Halo 5 won’t release for Xbox One until October 27, but fans have Halo: Spartan Strike to pass the time. Published by Microsoft for iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone, this enjoyable twin stick shooter casts you as a Spartan taking part in the ONI simulation that consists of 30 missions set in New Mombasa during events from Halo 2. Throughout the single player campaign you will battle both Covenant and Promethean enemies while making use of iconic weapons and vehicles from the Halo universe. Among them, the Battle Rifle, dual SMGs, the Pistol and the classic Warthog; Covenant weapons are also available.

Although you’ll receive support from UNSC forces several times throughout the campaign, you spend most of the time killing aliens solo. With Prima’s Halo: Spartan Strike tips, you’ll achieve higher scores and earn gold on every mission. 

Score points to earn stars 

After successfully beating a mission, the game tallies your score and awards a star, be it bronze, silver or gold. You want to score as many points as possible to achieve gold, so make sure you kill all of the enemies and complete bonus objectives (more on that below). 

Silver stars are good enough to unlock most of the missions, but you’ll need all gold stars to unlock the final portion of Halo: Spartan Strike, Operation Brother’s Keeper.

Throwing grenades in Halo: Spartan Strike

This is arguably the trickiest thing to do in the new Halo game. To throw either a Frag or Plasma grenade, quickly tap the screen twice and your Spartan will respond by tossing a grenade. That’s the easy part. Getting him to throw it in the direction you want may take some time, especially while under fire. 

Use the dual analog sticks to position your Spartan so he faces the target and then perform the double tap. Ideally you want to be roughly 1.5 to 2 screen inches away. There’s a good chance you’ll waste grenades until you get the hang of it. 

Be mindful of your surroundings and opponents

Granted this is true for most action games, but analyze any given situation. How many aliens are there (check the map in the top left, red dots are enemies)? Is there a turret? Can you escape an Elite if it attempts a lunging attack, or will you get backed into a corner? Furthermore, if UNSC forces came in to assist your Spartan, what is the best way to keep them alive? Once these guys die, they’re gone for good. 

Taking this a step further, what is the weapon situation? You’ll often find crates while exploring New Mombasa, allowing you to reload current weapons, pick up new ones and collect grenades. Know where these caches are at all times, and backtrack if necessary to reload or swap out.

Don’t waste ammo, and switch weapons accordingly 

To build on that last point, always keep an eye on the amount of ammo remaining in both weapons, which you’ll see on the top right of the screen. If your UNSC Shotgun or Sniper Rifle run empty, there’s little need to hang on to these weapons unless you’re after achievements. Ditch them for a fully loaded Assault Rifle, Needler or Spartan Laser, whatever best helps you stay alive and finish the mission. 

That said, there is a time and place for different weapons. Since it’s impossible to see things off screen, perhaps a USNC Sniper Rifle isn’t the best gun to have against several enemies. Although it does more damage than two SMGs, its slow rate of fire may put you at risk.

Recharge your Spartan shield 

Similar to other Halo games, your Spartan has a rechargeable shield that protects him from enemy fire until it fully depletes, whereupon which you are now exposed and susceptible to a quick death. When this happens or you see it getting low, retreat for a bit until it recharges, then head back into the fight.

Complete objectives to earn credits

Before starting a mission, you’ll see four bonus objectives to complete for more credits. These include killing 10 Drones with a Magnum, killing 6 Elites with an Assault Rifle and destroying 10 Shade Turrets with Plasma Grenades, among other things. Always keep these in mind during a mission  because completing them results in different amounts of credits. 

These objectives are the primary reason why you may want to hang onto specific weapons. If you need to kill 20 Elite Minors with a Plasma Repeater, it’s in your best interest to pick up this weapon and keep it loaded until the objective is complete.

Assault Ops 

In addition to bonus mission objectives, you’ll earn credits for completing different challenges in Assaults Ops. Some of these are mission specific, like killing 3 Grunts with melee attacks in Mission A-1, while others are weekly. Case in point, killing 25 Covenant with turrets. You can view Assault Ops from the Spartan Strike main menu.

Spend credits to change your Spartan’s loadout

Halo: Spartan Strike automatically selects a loadout for you before a mission begins, but you can tweak it by spending credits to change primary and secondary weapons, armor and boosters. 

You may not want the default Assault Rifle, but it will cost 500 credits for a Sniper Rifle, 750 for a Spartan Laser and 1,000 for a Rocket Launcher.  Since missions only become tougher the further you progress, avoid spending too many credits when starting out. Save them for when things get crazy. 

Equip skulls for credit bonuses

There are six skulls in Halo: Spartan Strike, and you’re able to equip up to two per mission. Should you complete a mission with skulls activated you will receive a credit bonus, but skulls handicap you in some way.

Tip: Equip two skulls for a bigger credit bonus. 

The list of skulls include:

  • Hollow: Your Spartan only has a shield for protection.
  • Pacifist: This skull causes your Spartan’s armor and shields to deplete whenever you fire a weapon.
  • Famine: Dropped weapons carry less ammunition.
  • Black Eye: Your Spartan’s shields will only recharge after taking melee attack damage. 
  • Thunderstorm: This skull adds tougher enemies to the battlefield. 
  • Blind: You cannot see important HUD elements, including ammo for all weapons. 

Equip Boosters pre-mission

Similar to weapons, Boosters cost valuable credits, but they prove useful against Covenant and Promethean forces. A Shield Booster (500 credits) causes your Spartan’s shield to recharge faster than normal. The Damage Booster (750 credits), meanwhile, makes weapons more powerful than usual. Finally, the Score Booster (1,000 credits) does exactly as advertised, awarding you with big points for kills and medals. 

Select your Spartan’s armor 

You begin missions with the standard Bubble Shield that deploys a 10-second dome shield to protect against enemy fire, but there are three more armor types in the game. 

  • Overshield (500 credits): Instant shield recharge and invincible for 8 seconds.
  • Seeker Drone (750 credits): An explosive homing drone, active for 10 seconds.
  • Airstrike (1,000 credits): Several explosives that last for 2.5 seconds. 

Tip: All of these armor abilities have different recharge times. 

How to earn medals in Halo: Spartan Strike

There are 32 medals to earn in the game. The easiest, Double Kill, tasks you with quickly killing two aliens one after the other. One of the toughest, Let It Rain, charges you with blowing up 10 enemies in a row with grenades without taking damage. You can view the full list of medals from the main screen.

Use vehicles 

Unless you’re on an Assault Ops rampage and need to slaughter a certain amount of aliens with [insert weapon], take the Warthog! Not only does it let you cover ground in the quickest time possible, but the turret features heavier firepower than other weapons in the game; that last part also applies to the Main Battle Tank. 

The same holds true for stationary turrets. You won’t be able to move while operating one, but you’ll easily cut through Covenant forces. 

Tip: Watch out for Grunts with two Plasma grenades in each hand. These little guys run towards your Spartan and blow up when in range. 

Download Halo: Spartan Strike for iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone.

Now check out the new Spartan abilities in Halo 5: Guardians.