Empire Strongholds is one of the most disliked game-modes in Halo 5. Many cite it as a map that invites the use of unbalanced automatic weapons and grenade spam. While this is true, Empire SH is very winnable, and here’s an outline of how to do it.
Let’s talk about Strongholds in general first. In a sense, the cue for making a play is similar to that of CTF. Wait until you have a few members of the enemy team down. Then push for a Stronghold capture. If possible, never attempt to capture a zone alone. It takes too long and Strongholds are typically very easy to collapse on and clear out.
Remember that while a triple-cap (holding all three zones simultaneously) is fastest, it’s not worth losing map control. Holding two will ensure that you are still earning points. Never push to capture a third Stronghold when you have little to no map presence or have teammates waiting to spawn. That said, if you are about to lose control of the map and of Strongholds, then it is preferable to hop into another zone as it will lead to you trading Strongholds with the other team. This buys your team time to make a counter-attack, while also allowing you to keep scoring for a little bit longer.
Empire Map Layout
Empire has less power-weapons and power-ups than other maps, but they are still very important. The Overshield (OS)
spawns at the outside area of the map. The Active Camouflage (Camo) spawns inside of the Tower. Both are on two minute static timers, meaning they will spawn two minutes after they are picked up. The Plasma Pistol spawns in front of the Tower. Use it to melt the OS off of players if the enemy team is able to grab it.
The Turbine sits between the Pit Stronghold and the outside area. Along with the Tower, both areas are key to maintaining control of the Pit.
Strategy: Airstrikes and Gunfire
Empire is more slay-heavy and rotation-focused than any other Strongholds map. Due to this, it suits teams that are able to play very fast. Controlling both power-ups or at least being mindful of their times is very important, more so than most other maps.
At the start of the match, two players should immediately run to get control of the OS. It is more valuable than the Camo in most situations. A third player should rush to the Tower for the Camo, but be ready to burn it if necessary because they may not have help immediately available. The fourth player should be floating between their base and the Pit. This player needs to be sure to grab the Plasma Pistol in case the opposing team is able to grab the OS. This same player should always fall back to capture the home base, and the players who pushed outside should capture the Pit if they win the initial fights. Be mindful of the times of both power-ups.
After gaining control of the Pit, keep players in Tower and Turbine in order to lock down the Pit as well as gain influence over other areas of the map. Players in Tower should be watching the opposing team’s Platform (Plat) in order to catch spawners who are pushing out of their base. Turbine players can help control the opposing team’s outside Bend area.
Here’s where having high aggression is helpful for Empire; As soon as you get a player or two dead, push their base to get a triple-cap. Once captured, immediately rotate back around to your home base to clear out the players who are now spawning there, and maintain the triple-cap for as long as you can.
This is a hard map to break out of when you’re on the back-foot. In most cases, keep yourself out of a triple-cap. Wait until OS spawns, then push for slays, then push Strongholds. The key to this map is to always know how and when to rotate. If you see your teammate clear out the opposing base and start capturing the Stronghold, double-back to your base to maintain control.
These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Be sure that you are conscious of what’s happening around the map and that you’re prepared.
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