The Weird Truth About Halo's Ghosts

Have you ever fought a ghost in Halo? Not many have — but there are some rare players out there who encountered a very mysterious enemy while playing online.

Kotaku's Stranger Things series is presented by the new Netflix original: Stranger Things. When a young boy vanishes, a town uncovers a mystery of secret experiments, supernatural forces, and one strange little girl. Watch it only on Netflix from July 15.

  No, I’m not referring to the Covenant vehicle, or any cloaking device. Those ghosts are a lot easier to explain. This ghost is something that puzzled the Halo community for quite some time.

Around nine years ago, a Youtube user named Afro Sauce uploaded a video recorded by someone else with some very odd behaviour performed by someone in a Spartan suit. The original video is blocked in Australia, but here’s another video that shows a lot of the footage on repeat:

As you can see, the player slides around, doesn’t display certain animations, and isn’t recognised on the scoreboard. There were varying degrees of this according to other people who encountered the “ghost”. Sometimes it would be invisible, or just have an invisible weapon. Sometimes it would throw grenades right behind it. Without a reloading animation, it would appear to have unlimited ammo.

Was this a hack? Possibly — there were certainly gameplay advantages to being invisible. Perhaps a mod? Though you couldn’t mod the older maps back then. Some even thought it could be a Bungie employee on a grand trolling adventure.

Those who’ve gamed through the decades and seen many “less than finished” products might be familiar with the behaviours witnessed in that video, but back then, this was confusing stuff. I’m not suggesting Halo was unfinished — it was brilliant. But unbeknownst to the community at the time, these would become classic examples of a network glitch.

The sliding around, lack of animations, neglected player metadata, all point to things not loading correctly. Halo was trying to run the game without all the information, and the erratic behaviour was the result. The actual “ghost” was just another player. Their animations would be showing flawlessly on their screen. I imagine some of them had the match of their lives, putting up their best kill/death ratios with zero knowledge they were invisible at the time.

The Halo wiki notes that while severe network lag is the primary cause of the ghosts, the necessary conditions can actually be created in Halo: Reach (and probably the other games), by intentionally “overloading” the map. It’s particularly easy to do in Halo 3’s Forge mode.

These kills were awarded to “The Guardians”, which is a placeholder name that Halo uses when it doesn’t actually know who or what caused the kill. Usually a death at the hands of The Guardians was a result of some understandable environmental factor, such as being run over a train, or having something fall on you. But in this case, it seemed as though The Guardians were a conscious, malicious force. (Watch, now I bet commenters who don’t want to register on the site will start using The Guardians as their placeholder name…)

It didn’t take long for things to get cleared up. As the original Youtube states in a long description post, “The only reason I'm posting this video is to explain that the Ghost Of Lockout is not a mod and is in fact a network glitch...”


    Not even a 3rd as interesting as when you announced the toy company that got the mcfarlane licence

    Easier 2 read the fusion coil cannon post

    Some1 announcing the three-foot neca action figure would be more interesting

    Even the one hr thirty-eight min goatrope record has 2 be shorter than this article

    The highlight reel using corpse grenades 2 kill was way funnier

    how is this arg still going

    I was on holiday when this all started so uh, good luck to everyone else!

    Last edited 01/08/16 1:29 pm

    @john_stalvern Nothing stopping you from joining in, there's still one overall puzzle to go and all the old puzzles are still there.

    As for this one... I'm making progress but I think I've hit a dead end.

    Nice puzzle! Loved it!

      WTF how did you solve it already? I'm still not sure I've started in the right spot.

        I agree!

        Last edited 01/08/16 3:15 pm


          My hat is truly off to the designer.

            I KNOW RIGHT?!

            Spent an hour staring at the pieces before it clicked, then everything just fell into place.

              Yeah, I kept staring at everything I'd collected and finally closed the Excel workbook I was using. 15 minutes later opened it up again and the answer was literally right in front of me. I love it when that happens.

        :3 Would had it sooner, but spent way too long misinterpreting the first main clue.

          Well I'm pretty sure I have that first main clue - I have a set of numbers. I just can't figure out what to do with them now.

          Any hints?

          Last edited 01/08/16 5:14 pm

            Put everything together and then take a step back.

              All I have are numbers right now and I can't figure out what they mean. I can't see anything in the pages that's obvious.

              Last edited 01/08/16 5:52 pm

                Yep, I got stuck at that step for an hour. Remember how you found the things. There aren't as many numbers as there seem to be.

                  By "things" earlier I meant numbers, I've edited my post since then as it was pretty vague to what I meant.

                  So right now, I'm sitting with a set of numbers, while staring at the pages, and getting nowhere.

                Edit: I clearly suck at giving hints, but I don't want to give it away. :P

                Last edited 01/08/16 11:45 pm


        wasn't until I had it all in front of me that I could see it.

    30 mins later I still can't see a puzzle to be solved...

      Well, I haven't had a lot of time to look at it yet but I'm pretty sure the paragraph that mentions "The Guardians" is the clue you need to home in on.

      Last edited 01/08/16 4:25 pm

        Ok. It's now one day later and I still have NFI. I'm sure in hindsight the solution seems obvious, but it really isn't...

        I've been looking for similarities on The Guardian comments (in addition to numbers being used instead of letters/words and a link in each) - so far I only have:

        - the posts were on the same day, 18 July 2016 (posted one minute apart)
        - each of the links has a date within the URL tag (presumably year and month)
        - the links (as well as the comments) contain numbers
        - some (but not all) of the words in some (but not all) of the comments also appear in the links

        That's all I have - I've tried looking at the comments all together, I've tried an Excel spreadsheet and Word. I got bupkis. I just don't see a pattern.

        Do I need to investigate the links themselves? There are lots of random pictures in each link each with very long file names - is this relevant?

        Also, I saw the words "even" and "not even" within the comments which made me think I should be looking at odd and even words but that got me nowhere...

        I know I'm no closer to solving this one, which is uber frustrating...

          I'll repost what I said in a comment below that hopefully puts you on the right track:

          - It's not a letter or word substitution
          - There's more to the sentences than just the numbers. Look for a pattern in each sentence. The numbers will give you a hint what to look for, but otherwise, you can forget about the numbers themselves for the time being.
          - The pattern is REALLY easy to gloss over. Trust me, it's REALLY easy. Really...REALLY...easy...

          Everything you need is in the comments by The Guardians.

          Last edited 02/08/16 1:43 pm

            Thanks, but I had already read your earlier comment and considered it. I'm obviously not on the same wavelength...

              I'm not quite sure what else I can say that doesn't just give it away. I guess you need to put all of what everyone has been saying in these comments together to see the bigger picture.

              I will say that none of what you suggested above is on the right track. It's got nothing to do with dates or numbers in the links or anything along those lines - so you can at least rule out going down that path.

              Last edited 02/08/16 3:41 pm

                Others are talking about putting things in the right order, and seem to suggest that the numbers in the links do have something to do with that...?

            I'm on the same page as ~S~'s post. I can see all those things, but can't discern any usable pattern in the comments or links. The numbers aren't pointing me towards anything, either.

              Referring to your comment above, I can tell you the numbers in the links don't mean anything for the puzzle. The numbers in the actual sentences are what's important - but again, you should forget about them initially. Pretend they aren't there basically - they are NOT your first clue.

              There's something else in each sentence by The Guardians that you need to spot, and it's a common thing that's in every sentence. It's a pattern that you'll probably facepalm at when you finally see it. Copy them all into a document so you can see all of them together - some commenters here have noted that they found it easier to spot that way.

              Don't get obsessed by the numbers - it will be VERY obvious when the time is right to use them.

              Last edited 03/08/16 12:15 am

                Ok, so I'm at the point where it's telling me what to do with the numbers. I just don't understand the instruction.
                In "n* o* t* t*", what are "t* t*", and given that multiple comments contain the same number, how to distinguish which of t* t* comes first anyway?

    loved how it was seeded a month ago with people none the wiser

    POSTCARD DISCUSSION. (As in, discussion of the postcard itself, not how to get to the answer)

    For anybody wondering: The first postcard picture (not the words) is identical to the one from puzzle 1. I've overlayed them in GIMP and used a difference filter and the body of the postcard comes up black. Edit: What I'm getting at here isn't that I think we'll need to edit or manipulate the images at the end, but that this is the first "repeated" image in the postcard set. I just confirmed that the static is exactly the same static.

    Last edited 01/08/16 4:35 pm

      yeah I think your (maybe) heading in the right direction there mate (that was one of my first thoughts also), but id be careful about posting to much info, we are getting to the pointy end now :)

        I know, I ummed-and-ahhed about whether to even post that. :P

    Loved it. Who knew I would start looking forward to Monday's.

    Hmm, I got the solution but not all the clues worked for me...

    The last two parts didn't seem to resolve in the same way as the others. Is this a mistake, does the pattern change or am I just being an idiot?

    That (and the other puzzles as well) was pretty slick thanks guys. I spent far longer on that one than I would like to admit.......

    the other all jumped out at me relatively quickly, but this sucker I was stumped on for a while (might be a case of the Mondays kicking in but I just couldn't see it to start with)

    (insert slow clap here)
    (tips hat)

    So I got the numbers in a flash too but haven't been able to get any further... been completely stumped for hours... bit of help here? This has been the hardest yet for me!!

    I don't feel like I solved the puzzle correctly but I guessed the answer with a partial solve, so that's good enough!

    Any more hints? All I have are bunch of numbers. Letter substitutions and word substitutions doesn't seem to work.

      Listen to everything The Guardians have to say together.

        Thanks, but I still don't have anything. This has to be the most obtuse one yet - I've been looking at this for 7 hours and got nothing.

          I don't know if it will help, but I wrote everything down in Excel (or a spreadsheet program of your choice). Think big picture.

            What's the advantage to a spreadsheet as opposed to just say a notepad doc?

              I had it open at the time. Just made it easier see everything at once, I guess.

              I did it in a notepad.

              It's important to remember that The Guardians are posting whole comments, not just a number.

              Put all of it together.

                I realise that I'm saying the same thing over and over again. It's really hard to spell out how to solve this without giving it away.

                So how about this:
                There are three common elements in each of the comments: 1) a number, 2) a link and 3) ???. Finding 3 is a eureka moment that is easier when you see everything together with fresh eyes.

                Last edited 01/08/16 11:14 pm

                  Yeah I'm not seeing it. I've been considering the whole sentences since the start, but nothing's coming to me. I've been staring at a notepad doc for hours and nothing's jumping out at me. I thought I had it at one point but nope, another dead end.

                  This is really frustrating because I had solved all the other puzzles by now. This one is completely unintuitive.

                  EDIT: I got it, and I feel like a dumbarse for not seeing it earlier.

                  Last edited 01/08/16 11:02 pm

          I posted below but thought I'd give you a direct reply as well.

          It's really hard to give hints on this one without spelling out the solution. Here's my best attempt:
          There are three common elements in each of the comments: 1) a number, 2) a link and 3) ???. Finding 3 is a eureka moment that is easier when you see everything together with fresh eyes.

          Last edited 01/08/16 11:14 pm

          @greenlego i think you mean "obfuscated"

          Last edited 01/08/16 9:38 pm

            No, I meant obtuse:


            difficult to comprehend : not clear or precise in thought or expression

      You'll get it green. And like me, you'll probably feel like a nubcaek when you finally see it.

      Here are a few hints to get you on the right track:

      - It's not a letter or word substitution
      - There's more to the sentences than just the numbers. Look for a pattern in each sentence. The numbers will give you a hint what to look for, but otherwise, you can forget about the numbers themselves for the time being
      - The pattern is REALLY easy to gloss over. Trust me, it's REALLY easy. Really...REALLY...easy...

    HOW.. HOW did you guys have all halo related links to come up with the clue?? How far ahead was this puzzle thingy planned?? I am AMAZED!

    Ahhh, I think I'm close. I worked out what the numbers do but don't know where to use them???

      The numbers are not the first step.

      If you put all the clues together in one place and look at it with fresh eyes, something may leap out to you as the way to tackle the rest of the puzzle. What you're looking for is so simple your eyes will ignore it but once you see it, it'll be so obvious you won't know how you missed it.

      Do not overthink this puzzle.

        I did that and ended up with 4 words.
        My overthinking is making me draw a blank.

          Solving the first step will give you a very clear direction. If you're not getting that then you've probably started trying to solve a later step.

            Finally got it! Think i just needed to sleep on it.
            Totally ignored the links, which is why I got stumped

    I seriously am just entirely stumped. All of the clues on this thread aren't helping me, I'm just not understanding a pattern here! The comments don't seem to have anything in common as far as I can tell, and I've been looking at everything I can think of, the dates, letter substitution, the articles, and nothing is standing out to me! I might have to just give up here unfortunately, because I just really don't get it :(

      hopefully, this may help

      "firstly", there's a "logical order" in which to do this; read @edrenalin and also @whitepointer. All that's required is in the comments, including the links, by the guardians.

      Last edited 02/08/16 12:37 pm

        I definitely understand the order now, and the importance of the numbers, but I still don't understand what I'm looking for now that I've got them in a correct order...

        EDIT: I finally got it now! Can confirm what everyone else says, really do not overthink it. It's all there for you

        Last edited 02/08/16 4:05 pm

    Got it! Excel is good for sorting!

    I dunno, does this require Halo knowledge? I'm still stumped. I don't see this pattern that everyone is talking about.

    Hey all

    I too am completely stumped. I have read through all of the comments above and I just don't see any pattern in each of The Guardian comments.

    Any chance someone could give us a spoiler-free (but new) clue?

    Unfortunately, re-reading the same clues is not cutting it...


      It may help to point out that the numbers posted by the Guardians in the chain of links do not repeat, and there is one number per link.

      hey @escaperoomguy, just updated my spoiler! I can see some peeps are still struggling, but there's definitely some good hints around!

      Best of luck :D

    Eureka, finally got it.

    It was pretty tough, I just couldn't get the next step. then had a "wait a minute" moment. success!

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