Tricks, Treats, and Feats – The Golden Age of Halo 3 Rocket Race

I’ve talked about Halo 3 quite a bit over the years. What can I say? It’s my all-time favorite online multiplayer game. It’s over 10 years old now, but it offered its players more depth of play than any of today’s big  multiplayer titles. It had several playlists for its competitive and casual fans to enjoy. It’s base gunplay allowed for many styles of play to succeed. It had fun secrets and unlockables to uncover. Above all else, it had variety. Halo 3 didn’t just offer three variations on team slayer like it’s modern successor  (I’m looking right at you Destiny 2).  It had free-for-all modes, doubles, multiple-teams, big teams, territories, King of the Hill, SWAT…and those were just the permanent modes. Every weekend brought double EXP and some new special playlist like Infection, Sumo, Stickies, Fiesta, and my all time favorite: Rocket Race! Rocket Race was my mode, and the one that played host to my favorite Halo 3 feat.

Rocket Race was a variation on the VIP game mode. It pit five (or was it six?) teams of two against each other to see who could be the first to deliver their VIPs to the moving goal zones ten time. Each team was on an indestructible Mongoose (a four-wheeled ATV) and everyone was equipped with rocket launchers. Both team members had a job to do: the driver had to get them to the zones before everyone else, and the passenger had to blast the other teams out the way with their rockets. It really was a blast of a mode!

My favorite feat came on a brisk and cloudy autumn day. I was still in college at the time, living in the dorm and my buddy from down the hall had come over to my room to enjoy that weeks double EXP playlist. Of course it was Rocket Race, our favorite mode. We’d managed to catch it a couple of other times earlier in the year, so we’d gotten our roles dialed in beforehand. He was the the trigger-man, our weapon against those who would take points from us.  I was the wheelman, our master of the Mongoose who would get us to the points and dodge the rockets coming at us. When we jumped into the playlist that morning, we had no idea the kind of experience that was in store for us.

We must have played at least 30 matches that day. The actual number has faded in the intervening years, but I do remember two things: we didn’t stop until after it got dark out, and that we only lost about four of the multitude of matches we played (and those were close second place finishes.  It was like we were a team made for this game mode. Nobody could handle the Mongoose like I could. Not only did I know every route in every map, but I knew exactly what the vehicle could do. I couldn’t even count how many points we stole out from under our competition because I just managed to edge them out thanks to a successful power-slide! And for those times when my driving wasn’t enough, we had my partner. The dude was a wizard with that rocket launcher! While everyone else was trying to land direct hits, he’d figure out that the weapon’s splash damage was way more than enough to blow a team off-course, and that was really all you need. For those points where we contested with another team, we usually came out ahead thanks to his uncanny ability to land rockets right next to their vehicles. They’d fly just-off to the side of the goal, and we’d sail right on through and take the point. It was glorious!

We played more continuous Halo that day than any other day before or since. It was the biggest winning streak I’d ever had, and the one and only time I felt I could say I was one of the best players in the game! It was an excellent multiplayer experience, and I’m still waiting for something that will top it.

What’s your favorite multiplayer feat? Made made it special for you?

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