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The Sangheili serve as an enemy in most of the Halo games, and as an ally in Halo 3. Depending on their rank, Sangheili warriors are amongst the hardest opponents encountered in games, challenged only by the Brutes and Hunters due to their skill and tactical ability, and even the lower-ranked warriors can be very dangerous.
- 1 Facing an Elite
- 2 Weapon compatibility
- 3 Combat
- 4 Rank-specific strategies
- 5 Changes
- 6 Sources
Facing an Elite
Sangheili warriors are often considered to be the most skilled and capable species in the Halo series, and are only equaled by Hunters in Halo 2 and Halo: Reach. However, despite the tactical skill and maneuverability, the Elites are more than capable of displaying, it should be took into account that their code of honor gets in the way of this. Meaning that often in battle they frequently forget to take cover, even whilst their shields are down leaving them very vulnerable to fire from ranged weapons like the Battle Rifle or the Carbine. Use this to your advantage by combining fire with your AI Marines and your chances of taking one down will be high. Also, depending on the weapon you have and the rank of the Sangheili, it can be increasingly difficult to attack an Elite efficiently. The best way to do so is to judge by their rank and weapon. For example, if you come across a group of Minors or Majors being led by an Ultra Elite, it would be best to take out the Ultra first, as he is the strongest enemy present.
Using the more powerful weapons on high ranking Elites instead of lower ones will increase the odds of survival drastically, since it is less difficult to take down a Minor than an Ultra. If that Ultra is wielding a Plasma Rifle, then he is effective at long range, as such it is best to zip in and out of cover until you are close enough to maybe throw a grenade or increase the accuracy of your weapon. If he is charging at you or attacking someone else with an Energy Sword, engage him at long range with precise head-shots to bring down his shields and kill him without getting too close. Taking out a leader will effectively cause the other Elite members of his platoon to become confused, but not near as much as with Grunts.
Although Elites are most commonly seen with Energy Swords, Plasma Rifles and Needlers, because of their strength and versatility, Elites can utilize any weapon in the field of battle, human or Covenant, though most Elites would rather die than use a human or Jiralhanae-oriented weapon. Fred-104 theorizes that the Elites follow an edict of the Prophets that states that they should not use human weapons, based on his own sightings of Elites happily dying rather than pick up a fully loaded MA5B assault rifle at their feet. The Brutes however do not behave in a similar manner, even attempting to steal FENRIS nuclear warheads during the Battle of Earth.
The Arbiter, it appears, has no particular objection to sullying his already fraudulent honor with a human weapon, and has even shown interest in human weapons before becoming Arbiter. Most other Elites will use a human or a Brute weapon if it is given to them by the Arbiter, although usually with a derogatory remark (with some exceptions like the Spartan Laser or Rocket Launcher), such as, "Bah! Even as trophies, these weapons are worthless!", "Really??", or even "Worthless piece of crap!" However, in the hands of an Elite, any human weapon can be deadly. Elites can hold a Rocket Launcher with one hand due to their superior strength, unlike normal Marines or even SPARTAN IIs. Their marksmanship is easily comparable to a skilled Marine and they can quickly kill any opponent from afar with their skill in long-ranged combat, as well as being extremely deadly in close quarters with energy sword equipped warriors being even deadlier. Thanks to their armor and increased musculature they can survive attacks that would kill a normal human soldier, even with their personal shields down.
They will also use human vehicles such as a Mongoose, or a Warthog. In Halo 2, on the level Metropolis if left alone, the Elites will kill Gunnery Sergeant Stacker in the Gauss Warthog, take control of the Gauss cannon, and start firing at the player.
Despite their advantages, Elites also have some vulnerabilities:
|M6D Pistol||The M6D Pistol has high damage per hit, high accuracy, and thus is very effective against Elites. The only thing you should worry about, however, is the Pistol's low rate of fire. It is best used in conjunction with an overcharged plasma pistol shot, as on legendary, it can take 6-8 shots to take out a Major Elite's Shields and in that time you could easily die.|
|MA5B Assault Rifle||Not the most effective weapon. Your best strategy at close range with this weapon is to just hold onto the trigger - it'll take a little while, but the sheer weight of bullets will quickly overwhelm the Elites' Energy shield. From medium range it is better to pulse the trigger, as after the trigger is released, the bullet spread is reset. However, it is put in best effect when you are in close range, have depleted the Elite's shielding and slam the Elite with your melee. As one of the fastest melees, the Assault rifle's first melee will stun the Elite, whilst the second will kill it.|
|M6C Magnum||It can be effective if dual wielded. It can be rapid fired in Halo 2. It's best to dual wield with a Plasma weapon, such as the Plasma Rifle to take down their shields, then aim for the Elite's head with the M6C Magnum for a quick kill. Be sure to headshot, as the effectiveness is exponentially increased.|
|BR55 Battle Rifle or Covenant Carbine||Both are a high step up from the MA5B Assault Rifle. The BR55 Battle Rifle's 3 round burst or the Covenant Carbine's semiautomatic mode is pretty effective against Elites. However, if the Noob Combo is used, any Elite can be killed in a matter of seconds. 3-4 head shots will usually bring down an Elite's Energy Shield entirely after which, only 1 head shot will kill. In addition, the zoom allows you to kill the Elite in a variety of zones, some of which will put you a good deal away from harm's way. However, be careful of the BR's spread effect; the Covenant Carbine is slightly weaker, though it is well worth the trade off.|
|SMG||Good when coupled with the Plasma Pistol or the Plasma Rifle, as it will break the Shields quickly, and is excellent when it does. Otherwise it works about the same as the MA5B Assault Rifle does, except the medium range accuracy is slightly less than the MA5B Assault Rifle. However, in Legendary, the effect is dampened, as the Major Elites can absorb enough damage to kill you first.|
|Shotgun||Instant kill weapon at close range, except against higher Elites such as Ultras and Councilors. On Legendary, though, it takes at least two shots to kill a Minor, so you may wish to get an alternative, as the recoil time is excessively long.|
|Sniper Rifle or Particle Beam Rifle||One shot will deplete an Elite's Shielding on lower difficulty settings, but one head shot will neutralize one instantly, except Zealots, Councilors, and SpecOps Elites (On Legendary, a Major can also take 2 headshots). It would take about 4 body-shots to kill a Minor Elite on Legendary difficulty. Easily one of the best weapons at all ranges (at far, they can't even strike back; at close range, you don't even have to aim, as two to three body shots should suffice).|
|Fragmentation Grenade||Elites have good reflexes and dodge most grenades thrown at them, except for frag grenades. Though it won't kill them instantly, is harder to see and will deplete their Shield. They're useful in narrow areas, close quarters, and for making the enemy break cover. One blast will only kill Stealth Elites. However, grenade spamming is effective when faced with large groups of enemies.|
|Plasma Cannon or Shade||Very useful, though few and far between. Basically a 3 second way to break an Elite's Shield and put it away. However on higher difficulties as many turrets are found in fairly exposed areas, a group of Covenant could fire on you killing you in a few seconds. Try and use this against fairly small groups or with backup.|
|Rocket Launcher or Fuel Rod Gun||Very good against Elites in cover and for taking out groups of 2 or more, but for the sake of practicality, carry something else to switch to for one-on-one combat, except against sword-wielding Zealots, as you will need to put them down quickly before they can close the distance. Even if it doesn't kill the Zealot, it will still knock him aside and stun him for a few precious seconds you can then use to put more distance between it and yourself. However, in Legendary, the effectiveness is reduced because even the Majors can survive an entire rocket.|
|Plasma Pistol||Resist the urge to fire a charged shot; an Elite will most likely dodge it, unless you either get lucky or have enough skill to catch it off guard. Firing continuously may bring it down more quickly. This weapon's upgraded lock-on in Halo 2 makes it practical for Shield breaking when using the charge-shot. An excellent tactic for killing an Elite very quickly, especially on Legendary, is to charge it up, fire at the target Elite, then quickly fire a shot from the M6C Magnum (or a shot from a Battle Rifle, which is easier to score a headshot because of the three round burst) for an instant kill. Also, if they receive a full charged Plasma bolt, they are stunned for a second, enough time to kill them or escape.|
|Plasma Rifle or Brute Plasma Rifle||Very effective if you have good aim. If not, the overheat can leave you vulnerable to a charging and angry Elite. Try to use cover once the gun has overheated, as only a few shots from it are then required to kill an Elite with no shielding. Dual wielding is good too. For the Brute variant, dual wielding is necessary to avoid overheating of both guns. However, as with the AR, it is advisable that you charge in and, at the last moment, melee at close range (especially when dual-wielding).|
|Needler||Highly effective if you use it right, but the rounds can be dodged, like Plasma Grenades or charge-shots from Plasma Pistols. If you catch an Elite in the open, fire about half a magazine then retreat and the needles will home in on it, piercing its Shield and killing it, an example of a "fire-and-forget" weapon. The only problem is that Needlers are slow, so have some patience. Also, do not be fooled by the low, piteous groaning when the Needler rounds explode-they will be able to survive an entire barrage. However, do not forsake this opportunity-fire immediately, or its shields will recharge.|
|Plasma Grenade||Run up close, or take good aim, and then throw it at an Elite. If it becomes scared, it runs toward the rest of its squad, blasting them as well. If it has not seen you, it will sometimes just stand there and look at the grenade, sometimes also growling in fury, or charge in a random direction. Beware against higher-ranking Elites or on higher difficulty levels as most Elites, when stuck with a Plasma Grenade, will attempt to rush you, killing you in the explosion. In these circumstances simply back-pedal and fire at the Elite to stagger it until the Plasma Grenade detonates. Even if you miss your quarry, you can finish it off with a single shotgun headshot or a few headshots.|
|Brute Shot||The grenades bounce high unless you hit first try and the explosion radius is small compared to other grenades, but can take out an Elite in only one or two hits, though it takes around four grenades on Legendary. 1-2 grenades followed by a melee will usually kill most Elites on Heroic.|
|Energy Sword||This weapon is effective at close quarters, and is fatal in one hit for lower ranking Elites. Two lunges are required to slay an Ultra Elite, even on the Easy difficulty. Be careful, though, as it is very common for the higher ranks to have an Energy Sword of their own as a secondary weapon, and they can often kill in one hit. Be warned; Elites in Halo 2 can kill you in a single melee, so you'll have to kill them quickly.|
Zealots are significantly more challenging to fight than other Elites. In Halo: Combat Evolved, Zealots are known to wield Energy Swords and Plasma Rifles. The rifle wielding ones shoot for longer periods (to the point of overheating their gun) while the sword wielders tend to hunt their quarry. They also have powerful shields that are twice as strong as those of a Major Elite (in Halo: Combat Evolved, they can survive a rocket on Easy). They are more agile than regular Elites and are harder to run over with vehicles. They constantly weave between objects to avoid incoming fire. Zealots are extremely dangerous in close quarters and should be dealt with promptly, preferably while they are still reasonably at a distance. They are a forceful, incredibly intelligent, and deadly foe to be reckoned with, especially on higher difficulties.
The best way to deal with a Zealot is to either stick them with a Plasma Grenade (otherwise they will attempt to evade or sidestep it during their pursuit) or to attack it from long range, as they are deadly in hand-to-hand combat because of their Energy Sword (and in Halo: Combat Evolved can kill the player with one hit from an Energy Sword in anything higher than Easy difficulty). In Halo: Combat Evolved, a Zealot would pause for a moment and become "enraged" when it got too close to the player (similar to the Brute berserkers in Halo 2), after which it would almost endlessly pursue him. This berserking afforded the player a few precious seconds to deliberate between "fight or flight". Needless to say, it is inadvisable to stick it in this situation. It can be made to temporarily call off it's pursuit by meleeing/shooting it while evading it's swing (which will cause it to do an evasive maneuver) or by simply outdistancing it and hiding long enough. It's entirely possible to defeat it using only frontal beatdowns.
In Halo 2, it is possible to side step and assassinate a Zealot, or any sword wielding Elite. This is actually possible in Halo: Combat Evolved if one stands to the right/left of the Zealot's back during its berserk animation and moves in the other direction when he starts turning around to face you. One can also engineer this situation just about anywhere by stunning it with an overcharged plasma pistol shot, provided you're on flat ground and stay clear away from walls. In Halo 2, one can sometimes avoid taking damage from horizontal swings with a well-timed crouch. Due to their strong shields, it is advisable to use heavy weaponry, such as the Sniper Rifle or Rocket Launcher, if they are available. The M6D pistol is only moderately effective, taking 16 head shots to kill a fully shielded Zealot on Normal difficulty. The Needler is both common and extremely effective, due to the fact that 7 rounds will kill most enemies and the weapon's large magazine.
In Halo 2, they do not use Overshields and their shields are as strong as those of a Major Elite and Special Operations Elite, but they are a lot smarter and tougher. They are still very deadly in close-quarters, however in Halo 2, their sword animation has been changed to being "more realistic" in the sense that in Halo: Combat Evolved, a sword swing had a huge area of effect, and it was impossible to dodge a swing. In Halo 2, it is possible to sidestep, and assassinate a Zealot, or any other elite with a sword. When the Zealot is swinging, quickly step to the side and behind him, than melee him, which results in an assassination, and an instant kill. This is the quickest and most effective way of dispatching Zealots, or other sword wielding Elites. It is also more risky however. Their armor without Energy Shields are much thicker (although it makes it slower) than that of Major and Minor and can sustain more damage. In addition to the tactics mentioned in the preceding paragraph, dual M6C Magnums can be very effective at close ranges so long as you stay outside of their sword's reach. Dual Needlers are also effective. Also, Zealot AI is noticeably different in Halo 2; Zealots are always found wielding Energy Swords, ceremonial weapons befitting their high rank.
Another fact that should be known is that Zealots will never, under any circumstances, ride in or drive a vehicle. If a player tries to give them a chance to get in one, such as in Uprising, their animation will glitch and they will start to walk toward the vehicle and turn around, they will then keep doing this. They will continue to follow the player, however.
This is the only Elite variant that will spawn when scripted to, independent of difficulty setting.
- The more conventional jaw in the trailer was separated into two mandibles.
- They have wider waists.
- Their legs are less bulky.
- Their eyes have been moved more to the sides of their heads.
- Their shield gauntlets have been replaced with personal energy shields.
- Sangheili are available to play as in multiplayer.
- Sangheili are hunched over more to facilitate multiplayer use.
- First Sangheili allies encountered.
- The Elites speak English instead of their native tongue.
- Zealot Sangheili ranked enemies are now only encountered on Legendary difficulty, rather than all difficulties. They no longer possess Overshields (having shielding equal to that of a red Elite Major), and are armed exclusively with Energy Swords.
- The Arbiter rank is introduced.
- Stealth Sangheili now have gray colored armor, rather than light blue, and also have a Minor (gray) and Major (brown) ranking system. They can also be detected by the motion tracker when invisible. Additionally, they sport energy shields which was absent from Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Their melee attacks do more damage, and can kill in one hit on the Normal difficulty or above in the campaign.
- Elites fire in much longer bursts in Halo 2, firing many plasma rifle rounds per burst, compared to just 3 or 4 shots per burst in Halo: Combat Evolved.
- Ranger ranks are introduced.
- Gain an animation to appear startled upon seeing the Master Chief.
- Mandibles and facial features are more defined.
- Gain the ability to hijack vehicles.
- Elites no longer have the occasional "spade" helmet and no longer wear a Forerunner symbol on their backs, in campaign. However, they can be present using the emblem feature for multiplayer.
- Elites can now be seen dual-wielding weapons.
- Elites now have secondary colors in both campaign and multiplayer.
- Regulars now wield Energy Swords as well, instead of just the Zealots.
- Elites gain an animation for when they pull out an Energy Sword that makes them roar, though they don't make the sound in Multiplayer.
- Instead of having different shielding strengths for different Elite classes, the majority of Elite classes now having the same level of shield strength (Elite Majors, Spec Ops Elites, Honor Guard Elites, and Zealots all possess identical levels of shielding). The exceptions are Stealth Elites, Elite Minors and Ranger Elites, Elite Ultras and Councilor Elites.
- Elites are somewhat more vulnerable without their shielding, and most Elite classes can only survive as much damage as a basic Grunt or Jackal after their shields are disabled (this is in contrast to Halo: CE, where Elites had more than twice as much health as a Grunt or Jackal even without their shields). The exceptions are the Stealth Elites (who have about twice as much health as standard Elite classes) and the Ultra Elites (who have about 3 times as much health as a standard Elite).
Changes from Halo 2 to Halo 3
- Darker skin and eyebrow ridges, although no hair on ridges. Has a shiny, "scaly", texture on the neck.
- They have a 'bulkier' appearance.
- Varying eye color between some individuals, mostly orange.
- Ranger, Ultra, Zealot, Honor Guard, Councilor, and Stealth ranks are never encountered during gameplay, although several corpses of dead Ultras can be seen in Floodgate and Cortana.
- Wider variety of armors to choose from in multiplayer.
- Instead of firing from cover or flanking, Elites now overwhelmingly charge straight at the enemy while firing, engaging in melee combat once they get close enough. This occurs regardless of the Elite's current weapon, the weaponry of the enemy, or even the type of enemy (An Elite armed with a Brute Shot or Fuel Rod Cannon will charge forward recklessly to engage a Hunter in melee). This also results in a high chance on team killing among them.
- SpecOps Elites, even more so with the Catch skull on, toss Plasma Grenades with reckless abandon, and many players have reported to be "team stuck" by the Elites.
- As with other Covenant races, the Elites have received minor aesthetic changes, mostly in their armor. In Halo: CE and Halo 2, the pauldrons on the armor resembled a more pronounced version of the MJOLNIR pauldrons, where as in Halo 3 the pauldrons are much thicker and appear overlapped. The "Combat" helmet also has shorter side fins, and more spikes added to the back. The "fins" on the gauntlets have also been removed, as well as the orange crystals on the arms and legs, and their leg armor flares out at the bottom instead of being tight, revealing what appears to be the heel of its foot. However, this leads to clipping, as Halo 3 largely uses old Halo 2 animations.
- Minors and Majors have varied armor. This meaning that a Minor may be light blue, and another may be dark blue. Same goes for the Majors (with lighter and darker reds).
- All Elite armor has Forerunner glyphs, as well as multiple Marks of Shame adorning the body and shoulders.
- The roaring animation for pulling out the sword is changed so that it only appears when lunging at an opponent while crouched. The similarly neglected berserk animation for NPC Elites only appears when they spot an enemy while jumping over a toppled crate.
- Minors and Majors are seen pulling out an Energy sword as a secondary weapon, which is usually never allowed for the lower ranks.
- Spec Ops Elites can be seen wearing Assault Harnesses in Floodgate. All other Elites in Halo 3 wear the familiar standard Combat Harnesses. The corpses of dead Ultra Elites in Floodgate can be found wearing Combat and Assault armor and some of them have Rtas Vadam's face. The corpses of dead Elites seen in Halo 3: ODST can be found wearing a variety of different armor permutations.
- When the Infection Form infects any alive Elites, the Elites will disable its energy shield features before submitting to the Flood, making a sound like a Gravity Hammer hits when the infection started and kill all nearby Infection Form.
- They are seen dual-wielding Energy Swords in the trailers, but only the Arbiter does so in game.
- The structure of their combat harnesses are somewhat different from their predecessors, especially with the chest and back portions. The armor on the sides beneath the arms are curved upwards and connected to the backpack in way that pushes directly into the back of the user's neck. This part of the armor is also thicker than the rest of the suit, which combined with the upwards curve, gives the illusion of the Sangheili user being noticably bulkier and more hunched than they actually are.
- The Sangheili's musculature is noticably more toned and visible than in the other games. This is most prominent in the musculature around the neck, which is thicker and sturdier than it is in the other games. This, combined with the unusually upwards curve of their upper-torso armor, creates an illusion of an unnatural bulk and hunch, presumably to more readily intimidate the enemy.
- In-game the only visible difference in rank is the Arbiter and Honor Guards, as well as the Red Elites wielding Energy Staves, all others are purple and light blue.
- Their teeth are in different positions, such as having teeth on the inside of their mandibles, as well as having teeth behind and to the center.
Changes from Halo 3 to Halo: Reach
- Returning the tradition from Halo: Combat Evolved, Elites once again speak in their native language. This is part of an attempt to make the Covenant more alien and imposing.
- The Elite Minor featured in the Halo: Reach Video Games Awards Trailer sported shoulder pads and gauntlets similar to those of the Minors from Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2.
- They seem to appear more animalistic than their Halo 2 and Halo 3 counterparts.
- They appear to have more teeth on both their upper jaw and mandibles which seem to be sharper and longer like the Halo Wars Elites.
- Their eyes have changed in color to a pearly white hue, do not have pupils, and have been moved from the sides of their head to the front.
- Elites are no longer hunched over, making them appear taller and more imposing.
- Many Sangheili ranks make a comeback as the Sangheili return as a primary enemy, the way they were in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2.
- The alternate Elite helmet from Halo: Combat Evolved and the Elite helmet in Halo Wars have returned.
- The feet are no longer hoof-like as in previous games. Their toes have been animated to splay and squish with every step.
- Every rank now has a different armor configuration. Minors appear similarly to their appearances in previous games, but higher ranking Elites often sport varying decorative crests allowing determination of rank at a glance.
- Elites have different health and shielding strenght for every different class, like in Halo Combat Evolved.
- They withstand more damage than in Halo 2 and 3.
- Elite multiplayer permutations can no longer wear pieces from different sets of armor.
- A sub-rank of the Elite Major has been revealed, Officers.
- BOB Elites appear.
- Elites can replenish all their health in multiplayer.
- Elites are quicker and more agile.
- Elites wield a far greater variety of weaponry than most Covenant races.
Changes from Halo: Reach to Halo 4
- Elites are no longer playable in multiplayer.
- Elites lack protective armor on arms.
- Elites will occasionally use Promethean weapons in Spartan Ops.
- Only five Elite ranks: Storm, Ranger, Zealot, Commander, and Warrior.
- The Elite combat harness can be found in multiple colors, including blue, green, red, and white.
- Different anatomic features, including paler skin, molar-like teeth, larger heads.
- Storm Elites, essentially the equivalent to Minors, wield energy swords.
- Ranger and Zealot armor has been changed.
- Elites are more aggressive in gameplay, not taking cover as often.
- Their health is lower: most of Elite classes can withstand as much damage as a Grunt or Jackal, like in Halo 2.
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Changes from Halo 4 to Halo: Spartan Assault
- Elites now wear armor from Halo: Reach.
- Elite ranks now include Field Master, Major, Minor, Stealth, and Zealot.
- They usually only take cover if their shields are down.
- Elites look similar to their Reach incarnations, anatomically.
- Game Informer February Issue