How does it work? How am I matched with other players? Is there a difference between the cooperative modes (ie firefight) and the competitive modes (ie slayer)? How can I improve who I'm matched against/with?

Last time I seriously played Halo multiplayer was Halo 2. The system gave you a number that ranked your skill and it tried to match you with people of that number. One common jerky thing skilled players did was get themselves downranked back to a 1 and beat up on new players for a while.

Now in Reach I have some sort of military insignia by my name. Is this similar to the ranking number in Halo 2? Does it mean the same thing as the rank number in Halo 2?

3 Answers 3


How does it work? How am I matched with other players?

Here is Microsoft's article for the match making system of XBox Live (So contrary to other answers, yes, there is an answer to this, but you wont get the math specifics)


Is there a difference between the cooperative modes (ie firefight) and the competitive modes (ie slayer)?

While I play the game, I can not be sure.. This would depend if they set up the play modes as separate comparisons within the TrueSkill system. I would say this was Not done however, and a players skill is regardless of game type.

How can I improve who I'm matched against/with?

I am not sure entirely what you mean by Improve, but in general just playing more games will settle your TrueSkill score pairing you up with people who are equally skilled as you. As the article reads, it does not try to pick dead match team games, but will try to pair dead matched players and put them into opposite teams.

FYI, This is the match making of all XBox Live games since Halo 2, as according to the article. From RobV in the comments though, the insignia represents how much/how long you have played the game as opposed to a graphical representation of your match making ranking.

  • Glad to be helpful :) Found this article about a year ago when the League of Legends ELO matching system failed hard.
    – James
    Jun 9, 2011 at 0:37
  • "The insignia replaced the number you used to see" Err no it didn't, the insignia is just a reflection of how much/long you've played the game and you will always rank up over time (unless you cheat). Bungie have said in the past that TrueSkill is used under the hood as you quite rightly say but that they chose to stop showing the number as people manipulated the system as the OP mentioned
    – RobV
    Jun 9, 2011 at 5:44
  • @RobV updated the response, thank you for the info :)
    – James
    Jun 9, 2011 at 7:01

As @Alex stated, I doubt you'll get an exact answer. However, here is my (limited) understanding.

One aspect of matchmaking is the Connection Options you've set. This includes things like matching based on player ability, speaking language, and connection quality. Also, if you look in the Options, you can set additional preferences there (I think - been a while since I looked). This includes things like team player, talkative, etc. These options are all taken into account when finding a match.

If you match on player skill, then your skill in the current play list is taken into account. So if you are horrible at Team Slayer, but really good at Team Objective, you'll be matched with better players in Objective than in Team Slayer. If you're in a party, then I think that the skill level of each player is averaged, but I'm not positive on that.

Regarding your rank, this is not like the rank in Halo 2. It basically indicates how long you've been playing Halo Reach. Most anything you do in game gives you credits (killing enemies, getting medals or commendations, etc.). Eventually you will earn enough credits to get the next rank. All your rank gets you is new items to purchase in the armory (which are all purely cosmetic).


To be honest, I doubt anyone here will be able to answer your question properly. It's likely the exact matching algorithms and processes are not publicly available. Even if one of the users on the site were a Bungie employee who directly worked on that specific code, I doubt they would be allowed to discuss it.

All I can offer is an educated guess - that it looks at your match statistics to decide. In other words, how often you win, lose, capture flags, generally score points, etc., perhaps also how often you play. I imagine it'll also match you with people closer to your region (and probably also on the nearest servers to avoid latency, too).

I would guess that the only way you can change the range of players you're matched against is to change your stats - either win a whole lot more, or lose a whole lot more :) Either way, I'm not sure what you mean by 'improve' who you're matched against - you should be matched against people of your level in any case.

  • I'm used to the Halo 2 system of having a number next to my name that rates my skill. Now in reach I have some sort of military insignia by my name. Maybe I don't need the specific algorithm, but just the general outline of how it works.
    – Doug T.
    Jun 8, 2011 at 18:05

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