BCM104 - Crazy-firing Grunt on the tower, ascent to glory

(8:40) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Heroic. Following on from the preparation work of BCM103, this shows the ascent of my crazy-firing Grunt to the top of the tower, something ambitious I was attempting for Bad Cyborg's tenth anniversary. I'd had a go at this in 2012 but never even got close, as I recall, and I wasn't sure if it would be possible. But with better lifting technique and the help of a specially engineered checkpoint part way up, I've managed it at last. The movie also serves as a tutorial. Update: See also my article Crazy-firing Grunt on the tower.

Released April 29th 2014, gameplay recorded April 22nd-25th 2014.


00:02 (Ejection) As long as you positioned and angled the Shade well, it should be fairly easy to eject the Grunt onto the rock, as seen here. Mind you, it's crucial that the hog hits low on the Shade, something which can be affected by how it bounces over a very slight bump in the ground.

00:16 You should make sure the needles are going away from the Grunt, else he could soon needle himself to death. Here they were already going away from him, but I think it's good to get the Shade out into the open because you might want to rotate it later. I rotate it a bit here but didn't really need to. It was partly to demonstrate for the movie.

00:30 (Into lifting position) Careful nudging gets the Grunt into lifting position very near the corner. This rock has a peak near the corner and I've got him on that, as I think that might be preferable to having him right in the corner, where there's a slight depression. This rock has the best shape at the corner for achieving pick-up (three of the other rocks are no good at all).

00:56 Delaying the pass approach checkpoint associated with triggering the guards, I kill the guards (in quite a splattery manner, as it happens) and also the newly spawned Banshee pilot. I don't want that pilot to give me a nasty surprise if I ever get the Grunt up there! Then I end the checkpoint delay at the pass entrance, making sure to stay back from the next trigger line, which is actually pretty close. There's quite a wait here, which I think was due to the front Shade. I briefly advance a little to make the rock shield me better; and then I get the checkpoint - and save it.

01:37 (Pick-up) I trigger and delay the pass checkpoint (note the red dot on the tracker, confirming the trigger), and fly to the Grunt, letting the proximity of the front Shade take over the checkpoint delaying. Yep, it delays the checkpoint even though it's around the corner! Picking the Grunt up on the nose of the Banshee is quite a frustrating business as he's so fragile. I actually killed him 18 times, despite being pretty well practiced! Maybe he wasn't positioned very optimally or maybe I was just having a bad day, I'm not sure, but I certainly wasn't expecting to take that many tries.

02:03 On attempt 19 I finally get him onto the nose, and from there I try to ease him to the right, where proper lifting can begin. In the corner he'd soon slip down the gap in front of the nose. I was being so cautious here that I've cut about 22 seconds of footage where I was barely making any progress; then there's a clip where he's finally starting to shift, but he bumps back left and falls down. Drat!

02:31 (Into the light) After failing another pick-up, this is now attempt 21, and I've been very slowly lifting the Grunt for about 3 minutes. The Grunt has moved into the light and the Banshee soon follows. Crucially, the Banshee is braced against the walls for stability. I'm going very slowly here out of extreme caution at this early stage. By the way, these lifting clips are mostly in chronological order. I've just shuffled a few out of sequence, where the order wasn't important to the 'story' of my attempt.

02:43 (Mid-lift checkpoint) Later in that same lift (more than 5 minutes after pick-up), I finally get high enough that the game no longer considers the front Shade a threat to me, and thus stops delaying the checkpoint. I've now got a very useful checkpoint a good way up the tower. The position is indicated by the subsequent clip, but the remaining distance is much greater and rather daunting. The subsequent clips are all from attempts at tackling that second stage.

03:03 Continuing with that lift, I got into trouble after about 3 minutes. The Grunt bumped left into the corner, and this clip is about 30 seconds later. While still trying to ease him right again, he bumps out and down. So it's back to the checkpoint!

03:13 (Faster lifting) As time passed I got significantly faster at lifting in a stable manner. This clip shows what I think is fairly ideal technique, with the Grunt about a Grunt's width away from the corner. With this sort of speed you can be up at snow height within a mere 4 minutes from the mid-lift checkpoint. My fastest time for that was about 4:01, but I lost at least 10 seconds along the way due to a mistake when he briefly went into the corner; plus things got a bit ticklish as I neared the snow.

03:22 (Not always going up) Here the Grunt has got into the corner and I'm trying to get him back out. I almost lose him, then I fall quite a way trying to get him stabilized; but it's not easy!

03:36 (Too far right) It's all too easy for the Grunt to start drifting away from the corner, and once the Banshee is unbraced it's very hard to keep control - partly because the Banshee has a sort of delayed response to your controller inputs. With practice maybe I'll get better at this, but here you can see me struggling. I was surprised to eventually retrieve the situation, but I lost him to centre slippage a few minutes later.

03:47 (First time to the snow) On attempt 9 from the checkpoint (this was about half an hour later), I finally make it to snow height. Big excitement! Am I on the verge of success? I ease him onto the snow but it's very steep there and he doesn't look at all stable. I'm too worried to fly off for a checkpoint in case he slips off while I'm gone, so I decide to try and ease him further left where the snow gets less steep. About 90 seconds later, I'm getting there but then I'm a little clumsy with the Banshee. It puts on a tiny spurt and he dies from wing impact, arrgh!

04:11 (Trying to continue up the wall) Several attempts later, I'm past snow height for the second time. This time I decide to try and continue up the brown wall. But it's really hard as the Banshee is no longer braced. I managed to keep him up for about 90 seconds once past snow height, but then lose him as seen. He slips off sideways and I make a last-ditch effort to get him onto the snow and under him, but I don't think that was ever likely to work.

04:23 (Side-slip) There are a few clips illustrating more problems now. Here's the side-slip problem, where he slips down a wing. In this case he falls a bit too, causing an amusing cry. You'd have a tough job recovering from this. I actually made a decent attempt and got him up to the top of the wing while slowly falling, but when I tried to get him onto the nose, he died from a slightly heavy knock. That was about 10 seconds later.

04:34 (Back-slip) Also he might slip over the back of the Banshee, which is definitely fatal. I've noticed this especially happening when I try to continue up the wall, such as seen here; so I suspect a link.

04:48 (Grunt through the wall) You want another problem? He can go through either of the walls, falling into nothingness! In my old efforts at Grunt lifting he seemed quite prone to going through the grey rock, and that's the main reason I've been preferring to take him up the brown instead. This clip shows the one time he went through, during my ascent work.

04:57 (Snow foothold success) After more than 40 failures from the checkpoint, I'm near the snow again, and I'm going for that, rather than trying to continue up the difficult brown (which I'd been trying since my snow failure). After about 2 minutes of cautious nudging, I get him to the point where it looks like he's got a stable foothold, so I feel confident enough to whizz off for a checkpoint. I rather clumsily trigger the Marines checkpoint (got too close to that Jackal and also took Shade fire), and keep it delayed until back at the Grunt.

05:30 After more than 3 minutes of careful nudging, I get him to the left corner of the snow - completely safe now - and consolidate with another delayed checkpoint. Looks like I'm gonna get this critter to the top after all!

05:51 From here, progress up the snow is quite easy, though he gets a bit close to the drop for a while. Soon he's on level ground - properly on the tower - and I pause for a bit of needling footage. Note: actually this was the second time I progressed him to that area, from the last checkpoint. The first time, my play was rather messy in various ways so I reverted and did it again for the sake of the movie (and in particular, to help keep the movie length down).

06:52 (Next, the platform) I want him platform on the platform now, but the entrance takes the form of a high step. Doesn't look safe to try and nudge him up there, so I'm going to try something else; but I want to consolidate first with a delayed checkpoint. I spawn the underpass guards from the far side, leaving a plasma to go off just after they spawn. Sometimes that gets the Elite, but on this occasion he spawns on the other side instead. Incidentally, when I fire a plasma bolt as I near the zigzag path, that was meant to sail over and ensure checkpoint delay while I about-faced. But I mess it up and the shot hits the wall. Actually the shot probably wasn't needed anyway, as there's a threatening Shade on the underpass roof.

07:28 Back at the Grunt, his needles unexpectedly continue the checkpoint delay, despite being intercepted fairly close. After waiting for about 20 seconds, I gave up and got the needles blocked with the Banshee as seen; and after a bit more waiting I get the checkpoint.

07:42 I push the Grunt to a small rock which looks friendly enough, and get him up on top, intending to push him over the platform rim. But his needles would be going straight into the Banshee, so I first adjust his Shade to get them flying another way. Then I get him over.

Update, May 4th: Actually it turns out that you can easily nudge the Grunt up over the step-like platform entrance, something I never expected, bearing in mind the height of the step. Much simpler than my rock route!

08:00 On the platform I dismount and get some more needling footage, having liked the way they were ricocheting off the rim and floor. Good sounds huh? I get hit and it prompts another amusing line from him.

08:15 Finally I move him to the centre - the obvious spot for our tower conquering hero. His body angle ends up being consistent with the needle direction, so there's no cause for me to fly down and adjust the Shade to address the issue of wonky needles. I close with a bit more needling footage.

Closing remarks The ascent wasn't all done in one play session. I got him to the mid-lift checkpoint in one session, but I needed further sessions to get the rest of the way. That lifting is quite a stressful business, and it's a strain on the eyes too because you're seeing practically the same sight pretty much all the way up. I got the Grunt onto the platform on April 24th itself, Bad Cyborg's tenth anniversary.

My total time spent lifting was about 2 hours 21 minutes. I know that because I recorded all my attempts (which became a concern as I started running low on disc space, and had to clear some room). When I totted up the numbers I was surprised the total was so little, because it felt a lot longer!

The movie doesn't really convey how much of a pain the lifting was, but if I'd shown extended segments of that, it wouldn't have made very interesting viewing! For the movie I just picked out some highlights and wanted to illustrate some of the problems you can encounter. To really understand how things are, you'd have to try it for yourself.

I expect to write an article about this activity soon, and it'll have more detail about technique and options. Also there's scope for further movies relating to this, so watch out!