Halo Infinite’s semi-open world features 15 optional mini-bosses, ostensibly some of the most formidable members of The Banished. Every time you defeat one, you’ll unlock a weapon variant—a spin on the basic weapons you can find—you can then select while building loadouts at forward operating bases. All of the variants are different, but they always spur the same reaction: “Cool! So…what the fuck does this do?”
Most of Halo Infinite’s weapon variants are done up in a pristine power-snow weapon skin (that, frankly, would make a killing in Infinite’s microtransactions shop). Some of them have obvious perks—a faster fire rate, say, or a lock-on function—indicated by a melodramatic adjective like “volatile” or “purging” preceding its name. Others, however, are less clear, and seem to function no differently than the standard models they’re based on.
Complicating matters is the fact that weapon variants found off mini-bosses don’t feature descriptive flavor text, not like what you’d find with the alt-versions of UNSC guns (the striker sidekick, the convergence bulldog, and so on, all unlockable over time by earning Valor). So, to clear things up, here’s how every weapon variant in Halo Infinite actually works, and where you can find them.
(Note: Weapon variants aren’t typically available in multiplayer but can spawn in custom matches, depending on how you’ve set up the rules.)
Where to get it: Due north of Outpost Tremonious, from an elite named Inka ‘Saham
This one’s pretty straightforward. It’s a pulse carbine with an increased fire rate. Sad news for those who miss the fully-auto plasma rifles from Halos of old, but 343 still gets marks for making one of the most useless weapons slightly less useless.
Where to get it: By killing an elite named Thav ‘Sebarim just east of the Conservatory
The arcane sentinel beam functions more or less the same as the base model—it’s just a laser beam, after all, not much room for creativity there—but is a bit more powerful. The tradeoff, however, is its ammo capacity, which is half that of the standard sentinel beam. Seeing as it burns through ammo, and that regular sentinel beams are a dime a dozen for the final stretch of the campaign, you can skip this one.
Where to get it: Starting at the Tower, hug the west edge of the map and kill Okro ‘Vagaduun, an elite
The duelist energy sword looks and acts like a normal energy sword, but it increases your movement speed. Recently, during an impressive no-bullets run through Halo Infinite, one speedrunner used the duelist energy sword to gain an edge in the boss fight at the end of the Tower.
Where to get it: Like, 10 feet north of the Excavation Site, off a grunt named Bipbap
The calcine disruptor is moderately more powerful than the standard one. What’s more, it also deals area-of-effect damage. In other words, you can have the world’s worst aim and still shock enemies!
Where to get it: On the island where the Tower is, just east of the bridge on the north edge, kill Briglard, the grunt
Halo Infinite’s plasma pistol still can’t stall out vehicles like it could in older games, even with the more powerful “unbound” variant, which fires multiple shots when you overcharge it.
Where to get it: This one’s a bit out of the way. The southernmost island (where the “Sequence” mission takes place) is split by a chasm. On the west side of the rift, there’s a really tall mountain. You’ll get the stalker rifle ultra just below the peak, off the corpse of Barroth, a jackal, after you slay him.
The standard stalker rifle has two distance settings on its scope, one of which is comparable to a sniper rifle. The stalker rifle ultra, meanwhile, has a short-range scope and a faster fire rate, making it better-suited for close-quarters combat.
Where to get it: Same island as the stalker rifle ultra, but on the east side of the rift, by killing Zeretus, who’s posted up at the top of a mountain on the north edge
The M41 tracker should, as one YouTuber put it, “be illegal.” It’s a rocket launcher that automatically targets and hones in on enemies. Enough said.
Where to get it: Off a brute named Balkarus just north of the Forge of Teash
Quick, someone warn the pros! The best gun in the game has an even better cousin. The riven mangler looks and sounds like a standard mangler, except projectiles split into three fragments, turning it into a bona fide shotgun up close.
Where to get it: From a brute, En ‘Geddon, who hangs out just west of FOB Hotel, in the southernmost area of the map
The rushdown hammer is essentially the gravity hammer from older Halo games. Beyond its merits as a devastating melee weapon, it has a gravitational field that can launch objects, including the player, making for all sorts of old-school hijinks. You also move a bit faster (as you do with the duelist energy sword) and jump higher.
Where to get it: In the mountain range just west of FOB Echo, you’ll find (and kill) a brute named Ik ‘Novus
The volatile skewer is the same as the standard skewer—long-range, single-shot clip that’s hard to aim but kills anything in one hit—except it fires exploding (!!) projectiles. Any time you know you’re about to go up against a pair of hunters, make sure a volatile skewer is in your loadout.
Where to get it: In a mountain pass west of FOB November, by killing Arthoc, a brute
The ravager, the worst weapon in Halo Infinite by community consensus, also has the worst weapon variant. It’s the same thing as the base ravager, but the projectiles bounce. Cool?
Where to get it: You’ll need a wasp or a banshee (or, if you’re feeling fun, a pelican). On the southern edge of the map, smack in the middle, there’s a spire otherwise unreachable without an aerial vehicle. You’ll find a skirmisher, Wraith Kul, wielding the weapon.
Few Halo weapons are more classic than the needler, which fires a barrage of heat-seeking explosive needles. The pinpoint needler does the same, but has a tighter projectile spread and tracks enemies a bit more effectively than the normal needler.
Where to get it: By killing a pack of skimmers just north of FOB Juliet
The purging shock rifle is much the same as the gun it’s based on—still slow-firing and hard to aim—but stuns vehicles in one hit. For the most part, Halo Infinite’s vehicular moments also have you in a vehicle, so the use case isn’t great here, but it’ll likely be helpful once the cooperative campaign launches in May. Calling “purging shock rifle” will be the new “calling shotgun!” No? Anyone? Where’d you all go?
Where to get it: Off two hunters on the expanse between FOB Kilo and FOB Juliet
The backdraft cindershot definitely does more damage than the grenade launcher on which it’s based, but I’ll be honest, I still haven’t figured out exactly how or why. (One explanation, popular on Reddit, claims that every projectile fragments into multiple, and that explosions only occur on the ground, resulting in staggering splash damage. Makes sense to me!)
Where to get it: Due north of FOB Hotel, kill Ordo ‘Mal, an elite
The heatwave, which fires a spread of six small projectiles either vertically or horizontally, is tremendously effective in multiplayer but a bit too scarce in terms of ammo to be useful in the campaign. Its variant, however, fires tracking projectiles, so at least you don’t waste the little ammo you do find.