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The pulse beam's original purpose was to combat the Flood by vaporizing the host bodies and Flood forms to prevent reanimation. Due to the sheer amount of projectiles fired at once, and due to the sharpness of the projectiles, the projectiles easily penetrate flesh and most armor, making it an effective weapon. This would have been an important part of the design for the Forerunner, as controlling the outbreak of flood was critical.
Since the projectiles have high energy power, they are also useful for combating other sentient beings, such as Spartans and Elites. However, like other attached weapons, they can be blown off to render the Enforcer harmless. The pulse beam is only one weapon used by the Enforcers, and is generally intended for use against infantry. The weapon is mostly ineffective against vehicles, so a more suitable weapon is used in its place.
The projectiles fired from the weapon are red, rapidly-firing projectiles, similar in appearance to that of the Needler, except with subtle differences, and do not have the homing or explosive abilities that the Needler has. Once the projectiles have made contact with an enemy, they "shatter" within a few seconds, just like Needler rounds. However, pulse beams do not create the same explosion as Needler rounds do when stuck with 7 or more projectiles. The projectiles travel at roughly the same speed Needler rounds do, though lack the homing capabilities, so avoiding them is generally easier. They also travel a considerable range, giving Enforcers a decent advantage over the Flood, as they can fire from long ranges and heights.
It can be assumed that the pulse beam is a heated weapon, as with all other Forerunner weaponry. This is because heated weapons are the most effective against Flood forms, as they burn any usable body or Flood form so that the parasite cannot use it.
Also, as seen in Halo 3, in the end cutscene of Floodgate, 343 Guilty Spark's weapon is shown as being heated, too. This suggests that most, if not all Forerunner weaponry is heated, so it is acceptable to assume pulse beams are too, though this is merely an assumption.
Halo 2: The Official Strategy Guide
On page 119of the Halo 2 Strategy Guide, the following description of the Enforcer weaponry can be found:
- “A Sentinel Major is much more than a simple sentinel upgrade: its capabilities far exceed those of its more common counterpart. It is an impressive device. It can fly, and its mighty claw arms can even grab vehicles - with deadly consequences. It has two built-in weapon systems. The first is a light energy Beam, which is relatively weak. The second is a mortar device that should be avoided at all costs.”— Page 119, Halo 2 Strategy Guide.
Note: The guide has a typing error. "Sentinel Major" should have been "Sentinel Enforcer." It was incorrectly typed in the Strategy Guide.
As the description suggests, whilst the weapon can be deadly, it is generally weak if appropriately avoided. Individual projectiles are of little consequence, but the player should avoid being hit by multiple projectiles, as they easily bring down shields.
Enforcers generally fire pulse beams at infantry units only, saving the mortar weaponry for vehicle based units. When fired, waves of red projectiles are fired towards the Enforcer's enemies. These are difficult to dodge head-on, but can be easily avoided if there is suitable cover, or if the player keeps up a constant pace to the side. The weapon is used only against infantry, as it would be generally ineffective against most, if not all vehicles, as the driver or pilot is generally well defended or hidden from direct view. Therefore, the Enforcer uses it's mortar-like weapon to combat vehicles.
The weapon can easily defeat weak, unshielded units, such as Grunts, and even Jackals can have trouble using their shield to effectively block the projectiles. When used consistently, the weapon can keep an unshielded or wounded enemy pinned down for a considerable amount of time, and can be very distracting and frustrating when trying to defeat the Enforcer. Therefore, it is usually a preferable tactic to disable the Enforcer's weapons first.
Note: Enforcers were only featured in Halo 2.
- When fired, a rapid, pulsating beating sound can be heard, though to hear it requires the player to pay close attention during gameplay.
- The pulse beams can be destroyed by the player, causing the Enforcer to rely on its other weapon systems.
- The pulse beam has many other nicknames amongst players, such as Enforcer Needler.
- The Halo Encyclopedia suggests that the Covenant might have reverse-engineered the Needlers and Heavy Needlers from pulse beams.
- The word "beam" is defined as being parallel, projectile-like lines of light or heat. The pulse beam fires red projectiles of heated substance into the flesh of a potential threat. The needles cool almost instantly, forming crystal-like needles, and then shatter after penetrating the flesh. As the Enforcer fires, the weapon makes a pulsating sound, probably caused by firing multiple heated projectiles at a fast pace. This justifies the name of "pulse beams" currently given to them, as they are a pulsating beam of sorts.
- This weapon is similar to many of the weapons used by the Prometheans in Halo 4. It is possible that the weapon fires semi-hardlight.