Grifball is a community created game-type made by Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth. It was introduced as a custom game type in Halo 3, subsequently introduced in matchmaking, and was made a permanent game type in Halo: Reach, Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. In Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, the game is an Assault variant, while in Halo 4 it is a variant of Oddball.
The game is played like a Rooster Teeth-inspired game of Rugby. Red and blue teams, both with three to four players, square off in a simple arena in which each team has a goal. The object is to take the ball in the middle of the court and put it in the other team’s goal. Irrespective of the team, the ball carrier's armor color always changes to orange when they are carrying the ball.
Scoring a goal earns one point. In Halo 3, Halo: Reach and Grifball Pro of Halo 4, this also ends the round. In Halo 3, each match consists of 5 rounds (originally 9 rounds). Halo: Reach and Grifball Pro in Halo 4 have up to five rounds with three victories to win, and unlike Halo 3, the game will end after the third victory. There is a three minute time limit for each round. Grifball in Halo 4 uses a single round.
Grifball games are typically played on open rectangular courts that do not have any obstacles; the only frequently available features of the levels are subtle narrow ledges at the edge of the court that often require Gravity Hammer-boosted jumping to utilise. Despite of that, the game becomes extremely intense and strategic as the game relies heavily on teamwork and a bit of luck.
Each player has a Gravity Hammer and an Energy Sword (secondary), with infinite energy for both weapons. In some maps and game variants in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, the 7 wood is used instead of the Gravity Hammer, though the gameplay remains identical. In Halo: Reach and Halo 4, there are two loadouts available: one has Gravity Hammer and Energy Sword, and the other has Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer. The purpose of this is to let the player pick their spawn weapon, as this can be crucial when respawning.
The game features very fast respawning, short distances, no places to hide, and often results in players getting several multi-kills up to Killionaires and occasionally an Extermination (usually due to exploding Bombs). A well-timed Gravity Hammer strike during the start-of-round "bomb rush" can also claim four—or seven, for that matter—lives at once. Skilled players can accrue very long killing sprees.
Damage is set to 200% with player health set to 10%. One direct hit will kill a player. Dead players respawn in three seconds at their own goal.
The ball carrier has a 2× Overshield, 150% speed, 150% damage resistance after a period of time in which these charge up. The ball carrier also turns orange, like the character Dexter Grif from the webseries Red vs Blue, for whom the game is named. Shield recharge speed has been increased since the inception. In some of the early Double EXP Weekends, Bungie made the mistake of making the bomb carrier become gold instead of orange, resulting in the ball carrier being colored like Grif's sister, Kakaina Grif. This was corrected in subsequent updates.
Friendly players can hurt and betray each other, making use of the motion tracker encouraged. As accidents frequently happen, betrayal booting is disabled.
The origin of Grifball can be traced back to an interview with its creator:
"In Season Four of Red vs Blue, Sarge is taking pot-shots with a Sniper Rifle at Grif, whom he hates. He’s having a great time and blurts out 'This is the best game since Grifball!' That was written about three years ago and we always wondered what kind of game Grifball would have been. That’s why the ball carrier turns orange – everyone in the game is constantly trying to hammer-smash Grif and even if he scores, he explodes. Either way, Sarge wins."
While the first off-hand joke about "Grifball" was made in Season 4 of Red vs. Blue, the actual practical development of the gametype only started three years later when Rooster Teeth was making the Heroic Map Pack "D.I.Y." trailer and experimenting with Forge and custom Assault game types in the Foundry map.
There have been two documented occasions in Halo 3 (Grifball Week 2 Highlights and British Summer League Highlights Week 3) when the ball-carrier (A.K.A. Grif) did not die after scoring. In the first case, he dropped the Bomb and rode a Hammer shock wave away from the explosion to safety. When the video ends, Sarge is heard crying in the background, "I'm so sad, I don't think I can go on. End it now, end it now." The second time this happened, the player managed to score and was then propelled out of the way by an opponent in an attempt to kill him. After Halo: Reach's release, ball-carriers escaping the explosion became more common thanks to the inclusion of Armor Abilities such as Sprint allowing them to get away in time. This is often remedied, though, by changing the game settings so that the ball-carrier will automatically drop dead upon scoring.
A basic instructions video is shown on YouTube.
Grifball appeared many times in Halo 3 unranked Double EXP Weekend hoppers, since March 6 [which year?]. There was no set rotation for Grifball, although it has appeared many times.
In the unlikely event that a player finds themselves thrown outside of the arena (beyond the wall), teleporters situated beyond the playing field have been provided. These teleporters will drop you outside the map, killing you instantly. You will respawn back at your goal. Play is not suspended when a player goes out of bounds. It is the player's duty to return to play. If a ball carrier goes out of bounds, they must return to play within 30 seconds (judged by time on Save Film) or they forfeit the entire match. If they leave the ball beyond the wall, it will reset within 15 seconds. Play is not suspended while the ball or ball carrier is out of bounds. (Halo: Reach and Halo 4 employ kill boundaries to limit the player movement and allow ball respawning.)
The original Grifball courts were Foundry variants. During the development of Mythic Map Pack, one of the ideas behind Sandbox's Crypt area was to use it as a Grifball court, resulting in the Grifball map variant Grifbox and subsequent player-created Grifball maps. The tradition to put special areas in Forge canvas maps continued in Halo: Reach and Halo 4.
Originally, Halo 3 matchmaking had only one map available in Double EXP Weekends, such as "AGLA FL09" or "AGLA Foundry". As there were no game variants available, vetoing was disabled on Grifball playlist. As more maps were introduced, vetoing was enabled. Some of the new player-created variants were Mayan Grifball, Grifballupthere, and Aerial Grifball.
All maps are based off locations inside Forge World, often in the "Coliseum" region, which got one of its inspirations from Grifball.
Halo 4 Grifball matchmaking playlist was launched January 28, 2013. As Halo 4 doesn't feature Assault, the ball has been replaced with the Oddball skull, is affected by physics (such as Gravity Hammer blows), and doesn't explode at the end of the round. After a later playlist update, the goals now also emit energy bursts reminiscent of the traditional explosions when a goal is scored.
There are two primary variants of Grifball in Halo 4 matchmaking. Grifball Pro is similar to the earlier incarnations in that ball must be picked up with the X button and the game is divided into distinct rounds. Grifball doesn't feature distinct rounds, but instead the ball will respawn in the middle of the court after a short delay.
In March 17, 2013, the playlist had an update in honor of St. Patrick's Day in which the ball carrier turned green instead of yellow.
Halo 5: Guardians
The Halo 5: Guardians version of Grifball was introduced as part of the Hammer Storm update of February 24, 2016. It builds upon a new generic "ball game mode" used to create various gametypes like Grifball, Assault, Oddball and Ricochet. The default Grifball Court map was the first to be released as part of Hammer Storm.
Players are now launched to the field with man cannons similar to the Breakout round start, and goal explosions now feature fireworks; much like Halo 4 variant, the explosions aren't particularly lethal. The gameplay is similar to the default Halo 4 incarnation with single round and respawning ball, except the ball must be picked up with X button (as in earlier games and in Halo 4 Grifball Pro). The new movement options of Halo 5: Guardians also have an effect on gameplay: the railings surrounding the maps, which were previously only accessible by careful Gravity Hammer boosting by other players, can now be clambered on. Ground pound can also be effective, especially when carrying the ball; a well-targeted ground pound can both clear the surroundings of the goal and score at the same time. The game also features new Grifball medals. As Halo 5: Guardians doesn't have loadouts, players always spawn with Energy Sword as the primary weapon and Gravity Hammer as secondary weapon.
Tips & Tactics
On the following table, the normal writing is what you are holding, the bold writing is what your opponent has.
Launches are a way of propelling your teammate's forward quickly.