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< Sangheili


Elite Comparisons

Different incarnations of the Sangheili in each Halo game.

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The Sangheili serve as an enemy in most of the Halo games, and as an ally in Halo 3. Depending on their rank, Sangheili warriors can be the hardest opponents you encounter in games when they are enemies due to their skill and tactical ability, and even the lower ranked warriors can be very dangerous.

Weapon CompatibilityEdit


A Sangheili (elite) player model using a Battle rifle in Halo 3 multiplayer.

Although Elites are most commonly seen with Energy Swords, Covenant Carbines, Plasma Rifles and Needlers, because of their strength and versatility, Elites can utilize any weapon in the field of battle, Human or Covenant, though most Elites would rather die than use a Human or Jiralhanae-oriented weapon. Lieutenant Junior Grade Fred-104 theorizes that the Elites follow an edict of the Prophets that states that they should not use Human weapons, based on his own sightings of Elites happily dying rather than pick up a fully loaded MA5B Assault Rifle at their feet. The Brutes however do not behave in a similar manner, even attempting to steal FENRIS nuclear warheads during the Battle of Earth. The Arbiter, it appears, has no particular objection to sullying his already fraudulent honor with a Human weapon. Most other Elites will use a Human or a Brute weapon if it is given to them by the Arbiter, although usually with a derogatory remark (with the exception of the Spartan Laser, Rocket Launcher and the Sniper Rifle), such as, "Bah! Even as trophies, these weapons are worthless!", "Really?!", or even "Worthless piece of crap!" However, in the hands of an Elite, any Human weapon can be deadly. Elites can hold a Rocket Launcher and the Fuel Rod Gun with one hand due to their superior strength, unlike normal Marines or even SPARTAN IIs. They will also use Human vehicles such as a Mongoose, or a Warthog. Their marksmanship is easily comparable to a skilled Marine and they can quickly kill any opponent from afar with their skill in long-ranged combat, as well as being extremely deadly in close quarters with energy sword equipped warriors being even deadlier. Thanks to their armor and increased musculature they can survive attacks that would kill a normal human soldier, even with their personal shields down. In Halo 2 it is known that on the level Metropolis if left alone, the Elites will kill Sergeant Stacker in the Gauss Warthog, take control of the Gauss cannon, and start firing at you.


Despite their advantages, Elites also have some vulnerabilities:

M6D Pistol The M6D Pistol has high damage per hit, high accuracy, and thus is very effective against Elites. The only thing you should worry about, however, is the Pistol's low rate of fire. It is best used in conjunction with an overcharged plasma pistol shot, as on legendary, it can take 6-8 shots to take out a Major Elite's Shields and in that time you could easily die.
MA5B Assault Rifle Not the most effective weapon. Your best strategy at close range with this weapon is to just hold onto the trigger - it'll take a little while, but the sheer weight of bullets will quickly overwhelm the Elites' Energy shield. From medium range it is better to pulse the trigger, as after the trigger is released, the bullet spread is reset. However, it is put in best effect when you are in close range, have depleted the Elite's shielding and slam the Elite with your melee. As one of the fastest melees, the Assault rifle's first melee will stun the Elite, whilst the second will kill it.
M6C Magnum It can be effective if dual wielded. It can be rapid fired in Halo 2. It's best to dual wield with a Plasma weapon, such as the Plasma Rifle to take down their shields, then aim for the Elite's head with the M6C Magnum for a quick kill. Be sure to headshot, as the effectiveness is exponentially increased.
BR55 Battle Rifle or Covenant Carbine Both are a high step up from the MA5B Assault Rifle. The BR55 Battle Rifle's 3 round burst or the Covenant Carbine's semiautomatic mode is pretty effective against Elites. However, if the Noob Combo is used, any Elite can be killed in a matter of seconds. 3-4 Headshots will usually bring down an Elite's Energy Shield entirely after which, only 1 Headshot will kill. In addition, the zoom allows you to kill the Elite in a variety of zones, some of which will put you a good deal away from harm's way. However, be careful of the BR's spread effect; the Covenant Carbine is slightly weaker, though it is well worth the trade off.
SMG Good when coupled with the Plasma Pistol or the Plasma Rifle, as it will break the Shields quickly, and is excellent when it does. Otherwise it works about the same as the MA5B Assault Rifle does, except the medium range accuracy is slightly less than the MA5B Assault Rifle. However, in Legendary, the effect is dampened, as the Major Elites can absorb enough damage to kill you first.
Shotgun Instant kill weapon at close range, except against higher Elites such as Ultras and Councilors. On Legendary, though, it takes at least two shots to kill a Minor, so you may wish to get an alternative, as the recoil time is excessively long.
Sniper Rifle or Particle Beam Rifle One shot will deplete an Elite's Shielding on lower difficulty settings, but one Headshot will neutralize one instantly, except Zealots, Councilors, and SpecOps Elites (On Legendary, a Major can also take 2 headshots). It would take about 4 body-shots to kill a Minor Elite on Legendary difficulty. Easily one of the best weapons at all ranges (at far, they can't even strike back; at close range, you don't even have to aim, as two to three body shots should suffice).
Fragmentation Grenade Elites have good reflexes and dodge most grenades thrown at them, except for frag grenades. Though it won't kill them instantly, is harder to see and will deplete their Shield. They're useful in narrow areas, close quarters, and for making the enemy break cover. One blast will only kill Stealth Elites. However, grenade spamming is effective when faced with large groups of enemies.
Plasma Cannon or Shade Very useful, though few and far between. Basically a 3 second way to break an Elite's Shield and put it away. However on higher difficulties as many turrets are found in fairly exposed areas, a group of Covenant could fire on you killing you in a few seconds. Try and use this against fairly small groups or with backup.
Rocket launcher or Fuel Rod Gun Very good against Elites in cover and for taking out groups of 2 or more, but for the sake of practicality, carry something else to switch to for one-on-one combat, except against sword-wielding Zealots, as you will need to put them down quickly before they can close the distance. Even if it doesn't kill the Zealot, it will still knock him aside and stun him for a few precious seconds you can then use to put more distance between it and yourself. However, in Legendary, the effectiveness is reduced because even the Majors can survive an entire rocket.
Plasma Pistol Resist the urge to fire a charged shot; an Elite will most likely dodge it, unless you either get lucky or have enough skill to catch it off guard. Firing continuously may bring it down more quickly. This weapon's upgraded lock-on in Halo 2 makes it practical for Shield breaking when using the charge-shot. An excellent tactic for killing an Elite very quickly, especially on Legendary, is to charge it up, fire at the target Elite, then quickly fire a shot from the M6C Magnum (or a shot from a Battle Rifle, which is easier to score a headshot because of the three round burst) for an instant kill. Also, if they receive a full charged Plasma bolt, they are stunned for a second, enough time to kill them or escape. By itself, however, the Plasma Pistol is useless; though his shields are down, each overcharge will only do a bit of damage. Therefore, when using the Plasma Pistol, try to have a backup headshot weapon (ex. Covenant Carbine).
Plasma Rifle or Brute Plasma Rifle Very effective if you have good aim. If not, the overheat can leave you vulnerable to a charging and angry Elite. Dual Wielding is good too. For the Brute variant, Dual Wielding is necessary to avoid overheating of both guns. However, as with the AR, it is advisable that you charge in and, at the last moment, melee at close range (especially when dual-wielding).
Needler Highly effective if you use it right, but the rounds can be dodged, like Plasma Grenades or charge-shots from Plasma Pistols. If you catch an Elite in the open, fire about half a magazine then retreat and the needles will home in on it, piercing its Shield and killing it, an example of a "fire-and-forget" weapon. The only problem is that Needlers are slow, so have some patience. Also, do not be fooled by the low, piteous groaning when the Needler rounds explode-they will be able to survive an entire barrage. However, do not forsake this opportunity-fire immediately, or its shields will recharge.
Plasma Grenade Run up close, or take good aim, and then throw it at an Elite. If it becomes scared, it runs toward the rest of its squad, blasting them as well. If it has not seen you, it will sometimes just stand there and look at the grenade, sometimes also growling in fury, or charge in a random direction. Beware against higher-ranking Elites or on higher difficulty levels as most Elites, when stuck with a Plasma Grenade, will attempt to rush you, killing you in the explosion. In these circumstances simply back-pedal and fire at the Elite to stagger it until the Plasma Grenade detonates. Even if you miss your quarry, you can finish it off with a single shotgun headshot or a few headshots.
Brute Shot The grenades bounce high unless you hit first try and the explosion radius is small compared to other grenades, but can take out an Elite in only one or two hits, though it takes around four grenades on Legendary. 1-2 grenades followed by a melee will usually kill most Elites on Heroic.
Energy Sword This weapon is effective at close quarters, and is fatal in one hit for lower ranking Elites. Two lunges are required to slay an Ultra Elite, even on the Easy difficulty. Be careful, though, as it is very common for the higher ranks to have an Energy Sword of their own as a secondary weapon, and they can often kill in one hit. Be warned; Elites in Halo 2 can kill you in a single melee, so you'll have to kill them quickly.

Facing an EliteEdit

Sangheili warriors are often considered to be the most skilled and capable species in the Halo series, and are only equalled by Hunters in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. Depending on the weapon you have and the rank of the Sangheili, it can be increasingly difficult to attack an Elite efficiently. The best way to do so is to judge by their rank and weapon. For example, if you come across a group of Minors or Majors being led by an Ultra Elite, it would be best to take out the Ultra first, as he is the strongest enemy present. Using the more powerful weapons on high ranking Elites instead of lower ones will increase the odds of survival drastically, since it is less difficult to take down a Minor than an Ultra. If that Ultra is wielding a Plasma Rifle, then he is effective at long range, as such it is best to zip in and out of cover until you are close enough to maybe throw a grenade or increase the accuracy of your weapon. If he is charging at you or attacking another group with an Energy Sword, engage him at long range with precise head-shots to bring down his shields and kill him without getting to close. Taking out a leader will effectively cause the members of his platoon to become confused, but not near as much as with Grunts.


Due to the constant upgrading of the Halo series from the Macintosh to the Xbox to the Xbox 360 below shows a list of changes to the Sangheili species from each Halo game.

Halo E3 2000 Trailer to Halo: Combat EvolvedEdit

  • The more conventional jaw in the trailer was separated into two mandibles.
  • They have wider waists.
  • Their eyes have been moved more to the sides of their heads.
  • Their shield gauntlets have been replaced with personal energy shields.

Changes from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 2Edit

  • Sangheili are hunched over more to facilitate multiplayer use.
  • First Sangheili allies encountered.
  • Instead of speaking their native tongue, Elites appear to speak English. They are still speaking their native tongue, however, but their translation make other species hear them talk in whatever language they are most used to.
  • Zealot Sangheili ranked enemies are now only encountered on Legendary difficulty, rather than all difficulties, except in two levels, where they are allies. They no longer possess Overshields (having shielding equal to that of an Elite Major), and are armed exclusively with Energy Swords.
  • Stealth Sangheili now have gray colored armor, rather than light blue, and also have a Minor (gray) and Major (brown) ranking system. They now sport energy shields which was absent from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Their melee attacks do more damage, and can kill in one hit on the Normal difficulty or above in the campaign.
  • Elites fire in much longer bursts in Halo 2, firing many plasma rifle rounds per burst, compared to just 3 or 4 shots per burst in Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Ranger ranks are introduced.
  • Gain an animation to appear startled upon seeing John-117.
  • Mandibles and facial features are more defined.
  • Gain the ability to hijack vehicles.
  • Elites no longer have the occasional "spade" helmet and no longer wear a Forerunner symbol on their backs, in campaign. However, they can be present using the emblem feature for multiplayer.
  • Elites can now be seen dual-wielding weapons.
  • Elites now have secondary colors in both campaign and multiplayer.
  • Regulars now wield Energy Swords as well, instead of just the Zealots.
  • Elites make a roaring animation when equipping an energy sword in Campaign.
  • Instead of having different shielding strengths for different Elite classes, the majority of Elite classes now having the same level of shield strength (Elite Majors, Spec Ops Elites, Honor Guard Elites, and Zealots all possess identical levels of shielding). The exceptions are Stealth Elites, Elite Minors and Ranger Elites, Elite Ultras and Councilor Elites.
  • Elites are somewhat more vulnerable without their shielding, and most Elite classes can only survive as much damage as a basic Grunt or Jackal after their shields are disabled (this is in contrast to Halo: CE, where Elites had more than twice as much health as a Grunt or Jackal even without their shields). The exceptions are the Stealth Elites (who have about twice as much health as standard Elite classes) and the Ultra Elites (who have about 3 times as much health as a standard Elite).

Changes from Halo 2 to Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODSTEdit

  • Darker skin and eyebrow ridges, although no hair on ridges. Has a shiny, "scaly", texture on the neck.
  • They have a 'bulkier' appearance.
  • Varying eye color between some individuals, mostly orange.
  • Rangers, Ultras, Zealots, Honor Guards, Councilor, and Stealth are never encountered during gameplay, although several corpses of dead Ultras can be seen in Floodgate and Cortana.
  • Wider variety of armors to choose from in multiplayer.
  • Instead of firing from cover or flanking, Elites now overwhelmingly charge straight at the enemy while firing, engaging in melee combat once they get close enough. This occurs regardless of the Elite's current weapon, the weaponry of the enemy, or even the type of enemy (An Elite armed with a Brute Shot or Fuel Rod Cannon will charge forward recklessly to engage a Hunter in melee). This also results in a high chance on team killing among them.
  • SpecOps Elites, even more so with the Catch skull on, toss Plasma Grenades with reckless abandon, and many players have reported to be "team stuck" by the Elites.
  • As with other Covenant races, the Elites have received minor aesthetic changes, mostly in their armor. In Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, the pauldrons on the armor resembled a more pronounced version of the MJOLNIR pauldrons, where as in Halo 3 the pauldrons are much thicker and appear overlapped. The "Combat" helmet also has shorter side fins, and more spikes added to the back. The "fins" on the gauntlets have also been removed, as well as the orange crystals on the arms and legs, and their leg armor flares out at the bottom instead of being tight, revealing what appears to be the heel of its foot. However, this leads to clipping, as Halo 3 largely uses old Halo 2 animations.
  • Minors and Majors have varied armor. This meaning that a Minor may be light blue, and another may be dark blue. Same goes for the Majors (with lighter and darker reds).
  • All Elite armor has Forerunner glyphs, as well as multiple Marks of Shame adorning the body and shoulders.
  • The roaring animation for pulling out the sword is changed so that it only appears when lunging at an opponent while crouched.
  • Minors and Majors are seen pulling out an Energy sword as a secondary weapon, which is usually never allowed for the lower ranks.
  • Spec Ops Elites can be seen wearing Assault Harnesses in Floodgate. All other Elites in Halo 3 wear the familiar standard Combat Harnesses. The corpses of dead Ultra Elites in Floodgate can be found wearing Combat and Assault armor and some of them have Rtas Vadum's face. The corpses of dead Elites seen in Halo 3: ODST can be found wearing a variety of different armor permutations.
  • The insides of their mouths are no longer orange.

Changes from Halo 3 to Halo WarsEdit

Halo Wars - Elite

Elites in the Halo Wars Trailer.

  • They are seen dual-wielding Energy Swords in the trailers, but only the Arbiter does so in game.
  • In the game's trailer, they seem to be more muscular in the chest, and have thinner waists than in any of the other Halo games. Additionally, they appear to have nail-like claws. However, they have their usual dimensions in the actual game and cinematics.
  • In-game the only visible difference in rank is the Arbiter and Honor Guards, all others are the colour of their team.
  • In cutscenes, the ranks are more easily discerened. Minors are blue, Honour Guards are red (Without adornments), and Zealots are gold. All wear the standard combat harness.
  • Their teeth are in different positions, such as having teeth on the inside of their mandibles, as well as having teeth behind and to the center.

Changes from Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST to Halo: ReachEdit

  • Returning the tradition from Halo: Combat Evolved, Elites once again speak in their native language. This is part of an attempt to make the Covenant more alien and imposing. This may also have something to do with general canon, since Halo: Reach takes place right before the first game.[1]
  • The Elite Minor featured in the Halo: Reach Video Games Awards Trailer sported shoulder pads and gauntlets similar to those of the Minors from Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2.
  • They seem to appear more animalistic than their Halo 2 and Halo 3 counterparts.
  • They appear to have more teeth on both their upper jaw and mandibles which seem to be sharper and longer like the Halo Wars Elites.
  • They seem to have a lower jaw as well.
  • Their eyes have changed in color to a pearly white hue, and they do not appear to have pupils. It also looks as though they have been moved closer to the front of their heads.
  • Elites are no longer hunched over, making them appear taller and more imposing.
  • It appears that many Sangheili ranks make a comeback. This makes sense, as the Sangheili return as a primary enemy, the way they were in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2.
  • The alternate Elite helmet from Halo: Combat Evolved as well as the helmet sported by Elites in Halo Wars have returned.
  • The feet are no longer flat as in previous games. The "toes" have been animated to splay and squish with every step.
  • The Elites have new, faster melee animations, including kicking attacks and assassinations.
  • Elites are more agile, intelligent and alert, and generally possess slightly stronger shields, which have also been changed to shimmer blue instead of white.
  • Some Elites can steal human vehicles, notably occupying gunner seats and killing the player when they come back.

Changes from Halo: Reach to Halo 4Edit

  • New armor variants. Armor on most variants has more protection for torso, groin, and lower legs. The body suit of the harness worn on some variants does not cover the arms. Also, each variant can come in a wide variety of colors.
  • They have paler skin.
  • Sangheili once again have pupils.
  • No armor on their arms, except Rangers.
  • They appear to have molar-like cheek teeth. However their front teeth are still conical.
  • Sangheili now appear to have scaly arms.
  • Sangheili sometimes use Promethean weapons in Spartan Ops.
  • Sangheili have larger heads, and now have a row of bumps along them. In addition, there is a crease extending from behind their mandibles.
  • They speak their own language, as in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo: Reach.
  • Sangheili fingers now have claws.
  • They are not above using human weapons, as demonstrated when the Covenant Remnant tried to destroy the Infinity with HAVOK nukes.
  • They are no longer allies.


  1. Game Informer February Issue

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