Halo 2 Skulls
Halo 2 Skulls are game modifiers included in Halo 2 to make the game more challenging or interesting, or to unlock potentials that would otherwise remain hidden. Bungie first introduced skulls to the Halo series in Halo 2, and they have been included in every game since.
Skulls are collected by picking them up, as the player would a weapon, though there is no information text to wield a skull. Skulls' effects are only found in the game's campaign.
In the original Xbox game, once a skull is collected it is immediately activated (with the exception of IWHBYD); this activation is denoted by a white flash and a loud "whoosh" sound. The skull's effects then last until the console is restarted. The same is true of Halo 2 for Windows Vista, though the effects last until the game is restarted. In order to reactivate the skull, the player must find and collect the skull again.
In Halo: The Master Chief Collection the skulls are present, however they are not activated when they are collected (though the flash and "whoosh" are still present). Instead, skulls must be selected from the pre-game menu before beginning the level. The skulls are unlocked by default (along with a number of new skulls) and do not need to be found before they can be used, however each skull unlocks an achievement when collected, providing players motivation to seek them out.
Every Skull except for Blind and Assassin can only be found on Legendary difficulty (though on other difficulties the Assassins Skull will have no effect). The Blind Skull may be a very handy tool when recording video on the original Xbox, and, fortunately, is very easy to activate.
The Skulls are mostly used by players to customize their gaming experience by manipulating the game-play engines with the various Skull combinations. The most fearsome Halo 2 players will be playing with Skulls like a combination of Mythic, which increases enemy armor and shield strength greatly (Ultra Elites even require two overcharged Plasma Pistol bursts to compromise their shields) and Thunderstorm, changing all enemies to their highest rank; Envy, which allows the Master Chief to use Active Camouflage technology at the expense of his flashlight; and IWHBYD, which unlocks hidden dialog and causes the AI to interact verbally more often.
Note: These items are not actually part of the Halo universe, but are just tidbits that Bungie left in Halo 2.
List of Known Skulls
Directions: After you save both groups of Marines, continue until you reach the first outdoor area with dirt and vegetation. Take a right as you enter this room and run up to the wall past the Gravity Lift that leads up to the sniper point. Get on top of the wall by going up the dirt mound on your left. Follow the wall and an invisible Gunner Grunt will spawn wielding a Fuel Rod Gun. Kill him and reach the floating Skull called "Anger".
Effects: Enemies and allies fire their weapons faster and more frequently.
Trivia: The Skull floats above a Gravity Lift ring. This Skull is treated as a "third" weapon rather than a pickup weapon. You can throw grenades (though there is no animation) and switch to primary and secondary weapons (though there is no side symbol, but a put-away animation).
Directions: Immediately after the gondola ride following the battle with the Hunters, there will be a building with two turrets on it. Enter the building and turn to your right. There will be a box, jump on it. From there jump to the adjacent light fixture, then to the ledge. The ledge leads to the area with the two turrets.
Once there, Grenade Jump to get onto the roof area. Then, using Crouch Jumps and/or Grenade Jumps, follow the right side perimeter of the building. Once you have gone as far as you can go you will find a small grassy area with two Stealth Elites holding Energy Swords (one can be assassinated, the other cannot) in their "angry stance" and the Assassins Skull between them.
Effect: All enemies in game are permanently cloaked. Allies can sometimes see them but mostly they can't, so they can't help much.
Note: This Skull also appears on any difficulty, and even on co-op play, but no Elites will be standing there, the flash and name will not appear, and the effect will not take place. If you kill a lot of Marines they will turn against you and become cloaked. Playing with non scoring skulls enabled doesn't spawn the dancing swords around the skull. The skull is there and you can pick it up however it doesn't pop the achievement. Must be on Legendary single player or Co-Op mode with no skulls for the dancing swords to appear around the skull then the achievement will pop once you pick it up.
Level: The Great Journey
Directions: Eventually you have to escort Sergeant Johnson, who is in a Scarab, to Delta Halo's Control Room. Follow him along until you see the Control Room in front of you. Directly above the door that Johnson blows open with the Scarab is an angled beam. Land your Banshee on this beam and walk to the top of the beam. Look down and to your left and you will see a circular angled wall. Jump onto this wall and walk to the top. Walk straight along the right-hand side of this area. You will have to jump over a small beam in front of you. Continue walking straight until you come to a grassy area.
Keep walking up the grassy hill and go until you come to the point where can jump onto the angled support for the tower meets the grass. Jump onto the support and walk up the support. It's a very steep climb, so jumping while you're going up the support speeds up the walk some. At the first landing you will see the Black Eye skull sitting on a glowing white panel on the floor.
Effect: Your shield does not charge normally. To charge your shields you must kill something (enemy, ally, or turret) with a melee attack (anything but the Energy Sword). You can charge your shields into the Overshield range by doing this (one kill will charge 100% of your normal shields). Also activates subtitles during cut scenes. Additionally, this skull causes the falling snow in the multiplayer level Lockout to disappear.
Directions:When you start the level, go through the door and kill the Grunt there. Backtrack and right above the first door you came through there is a light. Crouch Jump onto that and either Crouch Jump or Grenade Jump again (Crouch Jumping is easier), and you should be on the roof (or you can get the Sputnik Skull and only use one grenade). Look for a space between the two buildings, and go into it, at the end there should be four Fragmentation Grenades, a spotting scope, and the Skull in front of them.
Effect: Your heads-up display becomes invisible. In other words, you cannot see your weapon (unless it's the Energy Sword, which has a glitched appearance with this Skull), body, shields, ammunition, motion tracker, or use your flashlight. Muzzle flare from weapons though, are still visible. However, well experienced players should be able to accurately judge where they are aiming with ease. Also, as enemies can still spot you, this Skull serves no tactical advantage whatsoever (although machinima makers will find a good use for this Skull), although hitting enemies with the Skull should kill them with only two or three hits. The effects of this Skull will last until you turn off the Xbox or eject the disc. Oddly, you can still see the shadow of your weapon, and even the Blind Skull itself. This skull appears in any difficulty.
An interesting possible message left by Bungie is seen in the form of the frags and scope. There are four frags, and the scope, which could be interpreted as "foresight". Also, since the Blind Skull is available on all difficulties, it is a sort of "trick skull", to make you think you've obtained the skull of the level, since every other level (excluding the Heretic, which is an opening cut-scene) has one, obtainable on Legendary only. So, it is meant to stop you from getting the IWHBYD Skull. Another possibility is that the scope is meant to stand for the word "Look" and the four grenades stand for the word "For" which could make the message "Look for Skulls" ("Skull" is in reference to the Blind Skull). Also, after getting the Skull, walk back a bit and activate your flashlight.
A circle of light on the ground where the spotting scope is appears (it looks quite a bit like the Marathon symbol, this will not work if you restart the level or save and quit). Also, this Skull is often used for making machinimas, as you cannot see yourself. In contrast to the Active Camouflage, in which there is a slight shimmer, there is perfect invisibility for the Blind Skull, thus increasing its usefulness. Also, with this Skull, you will not have a flashlight on the level Outskirts, and possibly all levels.
Directions: Right after you exit from the underground highway, you'll come to a large open-air circular area with a handful of Jackal Snipers and some Elites. The quickest way to get safely to the Skull is to get the next checkpoint by jumping into the Warthog and letting the Marine drive you to the next area. Jump out of the Warthog and backtrack to the large room, and clear the area. Or you can get your Warthog from the bridge and just run right through the platforms and the other part until you reach the place where you find the Wraiths attacking the building where the Marines are (but you don't have to fight them) and then go back and the enemies will be gone when you go back. You will see a large semi-circular beam going from one of the main platforms that goes from the ground up to the top of the two towers. Do a Grenade Jump at the bottom of this beam and walk all the way to the top. Jump over to the ledge of the left tower. Walk to the end of the ledge and you will find the Catch Skull. The Sputnik Skull may be helpful if you have trouble Grenade Jumping.
Effect: A.I. will throw more grenades. Also, everybody (allies and enemies) will drop two grenades of their kind (humans drop frag grenades and aliens drop plasma grenades) Flood will drop grenades depending on whether they're human or Covenant.
Extra Information: It is wise to have this Skull in Flood levels, since Flood do not throw grenades. This Skull is also slightly tinged orange where as the other Skulls are not.
Level: Delta Halo
Directions: Progress through Delta Halo until you come to an area with a large central structure that has a multitude of columns (the place with the many stationary shield generators). This is the area where Cortana tells you that they are all pouring out of the middle. When you first get into this area, you have to go left, and there is a ramp on the left that goes up and then back down. Get on this ramp and continue up the wall until you are on the landing where there will be (or used to be) some Plasma Turrets. Follow this landing all the way to its end, and you'll see a door that is blocked off by a large stone. Jump on top of the stone, and jump again to get on a thin ledge. Make sure you're up against the left wall, and Grenade Jump up to the top of the wall to your left. Once you're on this wall, you'll see that the right wall ends and there is some earth behind it. Jump onto the dirt, and follow the stone wall all the way to the top. When you're on the top of this wall, you can look down towards the center and you should see two Stealth Elites repeating their "angry stance" towards each other with the Envy skull between them. (Note: They will not attack you, even if you shoot at them. But if they are killed they will fire their weapons randomly before they hit the ground, which can hurt you).
Another way of getting the Skull is to grenade the stone away from the door. For that, you'll need all the Fragmentation and Plasma Grenades you can carry, sometimes even more (using rocket launcher and having the Sputnik skull would be helpful). Throw each of them into the corner behind the stone. Every time a grenade explodes, the stone will move a little. You'll never get it fully out of the way, but after about eight or nine grenades, there will be enough space to go through the door. Alternatively jump on the rock and throw one Plasma Grenade in the corner behind the rock. This should move it enough so that you can drop into the crack and melee the rock until the doorway is clear. If not, throw a couple more grenades. If you do not have any grenades or rocket launcher ammo, use a Scorpion or Wraith to blast the stone away. This method leads you up a ramp and into a room open to one side where you'll find two dead Grunts along with two Energy Swords (an Easter Egg which implies that these two Grunts accidentally killed themselves with the Swords). Exit the room and you'll be on a platform above the normal area. Grenade jump towards the room you just exited, and you'll be with the Stealth Elites and the Envy Skull.
Effect: The Master Chief now has an Active Camouflage device just like the Arbiter's. However, there is no visible timer, so remember: five second cloak with ten second recharge on Legendary (the cloak and recharge times are longer and shorter, respectively, on easier difficulties). To fully exploit the effects of this Skull, execute the permanent invisibility glitch.
Level: The Oracle
Directions: After you get off of the slowly descending elevator, you will come to a hallway where you see a handful of dead bodies. Continue into the next room, and you will be on the second floor of a room that has a lot of glass windows. When you enter this room, look to the right, and find the third pane of glass. It should be to the right of a wall that has some Flood guts splattered on it. Shoot out this window, and the windows directly across the room. If you look below you, you will see a platform that has four tall posts. On the far side of the room there is a column that is right in between the two windows on the far side of the room. Turn on your Active Camouflage, and jump to the center platform. Jump on either of the posts on the far side of the platform and jump to the column between the windows. Make another jump through the window you shot out, and make a left. Walk all the way to the end and you'll find four Elite Combat Forms convulsing on the floor, with the Famine Skull in the middle of them. Sometimes, the Combat Form nearest to the battlefield stands up, but it does not attack.
Effect: All dropped weapons have half ammo. Weapons that spawned on the floor or spawned with are unaffected.
Directions: Immediately after the armory room that is full of Covenant and human weapons, there is an L shaped room. Grenade Jump, using a Ghost, up to the rafters of this room, and you will find the Skull over a doorway. Or, if you are playing co-op, get a box from the weapon room, and have one player stand on the box, then have the other player stand on the first player's head, have player two Crouch Jump on to the ledge and grab the skull.
Effect: A.I. characters will not flinch from attacks, melee or otherwise.
Grunt Birthday Party
Level: The Arbiter
Directions: The very first time you get a Banshee, fly down. Below you is a large beam-like structure (not to be confused with the one directly below you that turns and goes vertical) running from the arm of the station you just came out of to one exactly like it on the side opposite. Below this structure are three cylinders hanging down, with cylinders of light shooting out of the bottom(and the sides). They look like they are what keep the station afloat. If this explanation is too vague, they are the absolute lowest parts of the station. Now go to the middle engine and land on the top part of it. This and the other engines connect to the large structure mentioned earlier. The tops of the engines come up to meet the structure at an angle, where this angle is under the connecting structure and coming up to meet it, there is a place to walk (like being under a bridge). Under one side you will see the six Heretic Grunts dancing in a circle around the Skull. If you want to see the effects immediately, headshot one of the Grunts (the others won't react in any way), and his head will explode!
Effect: Headshots turn into Plasma Grenade explosions. You must first take down an Elite's shield for this to work on one. You also need to shoot Brutes and fellow Marines twice (if they don't have a helmet or you shoot marines in their face, you only need to shoot them once) in the head for this to work. You can also give a headshot to a dead body and it will still explode. This Skull doesn't affect Hunters, Drones or Sentinels. Keep in mind that the Flood's "head" is actually their sensory antennae, so you need to shoot them in the chest area.
In The Master Chief Collection the skull's effect is changed to a confetti explosion and cheering children sound effect, as found in all Halo FPS games from Halo 3 on. The sound and graphical effects only appear in remastered mode, and as such the skull is rendered inoperative in classic mode.
I Would Have Been Your Daddy (IWHBYD)
Directions: The skull can be found on the level Outskirts when playing on Legendary. This skull has a one in seven chance of spawning (referenced by the "1" and "7" posters in the room containing the skull) when the game loads the Jackal snipers in the alley after the clearing where Johnson is picked up in the pelican. You may skip the entirety of the encounters up to the sniper alley by using the rooftops. The following guide is a fast route to the skull with safety checkpoints. It is strongly advised that you activate the permanent invisibility glitch for this.
From the beginning of Outskirts, run into the first hallway and then look overhead. You will see two lights on either side of the hallway. Jump on to one of them, and then crouch jump up to the higher platform. From there turn around and run along the ledge to the right of the alleyway below.
Across from it, you will see another platform. Jump to it, then Grenade Jump or double jump onto yet another higher level. From there, look left and you will see a nearby rooftop, jump to it; go to the right and head down that alley, where you'll be able to jump onto the higher rooftop. Continue to the other side of the rooftop and drop down to the street. Turn right and head toward the open area, where you can hide from the Jackals' fire behind the large truck. Once you hear that the Jackals have been killed by your allies, you can head towards the ramp ahead, but DO NOT go past the top of the ramp. Wait for the checkpoint if it hasn't happened already, then save and quit the game. This checkpoint is before the Jackal snipers in the alley are spawned, which is when the game calculates the random chance of whether the skull spawns or not. This is the checkpoint you will reload if the skull does not spawn.
Unfortunately, the game automatically checkpoints a little bit after you enter the alley as well, locking in the "dice roll" of the skull spawn. It is important that this checkpoint is skipped, which you can do by constantly meleeing as you run through this next part. As long as you are meleeing, the game will not save a checkpoint. If it does checkpoint, you can exit the game entirely without saving (turning off the console) and reload your saved checkpoint, or kill yourself five times quickly to revert to the pre-alley checkpoint.
Head through the alley, and you should see a dumpster to your right. Jump onto the dumpster and onto the nearby roof. Jump onto the pipes attactched to the wall, onto the platform, and then leap to the roof across the alley. Head diagonally forward and right onto the roof just past bridge-like structure and turn left. You should see a balcony across the alley with a doorway. Stop meleeing now. Enter this doorway and look at the ground to the right. Wait about ten seconds. A checkpoint will occur, and the skull may or not appear at the same time as the checkpoint. If there is no skull, reload the pre-alley checkpoint, either by killing yourself five times or by quitting the game without saving, and try again.
If you want to save the Skull, (in case you fail in the fight with the Elites) you should exit the room and proceed to get another checkpoint. Save and quit. Restart and go back to room with the Skull. It will always be there. When you grab the Skull, you'll be transported into the alley. You will have only a Plasma Pistol, and must fight off seven waves of Ultra Elites (wave one starting with one Elite, wave two with two Elites, and so on).
Effect: The rarity of combat dialog is changed, rare lines become far more common but common lines are still present at their normal rate.
Trivia: The Skull is named after a quote originally spoken by Stacker: "I would have been your daddy, but the dog beat me over the fence!" The quote has since been spoken by both Sergeant Johnson and Sergeant Stacker. The first chapter of Assault on the Control Room is also named "I Would Have Been Your Daddy...". This skull might also just be the skull to make up for the first level since it is just a cut scene all the way and that there was supposed to be at least one skull on every level.
Fighting off seven waves of Ultra Elites and the 1 in 7 chance to spawn are references to Bungie's favorite number, "7".
After you have fought several waves of enemies, you should see in the top left "I would have been your daddy". This means you attained and the skull is active!
Tips and Tricks
This is much easier with the permanent invisibility glitch. If you die in the alley with no checkpoint after the checkpoint in the Skull room, there will be several white flashes, you will be reverted to the checkpoint in the Skull room, the Skull will disappear sometimes and will not take effect. Also, if you attempt to escape the alley, you will get teleported to the Elites' position and lose all your collected weapons. Once you kill all seven waves, the Skull will become active.
If you get a checkpoint while fighting the Elites, save and quit. You will restart where you saved and then you can continue killing them. Saving here will enable you to load the IWHBYD effect (by killing the remainder of the Elites) after the Xbox is turned off, although the actual Skull will not be reloaded.
If you manage to get the skull to spawn (appear) then do not grab it straight away; walk around for a while until you get an another checkpoint then get the skull, That way if you die while battling the 7 waves of elites, you can just try again instead of having to restart the level
You can battle the Elites with the skull if you so desire. To do this, the second you grab the skull, leave the room and drop it over the balcony. It will fall into the alley you fight the Elites in and sometimes will go straight into your hands.
New and Updated tip for acquiring this skull: This process was used to acquire the IWHBYD skull on 3/17/2018. To get this skull in Halo MCC Halo 2: Set Legendary/Solo with only the Scarab Skull enabled. No other skulls. Kill (4) sniper jackals immediately when they spawn in the following locations. No Checkpoints needed any more. (In Co-Op the skull didn't appear. Not sure if maybe missing a different process or method or doesn't work at all for Co-Op.)
Take off and get up to the roof top through the first door/hallway. Skip the grunt at the beginning. Crouch jump on to the light and then again from the light to the roof top. Make your way to the roof top where the Pelican will appear. Skip the waiting for the Pelican and Sgt. Johnson. Proceed directly down off this roof top to the broken highway. Grenade jump over across the broken highway to the roof top and move forward to the far side of the root top.
The first sniper is at the normal spawn place down below in the alley between the buildings. Just walk uo the edge of the roof top, make sure you don't fall off. As soon as the Jackal appears next to the purple supply box. Kill it. (This is usually Checkpoint #4.) This is Jackal #1.
Turn left and jump across the next root top to the right. Walk forward towards the end of this root top, then turn right. (Checkpoint #5 is usually here.) Walk towards the right side of this roof top and look at the alley way down below and to the right. There will be TWO jackals that spawn here next to a box down below. Kill them both immediately when they appear. (These usually appear soon after Checkpoint #5 and as you approach the right side of this roof top.) This is Jackal #2 and #3.
Continue forward and hop across to the next root top in front of you and turn right and head towards where the skull building location is. (This is usually Checkpoint #6.) The building will be in front and to the right.
Hop across to skull building roof top and soon as you make the landing turn immediately right and kill the jackal that appears to the right and behind you between two building walls. This is Jackal #4.
From here make your way over and down to the skull closet on the far side of this building where the skull should appear. (Checkpoint 7 would normally appear here.)
Entire trip should take under two minutes if done right and the skull should appear.
Level: High Charity
Directions: When you enter the final (the second) large Gravity Lift (do not confuse with smaller ones throughout the level), look up. A Skull will pass through you extremely quickly so you must start holding X a bit before you actually pass it to grab hold of it.
Effect: When playing co-op, if either player dies the game restarts you at your last checkpoint. The effect resembles the effect already in place on Legendary difficulty, making it a somewhat redundant Skull.
Level: Sacred Icon
Directions: There is a semi outdoor area which has the same type of area right next to it. There is an Enforcer in front of each one. Go past this area and down the piston and you'll be in a very dark and dank Flood infested area. There's a stack of six or seven boxes as you enter the room. Use them to jump up to the landing above. There are a handful of alcoves on your right hand side. The Skull is in the third alcove, floating above a dead human Flood.
Effect: Enemies have more health and shielding, and are therefore harder to kill. Note: health and shielding increase more as the enemies rise in rank. A red Grunt will not gain as much health as a white Grunt. Similarly, a blue Elite Minor will gain a small bit of health, but an Ultra Elite will gain a ridiculous amount of both shielding and health, to the point that a Plasma Pistol overcharge won't drop their shields even halfway. Besides that, it also makes your allies gain a small bit of health, and the Skull will make allies immune to being meleed.
Note: For those who like a challenge, combine with the Thunderstorm Skull.
Level: Quarantine Zone
Directions: This is probably the easiest Skull to obtain next to the Blind Skull and That's Just Wrong Skull. At the start of the level, look directly behind you for an Elite. Right behind the Elite is a tunnel (hard to miss). Go through the tunnel and continue walking straight until you pass a bridge, which is to your right. Beyond the bridge there is a narrow ledge jutting out of the cliff face ahead. Jump onto this. Hug the wall (Just enough room for you to walk) until you get to the end of the cliff, and you will see the Sputnik Skull floating in the air.
This is arguably the most popular skull in Halo 2, as players like to have a lot of fun making things fly around and going on "vacation". A lot of glitches involve the use of the Sputnik Skull.
Effect: The mass of certain objects is severely reduced, making them fly further when smacked with a melee hit, or when they are near an explosion. Weapon damage seems to have strengthened slightly. It also has the added effect of making enemies turn around when you hit them, allowing you to kill them in two hits. With the Sputnik Skull's effect in place, players can reach nearly impossible places and much higher altitudes using Grenade Jumps. Also, your melee has strengthened force. This Skull can be used to obtain the Scarab Gun by allowing the player to reach massive heights, and is a key component if you want to get the Soccer Ball Easter egg.
That's Just... Wrong
Level: The Armory
Directions: At the beginning of the level, after you power your shields for the first time, Sergeant Johnson shows up on an elevator. Wait in the room until Johnson starts berating you, telling you to get into the elevator. You MUST wait for him to say "Would it help if I said please?" (this takes approximately four minutes and forty seconds). Once he says this, get in the elevator, and go up to the tram. Get on the tram, and face towards the INSIDE of the building. Press up against the glass doors towards the inside of the building. You should hold X down, and you should pick up the Skull. It's on a stack of crates, near the end of the tram ride.
Effect: That's Just... Wrong strengthens the hearing of both allies and enemies. They will now notice the slightest sound of reloading or drawing a weapon, footsteps, etc., rendering active camouflage useless. All computer-controlled characters have better accuracy.
Level: Cairo Station
Directions: In the large room after the armory, you need to use a Crouch Jump to get onto a light fixture on the right wall (right of the room when you enter) and then jump from there onto the higher area. There is a series of diagonal beams. Walk up one near to the end of it and use it to Crouch Jump onto one of the rails. You can fall between the rails, so be careful. Once on the rail, walk down it until you can jump onto the highest platform. Then melee the trashcan away from the wall a few times, the Skull is right behind it.
Alternate Directions:It is possible to Grenade Jump up to the platform if you can't stay on the rails. The Sputnik Skull helps a lot here, but it's possible without it. Just get on the ground near the platform the Skull is on and Grenade Jump. You also don't need to melee the trashcan out of the way, but it will reveal an interesting hidden object. Near the Skull is a burning cigar that looks like a Sweet William Cigar, the type that Sergeant Johnson is seen using.
Effect: Causes most enemy and ally units to be their highest rank. Elites and Grunts will become Ultras, Jackals will become Majors (orange shields), Sentinels will be Majors (gold) except for the ones in the levels the Arbiter and the Oracle, Brutes will become Captains and all Flood Elites will have shields. Spec Ops, Rangers, Honor Guard Elites, Drones, Hunters, Jackal snipers, Flood humans, Marines, Gunner Grunts and basically everyone else are unaffected.
Note: Any enemy units that have spawned, previous to you acquiring the skull, will remain at the same rank they spawned as.