, but they sure are useful for getting rid of shields.
And when the shields are down? Anything goes. One melee hit and they’re gone. One headshot from your magnum, they’re out. The list goes on, but we love the Plasma Pistol because it’s a disrupter. Later Halo games would also make the Plasma Pistol effective against vehicles, stunning them temporarily, potentially allowing for a hijacking. This kind of unique balance is what gave the Halo games their charm. The Plasma Pistol is simultaneously one of the most useless and most threatening weapons in the game, and that’s what makes it fun.
4 – DMR
I only wanted to put one semi-automatic on this list, and it was a tough choice. The Battle Rifle holds a treasured spot in the hearts of many gamers, especially those who spent most of their time on Halo 2. Its three-round burst was never not satisfying, and we’ve seen countless iterations of it in other FPS games since then.
But the DMR… the DMR is literally the gun that converted me to semi-auto rifles in FPS games. Known as the Designated Marksman Rifle, it’s not terribly unique, but there’s something about it that just feels so good. It’s hard to explain, but anyone who has mastered the DMR knows exactly what I’m talking about.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Halo is that it’s largely a hip-firing game. Unlike Call of Duty and many other similar games, you’re not using your sights much unless you’re handling an explicitly ranged weapon. While the DMR has range, it’s also exceptional in medium-range scenarios, and once you start getting headshot accuracy without ever using your scopes, you’ll never want to put the DMR down.
3 – The Energy Sword
Remember when I mentioned those weapons that you simply have to use when you pick them up, even if it means certain death? The Energy Sword is one of those weapons. What kind of chump would pick up an Energy Sword and not stop what they’re doing immediately to start slaying people with it?
I love those weapons in Halo that have a strong risk/reward ratio, and the Energy Sword is one of them. You’re either going to move around as death incarnate, or you’re going to make one wrong little move and get gunned down real quick. Much like the shotgun, it demands a certain style of play, and it’s just too hard to resist not trying to get that sword killstreak when you pick one up.
But aside from being fun to use, the Energy Sword is simply iconic. It’s one of the most easily recognizable weapons in the Halo-verse, and it’s one of those things where it wouldn’t feel like Halo anymore without it.
2 – The Spartan Laser
Veteran players might be grimacing as they read this, because let’s be honest, the Spartan Laser, more often than not, is a death trap to the person who’s trying to use it. While it is admittedly a super fun weapon, most seasoned Halo vets know that it has a time and place, and a lot of the most skilled Spartans are likely to run straight past it if it appears on the battlefield.
But, like we mentioned in the intro, we’re not judging guns based on how good they are. We’re judging them based on how ridiculously, stupidly cool they are, and in that regard, the Spartan Laser reigns supreme. It’s just so much fun to use. This is a weapon that will utterly eviscerate anything it touches, but only if you can land that one-in-a-million shot. Sure the Spartan Laser is primarily an anti-vehicle weapon, but what’s the fun in that? Hitting lone Spartans is the true name of the game with this gun, and when you do, all you can do is devilishly grin as they’re consumed by the blazing beam.
I also love the Spartan Laser for the unadulterated fear it causes on the battlefield. Its telltale tracking laser can be spotted from anywhere, and unless you’re in range to quickly fire back, the only thing you can do is run and hide. The Spartan Laser is everything I love about Halo. High-risk, high-reward, chaotic, and satisfying.
1 – The Needler
Much like the Spartan Laser, the Needler has never been the “best” weapon in Halo. It is yet another “all-or-nothing” weapon, and it has been drastically nerfed and buffed across games. In some titles, it’s one of the most terrifying weapons on the field, and in others (lookin’ at you, Halo 2) it’s hardly even worth picking up.
But the Needler is top dog on this list because it’s arguably Halo’s most iconic weapon. No game ever had a Needler before Halo did, and none has had one since. The Needler is utterly unique, with an amazing design to boot. Nobody could see those glowing pink spikes and not know what they’re looking at; this is a gun that’s instantly identifiable as a Halo weapon, and its bold design was undoubtedly one of the many factors that sent Halo into the stratosphere of peak popularity.
And let’s just talk about its use on the battlefield. There are many types of satisfying kills in Halo, but how many of them top the “click-click-click-click-POP” effect of the Supercombine Needler kill? How good does it feel to load someone up with Needler spikes, jump behind cover, and hear the telltale explosion finish them off? While many might disagree, I firmly believe that the Needler is one of the most fun weapons to use in any FPS game in history. That, combined with its iconic design makes it my top choice for best Halo weapon ever.
What is your favorite Halo weapon? If you’ve got different ideas, we want to hear them! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.