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 section will cover important tips that apply in general and are not exclusive to any Invasion map.
Always utilize power weapons your team has, and learn where they spawn. I cover spawn locations in each map's section in the guide, I am still unfamiliar with 343's forge world Invasion maps.
When carrying the core, jump and press the shoot button/mouse 1 to drop the core, this will throw it forward, immediately hold the pickup button to pick it back up, repeat. This allows you to carry a Core at nearly double the speed of regularly walking it.
Elites jump slightly higher than Spartans and can make jumps that Spartans normally can't. Elites also have larger hitboxes.
Try to always have at least 1-2 Elites running Active Camo in any Phase 1 to help provide motion sensor cover for your Warriors. Don't exceed more than 2 or 3.
The Plasma Pistol is extremely strong. It's easier to spam it to land 4 or 5 shots to drop a Spartan's shields instead of trying to land the charged shot. On that note in Phase 1, Evade can let you traverse very far very fast, try rolling right at a ledge (especially one that is an upward slope) to slingshot yourself far ahead. You can run from Breakpoint's spawn all the way to the right side capture point in about 12 seconds by slingshotting yourself off the ledges with Evade. Experiment with Evade and find interesting ways to use it as a movement option. The Plasma Repeater is actually not useless, believe it or not, it does high health damage, and combined with Elite players getting the exclusive aim assist reticle to help you lead your shots makes it very easy to land a long barrage. Do not ignore the autoaim reticle, you can completely take your eye off the enemy and be able to land almost all your shots using it.
The Assault Rifle is very effective against Elites in Phase 1 and beyond when you feather the trigger and fire short 2-3 shot bursts, especially due to the Elites' large hitboxes compared to Spartan players. It even works at very long range if you can't be bothered to pull out your Magnum.
Never spam. This applies to single shot weapons in all game modes, but with carefully paced shots you can easily kill Elites with a single magazine of a Magnum, or take down 3 Spartans with a magazine of the Needle rifle. Headshots still do bonus damage to shields, even the Assault Rifle and Plasma Repeater, albeit automatic weapons obviously can't instant kill an unshielded opponent.
On Breakpoint, in phase 3 when Elites have the Banshee, boosting straight on into the Spartan's Garage Spawn where their vehicles + Falcon are actually lets you fly through the force field, you can use this to Banshee Bomb their vehicles or Spartan players who mistakenly believe they're safe in there. I have not found another force field in an Invasion map where you can do this however.
Melee while holding the bomb in Breakpoint Phase 2 is an instant kill if it connects.
A single Sniper Rifle shot on the cockpit cover of a Wraith instantly destroys the cover, then you can headshot the pilot with a second shot to steal a nearly completely intact enemy tank. This can easily turn the tide in any phase/map where tanks are available. Takes several shots on the canopy of a Scorpion to break.
Since few players have been playing Reach since before 343 took over and applied the TU (title update) they may not know that Invasion is still non-TU, has no melee and precision weapon bleedthrough, armor lock changes, etc. Armor Locking after an Elite sticks you with a Plasma grenade causes it to project off of you and save yourself. Armor locking releases an EMP when you release it (the radius gets bigger the longer you hold the lock) and if you time it well, you can armor lock just as an enemy melees you, instantly release it, which drops their shields, then you can melee them for a damageless melee kill. This is especially effective in Breakpoint Phase 2 when an enemy Elite bomb carrier's only defense is to melee or drop the bomb and shoot at you. Armor Lock will still destroy an enemy vehicle trying to splatter you even if you wait until the very last second to press the button.
You change to the Banshee bomb from its main guns by pressing 1. Too few people know this. Space is evade and right mouse is boost.
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.
This is also one of the most difficult offensive phases of all the Invasion maps. If Spartans establish their defense inside the base, ignore all your vehicles and focus on getting Jetpacks, Swords, and Concussion rifle loadouts to try and punch through to grab the Core. It's not very far from where the Core sits to get it outside the building, but creating an opening to actually do that is very difficult. Often if you can see during Phase 2 that your team is about to capture one of the points, try to already be in the base right at where the core spawns. If you can overwhelm defense by being a couple steps ahead, it makes it far more difficult for them to organize themselves. The basic rule of Phase 3 is that the longer it lasts, the harder it gets for Offense.
If the Spartans try and take their tank out, use team chat to tell your Banshee Pilot if there is one. Go to the left side spawn, where the bridge connects the Elite's spawns to the base with the Core, and lying on the ground is a Focus Rifle and Plasma Launcher. Try to grab the Plasma Launcher and, like the Spartan Laser, charge it while hidden, THEN poke your head out to lock on and fire it at the Scorpion before it can notice and instant kill you. It takes maybe 6-8 Plasma Launcher rounds to kill a Scorpion. If a teammate has stolen the Spartans' Sniper Rifle, one shot to the canopy of the scorpion destroys it, then one more shot to the head to kill the pilot underneath. The Scorpion isn't the most useful until your Core Runner has gotten close to the goal, and if you do happen to steal the Scorpion early, take it close to the point where the Core is captured at, not many other areas are safe at all. This will be mentioned again in Boneyard Defense, but Offense in Phase 3 should be aware, too, that intentionally driving the Scorpion over a dropped Core and letting the Scorpion get destroyed makes it nearly impossible to pick the Core up. When the Scorpion is destroyed, it leaves its hull on the ground, which is big enough to prevent any player from being able to pick up the Core underneath. Do not let you the Spartans drive their Scorpion on top of your core or you will almost certainly lose the round.
Phase 1 is a relatively easy defensive phase. Stand on the ledge with DMRs and Magnums and try to harass or kill as many Elite players as possible on their approach. If they begin harassing back with Needle Rifles, give a little ground, move to a different position on the ledge, then poke back out to snipe at them some more and keep them on their toes.
For those on the left spawn, the entire area on the way towards the Left Capture point is littered with corners and things you can hide behind to go for Beatdowns and Assassinations on approaching Elites. One of the best strategies is to actually push out and go towards enemy spawns and try to either kill or delay them on their route. As a general rule, waiting until defense is on your doorstep is not as effective as stomping them out early in their route to you.
On the right side spawn, Elites have several stairways they can take to ambush you, most notably the one by the cliffside where they go up their far left (Defense team's far right) and have to go in a loop, if you jump up on the railing of the stairs there, you can jump up onto the yellow panels and look down to see them coming early if they go this route. Otherwise you have hiding points up the main stairwell that their far left (your teams' far right) spawn will usually go up. Spartans have a huge advantage in having higher ground + Elites having a sizable distance to travel to get to the objective. Steal enemy Plasma Pistols if possible, it's very easy to land 4-5 shots to drop their shields in close quarters then finish with a Magnum or DMR headshot. The goal of this phase is to mainly remain vigilant and always be ready to sprint to wherever the enemy is at.
Left Side spawn has a unique advantage where, up on the catwalk where the Spartans spawn, if you run to the left where it initiates the kill zone, if you run past that zone, you can actually drop straight down onto enemy Elites and can be a useful way to flank them if they're trying to take the left capture point in force.
Nine times out of 10 you will lose this phase. If anything, it's more like 95 times out of 100 you will lose this phase. You have all the tools you need to shut Offense down here, but rarely does it ever happen.
That metal box in the room with the Core in it that connects all the spawns together has a Sniper Rifle, a Rocket Launcher, a Spartan Laser, and a Shotgun in it. You can easily destroy the enemy Wraith, or someone with some savvy can even hang back the second Phase 1 ends and try to steal it. The rooftop above the capture points is dangerous to be on due to the Elites having a Focus Rifle and the ability walk across the bridge directly to you, but a sniper covering you or using the Sniper rifle yourself will let you camp up there for a very long time.
There's not much to say for this phase. Play well and use your tools or you'll hand victory to the Elites.
This phase is extremely strong for Defense, being inside the building, you force the opposing Elites to come directly to you. Ignore enemy Banshees and Wraiths, if they're outside in a vehicle, that means they're not inside trying to steal the core from you. Prioritize Shotguns. You may consider a Grenadier loadout or two to cause confusion with Holograms, but Shotgunners should make up the bulk of your team.
Consider picking Drop Shield as well to place around the Core with friendly shotgunners camping inside it. Offense will have no choice but to either wait for the shield to expire, expose their position by trying to EMP or grenade it, or walk inside and get slaughtered by buckshots.
If the Elites manage to get the Core outside of the building, consider Drop Shields to drop around the Core to try for a reset, and pick a Grenadier or two to counter the inevitable enemy Wraiths and Banshees.
Two notes if your team chooses to bring out the Scorpion: Driving the Scorpion close to the Shed Spawn and parking right in front of the big garage doors is one of the safest places to camp with it, it even gives you a direct sight line to where the Elites pick up their Plasma Launcher, which serves as the Scorpion's hard counter in this map. If you feel like sacrificing the Scorpion, you can drive it on top of a dropped Core, let the Scorpion get destroyed, and nobody will be able to pick it up due to the bulk and immovability of the tank's hull. Only do this if you are a true tryhard or you truly hate the players on Offense.
There is a single Needle Rifle, needless to say, use it. Evade can be used to roll of of ledges to sling shot yourself forward, and typically one jump will carry your momentum and allow a pseudo bunnyhop. There is one spot from either the left or middle spawn where evading off the edge will either nearly kill you or commit an instant suicide. You really can't know exactly where this is at until you experience it a few times.
In an absolutely ideal situation, you would have 2 Active Camos and one Evade attacking left capture point in sync with 1 Active Camo and 2 Evades attacking right capture point. This will rarely happen in pubs, but in general, go out to attack left spawn by yourself whenever it seems like all of defense is focused on right side capture point.
If you've played this map a few times you've probably seen Spartans camping on the one catwalk with a DMR just above right capture point, counter him with the Needle Rifle or sling 10-15 Plasma Pistol shots to potentially drop his shields and scare him off. This phase is a battle of attrition more than anything else.
This is easily the cheesiest phase on this map, Offense has many options to dominate. Defense has equally as many options to completely neutralize Offense, but requires more work to accomplish.
The first thing is grabbing the bomb. When holding the bomb, a simple "i'm going left/i'm going right" in TEAM chat will typically put your team on the same page as you. I always type one or the other in team chat and my team has always cooperated so far. When holding the bomb, melee is an instant kill. One time I accidentally typed the direction I was taking the bomb in All Chat, which completely messed up our offense.
The best way to get the bomb in is to have someone take the Wraith and cover you. The only way Defense can really oppose an even decent Wraith pilot is by using the Sniper Rifle from their Retrieval Spawn to pop the canopy and headshot the pilot, or to simply dump the entirety of the weapon's ammo onto the vehicle. There's only one relatively safe place to target the Wraith from, and it's the catwalk above their Retrieval Spawn. Anywhere else is typically dangerously close. 85% of the time Defense players don't even realize there even IS a Sniper Rifle in Retrieval.
Their other option for countering the Wraith is to steal Plasma Pistols from your own team to use on you, this is extremely dangerous for you, but if only a single opponent is EMPing you with a Plasma Pistol, you can still mash a single shot out of the Wraith before you get EMPd again. If they board your Wraith from the front, you can still aim straight down to shoot them off of you, albeit at the cost of some of your Wraith's health. Another thing to be wary of is Spartans camping near the Wraith's spawn and either jumping up to steal it (never let them do this ever) or being all sneaky-like and waiting for the Wraith to slowly fall off the ledge as someone starts driving it then boarding it to destroy it. To counter this, whenever I grab the Wraith I always back up a ways, then boost forward at max speed off the ledge, then hold back in midair to keep the nose up so it lands as smooth as possible. The Wraith is nearly essential for planting the bomb to go well.
If your team can steal the Warthog from the Spartans, the bomb carrier can ride shotgun and be driven directly to the arming point. Rarely happens, but useful to note.
Once the bomb is armed, at about 8 seconds on the countdown or so is the cutoff point for disarming it, as at that point there won't be enough time to actually disarm it before it explodes anyway. Also, if an Elite is standing inside the zone at the same time as a Spartan, the disarm timer won't tick down. The hardest part of this phase overall is simply getting the bomb armed, once it is, it's almost impossible to actually disarm it in a real scenario.
This is one of the quicker and easier offensive phases in Invasion. Chances are that as soon as a successful Phase 2 ends, your team's Wraith will still be covering you and most Spartans will still be respawning. Grab the core, jump, and throw it over and over across the bridge to victory.
Easier said than done if the other team actually finds their Sniper Rifle and Spartan Laser in their Retrieval spawn to destroy your vehicles. The catwalk just above the Spartans' Retrieval spawn also has a line of sight all the way down the bridge to the capture point. Someone with a Splaser or Sniper can stop all vehicles and players on foot trying to capture the Core. If someone gets to this position make sure to take him out as soon as possible.
If you grab the Banshee, boost straight into the force field at the Garage spawn for the Spartans and you'll be able to go into their spawn. I haven't found another force field that you can do this with in any Invasion map. Once inside try to blow up all their vehicles to help prevent them from counterattacking.
If the Spartans get their Rocket Hog out, it's easily dealt with by the Banshee, same with the Warthog. If they get their Falcon out, it can be more dangerous. Wraith pilots may even try shooting the Falcon out of the sky if they get too comfortable or fly too close. One option is a couple players using the Jetpack loadout and trying to EMP it out of the sky.
One thing Jetpack users can also do is grab the two DMRs that spawn during Phase 1 and jetpack up onto the ridge and snipe at the Spartans to provide cover to your core carrier. DMRs also do excellent vehicle damage so consider dumping magazines into a Falcon if the rest of your team is having trouble fighting it.
Any player of any loadout should consider sneaking around through the tunnel and surprising the enemy team from behind.
As with any other Core phase, offense or defense, a Drop Shield loadout is also very useful for protecting your Core carrier.
Defense Phase 1
There isn't much to this phase. Grab the DMRs and throw yourself instantly to whatever objective the Elites are attacking. Near the end of the phase, try to steal Plasma Pistols and hide.