Forget four-player splitscreen nonsense—you haven’t truly experienced Halo (1 or 2) until you’ve played it with 15 other Master Chiefs. Find those friends (and let them know they can play as Covenant aliens now), and try these multiplayer modes and their included variants.
Simple kill-the-other-guy affairs.
Best variants: Of course, you’ll be playing plenty of Team Slayer with your buddies, but the dynamics are all funky now that you can form up to eight teams of two. Or four teams of four. Or three on two on two on nine. Or...well, you get the idea. Also try out Swords, ’cause nothing makes you feel more like a man than carrying a big-ass energy sword to an online battle. Except for dating a girl, that is.
One guy is more powerful than the others. Take him out to become the new juggernaut, who’s the only one that can score points.
Best variant: Ninjanaut—the juggernaut is invisible, and all other players must work together to hunt him down. Play it on a small map like Lockout with lots of people—the title of juggernaut will constantly be changing; hilarity will ensue. Watch out for Dreadnaut mode, though. The juggernaut is a triple-overshielded mutha, and if he gets a hold of an energy sword, he can easily go on a long run to win the game without much competition. We didn’t like that one so much.
Sorta like king of the hill, except you take over territories to turn them to your color—the more you take over, the faster your time goes.
Best variant: Mama always said three plots are better than one, so try 3 Plots with two teams. It’s frantic because everyone wants the third plot for an edge in the timer department. And if one team can hold on to all three, even for a little while, it’ll make the other team freak out as their clock stops while the winning team’s clock goes three times faster toward victory. This is one of the best new modes for Halo 2, provided you have at least six players.
Smear the [guy with the oddball].
Best variants: When you have the oddball, you don’t have a weapon. What happens when you have the oddball and everyone else has energy swords in Swordball? You crap your pants, that’s what. Low Ball’s another fun one where everyone on the team must hold the ball for at least 30 seconds for the team to win.
Capture the Flag
If you don’t know what capture the flag means, then you have no business playing games.
Best variant: 1 Flag CTF, because Multi Flag CTF can take too long sometimes, as teams trade flags back and forth. With one flag, the teams alternate playing offense and defense, which is much more intense. Try it on the Zanzibar map, because the flag is appropriately holed up in a giant fortress.
King of the Hill
Control the “hill” the longest to win.
Best variant: Try Crazy King (moving hill) on the map Colossus, where a deep valley sees players flying in from all over the stage trying to take the center spot. It looks like a bunch of Batmans descending on a common prey.
Carry a bomb into the enemy’s base, then detonate it, natch.
Best variant: They’re all pretty much the same, but we like Neutral Bomb, where everyone’s racing to get the one bomb in the middle. Sorta like dodgeball with one ball. Except that ball’s da bomb, literally.