The Mantis is brand new to the Halo franchise for Halo 4, and mastering this new vehicle can be quite the challenge. Luckily for you, the Elite Gaming Scientists at WOTS Labs have been hard at work to deliver the latest, freshest intel on optimum Mantis usage.
The Mantis is equipped with an infinite-ammo chaingun in its right arm, and a 6-shot, infinite reload rocket launcher on its left arm. Both of these weapons can be deadly, but only if used correctly.
The chaingun is very similar to what you'd find on a "standard" Warthog. It has a heat meter and will eventually overheat if it's fired too long. At EB's request, I ran some tests on the accuracy and timing of the Mantis' chaingun. You can read the full results over on the Arqade, if you want. The short version is:
- The chaingun cools faster when it overheats (but you can't fire it while it is cooling in this case)
- The chaingun is far more accurate if pulsed in ~2 second bursts, especially over longer distances
Essentially, if you're on Valhalla and facing off against another Mantis, pulse the gun and let the heat build slowly. You'll do more damage than they will if they hold the fire button down.
Remember - Don't hold the fire button down!
The rocket launcher in the Mantis' left hand is a bit tricky. There's very little splash damage, so you'll have to hit dead-on for maximum effect. In Campaign/Spartan Ops, there's a certain amount of tracking in the rocket launcher, although I don't believe it is as significant in multiplayer.
If you rapidly tap the fire button, rockets will fire off at a fast clip. Alternatively, you can hold the fire button down and several tubes will queue up to fire at once. You can't fire more rockets than what's currently loaded in the Mantis, and there's no way to reload the launcher without emptying it. Also, after a bit of waiting at the maximum number of rockets, the rockets will fire by themselves without your intervention. Therefore, this multi-fire mode is not really optimal for multiplayer. It's only really useful if you know you're going to be engaging a hard target and think you've only got time for one shot.
Usually there's a 4-5 second cooldown while each tube is loaded. Sometimes, when the rocket launcher is fully empty, it will reload extremely quickly. This seems like a glitch, although I've not been able to determine if it happens more often when you fire off multiple tubes or one at a time. In my experience with Spartan Ops, it seems to happen fairly regularly when rapid-firing the launcher.
The mantis also has a powerful, but very directed melee attack. This attack uses the same button as your Spartan melee attack. This stomp move can be useful in emergencies, but the animation is somewhat long, and you can't move while using it.
Know Thy Mecha
The Mantis has a shield module that will deflect incoming fire, to a point. If the shield takes hits, the Mantis itself is not damaged. Therefore, you can take more overall fire than even a much larger vehicle, if that damage is applied primarily to the Mantis' shields.
In practical terms, this means that you want to limit yourself to short enemy engagements. This can be tricky, as the Mantis moves very slowly compared to most other vehicles. Don't wander out into the middle of a map and expect to live long. However, you can stay low and use the tips in the previous section to do significant ranged damage over time to enemies. The Mantis also excels at defending an area - stick with some ground troops to support you, and you can keep a single Mantis going for an entire round.
One of the returning armor abilities in Halo 4 is the "medic shield." This causes friendly shields to regenerate in a fairly wide radius. This ability does not charge Mantis shields, though. It takes the same amount of time to charge regardless of whether or not this ability is active.
In most vehicles, the shield meter is measuring your own shield. However, getting into a Mantis with your personal shield down does not effect the Mantis. Likewise, hopping out of a Mantis when its shields are down does not change the state of your own shield. You can use this to your advantage occasionally, although the enter/exit animation for the Mantis is so long that you're likely to be vulnerable while you're getting in or out.
The Mantis is very weak from behind - it's possible to board it easily, and the slow turning speed can be problematic for bringing your weapons to bear. If you're in trouble, try backing up against a wall. You won't buy a heck of a lot more time, but a few seconds may give you enough of an edge to reload the rocket launcher or let the gun cool off.
Taking Down Enemy Mantises
Slamming a grenade through the cockpit works wonders.
The weakness of the Mantis are:
- Slow movement and turn speed
- Long shield recharge time
- Very vulnerable when the shield is down
- Can be boarded and instant-killed, but only from behind
- Long cooldown/reload times on weapons
- Vulnerable to plasma pistol overcharge or Promethean grenades
Clearly, if you've got a sniper weapon, you can take potshots at it from a distance and down it fairly easily. There's not much that a Mantis can do against a very distant target with a sniper rifle. It takes quite a few shots, but even one shot will tend to down its shields. This can be helpful if your teammates are closing in, or if it is in a fight with a friendly Mantis.
Launcher weapons and the plasma pistol overcharge are a bit more tricky, since they're a bit harder to aim over distances where you're safe from Mantis fire. You could try to wait for the Mantis to need to reload, but how many shots did it fire? Five rockets, or 6? Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? Here, I would exploit the Mantis' slow turn speed and approach from behind. A plasma pistol overcharge shot + a quick board from behind spells instant death to the Mantis. You can increase your chances by grabbing a Mongoose or a Ghost and trying to blitz behind it before the driver can react.
If all else fails, wear the Mantis down. Team up and do enough damage to knock the shields down, and every point of damage you do past that point is permanent. Hit and run with the Ghost, Warthog, or Banshee is also a viable strategy. Since it can only fire in one direction at a time, attack from multiple directions. Zoom past it to grab its attention while your teammates approach safely from behind.