There are two teams based on opposite ends of the map. There are also two flags, each one in the corresponding bases (or there can be only one if the game is "attack and defend, or Neutral Flag, like in Halo 2). The object of the games is to capture the opponents' flag three times to win the game while protecting your own flag from enemies at the same time. Unlike slayer games, total number of kills does not count toward the score. For example, a team who captures the flag three times, but gets no kills, still wins the game. To score, the player with the flag must run directly over where their own flag spawns.
In Halo 2, pressing X grabs the flag. In Halo 3, pressing RB grabs the flag. When a player is holding the flag, they walk slowly, and cannot get into the driver or gunner seats in vehicles. However, they can get into the passenger seats in vehicles such as the Mongoose and the Warthog. The player with the flag cannot pick up weapons but, if the player melees an enemy player in normal Matchmaking, the flag will kill the opponent in one hit, resulting in the Flag Kill Medal (unless the player has an Overshield). An interesting thing to note is on bungie.net (in the player stats section) the description for a flag kill is " It's right next to the headlight fluid." This is a reference to Red vs Blue.
Tank Flag is another Halo 3 Multi Flag CTF variant. The flag carriers can take more damage, but have a slower recharge rate on their shields and slower movement speed, meaning protecting the flag carrier becomes much more of a job than before.
A Multi Flag CTF game under MLG's more hardcore rules, where these vary themselves on certain maps, such as on MLG Narrows and MLG Pit, there are 3 flag captures, and on the Narrows, your own flag must be returned, but on MLG Onslaught (a Foundry variant), there needs to be 5 flag scores to win, but they all similarly have a fairly quick flag return time.
Capture The Flag is generally recognized as the quintessential Objective-Based Halo multiplayer gametype, seeing as it has been the most consistently enjoyable gametype in all three Halo games. It demands and promotes teamwork along with diverse play-styles; the most effective strategies involve the use of all types of vehicles and weapons. Considering that secondary word-of-mouth objectives involve fighting for power weapons and stealing the other team's vehicles, this game mode leads to very intense and tactical Halo play - so much so that it has lead CTF to become second in popularity only to Team Slayer game types.
When you are attempting to get the flag
When you have the flag:
When protecting a flag:
|Multiplayer Game Types|
|Slayer: Team Slayer | Rockets | Swords | Snipers | Phantoms | Elimination | Slayer Variants|
|King of the Hill: King | Team King | Phantom King | Crazy King | Team Crazy King | King of the Hill Variants|
|Oddball: Rocketball | Swordball | Team Ball | Low Ball | Fiesta | Ninjaball | Oddball Variants|
|Juggernaut: 2 on 1 | 3 on 1 | Ninjanaut | Phantom Fodder | Dreadnaut | Juggernaut Variants|
|Capture the Flag: Multi Flag CTF | CTF Classic | 1 Flag CTF | 1 Flag CTF Fast|
|Assault: Multi Bomb | Single Bomb | Single Bomb Fast | Neutral Bomb | Blast Resort | Assault Variants|
|Territories: 3 Plots | Land Grab | Gold Rush | Control Issues | Contention | Territories Variants|
|VIP: Escort | Influential VIP | One Sided VIP | Rocket Race | VIP Variants|
|Infection: Alpha Zombie | Hide and Seek | Save One Bullet | Infection Variants|
|Halo 2 ranked playlists: Double Team | Team Slayer | Team Skirmish | Team Snipers | Team Hardcore | H2 Challenge|
|Halo 2 unranked playlists: Rumble Pit | Team Training | Big Team Battle | Team SWAT|
|Halo 3 ranked playlists: Lone Wolves | Team Slayer | Team Objective | Team Doubles | Squad Battle | Team SWAT | Team Snipers | MLG|
|Halo 3 social playlists: Rumble Pit | Social Slayer | Social Skirmish | Big Team Social | Multi-Team | Social Team DLC | Team Mythic | Action Sack|
|Halo 3 other playlists: Basic Training|