Halo 4 Rank Progression, Unlock System Explained

343 Industries has revealed exactly how Halo 4‘s rank progression and unlock system works ahead of the games imminent release. No longer does your rank go up and down depending on how well you are doing in multiplayer at any given time as it has done in previous Halo games with the TrueSkill system [see update below for CSR details]. Now it’s the simple earn-XP-and-rank-up system that you are used to with most other first-person shooters. If you play for long enough you will reach the top rank in Halo 4, which is SR-50 – or SR-130 if you complete all of the Specializations.

It is not quite a simple as that, though. Read on for the details on Halo 4′s ranking system.

[Update] 343 Industries has revealed the Halo 4 Competitive Skill Ranking System that complements your Spartan career rank.

Halo 4 Progression System

Halo 4 Screenshot
The UNSC Infinity is your gateway to the Infinity Multiplayer experience in Halo 4 and serves as the center of your Spartan career. Here you will build your own custom Spartan-IV soldier, and progress your multiplayer career across both Spartan Ops and War Games modes. You’ll start your career as a rookie, the Spartan-IV, with a limited amount of choices. As you level up, things will slowly unlock into a large amount of choices. The pace with unlocks will be regular, but not too fast so that it causes confusion.

When designing the progression system for Halo 4, the primary goal was to give progress more meaning, and in order to do that, the player’s progress has to impact gameplay. In Halo 4, it’s primarily done like this by allowing the progression system to modify the weapons and abilities the player can take into battle, empowering player choice, and exposing more elements of the sandbox to more players.

As you progress through your multiplayer career, you unlock items that allow you to build-out the character and experience you want. The things you really want, such as the trusty Battle Rifle and DMR, you’ll gain access to fairly quickly and easily. Some of the more difficult choices you’ll face, such as which Specialization to tackle first, come later. All of these things give you the ability to tailor your experience and focus on your favorite parts of the multiplayer experience more than ever before.

How quickly you progress through your career will partly depend on your skill. Skilled players will rank up faster simply because you get more XP for winning matches and completing commendations and challenges. In an effort to stop people quitting games part way through, quitters do not get game completion XP. They can progress commendations and challenges, but they will not get partial XP at the end of the game.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of the Halo 4 progression system.

Spartan-IV Career

When you first enter Infinity Multiplayer, you automatically be enlisted into the SPARTAN-IV program and begin your Spartan career. This career spans gameplay in all multiplayer parts of Halo 4; War Games, Spartan Ops, Forge and Theater.

New SPARTAN-IV recruits are issued the following gear:
• Assault Rifle
• Magnum
• Frag Grenade
• Recruit Armor, Emblem, Visor and Stance

Stances are a new customization option that let you select a pose for your Spartan on your Player Card. This card is seen in every multiplayer lobby in the game and is how your Spartan is identified outside of gameplay.

You will have to rise up through the Spartan ranks to unlock more gear and make your way through the SPARTAN-IV program, though.

Spartan-IV Ranks

There are 50 ranks to work your way through in Halo 4, from SR-1 to SR-50, unlocking gameplay and visual customization items as you go.

To rank up, you need to earn XP. You earn XP by:
• Playing War Games (earn more for winning and high personal score)
• Playing Spartan Ops (earn more for higher difficulties)
• Completing each level of a Commendation
• Completing Challenges
• Using Forge

At each rank, you will earn one or more Spartan Points (SP). SP are used to purchase gameplay items for your personal loadouts. Once you purchase an item, it can be used in any of your loadouts.

The Spartan Point system is based around offering choices at each rank. The full suite of gameplay items is available for purchase by rank SR-26 but you won’t have enough SP to buy everything until SR-50. It’s up to you to decide the order in which you want to build up the arsenal for your Spartan-IV.

SEE ALSO: Halo 4 Competitive Skill Rank System Explained, Being Implemented Post-Launch


Halo 4 Screenshot

Each loadout contains a Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Grenade, Armor Ability, Tactical Package and Support Upgrade. As you rank your character up, you will gain access to the Armor Ability slot (SR-3), the Tactical Package slot (SR-7), and the Support Upgrade slot (SR-12).

There are default loadouts in the War Games playlists to give you a preview of these items before you reach those ranks, and to offer an alternative to your custom loadouts.

Over the course of Halo 4′s multiplayer ranks, you also unlock four extra loadouts (at SR-6, SR-14, SR-26 and SR-41) for a total of five loadouts. You can rename these loadouts as you see fit, so picking names that match the role or gear for that particular loadout is advisable.

Visual Customization

All Spartan-IVs start out with the same default look. As you rank up, this is reflected in the look of your Spartan, which is visible to other players in gameplay and every Multiplayer lobby.

Visual customization items such as Armor, Armor Skins, Weapon Skins, Visors, Emblems and Stances are unlocked through several means:
• Earning a specific SR rank
• Earning a specific rank in a Specialization
• Mastering a Commendation
• Completing a Waypoint goal

When you meet the prerequisite, you will gain access to the items automatically; you do not need to spend Spartan Points.


Once you hit SR-50, you have the option to enlist in a new Specialization. You can choose which of the available Specializations to enlist in.

Specializations are made up of ten levels each. As you rank up in Specializations, you’ll unlock new armor sets, emblems, visor colors, armor and weapon skins and armor mods – which provides even more opportunity to customize your Spartan-IV to fit your preferred role in battle.

Once you commit to a Specialization, you have to complete it before switching to a new one. It will take roughly as long to complete a Specialization as it does to go from SR-40 to SR-50.

All players have access to two Specializations from the start:
• Wetwork: WK-1 to WK-10
• Pioneer: PR-1 to PR-10

The rest, which are listed below, will gradually be made available in the months following launch. 343 Industries will be keeping a close watch on player participation post-launch and will roll out the additional six Specializations when the player base reaches certain milestones. However, purchasers of the Limited Edition and pre-orders in certain territories have launch day access to the remaining six Specializations – although you still need to complete the initial 50 Ranks before you can enlist in one.

• Engineer: EN-1 to EN-10
• Tracker: TK-1 to TK-10
• Rogue: RG-1 to RG-10
• Stalker: SK-1 to SK-10
• Pathfinder: PT-1 to PT-10
• Operator: OP-1 to OP-10

Other players will be able to see your overall progress through the Specializations by your SR rank. This keeps going up by one each time you earn a Specialization rank, all the way up to SR-130. Hint: There’s a reward or two waiting for those who hit SR-130!


Halo 4 Screenshot

Halo 4 features over 120 commendations covering a huge variety of activities (per weapon, per enemy type and per game type, for example). There are commendations based around earning specific medals, and there are also aggregators that require you to master multiple commendations to complete them. Commendations also have a variable number of levels.

Certain Commendations can award visual customization items when you master them. To master a Commendation, you need to have earned its highest level.

The Commendation system brings long-term progression with the most exclusive items. Most players will still be mastering Commendations well after finishing the Specializations.



Like Commendations, Challenges have been expanded in Halo 4. Not only is there daily content, but also a weekly and monthly variation, giving players ample time to complete different challenges with different levels of difficulty.

Challenges are divided into four separate categories:

• Campaign
- 2 Weekly Challenges
• War Games
- 2 Daily Challenges
- 2 Weekly Challenges
- 1 Monthly Challenge
• Spartan Ops
- 6 Challenges
• Waypoint
- Exclusive daily challenges for War Games

So the we have it, that is exactly how you rank up and unlock gear in Halo 4. What do you think of the system 343 Industries have implemented?

  • lol

    Halo 4 ranking system SUCK

  • Dissappointed

    I was really looking forward to a ranking system that made teamwork priority (wins rank up, losses rank down) because it really gives incentive for players to work together and play the game the way it’s meant to be played. I never really found boosting or cheating really that much of a hassle. I feel like the new Reach-styled ranking system is intended to make “everyone a winner”. That’s simply not Halo. Oh well, I’ll still get the game. Hopefully 343 comes to their senses and mixes in a True-skill sort of ranking system along with the intended one somewhere down the line.

    • platy

      You rank up by playing the game. That’s a legitimate system as your level is supposed to reflect experience not how good you are. If you want that system, try MLG. They do have ranking based on skill.

      • Robbie Rob

        Yeah and you rank up from winning because the bulk of experience comes from winning not just playing.. If you mostly win you’ll rank up faster then a loser whom plays alittle more often

    • Robbie Rob

      Being that you get more experience from winning matches this should promote team work. Also quitters get ZERO experience.. This should also help because quitting is too much of a problem in Reach and always has been. They at least aren’t giving quitters a dime ( partial experience ) and why should they?

      • Onyx

        They get co but not for finishing the game and I’m a quitter myself because of campers or people using over powered weapons to much. So instead of me having to stay and cry I leave.and go to a better match

        • Robbie Rob

          Well the ‘system’ this article is about will only be in effect for a couple months. 343i has already began a thread on their website that they will change the system to skill based soon.. What this means for you is you will be matched against people of your own skill.. So if your quitting because your getting beat a lot in Reach its because Halo Reach doesn’t match you by skill unless you play in arena – and most don’t play in Arena because they wanted the number system that Halo 3 ( and 2 ) had and that Halo 4 brings back.. The ranking system they roll out I posted above..

    • Onyx

      That’s the kind of ranking system that made prior not wanna play halo cause there was boo reason for playing multiplayer. Like once I get to level 50 halo 3 style I’m done with multiplayer what the point anymore and it wouldn’t make sense with how you get and unlock weapons it was just unnecessary. Like I care how good you are in one game mode or want to play with some no life try hard kid that’s level 50 halo 3 style. Even if they kept it you will never see a level 50 cause they Match you around your level and that level system made halo corny

    • Aaron

      Skill is how you should base level on. If you suck why should you be rewarded more for you team winning. That makes no sense. That means all you have to do is get on a good team and then people who suck can level up just as much as people who don’t.

  • HaloFan

    I also wish halo 4 would have a ranking system like halo 2 (1-50) or preferably, the one that was used in halo 3 where the ranks up to 50 were specific to each playlist. One of the downsides to the Halo 2 style ranks was that people were so obsessed with getting to the top that modding, stand-by, and boosting became a serious problem and bungie was forced to reset everyones ranking multiple times. I hoping 343i is able to find the middle ground between what was done in reach and what was done in halo 2/3, maybe they’re just holding back some surprise for us.

  • mbp

    I think it’s funny you got it right in the picture, but not in the post. It’s ‘Wetwork’ and ‘Operator’ that are available from the start.

    • 69

      TROOLLOOLOLLOOLOLOL 69 696969696969696969 69 BRO 8=======D

  • HMG

    they would have fucking load outs like call of duty

    • Onyx

      Every shooter genre has something like a class system now kid so stop crying

  • http://www.facebook.com/sam.crosby.73 Sam Crosby

    Thanks for explaining it for us. XD

  • Jeffrey Edlefsen

    NOOOOOOO! Why did you do this? Rank based on how good you are not how long you play the game.

    • Robbie Rob

      Being that the Halo 4 system ranks you up much faster if you win matches I’d say it is linked heavily to your skill… Not simply play time..
      If you win matches you rank up much faster then the loser which gets less experience. Also if you quit matches you don’t even get partial experience. To me this is fitting. Don’t let quitters have anything! Thank you 343

    • Robbie Rob

      There’s a new thread posted by BS Angel at 343i.. 343 is not staying with this ranking system ( of this article ) for long.. They are rolling out a more skill based system, but it wasn’t quite ready for launch so until then they are using the system in this article..

    • Aaron

      oh god please tell me this is sarcasm. Why would you not want to be put in a ranking system based on how good you are. That makes complete logical sense. Game length is stupid to rank people on

      • M. Romanov

        I think you misinterpreted his post. He wants them to rank based on skill, not on how long you play the game (xp).

    • Spartandorf

      I think is is best to be ranked by how good you are or ppl just leave them self in a game all day and get points. you should get things cause your earned them not cause you just stayed in the games a long time.

      • Littleturn

        Well even if you are bad you still learn how to play the game. You learn not to repeat your mistakes so getting experience for the kills you got during the game encourages players to get better.

    • Jmg1andonly

      I agree, the Halo 3 ranking system or even the Halo 2 ranking system (all the noobs would throw a fit cause Halo 2 was challenging) was the best way to rank skill.

      Without a doubt, if you saw a level 50 in Halo 3, most of the time when you got in game with that player, they were good at some Halo.

      Now whoever plays the game most has a high rank.
      This isn’t COD

  • Conner Alt

    Thats fucking stupid they get perks like in call of duty
    and the armor looks way to damn similar to Crysis 2 armor i mean the details not the color

  • wolfthakilla

    I agree the ranking system sucks. It should have Def been like halo 2 and 3. It was more competitive, more communication, an teamwork played. Not to see who spends more time playing. But besides that I totally like customize more the better. Over all it should be pretty good

  • Pingback: Halo 4 Competitive Skill Rank System Explained, Being Implemented Post-Launch | Mltiplyr

  • matt

    WTF!!! just team up with COD 343. COMON!

  • Robbie Rob

    Actually this system is as or good or better then before. I’ve played since halo 2, which halo 2 ranking was awful and full of cheating.. Making it past level 35 in halo 2 was nearlly impossible unless you cheated!
    The halo 4 system ranks you up on experience, right? Well you get more experience from winning matches and you get no partial experience if you quit matches! This means winners rank up faster and losers rank up slow.. To me this is what you’d expect . Winners get more!

    • Mike

      I was a level 49 in halo 2 and never cheated get ur game up

      • Manny G

        get a life, you know those thing that real people have. Most normal people can’t just sit at home and play halo all day, we actually have jobs and families to take care of. Thats why i’m ok with this ranking system in halo 4. it lets you actually enjoy playing even if i only have 30 or 40 minutes to play.

        • Jmg1andonly

          I agree with you, but at the same time disagree.

          I agree because I don’t have all day to play video games and want to be able to get online and have fun in an hour.

          But I disagree because at the same time, I want to play people in my skill level and play to win. I might not have a lot of time to play, but when I do play being the best is priceless.
          Being matched up with a General on Halo reach when I was barely ranked (because I didn’t have time to play much) and completely destroying him, is a bad use of the ranking system in Halo.

          That’s why Halo 4′s ranking system should be changed.

      • Robbie Rob

        Not many veterans of Halo 2 that actually played will believe you unless you show us your stats from halo 2 somehow. Halo 2 system wasn’t truskill as Halo 3: In halo 2 a rank of 32 would brutally destroy a 28… Bungie themselves said on their own forums later during the halo 3 days that 8 out of 10 above the rank of 36 were found to have used mods or cheats ( such as superjumps ) .. It was also admitted on many forums ( some still found up to see ) that it was nearly impossible to reach 40 without cheating and IMPOSSIBLE to hit 50… So talk smack all you want the real players know

  • Robbie Rob

    344 says this system ranks you up more on skill not simply playtime as this article says


  • Robbie Rob

    Ok 343 is replacing this ranking system early 2013… The new system will be skill ranking … http://blogs.halowaypoint.com/post/2012/11/02/Halo-4-Competitive-Skill-Rank-Announcement.aspx

  • 69

    I think they should do the system where if your 1337 with a warthog and you splat people like 69 you get instant level 130 :D 6969969696969696996966969 :O

  • BEN

    I think the ranking system will work out because the people that will win games will win more xp therefore lvl up quicker but the losers i think should get hardly any xp therefore making people want to win games and making it better and more competitive

  • Awso1

    Everybody who has ever played Halo knows that you always get a crap team if you are playing well, with 3 teammates unable to stump up 20 kills between them when you get 30 on your route to 50… This is just going to peanilise a group of good players with crap teammates after all it is the team who wins or losses the match not the player.

  • joe

    This is some bull shit. I want high skill halo 3 ranking!!!

  • me

    Early 2013 the skill ranking system comes into play.

  • Bob Marley


  • Krazy Kevin11

    I think they need to realise that the only people who actually LIKE this new ranking system, are the ones who couldn’t get past a level 40. If you lose a game, you don’t deserve to get even a partial level up. Even if it isn’t your fault. Halo Reach caused practically everybody to stop using a headset, call out or even party up. You have no reason to even try to win. You get more credits? Wow, I really care how my spartan looks. Without a ranking system, here’s what we think. “Oh, I lost. Doesn’t matter, two more games and I’ll level up anyway.” Oppose to trying to win and hoping that’s the game where you get your 50. Yeah, you could win three games, lose one and get delevelled but that’s based on the other teams win percentage. If you win three games against people with a 50% win ratio, that isn’t as impressive as winning three games against a team of people with a 96% win ratio. Hence, getting delevelled for a loss.

    A lot of people don’t seem to realise that the Halo 3 ranking system was also based on the other team’s win percentage. Okay, boosters are a bit annoying but if you’re good enough then it shouldn’t matter, that encourages you to try harder because you don’t want to be delevelled. Anyone who is good at Halo will agree that getting a 50 in MLG and coming up against teams like TD, is way more fun than going +10 against a bunch of idiots who are the same level because they’ve played more. If all the people who are terrible at this game and want “All the same benefits”, why not design a levelling system for campaign seperately to the online matchmaking?

    All good Halo players want a 1 – 50 system to seperate the trash and have a competitive game. All of the terrible players care about how their armour looks and their commendations. If you ask any of the seeded teams if they care about their armour, what do you think they will say? Nothing. When you enter a LAN, you all have BASIC armour so everything you unlocked doesn’t matter anyway.

    This ranking system just means people will THINK they’re good when they aren’t. Halo Reach, anyone who went in as a team of 4 would win 90% of the time. Why? Because nobody cared about credits, you didn’t have a skill range of people you’d come up against so you wouldn’t even need to wait for your team to get online because losing meant nothing. It encourages camping because the only stat remotely worthwhile becomes your overall K/D. Which ALSO doesn’t matter if you’re playing at a high level. People will go around boasting, “Oh my K/D is 2.5.” Yeah, because you only play objective in a team of 5 against people who could’ve just started the game while you stat whore them.

    This is why I preferred Halo to CoD. On CoD, my K/D is 4.18. I have over 10,000 kills. It wasn’t remotely exciting though, I don’t find it fun going (on average) 41 kills – 10 deaths because I’m doing it against people who might not have played the game, might just be terrible. Nothing is fun about going huge positive against a bunch of guests who are shit at the game. Put a ranking system in.

    • Jmg1andonly

      Stated perfectly. EVERYONE had mics when halo 3 was in its prime. If you were the only guy without a Mic everyone would say dude put your mic in so much that you grabbed your Mic.

      I forgot I had a headset when Halo 4 came out because non one used a mic in reach because that game was crap and not competitive.

      When halo 3 was in its prime, videos of no-scopes, triples, overkills, etc, were amazing to watch because the players/community was SO COMPETITIVE.

      Now you see nothing but those vids on YouTube, the web, etc because everyone is doing it on easy game modes against players with no skill.
      They need to bring back the 1-50 system.

  • the critic

    every idiot who comments about this being annoying is crazy this is the best thing that ever happened to Hal. you are all imbicles.

  • benpp

    Dear 343, you need to fix the ranking otherwise the game is just a complete time waster. It shows that you have no skill other than playing 10 hours straight a day. This ranking system also doesn’t seperate the good players from the noobs, noobs need an equal chance based on there skill. 343 please add a skill based ranking system. From Much love for halo, a level 50 in halo 3.

  • Devident Arch

    ‘So the we have it’. Yep. That’s it.

  • Spencer

    I’m fine with the leveling up it doesn’t bother me.. if they got rid of daily cap of 75000 pts exp that would be great.. ranking up on your dedication to a game rather how good you are at first person shooters in general is not bad idea..

  • estsedfewsafdfaw

    halo 3 ranking was really good, so why did they change to this cod style of ranking?!

  • David

    What ever, this ranking system keeps noobs playing so I can merk them and increase my K/D!

  • Muppets

    You people really need to go and get some Pusey or something, have any of you got a girlfriend? Do you think the kids starving in Africa care about your halo rank!!! The kids that are killed in the streets in the middle east every day give a s@&t about you getting a ranking system???? There is more to life gayboys!! Get your priorities straight people!!! It’s a game no one cares about your score or how good you are only you do for your self image. I bet you suck at eating pussey ain’t no rank 50 son. If you don’t like what a game does then buy the rights of 343 and make your own multiplayer game if you can!!! Well I’ll leave you gayboys to fight over who is better at halo. But I bet you all got tiny cocks!!!! Hahahahahaha so long gayboys!!!!!!!!!

  • Person

    Look, all of you obviously have your own concerns. Lets keep it. Lets trash it. at this rate, no one will know what is worth keeping and the whole multiplayer will fall apart the second 343 decides to even attempt changing the system for the better. I have played this game for about a week. I have juggled it in my free time, and frankly I don’t see much issue. I have a negative K/D spread by over 200, but I still fight to the finish with the best of the best. I am put on the team with three out of five players doing nothing, but I still go at it with my partner. The point is, I keep trying. And for that, I am a proud level 30. Do you think that I shouldnt be this high because people incinerator cannon me in mid combat just to get a kill? Mabye because I always beat the campaign on normal first to get my bearings. Or is it just because you all think your better than everyone else no matter the circumstances and you want to be known for it. I am happy with this system because no matter how hard they try, it can never be perfect, but for the moment it works for everyone.

  • Annonymous

    I think the current ranking system gives the not very good players a reason to keep playing. I only recently got xbox live and I am a decent player (not great but not usually terrible either; I usually pull my own) but I love being able to get at least some experience when I don’t lose. True I love just playing on Live but I still like to get something for my time.

    OR maybe a better “fix” could be: Keep the SR ranking the same, but ADD a new ranking based on true skill. (Like from the earlier Halo games you were talking about) That way you could have both. You can see what level they are (and still keep the noobie players happy) and you can have a seperate ranking based on true skill, to have an idea of how good the player is.

    I actually do agree with you guys in one way though; that you really don’t know how good of people you are fighting against. So why not have both systems? That should appeal to everyone!

  • loosers

    thank goodness all you guys complaining about the new rank system are upset because ur no good.

  • master chief

    there will be a competitive skill rank… just not yet. see below


  • sonicbullet534

    could i start the game with a rockit launcher, energy sword, and a autosentry??? THAT WOOD BE EPIC

  • Annonymous

    When the new rank system takes effect will the current SR system ALSO be in use?. And if this is not the case then what will happen about the specializations?

  • Phyllis

    You guys are only thinking about yourselves here. A good chunk of the player community are people who are not good at Halo 4. If you knew that you hated reach’s ranking system, and 4′s was going to be the same, why did you buy the goddamned game if you were going to complain about it? Basically all the comments here are all the people who want to screw over the little guys, so they can feel a little better about the fact that their life is spent on a FPS.

  • David

    The fact that this is a problem makes me sad. Just play the game the way it was made and stop complaining. If you like halo 3 then play it. Noone is forcing you to play or even buy Halo 4. What happened to playing games because they were fun.

  • cowboyup757

    who are you 343? we want bungie back!