Horde set-ups

Posted February 9th 2005, expanded later


I thought I'd already covered all the good stuff, but after the disappointment of Halo 2 I got right back to the rockslide megabattle and came up with something new. I found a way of getting the enemy in a nice concentrated horde within or near the far area (the saucer-like plain in which dropships 1 and 3 deposit their troops), which gave rise to some phenomenally intense battling in various parts of the battlefield. Since then I've developed things further, making use of hordes in other areas too. So let's take things from scratch.

By a 'horde' set-up I mean one in which you've released the lifeboat group of covies from their initial territorial limitation, then gathered most or all covies in a relatively concentrated horde somewhere before getting a fresh battle start checkpoint. A set-up like this can give especially good and intense battling in various parts of the battlefield, depending on the initial location of the horde. On this page I'll describe how to easily create a few horde set-ups which you'll find recommended or required for certain of my battle plans. Feel free to try your own variations though, just as long as you end up with similar enemy layouts.

Ideally have some Warthog buddies with you as usual. They can add to the fun of various battles, yet you can always leave them behind when you prefer to go solo. It would also be nice if you've got the maximum enemy count, which would be 34 on Heroic and 39 otherwise. I mean, you do want your money's worth don't you?

Far area horde

In this set-up the horde will be relatively nearby as you enter the battlefield from the left. It's great for the Top pass defence and some other battle plans around that region.

Wait here fellas, I've got work to do

The method

After doing the usual set-up work for a megabattle, head into the left entrance passage (the one with a tunnel) and drop your buddies just before you exit the passage, so they'll be safely out of sight of the enemy. Press on alone.

Island plateau ahead. Outta my way you grunty fool!

From your entry point, head straight into the rockslide to go past the island plateau and thus release the lifeboat group from their initial territorial limitation. You'll probably meet a few enemy troops along the way, and obviously you should try not to squash them as they're valuable battle fodder for later! Curve right at the island plateau to cross the lifeboat plain and reach the periphery of the area.

Pausing near the right entrance to let the covies gather

Pause near the right entrance to give covies time to gather and focus on you. You can dismount to use the hog for cover if you want, as you may come under fire from a few of the most forward troops. A handful of covies will be in the rockslide and you should watch and wait for them to make their way out to join the main crowd. This may take a few minutes. If you provoke a bit of enemy fire the commotion may help draw them out.

Enemy triggered to move nearer the corner (optional)

If you want the enemy to edge up more towards the corner of the rockslide, briefly move along the cliffside on your left, almost to where it angles left just before two large rocks. Past a certain point, your position triggers them to move up the battlefield. You might take a bit of fire while doing this but you don't have to stay there; you can back off to safety as soon as their movement has been triggered (they'll only move back if you subsequently move sufficiently far right). This bit of herding is optional but you may find that it gives a better end result. Actually, instead of triggering this enemy movement after reaching the right entrance, you could trigger it by driving along that bit of the cliffside on your way to the right entrance, saving you a bit of time and risk.

Here they come; almost done now…

With the enemy gathered, speed across to the far area and give them some time to flock after you. It's up to you how long to wait. Initially they'll swarm around the massive corner rock and some will come more deeply into the far area. If you wait longer they'll start to stretch up along the edge of the rockslide, but for the purposes I've got in mind it's best not to let them get far up the hill, or you could come under pressure too quickly when doing a top pass defence. I'd normally just wait until I've got a fair bunch of covies in the far area, perhaps starting to pepper me with plasma.

All aboard for fun and games!

When you're satisfied with things, retreat through the entrance to get a fresh checkpoint. If you wish, it's pretty easy to have your Marines boarding or on board as you get it; just let the hog slide to an inviting halt nearby. If you expect to be doing a lot of solo battling however, I suggest keeping your speed up and leaving them on foot. You'll always be able to pick them up just before re-entry when you want. An alternative way of finishing is to drive out to the waterfall area - optionally picking up your Marines on the way - then return to get a checkpoint as you're heading towards the battlefield, so things are more like a normal save. The enemy layout probably won't have changed much while you made this brief excursion.


If you lose some health or accidentally squash something nasty during the operation, you can always revert to try again. On Heroic or lower this shouldn't happen too often if you drive well, but on Legendary which I've briefly tried so I can report on it, it's much harder to retain your health due to the utterly murderous fire; and heaven help you in the actual battling! So I strongly recommend you stick to Heroic or lower, at least to begin with.

A battle plan that takes particularly good advantage of this set-up is the Top pass defence. I suggest you try that plan to check how well things have turned out. If you're satisfied with the battling, save your set-up (which you can do any time before the post-battle checkpoint). If anything is unsatisfactory however, such as an incomplete horde or some enemies that were too close to the top pass making a defence there awkward (because you're under too much pressure too quickly), you can either eject the disc and reload to try the whole procedure again from your last save point, or you could just revert to the last checkpoint then drive in alone again to re-gather the enemy, before going back down the entrance to get a new checkpoint, forming a new set-up that may turn out better.

Modified far area horde

In this set-up, things will be much like the far area horde set-up except that the horde has backed off from the far area a little, leaving it relatively clear. They'll be gathered near the massive rock on the corner of the rockslide. One way this modification is useful is in letting you do a Far area defence, as the initial emptiness will give you a bit of time to get ready before coming under intense fire. Another way it's useful is for plans such as the Plateau alley defence, in which you start by driving towards the lifeboat area or past it, hoping to attract the horde after you. You'll have some preparation time if stopping near the lifeboat, because everyone is initially a good way off from you. Yet they're also reasonably close, so there's less chance of anyone losing your scent and failing to follow.

Pausing at the passage checkpoint

The method

Starting with a far area horde set-up or with most of the work needed for one, drive out of the left passage (towards the waterfall) and skirt around to the other entrance far enough to get a checkpoint. As best I can make out, the battlefield was pretty much frozen while you were skirting around to this entrance, but it reactivated by the time you got the checkpoint; and due to your new position, enemies will now be starting to back off from the far area. Pause for a few seconds to let them continue backing off, then skirt back around to the left entrance and a new checkpoint - which you can save later if you decide that things have turned out well.

Plowing through some of the horde after entry into battle

This little yo-yo excursion will hopefully result in the far area being practically empty as you enter, with the horde fairly near the massive corner rock. It's nice if most are on the outside of the rockslide, because it's fun to plow through them when on your way to the other end of the battlefield. The exact enemy layout may turn out less ideal for you - it's not easy to control and is partly down to luck - but you can always make further attempts. If you find that the enemy has spread back out too far towards the lifeboat, you gave them too long to do so.

Note: In doing your yo-yo excursion, you can either take your Marines with you so you'll have them on board when you get your battle start checkpoint, or you can leave them in the left passage for picking up later whenever you feel like taking them into battle.

Cyborg comin' through!

Dropship 4 Elites

When you head into battle you'll probably notice a lone Elite still in the far area (or two on Legendary). He's namely the Elite from dropship 4, programmed to hang around in this side of the battlefield. If your battle is going to be elsewhere he won't be joining the enemy attack, but you could always try to squash him as you drive in, which can actually be a skillful little challenge because he's pretty good at leaping aside. The advantage of killing him is that when you've killed all the other troops you'll get an intercom message, so you'll know for sure that your battle is done (no enemies hiding just around the corner or anything).

With that usefulness in mind, you could even create a save in which he's already been killed. It shouldn't be too hard to identify him and take care of that, before completing your set-up work. That way, you wouldn't have to go to the trouble of running him over at the start. Then again, trying to squash him is rather enjoyable!

Entering from the right instead

I've described things so you end up heading in from the left entrance, but actually you could easily adjust the work a bit to end up heading in from the right instead, with the enemy still pretty much in the desired configuration (far area practically empty, with enemies clustered near the corner rock). I haven't actually explored this variation much as my left-entry saves have served me so well, but I suspect that for most purposes it would probably do just as well.

Lifeboat plain horde

In this set-up the horde will be gathered in the lifeboat plain as you enter from the right. The enemy layout will be quite similar to a modified far area horde set-up, except for the enemy typically being even further back from the far area. As such, the two types of set-up could probably be used quite interchangeably, though I haven't yet done testing to fully check that out. It's actually the simplest horde set-up to produce.

The method

After doing the usual set-up work for a megabattle, head into the right entrance passage and drop your buddies just before you exit the passage, so they'll be safely out of sight of the enemy.

Entry gap ahead. Hah, missed me with that needler Grunty!

From your entry point, head across the plain and pass near enough to the island plateau to release the lifeboat group from their initial territorial limitation. In the interests of retaining your health and minimizing the likelihood of accidentally squashing anyone, try to take the least populated route. I find that the best route is usually to enter the rockslide through the gap to the right of the massive corner rock.

Curving left already; no need to get very near the island plateau

Having done that, all you need to do is continue on a little way to briefly be within the area that triggers the release of the lifeboat group, then curve left around the corner rock to exit the rockslide into the far area. An alternative exit would be to do a U-turn to go back through your entry gap, but that's usually going to be less safe.

Return to near the right entrance. As in the work for a far area horde set-up, you should now pause to give covies time to gather, and you can optionally get them edged up nearer the end of the rockslide if you like - which I'd recommend. However, if you took the route I suggested, your brief visit to the far area will have already have been enough to make the covies edge up nearer the end.

When satisfied, retreat through the entrance to get a fresh checkpoint. As in the far area horde set-up, it's pretty easy to have your Marines boarding or on board as you get your checkpoint, if you want. Note however that if you made the covies edge up nearer the end of the rockslide, they'll start to spread back out along the lifeboat plain while you're up the passage sufficiently deep; so don't hang around long picking up Marines or you'll lose some of the layout you wanted.