Weapon Tuning Update

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After months of internal work and weeks of public testing - and then even more internal iteration - the weapon tuning update for Halo 5 is nearly upon us! When the “Overtime” update releases tomorrow, Nov. 2, a number of weapons in the Halo 5 sandbox will be tweaked and modified across every game mode – Arena, Warzone, and Campaign. Today, we're bringing you a deeper dive into the tuning test with insights into the reasons for these changes, how the public test fared, and what you can expect to find when you boot up Halo 5 tomorrow.

Brace yourself – we’re going very deep here and there’s a lot of dry information to digest (but we also have charts!). If you aren’t a fan of sifting through thousands of words, you might want to check out the on-demand version of today's live stream instead (available HERE). I recommend you check it out anyways if only to hear from Quinn direct and see him work some glorious whiteboard magic.


We’ve written a lot about the weapon tuning test already, so to get up to speed with the most in-depth background primer, be sure to check out the original blog HERE. If you’re just joining us and want to dive right in, here’s the quick tl;dr summary:

  • 14 different items in the Halo 5 sandbox are being updated and re-tuned with tomorrow’s game update
  • The goals behind these tuning changes are twofold –

1. Revitalize and re-balance the Halo 5 sandbox to a more desirable state

2. Strengthen the unique roles for each weapon and reduce role redundancy.

  •  From Sept. 11 through Oct. 2 a special “Tuning Test” playlist was added to facilitate public testing and feedback on the newly tuned weapons
  • Player feedback – via forums and official surveys – along with game data was analyzed and used to help inform additional internal iteration and adjustments where warranted
  • When the Halo 5 update launches tomorrow, newly tuned versions of these weapons will be added across the entire game!
  • Following the release, the team will be monitoring data and feedback closely in case additional refinements are necessary


One big thing to keep in mind as you’re reviewing these changes is that as of this release we are not making changes to the load outs or weapons-on-map in Halo 5. During the tuning test, we experimented with a BR/Gunfighter loadout and specifically tweaked some of the on-map weapons to ensure they got adequate testing.

For now, our focus is on these tuned weapons themselves and making sure that these changes have the desired effects - so we won’t be introducing an additional variable of altered game settings at this time.

Of course, loadouts and settings are certainly an interesting aspect of refreshing Halo 5, and are things we’ll be looking more into down the road. For now though, everything will remain as-is with all of the items listed below replacing their current in-game counterpart.

Key Concepts & Terminology

In order to go deep on these changes we need to first establish a few common terms and baseline understanding for certain traits inherent in Halo 5’s weapons. And to be clear, none of these are new things – they’ve been present in Halo 5 (and really in all Halo FPS games) since day one. When the sandbox team is tuning weapons, think of these as the levers and knobs at their disposal that all combine to give each weapon its unique role and feel.

  • Aim Assist – This value affects how ‘easy’ it is for a projectile to hit the target. Think of this as a gentle helping hand to reduce the accuracy penalty if you’re not 100% perfectly lined up on your target. In a world where we have split second battles occurring over network conditions, aim assist helps to make things a bit more forgiving/consistent and generally feels better as a player.
  • CQC – “Close Quarters Combat” – used to describe engagements that are up close and personal at a close range.

  • DPS – Another straightforward value – this refers to “Damage Per Second” and if every bullet fired hits the target, this is the avg. total damage value per second of use. DPS is a common method to understand how powerful a weapon is. The higher a weapon’s DPS, the more lethal it is. This is a factor of several things such as rate of fire, accuracy, clip size, and damage multipliers.

  • Falloff Range – This value applies to both “Magnetism” and “Aim Assist” and is measured in terms of “near” and “maximum” range values. Think of this as the point where the effectiveness of magnetism or aim assist begins to decrease and is less than the maximum possible value. All weapons have a curve where there’s an ideal sweet spot range where a weapon receives maximum benefit from things like magnetism and aim assist and then as you move out from that center – in both directions - that benefit decreases.

  • Headshot Multiplier– This is pretty straight forward – when a bullet or projectile hits the intended target in the head it will do extra damage compared to landing the same shot on the torso.

  • Red Reticle – When you’re using a weapon and have an opponent in your sights within the intended optimal range, the reticle turns red. A red reticle means that the weapon’s aim assist is in play. “RRR” refers to the weapon’s “red reticle range.”

  • Shots to Kill – similar to the above except this is the actual minimum number of shots needed to finish an opponent (again, assuming all shots land). “Shots to Shields” is the same measure but in reference to the shots needed to pop an opponent’s shields.

  • Time to Kill (TTK) – A general measure used to describe the lethality of a weapon. If a player is firing against an opponent and every shot lands, this is a measure of how long it will take before the target dies.

Change List

We were intentionally vague with details when the public tuning test rolled out as to not influence or add bias to player feedback. Quite simply, we wanted you to play and draw your own conclusions and provide pure feedback, not pass judgment by reading a blog before you even picked up a weapon in game.

Now that the testing is complete and the feedback has been analyzed and acted upon, it’s time to dig into the weapon-by-weapon changes to shed some light on what’s changing and why. Many items in the tuning test worked out pretty good with the real-world results aligning with the internal design goals the sandbox team was targeting. However, some weapons did not quite hit the mark and as a result received another round of tuning adjustments to address feedback and discrepancies between actual and intended results. Below we will detail each weapon, talk about what was changed in the initial tuning test and then what was further changed for the final release (where applicable). Please note that even though we’re calling this “final”, the team is ready and standing by to closely monitor and conduct further fine tuning and iteration if warranted.

Active Camo

The changes to Active Camo are perhaps the most straightforward and least “controversial” of anything going on in the tuning test. In fact, most players during the public test weren’t even aware of what actually changed.

The goal for adjusting the Active Camo power-up was to improve the effectiveness of the invisibility effect, particularly when the invisible player is moving. And that’s exactly what was changed – the visual effect of the invisibility was slightly tweaked to make it a little harder to see a player that’s under the effects of Active Camo and promote more movement.

Goal: Make Active Camo visual effect a little more effective, especially when moving

Tuning Test Changes: Invisibility graphical effect was improved

Tuning Test Results: Players using Active Camo were slightly harder to see, no negative feedback or contradicting data.

Final Changes: Active Camo graphic effect has been tweaked to make invisible players slightly harder to see when moving.

TL;DR: Active Camo is basically the same except an invisible opponent will be a little harder to see, especially while on the move.

Assault Rifle

The underlying goal behind the AR change was to make it a weapon that better rewarded more skillful use. Our data showed that the AR’s effectiveness was essentially the same regardless of whether a player was a Diamond level player or a Champion level player. While some aspects of the AR’s changes landed well during the public test, some did not, so additional refinements were made.

Goal: Raise the skill ceiling. (Updated post-test goal: Make the AR more approachable w/ added depth based on feedback and data.)

Tuning Test Changes: During the public tuning test, the AR had numerous changes –

  • Aiming with the AR was slightly less forgiving, requiring slightly tighter aim in order to benefit from aim assist.
  • “Magnetism” effective range was reduced, making the AR require more effort to keep the sights on a target at range.  
  • The headshot damage multiplier was slightly reduced.

Tuning Test Results: Overall, the AR changes hit some of the desired notes, but a lot of the player feedback we received skewed negative. The sandbox team felt that the AR was tweaked a little too far off the desired path and as a result, we ended up with an AR that was a bit too cumbersome to use and over-penalized players who wanted to go full-auto. In response, the sandbox team went back to the drawing board and sought to make the AR more established as a close-range weapon that’s useful and satisfying to wield. The result should be an AR that has a bit more depth via more accuracy, lower base damage, higher headshot damage, and a slightly increased rate of fire. Players should be able to land more shots effectively while also rewarding more skilled players who land headshots.

Final Changes: Based on the above, the AR has changed quite a bit compared to the tuning test iteration:

  • The outer reticle effectiveness was reduced by 7% in size compared to the original default AR – this slightly reduces how forgiving it is for aim assist and magnetism.
  • The inner-reticle value of the AR was modified to be less forgiving and generous for registering headshots – thus requiring more accuracy on the part of the player. This value was reduced by approx. 99%.
  • The effective magnetism range was reverted to the default AR value while the close-range impact of magnetism was reduced by approx. 20% (making it a little less “sticky” on close range targets).
  • The rate of fire for the AR has been increased by approx. 5%
  • The headshot damage multiplier bonus has been increased by approx. 200%. compared to the original AR value.
  • Base damage per bullet has been reduced by approx. 23%.

TL;DR: Overall the AR is going to have a lower damage-per-second output compared to both the default AR and the version that was in the public test (approx. 19% decrease in DPS compared to the original version). This translates into 12 “shots to shields” vs. 9 on the original and 20 “shots to kill” vs. 15 on the original. It’ll be very slightly less effective at the closest ranges and while it’ll require more player effort and skill to land headshots, when you do, you’ll be rewarded with more bonus damage.

Battle Rifle

Of all the weapons in the public tuning test the BR was by far the most controversial. Going into the tuning test, the sandbox team was looking to address the issue that the BR was too effective at all ranges. The goal was to better distinguish it as a weapon that excels at mid-range in particular while still being viable at closer and longer ranges when used effectively.

Goal: Better distinguish the BR as a mid-range weapon and raise the skill ceiling slightly (Updated post-test goal: Address the feeling of inconsistency that was prevalent in feedback)

Tuning Test Changes:

  • The BR rate of fire / rounds-per-second was reduced by approx. 50%.
  • The time in between bursts was decreased by approx. 7%.
  • The time it takes for the inner-reticle to reset after firing was decreased by approx. 71%.
  • The bullet spread/grouping was loosened quite a bit (not possible to really quantify extent of change).
  • There were various changes to the weapon’s kick/recoil when zooming in and hip firing.
  • There was also an issue that arose that resulted in a decreased accuracy / feeling of “randomness” that was not tied an intentional setting.

Tuning Test Results: While many players generally liked the direction of a slower cadence and a higher skill ceiling, nearly everyone shared concerns that it felt “too random” and “too unpredictable” which resulted in a weapon that was overall less fun to use. Further adjustments were made to specifically tackle the problems and feel reported by players. The other changes from the tuning test – like the cadence and rhythm – were in line with goals and the data for range effectiveness was generally solid minus the issue noted above that contributed to greatly diminished consistency when landing shots.

Final Changes:

  • The rate of fire / rounds-per-second remains the same as the tuning test value
  • The recoil values were reverted back to the default behavior for the BR
  • Bullet grouping was made a bit tighter than what was in the tuning test
  • Red reticle range has been decreased by approx. 17%
  • The effective close range for magnetism has been increased by approx. 100%
  • The spread/bullet grouping is approx. 50% tighter than what was in the tuning test (but is still looser than the original default values)
  • Damage values have not changed at all

TL;DR: The Battle Rifle now has a slower rate of fire and a more deliberate cadence to its burst, making it more reminiscent of something like the Halo 3 BR. The bullet grouping has been given a slight decrease in tightness (compared to a straight up 0% value in the default setting, which resulted in every bullet landing in the exact same spot regardless of whether they traveled 1 meter or 2000 meters). These changes will make the BR require a bit more thoughtful use and depending on range, more anticipation and effort to track and hit a target. Additionally, the BRs minimum effective range has been pushed out slightly (making it less “sticky” on targets up close) while the maximum effective range has been brought in slightly.  

Beam Rifle

The Beam Rifle was another weapon that received minor adjustments in this tuning test and update. Overall, the changes tested fine and nothing further was tweaked between the tuning test and the final release.

Goal: Update the Beam Rifle to have parity with the UNSC Sniper Rifle tweaks that were made last March – which are all aimed at making it a little less effective when firing from the hip.

Tuning Test Changes: The Beam Rifle was adjusted so it’s less effective / less forgiving when fired from the hip.

Tuning Test Results: Overall the Beam Rifle adjustments have brought this weapon in line with the UNSC Sniper Rifle and it’s less effective when firing from the hip.

Final Changes:  Same as the tuning test changes. The Beam Rifle and the UNSC Sniper Rifle now have parity with regards to their effectiveness when firing from the hip.

TL;DR: The Beam Rifle underwent minor changes to reduce hip-shot effectiveness to align it with the UNSC Sniper Rifle.


The Carbine received minor tuning adjustments aimed at trying to slightly pull in its effective range to help it better standout for its intended role and range. The tweaks that were rolled out in the public test are mostly unchanged vs. what’s shipping in the update.

Goal: Similar to the BR, the team wanted to address the issue of near infinite-range perfect accuracy and better establish the Carbine within its intended role.

Tuning Test Changes: Aim assist effectiveness was reduced by approx. 29%, making the Carbine a little less forgiving and requiring more manual accuracy with targeting. The tightness/grouping of shots fired from the Carbine was also slightly decreased to add a bit more variability (similar to the BRs slight variances).

Tuning Test Results: Data showed that the median kill range with the Carbine did shift to a shorter range. Player feedback was slightly negative with concerns about an “inconsistent” feel (similar to the BR feedback).

Final Changes: The changes to the aim assist were reverted back to the default values (essentially making aim assist a bit more forgiving) while the red reticle range was reduced by approx. 8%. (Similar to the changes applied to the BR).

TL;DR: The Carbine’s red-reticle-range was slightly reduced while the tightness/grouping of its shots is loosened slightly making it a bit less forgiving at longer range.


The Designated Marksman Rifle had a number of tweaks all aimed at reducing the effectiveness of the weapon at shorter engagement ranges and when firing from the hip and strengthening its effectiveness at slightly longer ranges. Overall, the DMR should fit somewhere in between the BR and a Sniper Rifle in terms of its maximum ideal window of effectiveness. The DMR received multiple tweaks going into the public tuning test and then even more changes in response to the data and feedback.

Goal: Reduce effectiveness at close range and when firing from the hip while strengthening its effectiveness at slightly longer ranged engagements.

Tuning Test Changes: The inner reticle’s aim assist forgiveness to register head shots was reduced by approx. 50% and the red reticle range / aim assist was actually shortened in what ended up shipping in the public test which contributed to this weapon missing the target goals. The range at which magnetism comes into play also ended up being reduced while the maximum effective range was pushed out by 70%.

Tuning Test Results: On the data side, the DMR results didn’t align with the intended goals – in fact, we saw a shorter median kill range with the DMR. As a result, the DMR went back into the lab for further refinements to really help it stand out as a formidable weapon at longer distances. The DMR should be second only to Sniper rifles at longer ranges.

Final Changes: The DMR was re-tuned considerably, due to the original tuning test version missing its intended mark. Range effectiveness for both hip firing and zooming-in was increased and the rate of fire was slightly reduced to make sure it wasn’t overly effective vs. other close to mid-range weapons. 

  • Headshot-specific aim assist was increased over what was present in the tuning test but is still approx. 30% reduced from the default-shipping version of the DMR.
  • Red reticle/aim assist was pushed back out with the max effective range increasing by approx. 24% compared to the pre-test DMR. The aim assist max falloff range was reverted to the pre-test value.
  • The effective range at which magnetism comes into play was increased by approx. 24% vs. the original default value while the max falloff range was reverted back to its original value. The close range benefits of magnetism was decreased – making it less “sticky” on targets – thus making the DMR less effective in CQC situations.
  • The DMRs rate of fire was decreased by approx. 8%.
  • Overall damage is unchanged.

TL;DR: The DMR should now be more effective at longer ranges though it is slightly less forgiving when registering headshots, thus requiring more manual accuracy in the hands of the player. On the flip side, changes to the inner boundaries of aim assist and magnetism, along with a slight decrease in rate of fire, should make the DMR a little less effective in CQC engagements.

Energy Sword

The Energy Sword is unique in this tuning test as it’s the only item in the bunch that’s actually not being changed but is instead receiving a totally new, separate version. The goal behind this work was to address issues associated with the movement speed boost granted by the default energy sword – particularly in competitive multiplayer situations.

However, the team didn’t want to just outright remove the speed boost since it has many practical uses across Campaign and other modes of play. To solve for this, a new version of the sword, the "Relic Sword”, was created that essentially mirrors the default sword but removes the 20% movement speed bonus. The “Relic Sword” will be added to Forge and custom palettes with this next game update.

Goal: Address issues stemming from the movement speed bonus within competitive multiplayer scenarios. (Updated goal post-tuning-test: Reduce player frustrations around equipping/readying/wielding the weapon).

Tuning Test Changes: The new “Relic Sword” variation was added to the public tuning test which had the same default values as the base sword minus the 20% movement speed boost.

Tuning Test Results: Data did show that kills-per-use decreased, which aligned with the changes – players wielding the sword weren’t able to close distance or control a map as effectively without the movement boost. However, player feedback wasn’t all positive as many felt it was cumbersome and harder to use.

Final Changes: The “Relic Sword” still has the 20% movement speed bonus removed but has also received a few additional tweaks to make it feel less sluggish when switching back and forth between it and other weapons. The ready and stow times were sped up to help it feel more responsive.

TL;DR: The Energy Sword itself isn’t really changing at all. Instead, a new variant (the “Relic Sword”) is being added that removes the 20% movement speed and increases the “snappiness” of readying and switching to/from the new sword.

Frag Grenade

The team has always had intentions of making some tweaks to grenades but due to limitations with what’s possible in the game, we were unable to deploy updated versions to the playlist for the public tuning test.

Goal: Slightly reduce the effectiveness of “grenade spam” and adjust the frag grenade’s blast radius damage to better align with the actual visual effect.

Tuning Test Changes: N/A

Tuning Test Results: N/A

Final Changes: The overall damage-dealing blast radius of a Frag Grenade has been reduced by approx. 25%.

Additionally, a tweak was made that changes the lower-bound damage limits of a Frag Grenade’s explosion. Previously, if a target was on the very extreme edge of the blast radius, they could take a little as 1 point of damage to their shields. This variability, coupled with a player’s inability to really gauge how far into/out of the blast zone they are, made it very unpredictable and inconsistent. To normalize things a bit, now any Spartan caught within the effective blast radius is guaranteed to take enough damage to drop 50% of an opponent’s shield. 

TL;DR: Frag Grenades will have an approx. 25% smaller blast radius and will do a consistent minimum of 50% damage to an opponent’s shield.

Fuel Rod Cannon

The Fuel Rod Cannon received a few minor tweaks as part of the tuning update with the main goal of making it less effective at covering a large area with multiple shots and toning down the blast radius of its projectiles – which was a bit too large considering how fast the projectiles travel. By reducing the splash damage radius the Fuel Rod Cannon requires a bit more accuracy and thought on the part of the wielding player.

Goal:  Reward more deliberate usage of the Fuel Rod by reducing the area-of-effect of its projectiles.

Tuning Test Changes: Projectile explosive damage radius reduced by approx. 24%.

Tuning Test Results: The data showed that the updated Fuel Rod Cannon did infact require more accuracy to use effectively though the impact of this was only really noticeable within lower level MMR bands (presumably more skilled players were already accustomed to accurate aiming).

Final Changes: The projectile’s explosive radius remained reduced by approx. 24%.

  • The projectile’s velocity was reduced by approx. 6% in order to give players who are the receiving end a little more of a fighting chance to escape with their life.
  • The projectile’s “behavior” was altered to behave a bit more like a rocket – i.e. it will always fire in a straight line and require more manual accuracy when aiming.

Grenade Launcher

The Grenade Launcher is pretty awesome, but the team determined it to be a little bit “OP” when considering its large projectile blast radius and fast projectile travel speed. The tuning tweaks are designed to encourage more accurate use while also giving victims a slightly better chance of avoiding death.

Goal: Strengthen indirect damage by increasing projectile bounce and encourage more accurate usage by decreasing the blast radius.

Tuning Test Changes: Projectile travel velocity was reduced by approx. 30%, the projectile’s bounce was “tightened” up to be more direct and consistent, projectile blast radius decreased by approx. 33%. Overall, the grenade projectile will have a stronger and more consistent bounce to better allow for things like bank shots and a more consistent and predictable behavior.

Tuning Test Results: The Grenade Launcher generally performed as anticipated and player feedback was neutral to positive.

Final Changes: No additional changes were made to the Grenade Launcher beyond what was adjusted for the tuning test.

TL;DR: The Grenade Launcher will be a bit more predictable and consistent to use with a stronger bounce along with a reduced projectile travel speed and a smaller explosive blast radius.

Gunfighter Magnum

The Gunfighter Magnum was thrown into the tuning update for two main reasons – its default configuration was a bit too effective at longer ranges and the team wanted to tweak it to a state where it could become a viable secondary load-out weapon to complement something like a Battle Rifle primary.

We’re not quite ready to make a final call as to whether Gunfighter will become an official starting weapon in any playlists but the work is still progressing to allow that option down the road.

Goal: The main goal for the Gunfighter Magnum was to improve its effectiveness as a close-quarters combat (CQC) sidearm weapon.

Tuning Test Changes: The Gunfighter Magnum underwent some dramatic adjustments to help it fit into the target role of a solid CQC sidearm that would be fitting as a secondary starting weapon.

  • The tightness of bullet grouping variation was reduced significantly (making the Gunfighter less accurate the longer/quicker its fired).
  • The aim-assist effective range was reduced by approx. 65% while the effective magnetism range was increased by approx. 29%.
  • The speed at which the GunFighter Magnum readied, re-loaded, and put away was slowed slightly.
  • The speed for getting into and out of zooming was increased slightly.
  • The Gunfighter magazine was expanded to hold 18 rounds.

Tuning Test Results: Kills obtained with the Gunfighter Magnum saw a definite shift from longer range to shorter range. However, most player feedback skewed negative with comments around the weapon feeling underpowered, too clunky to use, and too slow to swap to.

Final Changes: The Gunfighter underwent another round of adjustments to address the data and feedback from the public test.

  • The aim-assist and magnetism adjustments noted above for the tuning test remain as they were in the test.
  • Bullet grouping was tightened back up – it still has the potential to be “looser” than the original version but it’s approx. 25% tighter than the public test.
  • The Gunfighter was made a lot “snappier” compared to the tuning test version – the speed to draw the weapon, get into and out of zoom, and reload were all reverted back to the original default values.
  • Base damage for the GunFighter Magnum was increased by approx. 25%.

TL;DR: The Gunfighter Magnum was adjusted to be more effective at closer ranges, be a bit less accurate with its bullet grouping, hold 18 rounds in the magazine, and a boost to base damage by approx. 25%.


The Rail Gun is another weapon that garnered considerable feedback during the tuning test. There’s no denying the Rail Gun is super powerful and super satisfying to get kills with but in the hands of skilled players it excels outside of its intended role – being both overly effective at close range and overly effective as a “snapshot” weapon.

Goal: Strengthen the Rail Gun’s intended role as a “sniper” style power weapon that excels against opponents at mid to long range and requires a bit of deliberation and planning to use effectively. 

Tuning Test Changes: To help achieve these goals, the Rail Gun had significant changes made to the time it takes to build a charge and the amount of time a player can hold the charge before firing. During the public test, the charging time was increased by 67% and the “charged time” was decreased by 50%.

Tuning Test Results: On one hand, data did show that the median kill distance decreased with the newly tuned Rail Gun. On the other hand, player feedback was pretty negative as many felt it was too cumbersome and too difficult to use (and the data showed that kills-per-use as a whole dropped dramatically).

Final Charges: Overall, the tweaks to the Rail Gun were headed in the right direction but in light of both the data and feedback the changes went a bit too far. In response to the public tuning test, the sandbox team sought to make the Rail Gun more approachable and satisfying. The overly long charge up time and near instant-fire nature of the tuned Rail Gun made this weapon extremely dependent on a very narrow, “perfect scenario” to use effectively – which is hard to come by in the heat of battle. Further, it just felt clunky.

  • Charging time increased by approx. 33% compared to the original default value.
  • Time to hold a charge increased by 100% compared to original default value.

TL;DR: The Rail Gun will be less effective as a CQC/”snap shot” style weapon as it now takes a bit longer to charge but it’s more forgiving by allowing a player to hold the charge for twice as long before firing.


The last weapon in the Halo 5 tuning update is the SMG, which saw relatively minor tweaks during the test. The SMG is intended to excel at close-quarter combat but was deemed to be slightly too effective outside of that role. Overall feedback and data was straightforward with the changes mostly landing as anticipated.

Goal: Better establish and cement the close-range role of this weapon.

Tuning Test Changes:  The SMG received a few tweaks to help better emphasize its effectiveness as a CQC weapon.

  • The effective range for aim assist was decreased by approx. 11%.
  • The initial accuracy of the SMG was reduced slightly.
  • Headshot damage multiplier bonus was removed.

Tuning Test Results:  Overall, the data showed that the median kill distance for the SMG did decrease while total kills/use remained the same. Player feedback was mostly negligible with many not really feeling a difference/not sure what was changed.

Final Charges: The tuned SMG performed as desired but based on feedback a few additional tweaks were made between what was included in the public tuning test and what’s shipping in the Halo 5 game update.

  • Initial accuracy was bumped up slightly so it’s more accurate than the tuning test version but still slightly less than the default value
  • The Headshot multiplier was re-enabled (per the SMG’s original default setting) however the multiplier itself was decreased by approx. 27%
  • Per-bullet damage was decreased by approx. 23%

TL;DR: The SMG has had a minor change and now has slightly lower accuracy, a slightly shorter red-reticle-range, and does a bit less base and headshot damage.


Splinter Grenades have been the source of much scrutiny in Halo 5 as they were viewed as both a neat tactical armament with some interesting use cases but also one that veered out of its intended role and became “OP.” As a result, Splinter Grenades were removed entirely from competitive play and put on the sideline until the team had an opportunity to pop the hood and make adjustments.

Like Frag Grenades, we didn’t have a viable path to tune Splinter Grenades during the public test itself so these changes will be rolling out game-wide when the update lands.

Goal:  Strengthen the Splinter Grenade’s primary role as an area-of-denial weapon and tone down the “cheap” nature of its initial explosion.

Tuning Test Changes: N/A

Tuning Test Results: N/A

Final Charges: To help the Splinter Grenade excel in its intended role as primarily an area-of-denial weapon, the initial damage effect has been reduced by approx. 77%. However, the damage the sub-munitions (the splinters) can inflict on a target has been increased by approximately the same amount.

With these changes the Splinter Grenade won’t be nearly as punishing as an instant-hit weapon while the increased damage of the lingering splinters will make it even more effective as an area-of-denial utility. This damage reduction is just the first pass at curbing the “get out of jail free” gameplay that has persisted with this grenade. The team has some other avenues to explore in a future update if need be.

TL;DR: Splinter Grenades are being better emphasized as an area-of-denial tool and less of an instant-kill device by having the initial explosive damage significantly reduced while boosting the damage done by the residual “splinters” themselves.


We’re really excited to get all of these tuning updates out the door and into your hands. This represents a first-of-its-kind process for a Halo game and has been a very informative exercise both in terms of how the team thinks about these things as well as how we can partner with our community on these types of updates.

These changes will all go live in tomorrow’s update for Halo 5 and once installed will overwrite/replace the default existing values for each of these items in all game modes (campaign, warzone, forge, and arena). Note that this same update is also releasing for Halo 5: Forge for Windows 10 PC so all of these weapons will be updated there as well.

The team will be watching very closely to ensure that these changes are landing as desired and are generally resonating well with players. We know change of any type can be hard – especially after logging so much time with the current sandbox for the past two years. We genuinely hope you’ll come to appreciate and enjoy these changes – we truly believe they are all for the betterment of the game experience.

We ask that you please approach these changes with an open mind – it may take some time for some of these changes to sink in and in some areas you’ll potentially have to make some minor adjustments to your playstyle in light of the changes. Even during the public tuning test we saw sentiment shift the more games were played as we all became more accustomed to different weapon performance. 

That said, if some things just don’t work out as intended, we already have plans in place to allow for reactive actions as warranted. Between game data and player feedback, we’ll be watching very closely for any issues or flags and will take steps to further iterate as needed.

Thank you everyone who has joined us on this great weapon tuning adventure. Between the massive amounts of forum posts, survey responses, and game data gathered from the public test – we couldn’t have done it without you.

It’s been a long and winding road but with your help we’ve reached the finish line (for now at least) and Halo 5 will be better for it. Please keep your feedback coming and we’ll see you online!

Appendix: CHARTS!

The chart above represents how the close quarters weapons stack up to each other in their intended range (as measured in "world units" within the game - which isn't the same as "meters.") Range is represented by RRR. The shorter the range, the less ideal that weapon is at distances beyond that range because you will not receive aim assist.

This chart above represents how the precision weapons stack up to each other in their intended range. Range is represented by RRR. The Gunfighter is represented on both the CQC and precision weapon charts as it is both a CQC weapon but still very precise. The shorter the range, the less ideal that weapon is at distances beyond that range because you will not receive aim assist.

This chart is a selection of all the weapons represented in the CQC and precision weapon charts. These aren't all the weapons in Halo 5 but are the weapons most commonly found in Arena multiplayer.

This chart above represents all of the perfect kill times as well as the least efficient or suboptimal kill times. Suboptimal is defined by landing every single shot from a weapon but never landing a headshot.

The chart above illustrates the minimum shots required to kill an opponent (represented in Perfect Kill) and the maximum shots required to kill an opponent (Suboptimal Kill). You can also see the shot difference between the two per weapon. A good rule of thumb is  -the larger the difference is between Perfect and Suboptimal, the higher the skill gap.