From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
Emblems, first introduced in Halo 2, are small designs that are associated with a character profile and used to represent a player's identity in multiplayer games and online play. They consist of a two-colored design or pattern overlaid upon a background (typically a geometric shape), with a user-selected color scheme applied to the result. The feature was later carried on into Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Halo 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 5: Guardians.
In Halo 2, when a character profile is created, there is an option to make an emblem for the player's in-game avatar. Emblems are the primary means of identifying players in multiplayer games and online play; they also appear in the game type Territories, where they are displayed on the flags that denote captured territories. In-game, a player's emblem can be seen glowing on their back and shoulders.
The primary and secondary emblem colors are selected directly in the options menu. Unlike subsequent games, the two colors of the emblem background are determined by the primary and secondary armor colors. Also unique is that all emblems in Halo 2 are displayed with a complete secondary background, resulting in a square image. In subsequent games, the secondary background is transparent.
There are 64 emblems and 32 backgrounds, allowing 2048 basic combinations. With 18 different color options for each of the four elements of the emblem, there are more than 204 million possible emblems.[Note 1]
Emblems also appear in Halo 3. All of the designs from Halo 2 (except for Sergeant, Waypoint, Cleave, and Race) are available, along with numerous new designs unique to Halo 3. The background shape's color is now determined by a third, user-selected color, as opposed to Halo 2, where it took on the same color as the player's armor. Halo 3 also introduces design "toggling" — the secondary emblem color can be hidden.
Emblems in Halo 3 are less prominent than they were in Halo 2; in Halo 3, a Spartan player's emblem is only shown on their right shoulder, whereas in Halo 2, it could be seen on both shoulders and the player's back. Elite players' emblems are shown on their right shoulder and upper back. Emblems are no longer used to uniquely identify a player; that job has been taken on by a new, user-customizable call sign composed of a letter followed by two digits.
The 80 primary emblem designs, the 80 "toggles" of those designs, and the 48 possible emblem backgrounds allow for a combined total of 7,680 basic emblem possibilities in Halo 3. Taking the 30 options for primary, secondary and background color into account, the number of possible emblems exceeds 104 million.[Note 2]
Halo 3: ODST
Emblems are also featured in Halo 3: ODST's Firefight mode. All emblem designs from Halo 3 are available save for one, along with 17 new emblems and four new backgrounds, bringing the total to 96 and 52 respectively. The only emblem which does not return from Halo 3 is "OhNoUDnt", which is replaced by the similar but distinct "Peaceafist".
Emblem designs appear on the player's chest plate.
There are more than 136 million emblem possibilities.[Note 3]
Emblems return in Halo: Reach. They were also featured in the Multiplayer Beta. Once again there are 80 different emblems; 15 new emblems are available, while 31 of the emblems available in Halo 3: ODST have been removed. Notable among the deleted emblems are several which date back to Halo 2, including "Mark of Shame", "Snake", "Hawk", "Marathon" and "Trident." Three of the new designs featured in Halo: Reach were selected after Bungie held a contest where players could send in their ideas for emblem designs, similar to the contest that was held before Halo 3 was released.
Emblems are far less prominent on player armor in Halo: Reach than in previous games. Very small emblems appear on the upper right side of the player's chest piece; a UNSC logo is found in a similar position on the left side of the chest piece. In addition, some of the unlockable chest pieces obscure the emblem entirely. Halo: Reach also marks the first appearance of emblems in campaign, being found on the player-customized SPARTAN-B312. The emblems are not present on Elite armor variants. Emblems only appear on player armor in campaign and Firefight; they are not visible in multiplayer.
With 80 emblems, toggling, 53 backgrounds and 30 colors for each option, there are nearly 116 million possibilities.[Note 4]
Halo 4 features a total of 109 emblem foregrounds (of these only 37 return from Halo: Reach). Three more return after being absent in Reach (ONI, Snake, and Cube [now called Ordnance]). The remaining 69 emblems are all new. Emblems are once again displayed the shoulder pauldron, though now on the left side. The game has 50 emblem backgrounds.
Halo 4 is the first Halo title that requires emblems to be unlocked before they can be used. The Recruit emblem is unlocked by default. Ten emblems are unlocked at SR-4, ten more at SR-19, ten at SR-28, and eight at SR-36; with one each at SR-50 and SR-130. Each of the Specializations unlock four emblems each. The remaining emblems are unlocked by through in-game activities such as commendations, as well as through the Halo Waypoint Classified feature. Because of the reliance on commendations and Halo Waypoint, emblems cannot be unlocked offline, even for single-player activities such as campaign.
Five emblems and backgrounds were originally offered only as exclusive emblems for players who pre-ordered the game from specific retailers. The Halo 4 Limited Edition, Halo 4 Limited Edition Console, and War Games Map Pass also each come with an exclusive emblem and background. Eight of the nine emblems were later included with the Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition. The "Unicorn" emblem and "Fotus" background, exclusive to the console version, was not included. More emblems were exclusive to the Xbox Live 12+1 Month Gold Subscription and the app Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled by Mountain Dew, though they were later made available via the GOTY edition.
Eight emblems are unlocked from Halo Waypoint by inputting hidden codes in the Classified section. Some emblems have certain requirements in order to be unlocked. These emblems do not come with backgrounds.
Backgrounds must be unlocked separately; the first ten are unlocked at SR-21, the second ten at SR-33, and ten more at SR-44. Each Specialization unlocks a unique background.
The Guilty emblem was originally unavailable by any means, but it was unlocked for everyone who played a matchmaking or Spartan Ops game on November 6, 2013, the first anniversary of the Halo 4 release.
With 109 emblems, 50 backgrounds, and 29 colours ("Pale" is removed), there are 134,848,260 possible emblems.
Foreground unlock requirements
Background unlock requirements
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection allows players to select a single emblem to be used across all six games. There are an unprecedented 225 emblems (199 at launch and 26 more via title update). 174 emblems return from previous games and are unlocked by default. These include every emblem from Halo 2 and Halo 3 save for "Seventh Column" and "Marathon" (due to their connection to Bungie). Every emblem from Halo 4,except "Recruit" returns.
Initially, emblems introduced in Halo 3: ODST only appeared if they were also in Halo 4, however once ODST was added to the Collection, 15 new emblems were added, ten of which return from the original ODST and five of which are all-new; all 15 emblems must be unlocked by the player. Similarly, emblems introduced in Halo: Reach originally only appeared if they also appeared in Halo 4; the eight missing emblems were added when Reach was added to the collection. Unlike the ODST emblems, all eight are unlocked by default.
Of the 41 all-new emblems, 8 are unlocked by default, while 32 must be unlocked by completing in-game requirements or watching Halo: Nightfall. The final emblem is unlocked by playing Halo: Spartan Strike.
There are 101 background options, a number of which return having been absent since Halo 2 (i.e. X1, X2, Plus).
There are 30 actual color options for both the primary, secondary, and background elements of each emblem. Toggling of emblems this time takes the form of the 31st "Transparent" option, which allows players to toggle off any element of any emblem.
When the Collection was first released, emblems appeared in the matchmaking lobby and post-game menu and on a player's scoring HUD in campaign, but otherwise did not appear in gameplay. In Halo 2 classic multiplayer the "Bullseye" emblem was used for all players in the in-game scoreboard and as their player identifier. In Halo 3 the "Grunt" emblem was displayed in the scoreboard, and also appeared on all players' armor; in all other games the players' armor remained blank. In Halo 4 the scoreboard assigned all players the "Recruit" emblem (interestingly, the only emblem from the original Halo 4 not available to players in The Master Chief Collection). By design, emblems did not appear at all in Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer matches. This was updated in 2019 so that the player's emblem is displayed in all in-game scoreboards and as the identifier image in Halo 2. The armor remained blank in Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 4; it displayed a random emblem in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach. Another update in 2020 resulted in emblems being displayed on players' armor in Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach; it remains blank in the other games.
Halo 5: Guardians
Multiplayer emblems are simplified significantly in Halo 5: Guardians. Players now select a single emblem. There are no background choices nor can the emblems be toggled.
There are 294 emblems in the game, an all-time high. The game launched with 223 emblems; 7 were added with the Battle of Shadow and Light, "Thanks Given" in November, "Halo Championship Series" with the HCS Premium REQ Pack, 2 ("Spartan Claus" and "Candy Canes") with the holiday promotional req pack, 14 with the Cartographer's Gift, 12 with Infinity's Armory, one for each 2016 monthly season, 10 with Hammer Storm, one with the Halo World Championship 2016 pack, 8 with Ghosts of Meridian, 5 with Memories of Reach, 5 with Hog Wild, and 2 with Warzone Firefight. Three Halo World Championship teams, Counter Logic Gaming, Evil Geniuses, and Optic Gaming, also had their logos released as emblems. The final emblem "343 Industries" is available only to company employees. Of the 294 emblems, only 70 return from previous games; the remaining 224 are new.
At launch and until the release of Hammer Storm, players could not choose the individual colors of the emblem. Instead, players had to choose from one of 33 colors, and then one of seven styles ("Sporty", "Elite", "Classic", "Muted", "Contrast", "Analagous", or "Inverse") which was a pre-set color combination (or "harmony") for the emblem. As a result of this severe limitation in customization options, immediately prior to the release of Hammer Storm there were only 58,674 possible unique emblems,[Note 5] a far cry from the millions of possibilities in previous games.
Following the release of Hammer Storm, players can once again choose individual primary, secondary and tertiary colors for their emblem, just as they have in previous instalments. In addition, the number of colors was increased from 33 to 60. This change exponentially increased the number of possible emblems, however the continued absence of backgrounds and toggling means that the total of 63,504,000 possible emblems[Note 6] remains the lowest of any emblem-featuring Halo game to date.
As in Halo 4, emblems must be unlocked before they can be used. The "117" and "Helmet" emblems are unlocked by default. Additional emblems are unlocked with REQ packs; some are included with specific packs awarded for achieving ranks and completing commendations, while others are awarded randomly.
Emblems rarely appear in their complete form in Halo 5: Guardians; instead each emblem is featured a cropped rectangular image which is also incorporated into a nameplate. The rectangular image is used to identify each player in matchmaking lobbies. Emblems do not appear on players' armor.
List of emblems
The following emblems have appeared in only a single Halo game to date.