How to not suck at Invasion and tips and tricks to dominate.
Guide to Invasion Dominating
This guide is about how to not suck at Invasion, a mode where teamwork is key and knowledge of power weapons, vehicles, vantage points, camping spots, the fireteam spawn system, and loadout knowledge will drive success. I've been playing Invasion since Reach first launched and I have thousands of games of experience. I will cover the Vanilla and DLC maps since I am not familiar with the 343 Forge World Invasion maps. I will go map by map and cover each of the three phases of offense and defense, power weapon spawns, killzones, tricks, and strategies.
Two keys to success I will mention here before the full guide, the fireteam spawn system, and team chat.
Pressing J brings up chat, by default, and pressing Tab cycles through the channels. Always communicate with your team and tell them your intentions, 9 times out of 10 they'll cooperate with you given a little diirection, typically they want to win as much as you do.
The fireteam system. Each team of 6 has 2 players on said team linked together as a fireteam. That means they can see each other's callsigns prioritized over all other teammates on their hud, and they can spawn on each other. If you try to spawn on your teammate, or they try to spawn on you, it creates a giant floating red arrow above them that is visible through geometry. If your buddy is clearly trying to hide or about to die, don't spawn on him. You can change your spawn position with the up and down arrow keys. Conversely, if you see a floating red arrow where there's clearly no enemy, you're likely looking at a cloaked Elite with someone trying to spawn on him. Throw a grenade or shoot at him to delay the buddy spawn.
This can easily be the hardest map for Phase 1 offense of all the Invasion maps. Spartans spawn with Assault Rifles and Magnum pistols as usual for any phase one, but there are no DMR's on the map to counter the aggressive camping a seasoned player on defense can muster.
The most difficult aspect of this is that both left zone and right zone for the Spartans are difficult to get to. They require you to either go around and coming back to enter the area the capture point is at, which can be done stealthily, or by making yourself highly vulnerable to previously mentioned campers and even casual defenders by doing sprinting crouch jumps to bypass the walkaround.
On the right side, you at the point just below the two explosive crates, you can sprint in to the corner and immediately crouch jump and clear the rocks to have a slight shortcut to the objective. As mentioned this makes you highly vulnerable to the other team.
The middle area is a complete deathtrap, but all three lanes of this phase are. Only traverse the middle in a rush, and only when Defense is preoccupied by your teammates currently standing in either of the two zones. If you try to sneak through there, you WILL be detected and massacred. When teammates are trying to take one or both zones, your goal going down the middle will be to provide interference and stopping opposing players in their rush to get to your buddies.
There is a specific rock on the left side, on the far right side of the main piece that has two routes through it, and where Defense can easily camp on top of, where you can sprint or even regularly crouchjump onto to allow you to get up to the vantage point. If you harass Defense campers enough, it'll discourage them from getting back up there. There is a "deadzone" on top of this rock, however, where if you jump in it, you'll find yourself infinitely falling. Do not give up and kill yourself, wait a couple seconds and you'll be able to jump out of it.
On the left side, you can go down the middle of the rock, or on the left side at the cliffside. Defense loves to camp on the middle of it, and will easily catch you ahead of time going either way. One of your best defenses here is to sprint past and use rocks near the left capture zone for cover.
This is the easiest phase for Offense on the Spire. A Sniper Rifle spawns for middle spawn, a Shotgun spawns leaning against the metal wall piece on the right side spawn, and a Rocket Launcher spawns slightly hidden in the grass slightly to the left of left spawn. The hardest aspect of this phase is not letting the Elites steal your power weapons. Armor lock is a very strong choice because Elites will want to grenade you out of the capture point. Elites can throw a Plasma Grenade into the grav lift going to the top of the structure which float back and forth from each grav lift over and over, avoid going in the grav lift for this reason + multiple almost always idling up top. The Warthog is nearly useless in this phase, however you can drive it inside the Spire for shenanigans.
Same power weapons as the first phase, but the Jetpack loadout can be an extremely strong choice due to the verticality of the Spire itself. In the core room, the back screen is a 1 way forcefield you can jump out of to quickly drop the core off the Spire. A quick rush, mostly ignoring Elites if possible, is the best way to quickly get the Core out of the Spire before Defense can gather itself.
The Falcon can be strong, but is hard countered by the Plasma Launcher that Elites have spawn at (their right) your left spawn zone. Destroy or steal the Banshee as soon as possible, also steal their Fuel Rod Gun which spawns against the wall close by if possible, the fewer tools the opponent has, the better.
There are 3 grav lifts that spawn in phase 3, two close to Spartan spawn points and one by the Banshee. Immediately go up one, have your Jetpack, and you can fly down to drop right on top of all of Defense's spawns if you need to protect your Core carrier from snipers or steal the Banshee if the opportunity presents itself.
Only take the Grenade launcher loadout if the enemy has the Banshee and is wreaking havoc, or you are working alongside shotgunners to get the core out of the spire if Defense manages to get established.
Only take Armor lock if defense is assembled and you need to break the Core out of the Spire, they WILL have Energy Swords, and the Shotgun can kill any player with a sword before they can kill you, albeit with tight timing.
Once the core is running, try to pick a Drop Shield. Shielding the core carrier can be victory or defeat in many instances, be aware of Defense also dropping one or more Drop Shields on top of a Core they're trying to reset. The only option is EMPs or raw damage, such as a rocket launcher. Ballistics like a Sniper Rifle do nearly nothing, but sustained fire of a Falcon gunner is effective. One may consider suicide by running into their shields and grenading or rocket launching the enemies inside to prevent a Core reset.
In cheesy cases and a coordinated team, the Core carrier can jump on top of a friendly Flacon, and the Falcon pilot can safely fly him straight to the capture zone.
Defense is easily the easiest Defense of all the Invasion maps, but phase 2 and 3 are very hard, conversely.
First, there are not two, but THREE Needle Rifle spawns in Phase 1. Two on the right side, and two on the left side. It took me until 2019 with the PC release of Reach to even find the third one, it's very easy to miss. For those on Right Spawn, all you have to do is drop down and look behind the rock closest to your spawn point. It's close to the cliffside and almost hidden in the grass. The other two Needle Rifle spawns are very apparent and I doubt I need to point them out due to their proximity to the capture points.
Key defensive strategies: Due to the vertical and uphill nature of the map in this phase, almost every rock close to a spawn point can be camped on and allow nearly 360 degree coverage of the area around you, as well as directly sight lines to the spawns of enemy Spartans. Utilizing these well will result in a swift Skunking. Not much to say as it's very easy to jump or crouch jump on most of these rocks and you'll likely see enemy defense or your own team jumping on them constantly.
Defense is much more difficult as Spartans get access to a Rocket Launcher, a Sniper Rifle, and a Shotgun. Stealing the shotgun or grabbing it off the corpse of the Spartan that took it will be fantastic with Active Camo to guard the capture points in close quarters. Needless to say stealing the Sniper Rifle or RL will be a huge hindrance to the Offensive team. Ignore enemy Spartans in the Warthog unless they drive it into the Spire, but regardless it is easily dealt with using Plasma Pistol charge shots and Plasma nades. If you let them drive idly in circles around the Spire, always keep an eye on them regardless in case they try anything sketchy.
Right spawn has the Plasma Launcher spawn in the creviced rocks right next to their spawn, although it's not the most useful in this phase, it will kill in a single projectile sticking. It's primary purpose is to destroy the enemy Falcon in Phase 3 and to a lesser extent the Banshee in the event Offense steals it, although it's far less effective on the Banshee.
Going up the grav lifts to the current top floor of the Spire, most of your defensive strategies start here. You can look down the grav shafts and into the capture points where you can EMP, Needle, or grenade and or otherwise attack enemy Spartans attempting a capture. Note: throwing a grenade straight down will cause it to bounce back and forth between the shafts, acting as a sticky trap, but it is easy to betray if you're not coordinated with your team. Works with Frags, too, though less useful.
Is mostly your team being familiar with it, which is to say it won't go well very often in pubs. The Plasma Launcher at right spawn kills the Falcon extremely easily, the Banshee is easily stolen, so always try to grab it first, and the Fuel Rod gun to the right of where Left Spawn spawns is extremely useful to defend the Core at the top of the Spire. Outside the core through the one-way forcefield, you can crouch and wait to easily assassinate any Spartan trying to jump out through it with the core. If you have a sword you can stop several enemies in a row from making headway, but this leaves you vulnerable to an enemy Falcon or Banshee.
Mostly you will want to pick Jetpack and Drop Shield, the latter for versatility with the Spire's verticality as well as helping to counter aerial vehicles, and the Drop Shield is for protecting or recovering the core. Using the Concussion rifle in Active Camo to knock enemies off the Spire or push Shotgunners back is a valid strategy. Hologram for the Sword is also strong when defending the Top of the Spire, but can not set foot outside safely if any ranged Spartan, the Falcon, or Banshee come around.
This is easily the second hardest (arguably the hardest) offensive phase in all of the Invasion maps. Playing as Elites, you will have access to Needle Rifles, which makes offense much easier in the right hands.
The first thing you'll likely encounter is Spartans with Magnums and DMRs perched on their ledge and sniping down at you on your approach. Always try to harass them with Needle Rifle rounds to discourage them from camping at the ledge. If you leave them be and somehow make it to a capture point, they'll already be very close and squash your assault. If you're just spawning and see your teammates inside a capture point, try grabbing a needle rifle and trying to hinder enemy Spartans from getting to them. Even damaging their shields a little bit is a big help to your close range offense.
The Spartans have numerous ambush points where other players will try for beatdowns and assassinations, always check your corners and always have the Plasma Pistol out if you're not running Active Camo. 4 or so regular Plasma Pistol shots or one Charged Shot will instantly drop a Spartans shields and allow you to melee for the kill. The right side has no fewer than 8 hiding spots where a Spartan can easily surprise and instakill you on your way to the right side capture point. Be constantly vigilant and carry a Needle Rifle to provide cover to your less experienced team mates.
More often than not, simply throwing yourself at the same objective will get precious seconds off the clock, and if you're coordinating with your team via chat, you'll be able to push through.
Extremely easy phase, a friendly Wraith (don't let the Spartans steal it) providing cover on the right capture point makes progressing to phase 3 easy. Savvy players can try to go into the Spartan spawn area to steal their power weapons while your teammates are capturing to smooth the process even further. Be most wary of a Spartan with a Sniper or a Splaser instantly destroying your team's Wraith.
Attack the left side capture point occasionally to provide a distraction if attacking right side capture point isn't going well.