Maybe you’ve maxed out the battle pass. Maybe you’re distracted by the embarrassment of riches in gaming right now. Whatever the reason, if you’ve bounced off Halo Infinite, there’s immediate grounds to return: the ongoing “Tactical Ops” event.
Tactical Ops, which started last Tuesday and runs through next Tuesday, is the latest time-limited event for 343 Industries’ multiplayer shooter. While the event is active, you’ll find Halo Infinite’s Tactical Slayer (née SWAT) playlist—in which two teams of four face off with no shields and no motion trackers—has undergone a bit of a makeover.
Historically, Tactical Slayer starts players off with the burst-fire battle rifle. For Tactical Ops, you can also encounter modal variants that see players start with either the sidekick pistol or the mangler. (Starting tomorrow, the event will introduce variants based on the commando and the stalker rifle, two new-to-Halo weapons.) Blissfully, since neither weapon is great at range, the mid-sized Launch Site map is not included in the rotation.
Both new variants are tremendous fun, and have revitalized the staid tactical slayer mode. Matches of the sidekick version play out with the pop, pop, pop of a fight scene from John Wick– players frantically shooting from the hip in the hopes of a headshot. Meanwhile, rounds based on the mangler are chaotic all-out brawls. The mangler—which you may know as kryptonite for pro Halo players—has some serious bullet drop, which makes landing headshots more of an imprecise art than an exact science. But the mangler also only requires two body shots for a kill, so that’s more often than not the better strategy. For the first time in Halo history, Tactical Slayer isn’t contingent on nailing headshots.
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Halo players have had nearly two decades to hone their skills with the battle rifle. (It was first introduced in 2004’s Halo 2.) By now, Tactical Slayer is no longer a contest of disciplined aiming. It’s a measure of whoever has the snappiest instincts or the biggest, clearest TV. If you see an opponent first, you win. If they see you first, they win. The result is a game mode that, as the name implies, is all about playing tactically: knowing maps well, memorizing the best vantage points and hiding spots, and moving carefully between them.
The Tactical Ops versions of tactical slayer, however, are anything but tactical. Since both weapons are ineffective at range, you can run around without risk of getting picked off by someone you never even saw from halfway across the map. You can traverse levels in groups of two, three, or even four without teeing up a multikill for the enemy team. In fact, since both the sidekick and the mangler can easily down an opponent with body shots, that’s the smart move–roving around maps like a pack of dogs, rather than the lone-wolf approach encouraged by the typical Tactical Slayer. It all comes together with a refreshingly silly cadence to Tactical Ops that’s not present in the standard, BR-only version. More of that, please!
As with all Halo Infinite events, yes, you can earn a slew of cosmetic options for completing challenges tied to Tactical Ops. A lot of the gear is actually pretty damn cool, including an amethyst-colored visor and a set of gloves that look like Iron Man’s repulsors. But even if there’s no special gear, these tactical slayer variants, much like the previous event-only Attrition mode, are fun enough to stick around for good. Hey, Halo Infinite could use the extra playlists.