In War Games and Spartan Ops, you receive experience after completing each game. This experience is used to level up your Spartan IV character. As you level up, you unlock new equipment (such as weapons, armor abilities, and perks) and new armor. Each level requires more experience to unlock, so you will level up quickly at first and slowly later on. After you reach level 20, you will have unlocked all equipment, and any levels past that will have little effect on your gameplay.
There are 3 ways to gain experience. The primary way is to complete games in either War Games or Spartan Ops. After each game, you will be rewarded a fixed completion bonus and a much smaller bonus based on your success during that game. In general, you will receive around 2500 experience from shorter games (slayer, oddball, etc.) and 3000 experience from longer games (Spartan Ops, Big Team Battle, CTF). The second way to gain experience is by completing challenges. There are an assortment of War Games, Campaign, and Spartan Ops challenges that you can complete to gain extra experience, with rewards ranging from 1000 to 20,000 experience depending on the difficulty of the challenge. Challenges come in many variations, such as killing a certain number of enemies in a certain way, winning a certain number of games, or completing a certain campaign mission on a certain difficulty. New Challenges are added periodically. Finally, you can gain experience by completing commendations. Commendations are similar to challenges, but they have no time limit and new ones are never added. There is a large assortment of over 100 commendations, each with between 5 to 7 stages of completion. Every time you complete a new stage of a commendation, you receive a certain amount of experience. You can also gain new armor and weapon skins by completing the highest stage of certain commendations.
After you reach level 50, you can choose from 8 different Spartan specializations. Each specialization requires 10 levels to complete, and you unlock new armor with each level. After completing the final level of a specialization, you unlock a new perk. While these new perks only have a minor effect on gameplay, they do offer useful bonuses such as more experience per game, faster assassinations, or longer overheat times on vehicles. Once you complete all 8 specializations and reach level 130, you have completed the leveling progression and will no longer level up.
Throughout the leveling process, you will unlock numerous pieces of armor, all of which can be accessed from the “back” menu. This allows you to customize the way your Spartan IV looks in both Spartan Ops and War Games, but has absolutely no effect on gameplay. You unlock new armor by reaching new levels, completing commendations, and completing armor-specific challenges.
Unlike in the previous Halo games, you can create your own loadout in Halo 4. Each loadout consists of a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, an armor ability, a grenade type, and two perks. You can have 5 different loadouts at one time, allowing you to develop different combinations for each situation. These 5 loadouts are used in both Spartan Ops and War Games, so I suggest that set allocate 2 loadouts for Spartan Ops and 3 for War Games.
Below, I discuss which equipment to use in your War Games loadouts. However, these are only my opinions; you should develop a loadout that fits your play style the best.
Primary Weapon: I highly suggest that you use a headshot weapon as your primary weapon, as headshot weapons have a much longer range and kill enemies faster than any of the assault weapons. I suggest that you use either the DMR, Battle Rifle, or Light Rifle. Of these Options, the DMR is the most accurate, the Battle Rifle deals the most damage when not zoomed in, and the Light Rifle deals the most damage when zoomed in.
Secondary Weapon: You should always use the Plasma Pistol as your secondary weapon, no matter the situation. Although the Plasma Pistol and headshot trick does not work very well against human players, you can still use the Plasma Pistol to stun and jack vehicles and to remove peoples shields and melee them. The Magnum is inferior in damage and accuracy to the headshot rifles, and the bolt shot does not deal enough damage to be worthwhile.
Grenade Type: I suggest that you use the Frag grenade as your grenade type. You can bounce Frag grenades around corners or up gravity lifts, allowing you to kill players that are out of your line of sight. When used in combination with Promethean Vision, this can be a very effective tactic. However, if you are very good at sticking your opponents, you may wish to use the Plasma grenade.
Armor Ability: In my opinion, Active Camouflage and Promethean Vision are the two best armor abilities for War Games. Promethean Vision allows you to see your opponents before they see you, allowing you to get the first shot and the element of surprise. It also allows you to easily see players using Active Camouflage. Active Camouflage allows you to stay hidden while snipping or sneak up on enemies, which is especially useful when using shotguns.
Perks: There are a large assortment of perks that provide minor bonuses. You should choose whichever perks complementing your play style the best. Some of my personal favorites include extra ammo, more frequent ordinance drops, and faster armor ability regeneration.
In order to obtain non-loadout weapons in War Games, you will need to rely on Ordinance Drops. Ordinance Drops are a new game mechanic implemented in Halo 4, replacing the previous system of weapon spawns. Weapon crates are dropped onto the battlefield from above, and can contain either a weapon, a power-up, or two grenades. There are two types of Ordinance Drops, and they are as follows:
Map Ordinance Drops appear throughout the map at the start of the game, and redeploy after a certain amount of time. These drops usually contain a tier 2 (Shotgun, Saw, etc.) or a tier 3 (Rocket Launcher, Binary Rifle, etc.) weapon, though they can also contain grenades or power ups. Any player can access a Map Ordinance Drop simply by walking up to the weapons crate and pressing x, just like swapping with a weapon on the ground. When you are near Ordinance, it will show up as an icon on your HUD. This icon displays your distance from the drop and what equipment is in the drop, so it is a useful tool for judging if it is worth taking the Ordinance. Drops of higher value take longer to redeploy.
Personal Ordinance Drops are rewards given to players after they score a certain number of points in a game. These drops are somewhat similar to “Kill Streaks” in the Call of Duty games. After you score a certain number of points (from kills, assists, objective completions, etc.), an option to call in Ordinance will appear at the top of your HUD. You will always have 3 options, which you can choose by pressing the corresponding direction on the D-pad. The middle option will offer a power up, the left option will offer a grenade or weapon, and the right option will offer a weapon. On larger maps, you are more likely to receive tier 3 or “power” weapon options. After you call in your Personal Ordinance, you will begin working towards your next one, though each subsequent drop requires more points. There is no limit to the number of drops you can receive in a single game, though realistically, you will usually receive between 1 – 3 drops in a typical game. After you call in a Personal Ordinance Drop, you can obtain your equipment by walking up to the weapons crate and pressing x. If you ever try to “steal” an enemy’s Personal Ordinance, you will need to hold down x for approximately 3 seconds.
Ordinance Drops also introduce power ups to War Games. Each power up provides you with some type of advantage for a set period of time or until you die. The Speed Boost power up allows you to move, throw grenades, reload, and punch twice as fast. It lasts for a long time and is very useful for carrying the flag in CTF or reaching objectives in other objective-driven game types. Damage Boost doubles all forms of damage that you deal (weapon, grenade, and melee) for a short period of time. This means that you can easily kill an enemy with a single melee, or kill them with two body shots and a headshot with a headshot weapon. When combined with more powerful weapons like the Saw, Beam Rifle, or Fuel Rod, you will become nearly unstoppable. Over Shields provides you with triple shield capacity, displayed as a second green bar covering your blue shield bar. This extra level of shields will not regenerate, and it will drain slowly over time.