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Electromagnetic pulse

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Wikipedia There is more information available on this subject at Electromagnetic pulse on the English Wikipedia.
The EMP Medal given to a player in Halo 3: ODST and in Halo 3 when killing an enemy shortly after their shields are deactivated.

Electromagnetic Pulse, or EMP is the electromagnetic radiation from an explosion (especially a nuclear explosion) or an intensely fluctuating magnetic field caused by Compton-recoil electrons and photoelectrons from photons scattered in the materials of the electronic or explosive device or in a surrounding medium. The resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. The effects are usually not noticeable beyond the blast radius unless the device is nuclear or specifically designed to produce an electromagnetic shockwave. An alternate definition is: a broadband, high-intensity, short-duration burst of electromagnetic energy.

The worst of an electromagnetic pulse generally only lasts for a second, but any unprotected electrical equipment will be affected by the pulse.


EMP is mentioned several times in the Halo Universe:


EMP is also an in-game effect in the Halo games, that disables energy shields and vehicles. It is produced by certain weapons and equipment.

  • In Halo 2, the Sentinels sometimes emit an EMP when destroyed. This effect disables shields, but vehicles are unaffected.
  • In Halo 3, the Power Drain uses EMP to disable shields, vehicles and other power sources.
  • A charged Plasma Pistol blast will temporarily disable vehicles and energy shields much like the power drain.
  • In Halo: Reach the M319 Individual Grenade Launcher has a secondary function that acts like an EMP. It awards a player an EMP Medal when it kills an enemy, being the only other weapon in the game that awards the medal.
  • In Halo: Reach, Armor Lock can trigger an EMP after use, which can take out a Spartan's shields. Combined with a quick and accurate melee, this can result in an almost instant kill.
  • In Halo Wars, Professor Anders' vehicle, the Gremlin, uses EMP as main armament to disable enemy non-infantry units.
  • In Halo Wars, the Vampire's Stasis Drain Cannon uses EMP as well to drain power from enemy aircraft.
  • In Halo: Reach, the Covenant Spires in the Battle of Viery possessed a protective electromagnetic shield to disable enemy vehicles.


  • If you disable a vehicle using an EMP, it will show an animation of some sparks flying around but if you disable it again before it is drivable then the animation will stop and the vehicle will not work.
  • A vehicle disabled by an EMP will still have full functionality of its weapons if it has any. For example, if a Warthog is disabled by an EMP, the turret will still be able to turn around and shoot.
  • The Shade is not affected by the EMP of the Plasma Pistol, as it can still rotate and shoot.
    • This has been fixed in Halo: Reach



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