Halo 3’s Best Dual-Wielding Strategy


Halo 3’s dual-wielding is often overlooked in favor of Battle Rifles, but the strategy can sometimes be worth it – and even better than power weapons.

When Halo 3 came to The Master Chief Collection, it was the first time dual-wielding made a return to mainstream Halo multiplayer. Dual-wielding was removed from the Halo games that came after it, likely because the system discouraged melee attacks and throwing grenades. Halo 3 now marks an odd crossroads, where dual-wielding remains implemented but is clearly a gameplay element the developers wanted to steer away from. It’s rare to find an MCC player who dares dual-wield in the face of the all-powerful Battle Rifle.

When introduced in Halo 2, dual-wielding served as a way to freshen up the familiar weapons of Halo: Combat Evolved. It was also a necessary move for balance, as Halo 2 also introduced several new power weapons: the Sentinel Beam, Energy Sword, Beam Rifle, and Brute Shot. Smaller weapons like the Plasma Pistol and SMG were comparatively very weak, so they needed all the extra damage output they could get.


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Nowadays, these small arms scatter the ground of Halo 3 multiplayer maps as the leftovers players walk past on their way to better weapons. But smart use of dual-wielding can turn these leftovers into something praiseworthy.

Combine Weapon Types For Halo 3’s Most Effective Dual-Wielding

A player dual wielding weapons in Halo 3 multiplayer on Blackout

Halo 3’s weapons are divided into two categories: plasma and ballistic. The plasma weapons that can be dual-wielded are the Plasma Rifle, Brute Plasma Rifle, and Plasma Pistol. Their ballistic counterparts are the Magnum, Spiker, SMG, and Mauler. In Halo: CE, UNSC weapons were exclusively ballistic, whereas Covenant tech, with the exception of the Halo series’ iconic and reliable Needler, was plasma-based. Halo 3 mixes the factions’ weapon categories, as the Spiker and Mauler are both Brute guns. Though enemies and allies in the campaign are often seen dual-wielding two of the same gun, the best strategy in Halo 3 is as it was in Halo 2: combining ballistic weapons with plasma weapons.

Halo‘s plasma weapons are unmatched in melting Spartans’ shields. A few seconds of firing a Plasma Rifle can strip away a full Overshield, leaving enemies exposed for a quick headshot. On the flipside, most ballistic weapons deal more damage in a short amount of time. The infamous “noob combo” exemplifies this; one super-charged shot from the Plasma Pistol, followed by a headshot burst from the Battle Rifle. For this reason, the best combos in Halo 3 consist of any plasma weapon with the Magnum. The pistol is the only dual-wieldable weapon that is also headshot-capable. Assuming good aim, an overcharged Plasma Pistol shot followed by a single Magnum headshot can kill even an Overshielded player in less than a second at medium range.

Still, one of the reasons Halo 3 remains the most popular multiplayer in the MCC is its many ways to get a leg up on enemy players. Energy Swords and Gravity Hammers intrinsically dominate close-range encounters, but dual-wielding two rapid-fire weapons, like Spikers or SMGs, can be situationally preferable. Dual-wielders who keep a close eye on the motion tracker and maintain an advantageous position can often overwhelm word or hammer players before they can close the distance.

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