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“They sure aren't as tough as their ships.”

Jackals, or Kig-Yar, are commonly used as specialized infantry units among Covenant ground forces. They are primarily armed with Plasma Pistols or Needlers and personal energy shields, but they may also be deployed as sniper units. Kig-Yar employed as sharpshooters (aka Sniper Jackals) are commonly armed with weapons that deal maximum damage at maximum range, such as Beam Rifles, Focus Rifles, Needle Rifles or Covenant Carbines.

In battle, Jackals share many similarities with Unggoy, but are far more intelligent and, unlike the Grunts, are capable of posing a significant threat even when alone. They are a subordinate race, physically weaker than the Elites or Brutes, and are somewhat cowardly in comparison. Despite their efforts to assure the Covenant of their superiority over the Unggoy, they often cower in battle and retreat in a similar way when deprived of leadership.

The Jackal Point Defense Gauntlet is almost completely impervious to all human firearms, and is strong against plasma based weaponry, though extended fire from a plasma weapon will quickly deplete the shield's strength. The Jackal's shield gives them a tactical advantage, especially when they are properly emplaced, but they can be dealt with easily enough by a talented marksman. Their energy shield has a notch on the left- or right-hand side intended to allow them to fire their weapons while receiving the benefit of its protection, but it also allows an opponent the opportunity to hit them with a weapon, stunning the Jackal, knocking him back, and leaving him open for a quick follow-up headshot.  When they are emplaced as snipers, Jackals tend to rely on cover and camouflage for protection, rather than a shield.  They are easier to deal with once they've been spotted, however, and turning a Spartan's night vision on and off can make them show up against the background.

The Jackals were revealed to have a new role in Halo 2 as the Covenant's primary marksmen. The introduction of Jackals as specialised snipers changed the gameplay and tactics drastically, as up until then, all Covenant troops were close-range fighters, none of whom carried scoped weapons. The Covenant had been using Jackals as marksman for much of the Human-Covenant War, however, as seen in Halo Wars and Halo: Reach.

Killing Jackals at range becomes much easier in Halo 3: ODST, due to two new available weapons: a more powerful Covenant Carbine, and the new M6C/SOCOM. In both cases, the tactic is the same (the M6C is slightly easier to use, as it is somewhat more accurate) - shoot the Jackal on its exposed right arm, wait for it to flinch and move its shield aside, then follow it up with a quick shot to the head or burst to the chest with an SMG. Sniper and Particle Beam Rifles are one-hit kills in any game if the player hits the exposed arm.

At close range, the tactics change somewhat, depending on which weapon the player is using. Always keep in mind that it is usually best to snipe down a few Jackals while they are charging at you, before they get close enough to make the use of sniper weapons unadvisable. A frag grenade under the energy shield can kill a group of Jackals with ease, and Brute Shots are also effective; even on heroic or legendary, one grenade from the Brute Shot can kill a Jackal. Shotguns are also effective at close range, and, like the Sniper Rifle, a single shot in the arm will finish the conversation. If approaching a Jackal from behind, try to assassinate it, or, stick it with a Plasma Grenade, if it has friends standing nearby.

Halo Wars Stat

In Halo Wars, Jackals play a powerful anti-infantry role, having the capability to inflict a disproportionate number of casualties upon regular enemy infantry, much like the UNSC Hellbringers, though having the advantage of longer range weapons. They are deployed in groups of two, and their default armament is the medium range Covenant Carbine. Being geared towards a single role, the effectiveness of Jackals against armor and aircraft is highly limited, and they will easily fall victim to vehicles; in groups, however, Jackals can easily destroy enemy aircraft. Like all Infantry units in Halo Wars, Jackals have multiple upgrades as listed below in the precise order researched:

  • Defense Gauntlet: 200 supplies, 1st tech level. Adds a standard Kig-Yar point defense gauntlet to every soldier, which provides some protection but eventually collapses under enemy fire.
  • Beam Rifle: 400 supplies, 2nd tech level (Age of Doubt). Replaces all Covenant Carbines with Beam Rifles, which provide superior range and power to attack.
  • Supreme Gauntlet: 700 supplies, 3rd tech level (Age of Reclamation). Upgrades all defense gauntlets, so that they no longer collapse under enemy fire.


Changes from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 2

  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Jackals wore more armor, often had helmets, had shorter, stubbier beaks, more jewel-like eyes, and came in two skin color variations: black and orange. In Halo 2, they are more avian looking and have only an orange skin color. Also they have pink reptile like eyes which flicker off and on when dead, but still stay pink. They also have larger biceps and chests. It is unknown why these changes happened, and if the Halo 2 Jackals are a different variety/race of Jackals than the ones in Halo: Combat Evolved or if the changes were mostly just graphical.
  • There have been changes in the way the Jackal Personal Arm Shield works and looks.
  • A sniper rank has been added that uses the Particle Beam Rifle. 
  • In neither game do Jackals utilize Plasma Grenades, although they do carry grenades in Halo 2.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, Jackals hunt predominantly in pairs, usually one major and a minor, 2 minors, or sometimes 2 majors (though more than one pair may be present in certain areas). In Halo 2, shielded Jackals work primarily in teams upwards of four, though they are occasionally found in pairs. Sniper Jackals can also be found working in teams on occasions.
  • In Halo 2, on rare occasions, Jackals wield Plasma Rifles.
  • Jackals no longer roll to avoid enemy fire. They now jump swiftly from side to side.

Changes from Halo 2 to Halo 3

  • Jackals now wield the Covenant Carbines without having to be given them, these Jackals are designated by some as "Marksmen Jackals" seeing that they are neither Snipers nor shield-bearing Jackals.
  • Jackals in Halo 3 appear to no longer wear the armored boots they wore in the previous Halo games. They feature huge talons on their feet in Halo 3.
  • Halo 3 Jackals have a massive "over-bite" and their razor-sharp teeth hang down over their entire bottom jaw.
  • Sniper Jackals wear a visor-like device on their heads that covers their left eye. It can be assumed this enhances their vision to allow for greater accuracy on the field of battle. When Jackal snipers sight a target, this visor emits a purple light; this functions both to warn the player and reveal the sniper's position. The visor, along with the now-slower targeting time for the creatures' Particle Beam Rifle, can best be described as an effort to balance the snipers out after Bungie's realization that they were too deadly in Halo 2.
  • When a Jackal is holding a Carbine or Beam Rifle, it can't use a shield at the same time.
  • Their appearance is more bird-like than their reptilian Combat Evolved and Halo 2 counterparts. Their heads now resemble those of a crow or vulture in comparison to the heads of their counterparts which had heads like a reptile.
  • On Heroic difficulty or lower, Jackals can now be killed with a single Sniper Rifle or Particle Beam Rifle shot to the torso or limbs, compared to requiring 2 shots in Halo 2. 2 torso shots are required to kill a Jackal on Legendary difficulty, however.
  • Snipers no longer drop their sniper rifle when running away, instead they carry their sniper over their head.

Changes from Halo 3 to Halo Wars

  • Capable of wielding both shields and rifles at the same time.
  • Capable of being outfitted with an indestructible shield.
  • Kig-yar Flood combat forms are introduced.

Changes from Halo 3 to Halo 3: ODST

  • Some Jackals wield weapons that they haven't used before in the series such as Needlers.
  • Jackal Marksmen no longer wear inactive defense gauntlets.
  • Marksmen no longer have a Plasma Pistol secondary weapon.
  • Jackals are more difficult to kill with melee attacks, since melee damage is noticeably less when playing as an ODST than when playing as a SPARTAN.

Changes from Halo 3/Halo 3: ODST to Halo: Reach

  • Jackals' armor jumpsuits sport brighter, more vibrant colors.
  • Jackals have more defined pupils.
  • Jackals wear their shield gauntlets on their left arm instead of their right arm.
  • The shield now has only one notch in it compared to the two notches in the games before it.