The Full Wiki

More info on Active Camouflage

Active Camouflage: Misc



Up to date as of February 08, 2010

From Halopedia, the Halo Wiki

(34 votes)
Were you also looking for Camouflage,or the Covenant equivalent Cloaking, used in Halo 3?
Active Camo in Halo: Combat Evolved multiplayer.

The term Active Camouflage (often shortened to Active Camo) refers to the Covenant-developed light-bending energy that is generally stored in small, deliberately fragile containers. In Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, it is stored in a small, glass-like pyramid; in Halo 3 it is suspended in a spherical force-field. A person can use the light-bending energy by merely coming into physical contact with the container, which will cause it to break and release its contents. Upon release, the energy envelops the wearer and bends light around their skin, armor, or shielding, conforming to their form and rendering them almost invisible. At that point, the energy will gradually dissipate and wear off, slowly revealing its user.

The effect lasts only for a limited time, and only prevents visual detection; those using Active Camo can be detected through other means, including motion trackers, any noises they make, and any changes to the environment that result from their movement (things like footprints on soft terrain).

Being a Covenant device, Active Camo is most commonly used by Special Operations Elites, Stealth Elites, and Brute Stalkers. However, all varieties of MJOLNIR armor after and including the Mark V can also use the technology.



A Spartan using active camouflage.

Active Camo will easily cloak its user, but its effect does not completely extend to items in the user's possession; Human weapons are easily cloaked, but Covenant weapons are visible even with Active Camo, as the light-bending energy cannot mask the glow of the weapons' plasma. In Halo, however, plasma glow is hidden quite well by the powerup.

Though Active Camouflage is quite effective from a distance, it can faintly be seen if an observer is close enough to the wearer. However, it is difficult to spot a camouflaged opponent from a distance using a scoped weapon -- actual physical proximity is required to reliably spot a person using Active Camo. It should be noted, though, that Active Camouflage does not mask environmental effects such as footprints, meaning that it is not as effective on soft terrain (such as the snow found in Halo 3's Snowbound and Avalanche Multiplayer maps).

The shielding provided by Active Camo can be disrupted if projectiles pass through it; such a disruption weakens the invisibility effect and temporarily reveals the wearer. The powerup can be disrupted if the wearer fires shots or if the wearer is hit. It also progressively worsens: the longer the wearer fires (or is hit), the more visible they become. Once the disruptions end, however, the wearer quickly regains their invisibility.


The Active Camouflage in Halo 2.

Technically, Active Camouflage is not quite invisibility, though it is very similar. Rather, it is the term that is used to describe a broad range of technologies that allows a wearer or object to blend in with its terrain, mimicking the environment around it perfectly, though in two dimensions. There are a variety of ways to do this, though the UNSC uses photo-reactive panels on its Semi-Powered Armor and Prowler warships for optical camouflage, adapting to account for movement.

Though it has never been elaborated on in detail, it is suspected that Covenant versions of the concept use phased array optics to project a three-dimensional hologram of background scenery around the wearer of the system, effectively bending light, a task well within the Covenant's tier two technology level. The technology can be utilized on Human armor systems, such as the MJOLNIR armor, but the UNSC has only developed a rough equivalent, the Camouflage Cloak.[1]

Talc powder and other atmospheric particles can disrupt the systems, causing the technology to overload and fail. [2] The device also generates a considerable amount of heat, causing its user to be clearly visible on Human thermal goggles and some variations of the Sniper Rifle. [3] The humans of Alpha Base on Installation 04 used this advantage when their base was infiltrated by stealth Elites, equipping their Fire Teams with infrared goggles allowing them to easily see the attackers. In addition, William and Kelly employed smoke in order to overload the camouflage on Reach in order to find them[4], though this appears to have been altered in the games.

Issues with Other Items

Active Camo is rendered useless by the Overshield powerup -- if the Overshield is picked up after the camouflage, it still masks the wearer, but the glow surrounding him (which is provided by the Overshield) is not hidden. In addition, if the Active Camouflage is picked up after the Overshield, the camouflage will be discontinued and fade out. The flaming-helmet side-effect of the Bungie Armor also makes Active Camo useless.

Use in Campaign

If the Active Camo is active during Campaign, you are completely invisible to the AI enemies unless you fire your weapon. Active camouflage is only usable in Campaign when you are playing as the Arbiter in Halo 2, or if you pick up Cloaking in Halo 3. It is also available as a powerup in five levels during Halo: Combat Evolved: Truth and Reconciliation, Silent Cartographer, 343 Guilty Spark, Keyes, and Assault on the Control Room.

An interesting fact about Active Camouflage is that although you can see the Sword-wielding Active Camo Elites in Halo: Combat Evolved (due to the sword), the Marines cannot see them; this is likely because the developers didn't realize that the Energy Sword showed through the Active Camo, leading them to code the Marines' AI to be oblivious to it. This advantage is removed in Halo 2 -- the Elites now wait, only activating their swords when they're about to kill you.

In Halo 3, Active Camouflage is replaced by Cloaking, a piece of Equipment that can be picked up much like the Bubble Shield or any other item; this allows a player to save the item for later instead of having to use it immediately. The user can hold on to it until it is required in a situation where he or she is drastically outnumbered. Activating the Cloaking can even the odds, or avoid contact all together. It is recommended that the user move quickly and relentlessly so that they don't waste the time that the powerup is activated for, as well as the fact they also might be spotted a lot more easily when stationary. This is also recommended in multiplayer.

Active Camouflage and Shielding

Stealth Elite using active camouflage.

An odd discrepancy is present in the difference between Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 active camouflage. In Halo: Combat Evolved, Stealth Elites using active camouflage had no shielding whatsoever; furthermore, Elites were the only Covenant enemies to possess it. However, in the last level, several Elite Flood Combat Forms that made their way into the Armory were seen with Active Camouflage generators, but these were presumably infected Stealth Elites.

In Halo 2 active camouflage was seen in use by both Elites and Grunts, during The Arbiter and part of Regret.

In "A Day At the Beach," a supposed Elite Minor is seen engaging his own active camouflage at the expense of his shields (though when the camouflage seems to be shorted out by the plasma grenade explosion his shields are reactivated). It is possible that he is an Ossoona, which would explain why such a seemingly low ranked Elite has the system, although this is not likely as Minors are not allowed to be Ossoonas due to their lack of experience -- the title is only available to Majors. [5]

It can be conjectured from this evidence that perhaps all Elites have active camouflage systems installed, but in all but the highest echelons of Elite rankings, the user's shield is deactivated to power the camouflage. Only Halo 2 era Stealth Elites, Ultra Elites, the Arbiter, and Special Operations Elites seem to have enough power in their armor to run both systems at the same time, although the Arbiter can only use active camouflage for a short while.

Halo 2 Active Camouflage

In Halo 2, it is noted that the Arbiter's armor, while possessing a built-in active camouflage generator, is not permanent, unlike the more modern generators used by Special Operations Elites. There is a circle on the player's HUD that shows the amount of time left for both the usage of the active camouflage and the recharging sequence. The Master Chief can gain this ability with the Envy Skull on Legendary only; however, his screen will lack the meter, forcing you to remember the time allowed for use.

When playing as the Arbiter, using any attack besides melee will cause the active camouflage to deactivate, and the player must wait for it to recharge before using it again.[6]

Halo 3 Active Camouflage

Main article: Cloaking
The Active Camouflage in Halo 3.

The Active Camo is no longer contained inside a pyramid construct. Instead it appears as a large, glowing sphere with what appears to be containment devices around it, enclosing the powerup in Halo 3 multiplayer; but unlike past Halo games, active camo is not found in campaign. In campaign, Active Camouflage is replaced by the Cloaking equipment, which functions in the same way as active camouflage once did. Melee attacks, shooting, throwing grenades and using equipment will negate the effect of the power-up. Also, wearing the Flaming Helmet is an obvious give-away to the opponent because the fire is still visible.

It is best to use the Shotgun and Flame Thrower or other one-hit-kill weapons with the camo.

The quality of camouflage in custom games may be set to two different settings[7]:

  • Poor Camo: The player has camouflage that might fool a Grunt.
    • The player is still somewhat visible.
  • Good Camo: The player has camouflage that will fool an attentive Elite.
    • This makes the player almost invisible, but the light is distorted within the player's shape.


The Spartan-IIIs in Ghosts of Onyx utilize their own version of Active Camouflage, using panels to impersonate the surrounding environment like a chameleon, however it is inferior to covenant active camouflage but When combined with their natural talent and training for stealth, it is a very effective tool. Some headhunters use a prototype camouflage almost identical to the covenant version, rendering them almost invisible, except that it only lasts 3-5 minutes and other systems have their power drained while it recharged. This feature was tested by ODSTs and saw very limited use in 2552.

Character compatibility

Bungie armor and Active Camouflage in Halo 3.

Note: All enemies are capable of using active camouflage in Halo 2 if the Assassins skull is active. Even enemies such as Hunters, Jackals and Flood forms are affected.


  • Changing the graphics card settings on Halo PC (lowering the quality and effects) makes active camouflage users appear as an easily-seen gray, opaque silhouette.
  • In Halo: CE, players will learn from the campaign and playing against Stealth Elites to shoot the very obvious shimmer that AC generates. It's easiest to just sit in a corner and wait for a nearby object to blur, then shoot the blur.
  • On 343 Guilty Spark, if you go right off of the fallen tree towards a small indention in the hill, you will find an Active Camouflage next to the pipeline.
  • Active Camouflage generates heat,[8] which can be taken advantage of by the use of infrared equipment by UNSC forces.
  • The Separatist Phantom in Halo 3 has its own Active Camouflage generators on board for various stealth missions.
  • Oddly enough, a group of Major and Minor Grunts in the Halo 2 level Delta Halo used Active Camouflage as they fought alongside a group of Stealth Elites. This suggests that at least some lower ranked Grunts have this equipment.
  • As stated in the Halo 2 Piggyback Official Guide, when used in association with an Overshield, the Active Camo becomes completely useless due to the charges of the overshield washing over the player's body (except in Halo: Combat Evolved). In Halo 3, the same effect occurs when Active Camouflage and Overshields are both working.
  • The Active Camouflage has no effect on the flames on the Bungie Employee flaming helmet, allowing enemies to more easily locate the user of the helmet.
  • With the Envy skull on in Halo 2, the Master Chief's flashlight will be replaced with active camouflage. This can also be combined with a glitch which allows you to reload from a checkpoint, after saving and quitting, and turning off your console, with infinite active camouflage. This makes the Campaign on Halo 2 considerably easier, even on Legendary difficulty.
  • Freelancer agent Tex (in Red vs Blue) had a special 'built in' cloaking device, much like the Arbiter's.
  • The Halo 2 Assassin's skull that is found in Regret makes all opposition invisible permanently.
  • The active camo can be seen very easily with your flashlight on.
  • In any Halo game, when you have active camouflage on and you get in a vehicle, the camouflage stays on and appears as if there was a ghost driving it or that it was driving itself (works particularly well with the Warthog LAAG). It works with any vehicle that the player is visible while driving.
  • In Halo 2 for Windows Vista, when playing on Threshold, your comrades are not picked up by radar when camouflaged.
  • The lights on a Gravity hammer can be seen clearly when camouflaged. It is not recommended to have a Gravity Hammer either as your primary weapon or secondary weapon when using active camo, as the lights make you an easy target for experienced snipers.
  • The active camouflage is only active for about 30 seconds in Matchmaking.
  • People often use Active Camouflage as a Death Trap in Forge on Foundry. They put a dumpster in a small tube-like corridor with Active Camo in front, and then put Man Cannons to push the Dumpster. A player then sees the Active Camo and as soon as they get it, the Dumpster flies out a splatters them, it says that they were killed by the Guardians.
  • In Halo 3, go in Monitor mode and find an Active Camouflage. Go inside it. After about 10-20 seconds, the Active Camo will stop making its shimmering noise and you'll hear a brief whispering sound (Like a sigh or breath), and then it will continue its shimmering noise.


  1. Halo: The Fall of Reach
  2. Halo: First Strike
  3. Halo: The Flood
  4. Halo: First Strike
  5. "Extra" cutscene included in retail version of Multiplayer Map Pack
  6. Halo 2, All levels playable as the Arbiter
  8. Halo:The Flood



This article uses material from the "Active Camouflage" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address