Rocket Race is a recurring game variant in the Halo series. In Rocket Race modes, teams drive indestructible vehicles around a map in an attempt to reach goal zones first; passengers in vehicles are typically armed with Rocket Launchers, and can use these to launch enemy vehicles away from goal zones. In Halo 3, the game variant was based on VIP; in Halo: Reach, it was based on Rally; and in Halo 4, it was based on King of the Hill.
In Halo 3 Rocket Race matches, four teams of two players competed to reach as many goal areas as possible. At the start of a match, a player on each team would be randomly given VIP status; they would ride in the passenger seat of a Mongoose, while their teammate would drive them around. VIPs were incapable of dealing damage, but could kill other players through assassinations or by luring them into map obstacles and level boundaries.
Rocket Race was initially available in its own playlist, but the playlist was retired when the game's second Title Update was released. Rocket Race remains available in Multi-Team, with a low priority.
Rocket Race was introduced to Halo: Reach Matchmaking upon release of Noble Map Pack, which also includes one related achievement: Offensive Driver, awarded for killing a player in Rocket Race. The game mode was a modified Rally variant, in which players on each team were forced into fixed "driver" and "gunner" roles. The default settings mimicked the Halo 3 setup, giving players Mongooses and Rocket Launchers. In addition to the standard Rally settings, Rocket Race offered a new set of features:
- Driver Traits and Gunner Traits
- Hijacker Traits, which could be used to disable vehicle boarding
- Teleport Time: the ability to teleport players back into their vehicles if they spend too much time on foot
- Hill Selection: the ability to prioritize checkpoints that are nearest to the teams with the lowest score
Rocket Race was later replaced by Rocket Hog Race, in which players drove Rocket Warthogs and used both Rocket Launchers and Grenade Launchers. Whereas a Rocket Launcher could be used to send an enemy vehicle flying, the Grenade Launcher could be used to EMP enemies and stop them in their tracks. In addition to these changes, Rocket Hog Race no longer forced players into fixed roles; instead of offering Driver and Gunner Traits, the game variant offered In Vehicle Traits and On Foot Traits. (Accordingly, players were invulnerable in vehicles, but vulnerable on foot; and players on foot were marked with waypoints that were visible to their enemies.)
On February 8th, 2011, Rocket Hog Race was updated to allow players in Custom Games to choose whether to use Mongooses or Rocket Warthogs.
Rocket Race and Rocket Hog Race matches were available in the Multi Team playlist, and were typically played on Hemorrhage.
A Halo 4 variant was introduced as a temporary playlist available between December 23, 2013 and January 5, 2014.
- On Sandtrap, the Elephant is a usable alternative vehicle in Rocket Race. A few players have reported that they managed to win a few games using the Elephant.
- Rocket Race replaced Social Doubles on the social playlist of Halo 3 during a Bungie Weekly Update.
- A player can still get MVP in a Halo 3 Rocket Race, but it's determined by the number of enemy VIPs they killed in-game.
- In Halo 3, if a VIP's teammate quits or lags out, the VIP will have to gain points on their own, by walking to their destination or by "rocket jumping;" VIPs can't drive vehicles in this gametype.
- There are several advanced tactics players can use to gain the lead, such as propelling themselves with rockets -- commonly called "boosting" -- and finding shortcuts.
- There are a number of groups formed that currently play organized Custom Games.
- Rocket Race lends itself easily to prolonged griefing, especially on maps like Rat's Nest, as players can choose not to race and seek instead to prevent other players from scoring and ending the game by:
- controlling choke points in the map,
- cornering non-VIP players so they cannot assist their VIPs nor assassinate their griefer,
- spawn-camping and destroying all unoccupied vehicles, and
- driving vehicles carrying enemy VIPs off the map or away from the waypoint.