One of the most exciting modes in ODST is the new Firefight mode. It pits you and up to three friends against endless waves of Covenant infantrymen. If that sounds a lot like Gear of War 2’s Horde mode, it is – except Halo’s killer enemy A.I. makes it a much more challenging affair.

Like similar modes, the key to Firefight is teamwork, and although you know that every battle will ultimately end in bloody defeat, you don’t want to be the one who delivers your squad to death’s door that much quicker. Here are a few tips to help you do your part – they won’t make you the Master Chief, but they should give your score a healthy boost.

Tip #1: Understand the Rules
Firefight mode seems self explanatory: enemies show up, and you shoot them. But Bungie complicates this simplistic formula with a fairly intricate rule set. The action is broken down into waves, rounds, and sets, with extra ammo and lives being awarded after each set. Modifier skulls also affect gameplay; some will make enemies more resistant to certain weapons, or more susceptible to using grenades. Knowing each skull’s symbol and effect on gameplay will help shape your team’s tactics. G.I. Joe (no, not Juba) wasn’t lying: knowing really is half the battle.

Tip #2: Stick Close to Shelter
Most Firefight maps feature both indoor and outdoor environments. Some enemies, like Drones are deadly out in the open, but easily dispatched when they funnel through doorways. Brute Cheiftans, on the other hand, can kill you with one swing of their Gravity Hammer, so you’ll want to keep a distance. Surviving in Firefight mode is a lot like surviving an earthquake; find a doorway and straddle it. When weak mobs of enemies show up, go indoors. When Cheiftans appear, run out into the open. Also, when facing a Cheiftan, try yelling “Hammer dude! Hammer dude’s gonna get me!” This will hopefully give your friends enough of a head's up to shoot him from behind before he bludgeons your brains out.

That, my dear readers, is a hammer dude.

Tip #3: Big Fish
The easiest way to rack up points is by taking down enemy vehicles. Don’t bother with the Covenant drop ships, as they are invincible – instead focus your destructive abilities on Wraiths. The Spartan Laser is your best weapon of choice, as it strikes instantaneously when it fires. If all you have is a rocket launcher though, you’ll want to attack the Wraith from behind so its driver won’t have a chance to dodge your shot. Whatever you do, forget about boarding; hopping on the front of a Wraith, beating a hole in its hood and chucking in a grenade was sweet when you were the Master Chief, but Firefight’s battlefields are much too crowded to make it a viable tactic. Instead play it safe and take enemy vehicles down from a distance.