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...”