New toys in the first ground battle

Posted March 24th 2005

The basic idea

When you trigger the first ground battle, in which some Marines are getting attacked in the distance, you can potentially hop straight into a handy Scorpion or Ghost or Banshee that are all sitting there waiting. There are other novelties you can arrange here too, which I'll get into later.

All you need to do is rearrange things after using a descent trick to get down off the first bridge. There won't be any enemies at ground level as they haven't been properly triggered yet. The rest of the level will likewise be deserted, but there are plenty of vehicles out there for you to bring back (see later for some tips). In particular you can end up with a Scorpion and Ghost and Banshee right by the door. When you enter the battle later after resuming normal play, you can step into your vehicle of choice and give those naughty aliens a jolly good pasting.

Save for replaying

NB: Because this all takes quite a while to set up, you'll surely want to save after the checkpoint you get just before emerging into the ground battle, so you can replay the battle at will.

New toys means new fun

With your new toys you'll have lots of new ways of tackling things. Here are a few ideas.

Destruction from on high

One fun thing I like to do is fly the Banshee over to pick up the rocket launcher and sniper rifle, then drop myself off somewhere high to use them; perhaps a ledge or a big boulder, or perhaps the Shade plateau, blasting the Grunt as I fly in. If you fly to somewhere near the opposite end (i.e. near the 'step' down into the Pelican area), the Marines will try to make their way across towards you. See if you can help them make it alive.

Crashed Pelican area

You can also have the novelty of entering the crashed Pelican area in your vehicle of choice, giving the enemy a lot more than they bargained for!

There's a novelty you can observe this way. If you enter the area in a Banshee high up, there's initially nobody there; but if you then let the Banshee descend in the area where you'd normally be entering the fray, you'll see everyone materialize when you get down to a certain height. Bungie weren't planning on us having a Banshee this early of course.

Shade arranging

Another way you can alter the first ground battle is to move the Shade. Strangely there's only one so far; the one near the door. It seems that wherever you move it, it'll still get manned.

On the Shade plateau

In one of my set-ups I managed to blast the Shade up onto the Shade plateau (where the other Shade will later appear) using the Scorpion. That gave me a battle with two manned Shades up there, and it was fun to send in a shot from the Banshee to blast them simultaneously into the air. In another set-up I moved it right over to the top of the sloping plateau that overlooks the step down to the next area, so it takes part in the second phase of the battle rather than the attack on the Marines.

In later areas

Actually, you can even move it into later areas so it takes part in later battles instead. For example I've moved it to the Pelican area over the step, to the two-Wraith area, and even to the subsequent cavern; and it was still manned in each case. Maybe you can take it further still? I'll leave you to find out.

Personal use

You can also place extra Shades for personal use, e.g. over by the Marines for a close-knit defence. If you want more Shades you can use a Banshee or grenades to blast them down off the bridge above, or even import ones that are elsewhere in the level (not all Shades are present yet, but there are still plenty).

Incidentally, I think that only the two Grunts that are 'programmed' to man Shades will do so. I've tried leaving extra Shades around for other Grunts, but they don't seem to jump in, which is a pity. Likewise, if you leave extra Banshees or Ghosts around for Elites, they don't seem to use them. Also, Marines don't seem to jump into Ghosts you leave for them; but that's probably a good thing!

Make your mind up Grunty!

A bit of Shade rearranging led to something I don't think I'd seen before: a Grunt getting out of his Shade, other than after being tagged. I'd moved the Shade right over to the edge of the step to the Pelican area. As I approached and got spotted, he jumped out and started to make a beeline for me to have a go with his plasma pistol. Plucky little fella! But quite often (I replayed this a number of times) he'd change his mind after a few seconds and run back; especially once I started shooting. I can just imagine his grunty thought processes finally kicking into gear: Need… bigger… gun!

Arranging bridge fun

After taking care of the enemy on the ground, you could potentially fly up to take care of the enemy on the bridge if you left any alive before descending from it. If you really want to make your set-up as good as possible, I suggest you try to leave most of them alive so you'll always have the option of this extra dose of fun (aspects of which are covered in the backtracking idea in Fun with a stolen Banshee).

Leaving bridge enemies alive

Ideally you'd want to sneak past them unseen, which isn't easy, especially when you've also got a marauding Banshee to contend with (its fire would raise the alarm); but on Heroic you might be able to manage it once in every ten tries or so. If you get too frustrated with that, don't be so fussy about trying to leave everyone alive; kill anyone on the lower tier that gets aggressive.

However you do it, you'll probably want to retain perfect health for doing your descent trick. So all in all, you're going to need some patience here. Once down you'll probably want to destroy the Banshee if you haven't already, so you can do your rearranging in peace. It would be nice if you could leave it alone so it could take part in the ground battle later, but you'll surely have a tough job managing that!

Tips on bringing back vehicles

Finally, here are the promised tips on bringing back vehicles into the first battle area.


The Scorpion is in the crashed Pelican area, and getting it back over the step is fairly easy once you've got the knack. Drive into the snowy wall to the left of the step so the front of the tank goes up the wall, then arc right a little so you start to attack the step. The tank gradually gets traction and the nose settles back down, at which point you can drive off. In doing this operation, don't arc right too much or too soon else the tank tends to clip into the step, preventing any further progress. If you're finding things hard, try first placing a Ghost in the left corner of the step (which is how I originally did things). It can help the tank get up and over.


There's a Ghost in the crashed Pelican area, and plenty more beyond if you want them. Get back over the step by driving towards the left corner and using the A button to raise the nose up and over.


Three of the level's five Banshees are available for potential use in the first area. You can run or drive to the twin bridges Banshee, which you could then use to get either of the earlier two. See Banshee access for details.