On top of the island

Posted March 12th 2006, expanded later

It's well known that you can get up on top of the Silent Cartographer island. Here's a description of how, followed by some talk about the excellent fun you can have up there, plus advice on creating a good save.

Getting up

Here are the two easiest ways I know for getting up. If you don't mind fetching an extra Warthog, the second is preferable as it uses up no grenades (you can save them all for the Covenant) and can't damage your overshield or health. I also find it easier to perform.

Grenade jumping off a Warthog

There's a narrow path that leads from the beach towards the security substation. Enemies guard the entrance, and there are more up the path. You'll need to kill the ones up the path, but the ones outside could potentially be left alone to have fun with later from above. Get a Warthog up the path. You can bring it in by squeezing past the left of a tree at the entrance.

Towards the top of the path, the wall on the left gets quite low, which is where you're going to jump up. There's a rock jutting out of the middle of the path here, with just enough room to squeeze a hog through on the left, though not on the right. There's a tree just before it, and a wider tree just after it. Wedge the hog between the rock and the wall. I suggest you do it by first going through then backing up with a circular motion around the rock, as the hog tends to end up level if you do it that way (you'll see what I mean).

Jump up on top of the chain-gun, throw a plasma grenade down onto the rock (or perhaps better, bounce it off the opposite wall so it lands on the rock), turn around, and jump towards the low wall as the grenade is about to go off. The blast behind you should help boost you up onto the wall, but you should also do a crouch to help get you over the edge. With the right timing, you can make it with perfect health even without having used an overshield. You could try other grenade placements if you like, or try using a frag grenade, but after quite a bit of experiment I prefer things as described.

Jumping off two stacked Warthogs

Start with a wedged hog as in the grenade jumping method. Bring another one up the path and drive it into the first to raise the back of the first. Park so your hog doesn't slide out from under when you dismount. From the now raised chain-gun of the first, you should be able to jump onto the low wall without much trouble. I suggest you jump to the left a bit (in the direction of the sun or thereabouts) rather than at the closest part of the wall; I find that easiest. It's a bit tricky getting enough forward motion before jumping, as your support is so narrow; but you don't need much and hopefully you'll soon get the knack.

Incidentally, there will eventually be three hogs available; enough for you to get one on top of the island and then get yourself up from a two-hog stack. Note that one eventually gets dropped near the landing zone even if you ran away from the battle. Listen out for an intercom message.

Other methods

It's also possible to grenade jump off the jutting rock (no hog required), but I find that harder than doing it off the hog. You might manage to jump up off the chain-gun of a wedged hog (no raising required), but I consider this too hard and I'm not sure I've ever managed it. On tips pages you can probably find other variations to do with using one or more hogs where the wall is low. Somewhat different, there's also the amusing method of getting 'Hunterapulted' up, i.e. getting a Hunter to catapult you up onto that low wall by jumping as he swings. That's nice of him eh? That method won't be too suitable for creating a good save, but at least it's fun to try.

Fun from above

Apart from admiring the view, there's lots of cyborg mischief to be done once you're up.

Let the games begin

You can have fun sniping enemies with a pistol, blasting them sky-high with rockets, and raining grenades down on their heads. It's also great up here for doing plasma pistol sniping. Remember that with this technique it's best if you're so far away that you remain undetected. Explore for the best positions.

The plasma rifle and AR have enough range to get some enemies, but you'll have more fun with the needler. Some are in range for that, such as those near the crashed Pelican. Enjoy sending in explosive streams. You can even do this on a Jackal. As he crouches behind his shield, send in a stream. Just as it's nearing him, ping a shot off his shield with another weapon. This makes him roll, during which time the needles arrive and pile into his ugly hide. BOOM! Oooh, he didn't like that.

Open access

You can get everywhere on top of the island, including the separate area that includes the substation roof. There are a couple of places where you can reach that area by hopping over the top of a tree, such as the tree at the path entrance, or a tree further up the path. You can get back too. It's also possible to jump down onto the promontory; the long piece of land sticking out into the sea near the main facility. You can just make it if you do a jump as you run off the edge. Of course, you can also get out onto the roofs of the various artificial structures.

Tree hopping

There's actually quite a lot of 'tree hopping' you can do up here or off the sides, though it may sometimes be a one-way trip, possibly needing a big jump down. You even can move about in the treetops above the guards outside the path entrance, which can be pretty amusing. Further along, an easy jump from the roof of the security substation gets you onto the trees on top of the hill outside. Drop in and say hello to the Grunts on top; I'm sure they'll be glad to see you. The trees around the main facility are another possibility, and I had fun dropping down to land in front of a couple of Jackals (to the left of the facility as you look at it), who were surprised to say the least! There are other places to drop down and give some enemies a nasty shock, and there are also some trees that give you fun places to shoot or grenade from. So, go explore!

Dropping down to attack

As I've already hinted in talking about tree hopping, you can have plenty of fun dropping down to surprise enemies. Maybe you're dropping down from a tree, or maybe straight off the cliff edge. Either way, this is where an undamaged overshield is desirable, particularly in the latter case. It allows you to take pretty much any fall you care to subject yourself to.

In some places it's even possible to drop down to melee attack an enemy, if your landing aim is good. For example, you know the reinforcement Jackals and Elites you'd normally meet at the end of the beach landing? I managed to drop down through a gap in the roofing to bash an Elite on the head. A more spectacular attacking method is to fire off a stream of needles as you descend, hopefully injecting the entire clip into the enemy. Don't be too close when it goes off though!

You can also drive off the edge and dismount in mid-air or as you leave the hill, perhaps even managing to end up right next to some unsuspecting enemy. One extreme example concerns the Jackals that get dropped on the beach outside the main facility. By launching the hog off the roof of the main facility, you can just about manage to end up face to face by the time you slide to a stop. Once, I landed a few metres behind a pair of them, and meanwhile they'd turned to look at the hog landing just past them, giving me the chance to bash them both on the head before they knew I was there. Heh, chalk up another two for the cyborg!

You can also have fun trying to kill enemies on your way down. A rocket launcher makes this fairly easy and spectacular, but pistol shooting is also a good choice. Driving off the edge to meet up with those Jackals I just mentioned, I managed to kill two with headshots before landing. See if you can get more.

Long-range grenading

In regard to long-range grenading, you can potentially learn the right elevations to use on certain enemies, from certain locations. For extra accuracy it can also help to use a zoomed view, particularly if you're hoping to actually tag them. First aim at the target, then raise the elevation to some height you can remember by some feature in the sky, and throw the grenade. You'll probably miss to begin with, but you can successively modify the elevation until you've learnt what's required.

Double blasting

Here's an explosive technique to try. Throw a grenade then send in a rocket, timing things so they both go off at around the same time, causing the unfortunate enemy to get blown much further than usual. Double the comedy value! Or, if you're confident about being able to tag an enemy, throw your grenade then send in a rocket to arrive a moment later, blasting him up for an appealing mid-air explosion.

Guard attack spot

There's an amusing spot from which to attack the path entrance guards, namely above where the path curves around, so you're looking down through the entrance. You'll be on the substation area of land. Fire a shot and it'll draw guards over to look. Now they're in your sights, you can do some mischief such as tagging them or sending in a rocket; whatever takes your fancy.

Marines down below

If you left Marines alive in the landing zone, head over there and you may well hear the sound of gunfire as the battle continues, having apparently been frozen while you were away. You can lend some support if you like. You may see Marines manning a dropped Warthog. A chain-gunner can hold out for quite a while, making the Jackals and Elites cower behind rocks. On Heroic I've also seen Marines hanging around down there on foot, having apparently managed to run past the main mass of enemy (many of whom were still alive) and kill those final Jackals and Elites. Nice job guys; never knew you had it in you!

If you do find Marine survivors, you can have a bit of fun by killing some so the rest turn on you. I had good time with this after getting down onto a low part of the structure, up near the roof of the tunnel. Bullets from assault rifles and the chain-gun made a great racket pinging off the metal around me, sending sparks flying. Give it a go if you get the chance. Of course, you could always ensure lots of survivors by helping the Marines out at the start.

On top of the Jackal dropship

If there's a dropship hovering in the circular area before the security substation (having dropped off some Jackals after you emerged, some while ago), it's possible to go around and jump onto it before it flies off. Courtesy of some tree hopping, you can reach it within a few seconds of getting up. You don't get much of a ride though; you seem to slide off as it leaves.

Its departure seems to be triggered by your positioning. If you're on top of it, it heads off once you're past its mid-way point or thereabouts. Try going to the end of one of its prongs. As it tilts upwards and rises in preparation for departure,you get awfully high up, and you can expect to be falling to your death shortly. You might just have enough time to rocket a few of those nasty Jackals down below, if you haven't killed them already.

You may be wondering how you can arrange for that dropship to still be hovering. Simple. When you emerge from the substation, don't go back the way you came; the dropship would leave as you approach. Instead you'll need to drop down and come back around the island.

Gone in a puff of smoke

You can see a dropship down below on the beach, hovering near the main facility. That dropship actually flies off around around the island and comes up as if to land on top, but then disappears in a puff of smoke; literally! You can see it come in and vanish if you head across the top. How do we know it's the same dropship? Just chase it along the beach in the Warthog sometime, and you'll see where it goes.

Warthog fun

If you can manage to get a Warthog up there, it's great for whizzing you about to your favourite spots. Note that from the main area it's possible to drive onto the substation area; there's a nice jump off some rising ground, onto some roofing. You can also get the hog back over again, but I'll leave that to you!

You can have some good fun by driving off the edge. I've already mentioned that as a way of dropping in on the enemy unannounced. But you'll probably want a healthy overshield!

You might do a bit of chain-gunning, but I found it quite hard to find places where it's viable, so don't get your hopes up too high for that. In some places you may be able to angle down for firing by precariously edging the front wheels over.

Creating a good save

Here's some advice on creating a good save to have fun with whenever you like. This plan uses the method of jumping off two stacked Warthogs, as that allows you to end up with a full stock of grenades and an undamaged overshield.

Basic plan

As soon as you hit the beach, run off to the left towards the security substation, except that maybe you'd like to kill some Marines first, to maximize the number of enemy survivors you can attack later. Board the Warthog outside the entrance that leads to the substation. Leaving the guards alone (to attack later), drive in from the left and squeeze past the left of the tree at the entrance. Dismount and kill the enemies up the path. Wedge the Warthog against the jutting rock, ready for later.

Proceed to the substation and release the door to the main facility. By doing this you'll trigger Grunts and Jackals outside near the newly crashed Pelican, and they'll make great targets later (13 on Legendary, 10 on Heroic, 7 on Normal or Easy). It also makes a rocket launcher available. Outside, drop down on the right. Get the launcher if you want it. Board the Warthog and return to the first, bypassing the entrance guards again. Nudge into the back of the first to complete your stacked arrangement.

At this point you should be fully stocked with grenades, carrying your weapons of choice and as much ammo as possible. But before you jump up it'll be good to have perfect health and an undamaged overshield. Both are available nearby, but there's also a dropship and some Jackals, so you may need to do a bit of killing first. If you want to make the dropship depart, simply move past its halfway point or thereabouts.

Do your jumping trick to get on top of the island. Head over to the right, down towards the promontory. From the edge you can see a hovering dropship near the main facility. Around here you'll trigger what I call the 'promontory checkpoint', which I believe is the repeatable checkpoint you'd normally get when going through the rocky arch down below. Save it, to complete your save.

Note: That checkpoint seems to be the only one you can trigger from up top, prior to killing enemies. After you start killing however, you'll get other checkpoints when you wipe out certain enemy groups. Once that happens, you won't be able to just revert to get back to the start of your save; you'll have to eject the disc and reload.

Extra weapons

Here's a refinement which you may like to incorporate. It's actually possible to have extra weapons on top of the island. This is nice for two reasons. Firstly, you won't need separate saves for separate weapon combos; you can just have one save with all desired weapons handy. Secondly, you can leave spares around so you won't be running out of firepower in a hurry. In particular you could have spare plasma pistols at favourite plasma pistol sniping spots, and you could have spare needlers at favourite needling spots so you'll be able to give each enemy a generously explosive dose.

You can get a weapon up by throwing it up where the wall is low, using the technique of jump-swapping. Jump-swap close to the wall, looking up steeply and making a small forward motion. You'll probably need a bit of practice to get the knack. My preferred throwing location is just past the jutting rock. Note that once a weapon is up, it's possible to move it onto the substation area if you want, by throwing it across at the place where a Warthog can jump across onto the roof (maybe there are other places too).

I suggest you get any extra weapons up relatively early on while they're still lying around after fighting. You could do most or all of it before entering the security substation. If you're going to delay it, at least remember to pick weapons up momentarily to make sure the game won't remove them.

A Warthog too

You can get a Warthog up too; see the next section for the method. It's a nice luxury, allowing you to quickly move to your favourite spots. You can also have some fun driving off the edge. If you get one up, have it with you as you get your save checkpoint.

After getting the hog up, don't forget to replenish your grenade stock. There are frag grenades outside on the beach assuming you didn't use them earlier (you certainly had no need to); you can sneak past the guards again to get them. For plasma grenades, maybe there are some lying around on the path or the route to the security substation. If not, try the cloaked Elites inside the substation. If you killed them earlier, dropped grenades may still be there in my experience. Actually you could've left those Elites alive by simply running past them (even on Legendary), in which case you could now go back and kill them for grenades.

Extra targets

You can get the two substation Hunters (the ones inside) out onto the beach if you like, making two extra targets for later. One at a time, lead a Hunter up to the substation exit and let him stumble down onto the beach as he misses yet another wild swipe. Then jump down on the right and lead him further away from the cliff to get him into a good place for shooting at later. With a bit of effort you can even get your Hunters up on top of the hill, where they'll later be joined by Grunts. Preferably don't have them on the ground too close to where the Pelican will be, as you'll be picking up stuff there later and you don't want to get blasted. After getting them into position, head back around the island to finish your substation business.

If you want even more Hunters you could bring out the two from inside the main facility, though you have to do it a certain way to avoid either of them freezing. See Massed Hunters for details of the extraction technique. They can be lead to where you like. The two outside the main facility could be repositioned as well, though they tend to return to their platform unless led far away.

Getting a checkpoint where you want

The promontory checkpoint is only briefly delayable, and you won't be able to get it more than four or five jumps from where you trigger it. If you want a save checkpoint in some other location on top of the island, there are a few ways of doing it. One is to trigger a fully delayable checkpoint somewhere before getting up, keep the delay going while you get up, then continue it to the place you want it. Keeping the delay going while you get up can easily be done with a grenade, but you might also be able to do it with jumping so you don't use up a grenade. One option for the fully delayable checkpoint is the one you get by wiping out the substation Hunters (something you can easily postpone until long after using the substation). If you're getting up without having used the substation (in which case you'd only have one hog available), you'll have additional options via wiping out certain enemy groups. I'm thinking of the two Hunters in the central circle, and the group of enemies beyond.

Another method involves leading a substation Hunter out. Kill one and lead the other one out to a convenient place where you can later kill him from on top of the island (though you'll want to take account of the fact that he has some homing instinct). Get up, kill him to trigger the checkpoint, and delay it until in the desired position. This method saves you having to keep a delay going while getting up. If you use it, you'd probably also want an extra weapon up top to do the killing. A pistol or plasma pistol should do.

Getting a Warthog up

You can get a Warthog up by placing it near the wall somewhere around the circular area where you met two Hunters, then blasting it up and over with a three-blast explosion; a method I read on tips pages. Send a plasma grenade under it, then a frag grenade, then a rocket, all in quick succession so they go off pretty much together. Boom! Over it goes (you hope). Where best to blast it up? That's a bit problematic, but I favour near the ammo area. Here's a full discussion, followed by an efficient routine for doing things with only one rocket getting used up, so you'll still have eight for the Covenant.

Near the ammo area

It's relatively easy to get the hog flying up and over the low wall near the ammo area. But there's not much land behind, so the hog may well slip off down the hill and end up on the beach. After a bit of fine-tuning however, I found a launching spot from which the hog often ends up ok, usually having slid quite a way down the long stretch of land towards the promontory. This is now my preferred spot. Here's the detail.

Just before you get to the ammo area on a flat bit of land, there's a tree (with a spindly little tree just to its right, and a bit of bush in between). Place the hog just after it, with the rear facing the wall and the front half hanging over the edge where the ground starts sloping down towards the circle. From the front of the hog, move off in the direction of the low 'bridge' a way. This is where I suggest you throw and fire from; your grenades and rocket will go between two trees. It doesn't matter that you're not in front of the hog, as long as your grenades and rocket end up under the front.

On the left before the gap

Looking towards the narrow gap into the next area, you could try the wall on the left, where things are starting to narrow. It's rather high, but if you can get the hog up and over, there's lots of land for it to settle on, some way back from the main facility's roof. Personally I find it too hard to get the hog up and over here, but maybe your launching technique is better.

On the right before the gap

Meanwhile, on the right towards that gap, the wall is invitingly lower, but there's not that much safe ground up top for the hog to settle on (go take a look first, so you can see what you're aiming at). It might slide off onto the beach, and unless it's visible it would take a while for you to find out, which is inconvenient. But it's certainly possible here, and this is actually where I got my first hog up. It settled just near the edge, where I could see it. On this side you'd be blasting it up onto the separate substation area; but that's ok as it's possible to drive the hog off onto the main area.

Efficient one-rocket routine

When getting the hog up for a good save, I only allow myself a single rocket as I want as many as possible left for the Covenant (grenades I'm not so concerned about as they can be replenished). Here's an efficient routine for doing this.

Have the hog in position ready for launch, and have a pair of stacked hogs in position for jumping up off. Have a rocket launcher and be set for plasma grenades. Jump up on top of the island and trigger the promontory checkpoint, but preferably keep it delayed a few seconds by jumping as you head back to the hog (reminder: the checkpoint can only be delayed a short while; four or five jumps). The checkpoint will then form the starting point for your attempts at getting the hog up in one go. Each time you try and it gets over the wall, jump up and check if it landed ok. If you've failed, revert and try again.