Routes into the rockslide

Here's some talk about routes for driving into battle at the Marine plateau or thereabouts.

Left cliffside route to the plateau

Narrow escape for something beaky as we head for the top pass

At first glance the rockslide might look awkward to get into with a Warthog, but there are plenty gaps around the outside that you can a hog through quite easily, so there's no real trouble getting to where you want, and you'll probably soon become expert at doing it tidily. One route to the plateau is to head around the left cliffside. This is easily my most used route because you end up arriving at the plateau from the left, which encourages enemies to arrive from the left, which makes for great battling - as elaborated in my Plateau front defence plan.

I feel this is going to end badly for you, beak-face…

At its simplest, you'd enter the rockslide at a narrow gap I call the 'top pass' - just wide enough for the hog to squeeze through without being seriously impeded. It's where the rockslide starts along the left cliffside. If you're lucky you might meet a few enemies on the way and you can enjoy making them dive clear; or if you don't mind losing a bit of battle fodder on the way, try for some squashing. I've got one great save which has three Jackals heading up the hill, and I love coming up behind the one furthest back to give him a nasty shock. The trick is to skim past as close as you can without actually killing him, for maximum beaky fright, heh heh!

See? I told you

I don't normally try to run over enemies as I drive in, as I prefer to just make them dive clear and leave the extermination for later, but sometimes a Jackal or Elite may be coming through the top pass just as you arrive, and a squashing is inevitable. If you're getting that with your set-up and you want to avoid it, or want to avoid driving straight into a plasma ball, you could always try a detour around the other side of that massive rock.

"Uhh, I'm hit!" - Johnson takes a plasma ball for the team

After the top pass you're briefly in a sloping area I call the 'inner rise'. Often you'll come under fire there from Jackals or an Elite or both. That doesn't usually matter much because you're through in a few seconds, but sometimes a Jackal may have have his plasma pistol on overcharge and you might lose your shield to a close-range plasma ball. That's when you could lose a little health, especially if there's also an Elite with a plasma rifle. Other times however, it may just be one of your passengers that takes the main hit.

Yow, that was a close one!

Next you'll need to squeeze alongside a big rock for several metres. Get your entry right and you should be able to keep up most of your speed however, which can sometimes save you from an incoming plasma ball. Feel free to bounce off the cliffside a little; that hog is a tough little fella! As you head through this passage your gunner will often keep the chain-gun rattling away at attackers in the inner pass, even though he's now firing into solid rock. A touch too enthusiastic maybe? Hey, quit with the trigger you bozo - you're shooting at rock!

Nice design, easy to skim past

Several metres after that, there's a small rock close to the cliffside, which I call the 'squeeze rock' because you'll usually want to squeeze past it. Its geometry varies, but if you're lucky or you went to the trouble of arranging it, it'll have a gently sloping side which is easy to skim past on the left, with just a small bump. That's nice because you'll probably want to reach the plateau as quickly as possible, to have maximum preparation time before the covies turn up.

"Oh yeah!" - Jarring into another design to launch the hog

Other designs for this rock are more awkward. You can still squeeze past on the left but there can be a danger of overturning if you're trying to go too fast, so you might need to take it slowly. You may even prefer to detour around the right instead. Talking of which, for a bit of variety you might like to continue that way, detouring anti-clockwise around the big rock beyond, as a way of getting the attention of a few covies early.

Incidentally, with at least one of these designs it's possible to deliberately jar into the left half of the rock in such a way as to launch the hog, high enough to make one of your passengers shout "Airborne!" or whatever. Just for fun.

S-drive beginning

In regard to the initial part of the left cliffside route, there's a very nice variation you can enjoy to reach the top pass if you've entered the battlefield from the right. It's a bit like an 'S' shape, which I why I got to calling it the 'S-drive'. It's a more skillful drive than simply heading around the outer edge of the rockslide up the hill, and often presents you with some great opportunities for mischief with enemies.

Hah, that'll teach him to look where he's going!

From your entrance, head into the rockslide via the narrow gap to the right of the massive rock on the corner. You'll often having dropship 3 covies running across your path, giving you a chance to plow through them - hee hee!

This could be messy…

Curve left up the hill, passing to the right of a tree. Along the way you might encounter Jackals or an Elite, giving you further opportunity for mischief, making them dive clear or whatever.

Swerve right at the exit gap (where there's another tree) and you've got the top pass in sight. This is a lovely swerve to do, great for letting the tail swing around - I really like to take it sharp. The gap is pretty tight when you're swerving into it like that, and it's enjoyable trying to get things just right. Try to keep your speed up for maximum excitement. The S-drive feels really satisfying when you speed through tidily. You can see me doing one at the start of my very first movie, BCM1.

Of course, there are other variations you might like to make on the start, such as using one of the detours I mentioned for releasing the lifeboat group. Experiment and have fun!

Right cliffside route to the plateau

"There's no running!" - Nasty incident heading into the hidey-hole

You can also approach the Marine plateau area from the right. The easiest access is through a narrow gap past the lifeboat, just wide enough to let the hog squeeze through (but don't be going slow or you could get stuck). That takes you into a confined little area I call the 'hidey-hole', quite an enjoyable defence location. From there it's just a matter of squeezing on around the cliffside, trying not to bash into too much.

If you're entering the battlefield from the right, the simplest route to the hidey-hole entrance is basically to take a diagonal across the open plain. There are two other routes I often take however, which you may find more engaging.

Angling between the trees - and a grunty critter dives clear

As you exit the right entrance passage, there are five trees along the cliffside to your right. There's a short one then a tall one, then short then tall then short - and then a rock near the lifeboat. If you angle right suitably, you can head directly between trees 1 and 3 (the first two short trees), and the hidey-hole will be dead ahead. The main skill is in getting yourself nicely lined up to pass between the trees - simultaneously keeping the pedal down as much as you can of course! There's an example at the start of BCM43.

Stacker gives the covies a warm welcome as we weave left

If you instead take an even sharper right (nice skid!) to go along the cliffside for a stretch, you can then curve left to pass between the last tree and the rock, then curve right past the lifeboat. It's got a nice weaving feel to it and lets you take more enjoyment in skillful driving. There's also the advantage that you'll probably take much less fire because you're quite sheltered until near the end. In fact if the final dropship has yet to land, you may take hardly any fire at all. On the other hand, if you're entering late and the dropship is down, this can be a nice route for giving the new arrivals a warm welcome!

While both of those variations are of interest for the more skillful driving needed, another reason you might sometimes like to use one is if there happen to be enemies you can have fun with on the way, making them dive clear or trying to squash them. That just depends on your set-up. One last thing. Remember those five trees? You can have a bit of fun doing some sort of slalom through some of them if you're heading off to the right.

Plateau base gap

Yeah, you better run Grunty!

On the left just before the hidey-hole entrance, there's a narrow gap which is just wide enough to squeeze the hog through, taking you to the plateau base, from where you could drive up to the plateau on either side (possibly even driving through the short 'tunnel' along the left). If you fancy using this gap, try to have a good bit of speed up to force your way through as it really is a tight fit. So tight that you might not even have thought of trying before. You also need to be careful that the hog's left side doesn't ride up too much on the rock, else you can end up overturned and looking pretty foolish.

Threading past the lifeboat

From the right entrance to the battlefield, one nice route to the gap is to go sharp right along the cliffside, then curve left and around the nose of the lifeboat where there's a small gap you can thread yourself through. That lines you up nicely for an excellent run-up and it's fun to do. As a variation on that, instead of going sharp right you could head into the battlefield then curve back out; a nice little excursion giving you the chance to agitate the covies and do a bit of squashing or whatever, just for fun. You can see me doing that in BCM43 at around 1:43, getting a bit of air when I curve back out.

Ok, that could have gone better

Another technique to play with is to drive across the plain, then when you get near the nose of the lifeboat on your right, start turning rightwards into the small space beyond the nose and do a fancy spinning right three-quarter turn so you end up facing the gap, then accelerate. You can see an example at the start of BCM43, though I did the turn a bit earlier than I would've liked.

Caution: You do tend to meet grunty critters near this narrow gap, and they're not shy about whipping out a plasma grenade. If you meet up with a Grunt head on - possibly standing in the gap or thereabouts - it's quite easy to come to a nasty end with a big bang. You have been warned!