Massed enemy in the second area

Posted May 22nd 2006

The basic idea

Part way though setting up a dustbowl megabattle, you bypass a load of enemies in the second area to get around the back of the raised land and reach the 'cliff corner trigger point'. Once you get the corresponding checkpoint (likely delayed for a while due to enemy threat), you have the potential for some good replayable fun with the enemies accumulated here, as I'll describe. On Heroic or lower, you've potentially got 5 Elites, 5 Jackals and 25 Grunts to play with by now, though a few may run off around the cliff corner at the start.

To get the checkpoint, you'll need to get out of the firing line. Either go around the cliff corner for a moment or get behind cover in the second area.

Picturesque silhouettes

If you stand or crouch against the cliff wall behind the raised land and look towards the big orange planet, you can get to see some picturesque silhouettes of enemies on the mound. It's nice if you've got your sniper rifle so you can zoom in for a closer look.

Cute Grunts

There's sometimes an Elite standing on the mound, and his silhouette looks real menacing. But if you're a Grunt fan like me, the best thing is when a line of the little guys go toddling over the mound, silhouetted against the planet. Unbelievably cute! You'll quite possibly get a line going over from right to left (enemies moving back to a group near the ammo area), and later you might get some Grunts going back the other way. In fact, there's a way of exerting some control over enemy positions and movements, which potentially allows you to engineer some good silhouettes, if you don't get them by luck. I'll talk about this shortly in the section on enemy control.

A spot of shooting

If you've got a few stationary enemies on the mound, you can have fun sending out short pips of plasma to hear the reactions, especially from the Grunts. Single needles are also amusing. If you've acquired any plasma grenades, you can have plenty of fun tagging too. Use your sniper scope to zoom in on the enemy's reaction. At least once, I've grenaded a Grunt and enjoyed seeing his silhouette go flying across the orange of the planet. More high-grade cuteness!

Beastie sounds

Incidentally, you'll find that you hear beastie sounds loud and clear back here against the cliff wall, adding to the atmosphere.

Attacking the ammo group

There should be plenty of enemies around the ammo supplies, and you can attack them in various ways.

Unseen carnage

From behind the raised ground (e.g. right back against the cliff wall), you can't see them but you can hear them. Lob a grenade at a very steep angle and listen for how much damage it does. Don't you just love unseen carnage? Someone raises the alarm and maybe a few Grunts dive. You can just picture the enemy looking quizzically at the mysterious object that's just fallen from the sky. A brief pause while the tension builds, and then comes the explosion and multiple death cries. Comical stuff.

Direct attack

Alternatively, go up onto the raised ground and lob a grenade more directly, or whatever. Actually, an excellent thing to do here is to kill lots of Grunts and Elites to build up loose grenades, then set of a chain reaction. And wow, if you do have a big group here, we're talking about quite a bang!

Another thing you can do is move back and forth along the edge, being amused by all the friendly fire the enemy suffers. Bunch of idiots! You could do likewise from the ground somewhere if you care to jump down. Dodge around among them and see how many enemies bite the dust from friendly fire.

If you can manage to nip past the enemy mass to get to a point of cover back along the cliff path, you can also attack from there of course.

Cloaked mischief

If you care to first run off to get cloaked in the dustbowl area and then run straight back, you should just have time to jump down into their midst and do a spot of mischief before becoming visible again, at which point all hell breaks loose. To set this up nicely for repeated play, use jumping to delay the checkpoint that gets triggered when you enter the dustbowl area. Keep it delayed until ready to start your mischief.

Enemy control

Now that you've hit the cliff corner trigger point, the default behaviour of enemies in the second area seems to be to congregate by the ammo for solidarity. However, if you move to certain positions (e.g. near the tip of the raised land, perhaps even up on top behind the rocks and trees there), it can trigger them into heading for the third area, which is what you do in setting up a dustbowl megabattle of course. If you move back before they've gone too far (e.g. back against the cliff wall behind the raised land), they stop and potentially return to the ammo area.

Engineering silhouettes

You can use this enemy control for engineering some nice enemy silhouettes. Get some enemies to head through, and when they're nearing the mound, move back to where you can watch the silhouettes. If you've switched off their instinct to head for the third area, they may pause on the mound or thereabouts, and some may head back to the ammo group after a while. This is how you can get to see a cute line of Grunts going over the mound one way and then back the other.

Actually, as you look toward the mound and the orange planet with your back to the cliff wall, there's a big tree ahead, and a rock to its left. If you go up to those, that's one place that's good for triggering enemies to head through. If you crouch down, you get cover and it's good for seeing enemies silhouetted as they go over the mound.

Procession ambush

Here's another use of enemy control. Move behind or on top of a rock near the tip of the raised land to get enemies heading for the third area, and get ready with needler and plasma grenades. One by one as they go over the mound, send explosive streams of needles into their backs or tag them. Hilarious, especially when you get a good procession rather than only a few enemies at a time. Often the enemies don't even stop to fire at you; they just keep going as if unaware. Those needles or grenades soon give them a wake-up call though!

Letting them get further

Here's a variation. Let the enemies get to the start of the precarious cliff path. Watch streams of needles sail a long way to bury into their targets. Grenades will sometimes make enemies leap off the path. Plasma balls from the plasma pistol are also amusing.

Traffic jam attack

In making enemies head through to the third area, you sometimes get a big traffic jam building up on the precarious cliff path. If so, you can have lots of fun attacking it, for example by lobbing grenades to blast loads of enemies off. To try to start a traffic jam, draw the attention of enemies as they head along the path. Hopefully they'll get defensive and stop moving.

Exploiting a delayed checkpoint

You can potentially make this fun optimally replayable by finally getting a delayed checkpoint once a traffic jam has built up. You can encourage a delay by remaining in some enemy's line of fire (e.g. the Shade gunner) until you finally want the checkpoint, at which point you can take cover and get it.

I had a good set-up like this once. The cliff path was nicely crowded, and I got a delayed checkpoint after hiding behind a rock for a moment, up on the raised land. When I popped up out of cover, it often shocked a Jackal into letting off an involuntary plasma ball, right into the back of an Elite who then staggered off the edge. Ho ho ho.