The Promethean forces of Halo 4 inject some much-needed new flavor into the franchise. Previous Halo games have largely depended on the Flood as a second enemy faction, alongside the religious zealots of the Covenant. The zombie-like beings served to alter the tactical flow of Halo battlefields, and the Prometheans that replace them serve the same basic purpose while also adding an assortment of new pea shooters to your arsenal.
The Prometheans bring much more tactical depth to the battlefield than the Flood of previous games ever did, with greater variety within their ranks and a different approach to the challenge of killing human interlopers. Their weapons also tweak what's familiar in some unexpected ways. That's why we've assembled this little Promethean primer. Read on for rundowns of what to expect from this new threat and their assorted toys.
The hardiest and deadliest of the Promethean forces are the vaguely humanoid Knights, which come in several different flavors. Promethean tactics are largely built around overwhelming the enemy with superior numbers, but the Knights present the biggest challenge in a one-on-one showdown.
Basic Knights and their more badass variants generally won't spawn in large numbers, though each one can release a Watcher that can then in turn call a small army of Crawlers to the battlefield, as we'll discuss below. The Knights themselves are protected by a generous amount of shielding. They can also teleport around the battlefield, and often will when targeted by sustained weapons fire. Melee strikes will do little to faze them, though putting the smack down on a newly unshielded Knight will often finish it off quickly.
You'll typically encounter Knights carrying any one of the two-handed Promethean weapons, though higher-level variants generally come equipped with the Scattershot, which can bring down Master Chief in one shot at close range, or the Incinerator Cannon, a ranged explosive weapon that mixes the most dangerous qualities of a rocket launcher, a shotgun, and a flame thrower together. Lancer variants also threaten to ruin your day with a charging melee attack, especially when it's followed up by a Scattershot to the face.
Promethean Knights are a high-priority threat on Halo 4's battlefields, so if you see an opportunity to take one out quickly and cleanly then go for it. More often, you'll find that they're part of a much larger force. On those occasions, it makes much more sense to simply avoid them while you deal with more pressing threats, such as...
Watchers are rather weak as individuals, but their support abilities effectively make them the biggest threat that you face when Prometheans take to the battlefield. For instance, Watchers can throw up a Hardlight shield in front of any ally, and they'll often do so when you start to chip away at a nearby Knight. Watchers also have the ability to summon a group of Crawlers to the battlefield, which is the main reason why you'll generally want to prioritize bringing down these flyers as soon as you see them.
At medium and long ranges, single shot, scoped weapons are your best bet. Watcher flit around quickly and they're very good at dodging out of the way once your draw a bead and pop off your first shot. Bringing them down can be frustrating, especially when there are lots of structures of environmental features for them to duck behind.
Sniper rifles from any faction will one hit kill a Watcher, though expect to drain at least a clip or two if you're facing one with some other scoped weapon. Watchers will also attack you directly at close ranges, though their damage potential is pretty low. If one flies in close for an attack, switch over to an automatic fire weapon to make quick work of it.
In addition to all of that, Watchers also have the ability to revive fallen allies. You'll notice whenever you take out a Promethean that it leaves behind a glowing ball of energy. Watchers can zero in on this and bring back the fallen Promethean, though you can interrupt the process by taking out the Watcher mid-revive. This is actually something you can take tactical advantage of since the revive process prevents the flyers from flitting away.
Generally speaking, consider Watchers to be priority number one in any Promethean engagement.
Crawlers are perhaps the weakest of the Promethean forces, with a large weak spot in their head area offering easy one hit kills. They're also the Prometheans that you'll see the most of, and a full-on swarm of them can easily overwhelm if you're not careful.
Basic Crawlers fire (and drop) Boltshots, but you'll also frequently encounter Alpha variants that come packing Suppressors, the automatic weapons of the Prometheans. A second variant of Crawler packs the Promethean sniper rifle equivalent, and it's deadly at long range thanks to its ability to skitter along on walls and ceilings. This is true for all Crawlers, not just the sniping variant.
Crawlers tend to show up in packs, which is when they're at their deadliest. They move much faster and tend to advance much more aggressively than the other Promethean forces, which makes drawing them out to your position a viable tactic. When a pack of Watchers arrives, just make sure you've got plenty of cover nearby. Also, it's important to prevent them from surrounding you. Pick them off with potshots or smacks to the head one by one if they advance, but focus your efforts on Watchers and Knights instead if they hang back.
The Promethean Arsenal
The Prometheans bring a whole new set of weapons to play with in Halo 4, and while they're all basically just variations on familiar themes, each one possesses unique qualities that helps set it apart from other weapons like it. Here's what to expect from the Promethean arsenal:
Boltshot -- This is the standard pistol of the Promethean forces, most frequently dropped by downed Crawlers. Like the rest of the new arsenal, it's an ammo-based weapon (as opposed to the Covenant's energy-based firearms) with a 10-shot clip.
In addition to the Boltshot's standard semi-automatic fire, you can also use up half of a full clip on a charged shot that fires out in a shotgun-like spread. It's not nearly as devastating at close range as a proper shotgun and the charge time makes it tough to take advantage of, but Boltshots are so numerous on the battlefield that they can definitely be useful in a pinch.
Suppressor -- The Supressor is basically a Promethean machine gun. There's nothing particularly unique about its behavior; no charge shots or anything like that. That said, the Suppressor spits out its 48-round clip at an extremely high rate of fire. Accuracy dips significantly at longer ranges – more so than any of the other auto-fire weapons -- but it delivers a fearsome wall of death at close and medium ranges.
Scattershot -- The Scattershot is a Promethean shotgun. It's also one of the more effective weapons in the new arsenal, offering a bumped up rate of fire over what the human shotgun delivers. What's more, a Scattershot's spread-fire Hardlight pellets ricochet off of nearby surfaces, making it particularly deadly in tight quarters. You'll quickly learn to fear the sight of a Scattershot in the hands of a Knight, but you can also turn the tables and use it on the top-level Promethean soldiers to score one hit kills at point-blank range.
Light Rifle -- The Promethean Light Rifle is a semi-automatic scoped weapon that switches over to three-shot bursts when fired from the hip. The same amount of ammo is consumed in a single scoped shot and a hip-fire burst, so you deal more damage per individual shot when using the scope.
Binary Rifle -- The Binary Rifle is the Promethean equivalent of a sniper rifle, delivering high damage fire from its two-shot clip. There's little that sets it apart from the standard human sniper rifle or the Covenant Beam Rifle, though the Binary Rifle makes up for its low ammo count with even greater damage potential. On any difficulty setting lower than Legendary, you can one shot kill virtually anything you line up in your sights, regardless of where you hit it.
Incineration Cannon -- You won't see too many Incineration Cannons until later on in the campaign, and there's a good reason for that. It compares closest to the rocket launcher or Covenant fuel rod cannon, but this thing is definitely in its own category. Combining features of a shotgun, a rocket launcher, and a flamethrower into one explosive package, the Incineration Cannon is best used at medium and long ranges on anything that typically soaks up a lot of damage. The blast damage will kill you quickly though, so swap it out for something else at close ranges.
Pulse Grenade -- The Promethean Pulse Grenade is damaging to one and all, but it is most useful when used against vehicles due to its EMP-like qualities. When a Pulse Grenade detonates, it creates a bubble of energy that saps away the health and shields of anything inside it. The damage delivery over time is too low to make this grenade much of a direct threat, but it's great for gumming up vehicles and sending enemies scrambling to find new cover.