- “It’s about as close to a fire-and-forget small arm as we're likely to ever see, and it ain’t ours. This is why we’re losing.”— Anonymous serviceman
The Needler is one of the few Covenant weapons which isn't based on reverse-engineered Forerunner technology. The Needler's top plate has 14 holes which the needles protrude out of. When the trigger is pulled, the needle is fed from the top into the barrel and fired. The needles home into their target and impale it. Several seconds afterwards, the needles detonate. A single needle detonation does not cause significant damage, but if enough needles make it into the target at once, the needles will supercombine, synchronizing their explosions for massive damage.
Razor-sharp crystalline projectiles are fired from this elaborately designed Covenant weapon; it is widely believed that these needles use heat or organic signatures to home in on targets, and may have some relation to the Plasma grenade and the Plasma Pistol's charged shots, which also react to living tissue and Sentinel mechanics. The needles appear to have some sort of "identify-friend/foe" function, as they will home in on hostile targets but not allies of the wielder. Once fired, a needle will seek its target until impact, entering the victim's body violently. After several seconds, the contents of the crystalline shard will detonate; injuries inflicted from the exploding shard are gruesome, as microscopic pieces of shrapnel can become embedded in tissue.
Needlers cause two types of damage: penetration, injuries caused by the impact of the crystalline needles, and explosive, explosion of needles wedged in the body and splash damage to surrounding units. A crystalline projectile can cause fatal damage to its victim — a single shard can cause internal bleeding or strike a vital organ, with untreated wounds resulting in death. Depending on the impact area and angle, several crystalline shards can cause amputation of limbs, and impacts to the chest are in most cases always fatal; the explosive properties can easily crack ribs, damage the lungs or heart, and cause severe tissue damage that can be very difficult to repair. For unknown reasons needles do not always explode upon impact with living tissue.
The crystalline projectile appears to contain some type of gas or energy, which is released upon impact with a target; after seven or more needles have struck a target in the same general area, the needles will react to each other, triggering an explosion that kills the victim instantly. When either a single or multiple needles detonate, they release crystal shrapnel, which can embed itself in nearby organisms; thus, friendly fire is often a necessary consideration in close quarters combat.
The Type-33, unlike other Covenant weapons, allows the user to aim at the closest target, fire and move on, as its homing ability allows its user to avoid being exposed to enemy fire while inflicting his own. The more needle shards that impact the target, the higher degree of damage it will do to the target, seven or more needle shards detonating at the same place will cause a massive explosion that will cause splash damage and cause shrapnel damage, which can also cause nearby explosives to detonate, giving the enemy another reason to run. The projectiles ricochet when they hit rigid surfaces at oblique angles and retain sufficient velocity, making dodging them a challenging feat.
While the Type-33 GML is incredibly effective against most infantry, it is much less effective against armored targets, such as vehicles. Due to their size, the crystalline projectiles are slow and lose velocity very quickly, limiting range. It is for this reason that they often fail to penetrate armor; the needles usually only explode when they contact organic tissue, but will also shatter after traveling a certain distance without striking a target- limiting the weapon to short-range. The Needler also has difficulty penetrating hard surfaces, being observed to harmlessly shatter against the pauldrons of the MJOLNIR powered assault armor/Mark IV in combat. The Needler is also ineffective against linear energy fields, like the Point Defense Gauntlets carried by Kig-Yar, or stationary energy shields.
In order for the tracking ability to be most effective the targeting reticle on the users heads up display must acquire the target, or if no targeting reticle is available the user must judge how close he must be to a target in order to effectively use the weapon. While the homing ability is incredibly useful the crystalline shard cannot track a target relentlessly, turning at a certain angle will cause the projectile to simply keep flying and miss the target completely, fast turns at certain angles will also cause the projectile to lose the target and travel onward.
Another disadvantage would be the Type-33 GML's inconsistent damage. Seven needles are required to super-combine, but individually, each needle has very little effect.
Finally, there is a minor disadvantage in that the Needler is unsuited to setting off explosive devices like Fusion coils, often requiring much of the magazine to destroy one.
Changes from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 2
- The Needler is now smaller and can be dual-wielded.
- The Needler's projectiles, when viewed in first-person, have a pink tinge to them instead of blue.
- The magazine size has increased to 30 needles. Maximum ammunition increased from 80 needles to 90 and its maximum amount of magazines decreases by one.
- Explosions have significantly less splash damage.
- Only one explosion will go off within an enemy, while in Halo: Combat Evolved multiple explosions could go off in one body, even after death.
- Its rate of fire is slower and does not increase over time.
- Melee attacks do less damage due to the muzzle hitting the target instead of the needles.
- The explosion of the supercombine is more powerful, about the yield of a plasma grenade.
- No more ammunition in magazine form is found on the ground (except on one map).
- Projectiles travel slower.
Changes from Halo 2 to Halo 3
- The Needler's damage has been increased.
- The Needler can no longer be dual-wielded since the weapon now does more damage alone than it did when dual-wielded.
- Faster reloading.
- The Needler's reticle must be red in order for the needles to home in on an enemy.
- Magazine size has been decreased to 19 rounds.
- Rate-of-fire has been increased.
- The projectiles travel faster, but have a small arc over time.
- The projectiles are more accurate.
- The Needler's projectiles do not explode.
- Heavy Needlers are used as the Covenant's main anti-air weapon, appearing both on base defenses and on the Vampire anti-air ships as the Heavy Needler.
Changes from Halo 3 to Halo 3: ODST
- More needles are required to cause a supercombine.
- Kig-Yar and Jiralhanae now use Needlers.
Changes from Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST to Halo: Reach
- Supercombines do not occur until after the target’s shields have dropped.
- The reticle for Sangheili characters indicates when it will lock on and track the target.
- The Needler's magazine size has been increased to 24 rounds.
- The weapon now takes 6 needles to take down a Spartan's shields, 7 for a Sangheili's shields and 6 more needles to supercombine.
- The melee attack will now swipe with the needles, as in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Changes from Halo: Reach to Halo 4
- The Needler now has a much more blue coloring.
- The Needler's magazine size has been decreased to 22 rounds.
- Its damage has been increased.
The Needler is best used at close to medium range against groups of enemies in the open. The wielder should be familiar with the amount of lead necessary to make the shots connect, and have a fundamental understanding of the weapon's strengths and weaknesses.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Needler proves effective against large quantities of Flood Infection Forms when there's no MA5B available, as each form requires only one projectile to be killed.
- It is not advisable to engage enemies that are equipped with Active camouflage, as the needle shards will not track them. A good tactic is to switch to an automatic weapon instead, and as soon as they become visible switch back to the Needler and lay into them.
- In Halo 2, Needlers should be dual-wielded whenever possible, or it will be nearly impossible to lodge seven needles in an enemy before some of them detonate.
- Target the enemy group leader unless the leader is an Sangheili Ultra (or higher-ranking), Jiralhanae Chieftain, or Jiralhanae War Chieftain, in which case you should fall back and switch tactics and weapons for the situation. The three aforementioned special units' shielding will disable the needles' impact.
- When you are in a tight spot with a lot of enemies near by on higher difficulties, it's best to hide behind something and pick them off with tracking weapons like the Needler. Just stick your head out and target a Sangheili, or Jiralhanae, fire off a clip of needles, and repeat.
- When you rescue Keyes or Johnson, they both choose a Needler as their makeshift weapon.
- Needlers are best used against Sangheili due to the Needler's explosive projectiles, which can kill a Sangheili with 3/4 of a clip.
- In Halo: Reach, a Needler is nearly useless against a Hunter, as the explosion will not kill it.
- If you are facing an opponent who is wielding a Needler, stay at a distance and duck behind cover. If this is not possible, run sideways at 90 degree angles from the direction your opponent is. This way the needles have more time to travel and it's easier for you to run away and avoid them.
- Enemies with a Needler can't harm you when you're in a vehicle, except if they are shooting at exposed parts of your body.
- The Needler is best used in close to medium range, although a shotgun or energy sword will prove much more effective in the former.
- Never train the Needler on a single target for too long. Rather, with the technique of fire, acquire, repeat you can end up demolishing enemy ranks as the needles do their own job of finding targets.
- Do not head into an open area with no cover and blast away at your enemies. The projectiles may only strike one enemy if you don't switch targets, and since the needles take a few seconds to explode, you could be killed before any helpful explosion occurs.
- "I don’t know how it works, but it seems the needles can only follow you if they can "see" you."
- "Anything stuck with enough needles will blow sky high—and if a Foxtrot is unlucky enough to be carrying grenades, those are gonna cook off too."
- “I caught three in the leg as I was diving behind a broken wall—they lodged right in there where the greave meets the boot. When they went off it damn near broke my ankle and flung like little splinters of glass or crystal or whatever all up my left side—the corpsman was pulling the shards outta me for the better part of two hours.”
- “Luckily—listen to me 'luckily'—the needles only detonate when they’re embedded in living tissue. Now that’s lucky because it’s not gonna blow a hole in the wall you’re hiding behind or tear the tires off of the vehicle you’re trying to escape in.”
- “It’s about as close to a fire-and-forget small arm as we're likely to ever see, and it ain’t ours. This is why we’re losing.”
- “First order of business when dealing with a hostile armed with a Needler is finding cover; second order of business is killing the Mike Foxtrot with the Needler.”
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Needler is much larger and heavier than in other Halo games, but most weapons appeared so in Halo: Combat Evolved, since dual-wielding hadn't been implemented.
- On the Halo 2 level Sacred Icon, near the first Enforcer fight, behind the Anti-Gravity Gondola, there are three overloaded Needlers with 135 needles each.
- There is a lone Sentinel that fires Needler rounds and drops a Needler when it is destroyed. It is found on the level Quarantine Zone in Halo 2.
- In Halo 3, if you look at your shadow while holding a Needler, you'll find that regardless of how many needles are protruding from the top, there will not be any needles visible in the shadow.
- The Halo 3 Needler is incorrectly labeled as having 30 needles per magazine, instead of the actual 19.
- In Halo 3, killing five enemies with a Needler, in a ranked free-for-all match or Campaign will reward the player with the Fear the Pink Mist achievement. In Halo 3: ODST, killing 10 Covenant soldiers with an explosion from the Needler in a single player level or in Firefight will reward the player with the Pink and Deadly achievement. Halo: Reach awards the player with the Spoonful of Blamite achievement for killing ten enemies with a Needler explosion.
- In Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, the Needler is referred to as a pistol. This may be because, in the large hands of a Sangheili, it appears to have a smaller shape.
- The Needler is Fleet Master Voro Nar 'Mantakree's next-to trademark weapon, the other being the Energy Sword.
- The Heavy Needlers were customized to be able to strike aircraft and vehicles, not just living tissue, as proven by their anti-air capabilities.
- In other media, Needlers are depicted as significantly more powerful than their in-game counterparts, with one needle sufficient for causing debilitating pain and a state of near shock.
- The Halo: Combat Evolved level 343 Guilty Spark, and the Halo 2 Vista map Uplift, are the only levels in any of the Halo games to have Needler ammunition outside of the Needler.
- The ammunition for the Needler was referred as "Blamite" by Bungie. The name 'blamite' comes from Bungie's rather unique method of censoring swearing on their forums. The objectionable word is replaced by -blam!-.
- A rifle counterpart of the Needler, the Needle Rifle, is introduced in Halo: Reach. It is more accurate, fires projectiles at a faster speed and only requires 3 needles to supercombine. These count towards the "Spoonful of Blamite" achievement.
- When you melee with the Needler, a faint chiming noise can be heard. This is most likely from the crystals banging together.
- Doctor Halsey mentions in her journal that the Needler has completely baffled UNSC scientists, having no internal moving parts in its firing mechanism, and therefore rendering the weapon completely impossible to reverse-engineer by humans.
- In Campaign and Firefight, no matter how many needles the enemies put onto you, you never explode with the combine explosion.
- This was a gameplay mechanic to avoid making the Needler too powerful against the player when in use by the enemy AI, and has been removed for the first time in Halo 4.
- If an opponent is hit with two needles from a Needle Rifle, hitting the same player with a single Needler round will not cause a supercombination. The same is true in reverse.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, AI wielding Needlers, particularly Sangheili, can supercombine into your allies. This is also true in Halo 2 however it seems it was removed in Halo 3, possibly due to the ease of killing your allies.
- The latter part of the above statement is also true for Halo: Reach - the Needler or Needle Rifle cannot be supercombined by the AI, however the player can cause a supercombine explosion in their allies.
- Due to the fact that the needles will only explode when exposed to flesh, it is presumed that the blamite is only reactive to the carbohydrates that compose organic tissues.
- Though due to the fact that anti-aircraft heavy Needlers can explode upon penetration of aircraft, they may also be sensitive to heat, electric currents, or a combination of other factors.
- In the Halo Wars cutscenes, Sangheili seem to use the Needler more often than not, since the Plasma Rifle doesn't appear in the cutscenes.
- In the web-series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, multiple needles impacting a target will cause a pink explosion, but no corpse will be left behind.
- In Halo: Reach, if a projectile from the Needler is inside of a player, their shields will not regenerate automatically until all of the projectiles have burst.
- Despite having 33 in it's designation, implying it was first seen by humans in 2533, the Needler appears in Halo Wars, which is set in 2531.
- ↑ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 128
- ↑ Halo Waypoint, Halo 4 - Ordinance and Armor.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Halo Waypoint - Universe - Needler
- ↑ Bungie.net - Type-33 Guided Munitions Launcher
- ↑ Halo Encyclopedia, page 323
- ↑ Bungie Weekly Update: 4/09/10
- ↑ Halo: First Strike, page 108
- ↑ Bungie.net: The Bungie Podcast: 1/27/2010
- Heavy Needler
- Fear the Pink Mist
- Pink and Deadly
- A Spoonful of Blamite
- Needle Rifle
- Charging Needler glitch