[GUIDE] Making Mouse & Keyboard Competitive on Halo 3 PC

Written by Agoat, with guidance and teachings from Phlosio.

It’s no secret that controllers rule Halo 3, even on PC. Most players have thrown in the towel, switching back to pad. While it isn’t bad that the game built for controller is still viable on controller a decade later, it defeats the purpose to not be able to use native input on the PC version. While it does take a bit of configuring, we can make it work.

Let’s start with the problem. There’s three main issues surrounding mouse and keyboard on Halo 3:

  1. Input delay (“response time”).
  2. Crosshair being way too large to aim with at higher FOV.
  3. Correcting old habits.

We’ll break down each part into actionable pieces, and turn a problem into a valuable learning experience.

Lowering our Input Delay

There are a lot of things that can cause input delay, so let’s start with the obvious parts. Run your game in Fullscreen (Exclusive, not borderless), turn off V-Sync, and unlock your framerate within MCC’s settings menu. You’ve likely already done this, but double check.

Next, navigate to your graphics card’s control panel. I have an Nvidia card, so if you’ve got an AMD card you’ll want to explore a bit on your own here. There’s a key setting we need to switch in our control panel. Don’t worry, this will benefit all of your games.

  • Low Latency Mode – On/Ultra (Ultra may cause stuttering on some systems.)
Amazon.com: Glorious Model O Gaming Mouse, Matte Black (GO-Black) : Video  Games
Glorious Model O- aka a Very Good Mouse

Basically, you’re enabling low latency mode so that you can get your shots to come out faster. If your response time is too high, you’ll end up missing shots unless you’re some sort of bizarre gamer god, or just a Quake player. In addition, if you have a monitor that supports overdrive, kick that on to a level that doesn’t compromise visual fidelity.

Finally, some recent tech has surfaced regarding mouse input. It turns out that raising your DPI and lowering your in-game sensitivity will make your mouse more responsive. On my Glorious Model O-, I set my DPI on the mouse itself to 8,000 and my in-game sensitivity to 0.1. The result is a very smooth experience that’s easier to aim with. Definitely experiment with this until you find a comfortable DPI/sensitivity combination that works for you.

In the event you’re shopping for a new mouse for this purpose (or if you just need a new one), I heavily recommend trying a lightweight mouse. There are options for every budget, and you’re bound to find a good fit. I personally use a Glorious Model O-, and it works perfectly for me. Measure your hands, do your research, and make sure you’re buying the right mouse for you and your budget.

Please keep in mind that not everyone will notice a difference here. Every mouse, setup, and player is different.

Chief’s New Crosshair

The Battle Rifle’s crosshair is iconic. It’s also massive at higher FOVs. At this time, we don’t have a means to shrink the existing reticle, but we do have the means to add our own. I use one built into my monitor, but you can add your own using Reshade if needed.

If you don’t believe me, I break down the issues with the large reticle in this Twitter thread. The short version is you’re trying aim within a massive gap in the crosshair, and that’s very difficult to do. Using a replacement makes aiming easier, faster, and makes headshots factor in skill instead of luck.

If you’re in need of a crosshair with Reshade, this project looks like a great start. Please do your own research on Reshade, as I am not responsible for you getting banned from Halo if you do something less than honest. Other players may have differing opinions on this (when I showed Phlosio I’m pretty sure he threw up in his mouth), but I’m of the opinion that if controller players get auto-aim, we should at least get a working reticle.

Out with the old, in with the new (for the old game)

The generous aim assist on controller meant you didn’t really have to focus too hard on aiming. Sure, OG Halo 3 was harder, but many of us have settled into the MCC’s settings by now. A lot of people know to aim at bad guys, but they don’t know where to aim on the bad guys, especially with a Battle Rifle. No, it’s not the head. It’s the top of the torso.

“Shoot here.”

Check out the image to the side here. That massive blue highlighted area is where you should be shooting at. It’s the largest horizontal area on the player, it’s near the head for killshots, and it makes shooting a strafing opponent way easier. While most shooters teach you to always go for the head, Halo continues to be an outlier.

Practice what we preach.

These three adjustments took my time with Halo 3 from a rough time to a smooth competitive experience literally overnight. I’ve listed some sources and additional info below, including some mice recommendations for anyone looking for a replacement mouse. We aren’t affiliated with any of the products listed, so rest easy knowing these recommendations are just that.

Want to see these teachings in action? Watch Phlosio on Twitch. He’ll even coach you and review your gameplay. Can’t beat that.

Optimum Tech – Why Gamers are Switching to High DPI
This video details the drastic changes your DPI can have on your response times. Extremely informative.

Logitech G203
Budget-friendly lightweight mouse. MSRP $40, though I often see this mouse at around $20-$30.

Glorious Mice Collection
All of the mice at Glorious, MSRP is $50. All of these are great.

Xtrfy MZ1 – “Zy’s Rail”
A unique mouse made by a high level Quake player and master level mouse expert. MSRP $79.

Just to show that there’s mice at any budget. Highest listed is $189 MSRP, but they put diamonds in some of these??