BCM324 - Tower ascent refined, plus descent trick

(7:34) Level 2 ('Halo') on Legendary. My tower ascent in BCM322 was a multi-hour struggle and very much a first stab, but now I've refined the method, making ascent fairly routine. The main improvements are (a) better grenade pile management and (b) using Dark Helmet's launching style from yesteryear, in which you stand on the Warthog's chain-gun. In this movie you'll see me trying out the new plan, and later adding a timing tweak. Plus there's a bonus trick at the end: getting back down again!

Released December 10th 2018, gameplay recorded December 7th-8th 2018.


00:02 (Base save creation) This brief section outlines the creation of a base save from which you can then produce a final save, or multiple final saves. Basically you build up plasmas at the rock like in BCM321, except that here there's no interest in accumulating bodies (though you'll have plenty). To minimize plasma spread, only kill Grunts and Elites when they're in a particular small area, and avoid killing them when they're moving (else dropped plasmas tend to go astray). To complete the base save, move in for the final kill (ideally a Grunt or Jackal), get the Pelican arrival checkpoint close to the pile, and save.

Reminder: to prevent the game removing any plasmas in the pile while you're building it up, keep facing the appropriate way. Contrary to a caption in BCM321, you don't actually need to keep the pile in sight, you merely need to keep it in the three-dimensional 'view volume' extending out in the direction you're pointed (see here).

00:30 (Tidying) Now you see me using a copy of the base save to get a final save - my first with the new plan. Blow a lot of bodies away and let them be removed behind your back. Hopefully this will get rid of so much stuff that the plasmas will now be secure (not subject to removal when you look away). It also lets you see the majority of the plasmas. Preferably pick up any outlying ones. Ideally you want to end up with a fairly tight grouping, though I wouldn't say it's crucial. You don't have much time though, so you need to work quite fast. If it goes badly you can always revert for another go.

00:53 (Final checkpoint) Reach the drop zone in time for the drop. Quickly ditch the gunner and speed into position over the plasma pile (a tricky bit of parking that you have to pull off against the clock). The back of the hog should be pointing towards the tower, or thereabouts. Bail before the sign-off checkpoint (normally due about 2.5 seconds after the click which follows "Foe Hammer out"), and delay it while you get on top of the chain-gun, set for throwing a frag. To get the delay you can either throw a plasma like I do here (unintentionally also picking up a plasma), or just rely on jumping. The checkpoint is only delayable for a few seconds though. Delay too long and it'll get cancelled.

01:28 (Five ascents, plus other clips) Now some highlights of using the set-up, including my first five ascents. They're in chronological order aside from the inadvertent hog ride plus a site inspection clip, both done later. Before I comment on some of the clips though, a few words on the launch technique.

Throw a frag in front of the hog so that when it goes off, it detonates most of the plasmas immediately (a frag has pretty large blast radius, which helps). Just before the frag bang, jump and mash X. The jump needs to be timed just right to evade death. You want to avoid most or all of the frag blast, and also be high enough to avoid the massive plasma blast. Mashing X potentially protects you from getting splattered by the hog, which is blasted up at you and which will hopefully knock you high. You're potentially flipping it. Sometimes you might inadvertently board it too, which generally isn't useful.

01:41 Wow, got super-high that time. And then spectacularly zapped!

01:55 First ascent with the new save, and my second time up ever. But I quickly 'freeze' (controls dead, except that you can still look around, and if you were holding a pistol you can zoom and unzoom). My understanding is that once you're above a certain altitude, you freeze when the beam fires. In BCM322 the beam happened to fire just as I got up, which is why I never had any movement up top.

Unfortunately the freeze seems to be permanent. It doesn't toggle back off when the next beam fires (something I though might be a possibility, from something I heard).

02:15 This brief intermission is mainly to give you a look at the launch site, particularly the position of the hog relative to the plasmas, and its orientation. I had 23 plasmas but you don't need that many, and in any case it probably depends quite a bit on how concentrated they are. I've been up with as few as 9 (that was on Easy), but it took a lot of tries. For a reasonably good set-up, perhaps you want 15 or more? My plasma pile has one rather stray member, but otherwise it's pretty tight and the hog is over most of it.

03:20 Eventually I started delaying my launch several seconds (actually I was timing it by music beats), in order to avoid being quickly frozen. On this try I don't even get enough height though, and I get zapped.

03:34 Geez, talk about close. I almost had it.

03:51 My fourth ascent. I tried jumping to see if it would prevent the freezing, but no it doesn't.

04:36 Couldn't resist including this impressive double Elite zap. If you're wondering why the Marine is screaming in background, that's because he managed to get aboard the hog as it was launching. As you may've noticed from the motion tracker, he was closing in. He chases after it.

04:49 In this clip and the two preceding ones, I've moved to the back of the chain-gun. That might be helpful, and certainly it gets you a bit further from the frag blast.

05:20 (Timing tweak) Having to delay my launching by several seconds to avoid an early freeze wasn't ideal. Really it's best to arrange the timing so you won't have to do that. So here's my tweak to the plan. Just delay the hog drop until a beam fires, and things work out pretty well on PAL Xbox at least (for which the beam firing period is about 18 seconds, compared to 15 for NTSC/PC). I was using the same base save here, but ended up with a whopping 29 plasmas.

05:58 (Three ascents) That save turned out to be my best yet. In a test I averaged about 20 tries per success, or about 3 minutes work. In this particular ascent I watch the Pelican vanish. But just before it does, you can hear the beam fire, and simultaneously there's curiously an unzoom sound for my pistol, even though I'm still zoomed. Evidently linked with my getting frozen.

06:27 Only just made it this time. And then I get zapped in the face like a cyborg fool, heh.

06:54 I may not have been the first person to get up this tower in single-player, but maybe I'm the first to get back down again? I realized it might be possible by cushioning on a couple of sloped surfaces, so I started trying for it. Had several failures, but finally made it as seen here - and didn't even take shield damage! I suspect the descent is only viable for PAL Xbox though (based on what I know about descent methods for the first bridge in AOTCR).

Closing remarks I used Legendary here, but I've now used the method on all difficulty levels. On Easy though, plasmas are rather scarce so that wouldn't be a good choice. Normal seemed fine for plasmas; I had a set-up with a pile of 20. I plan to cover the method more fully in an article soon, but I didn't want to hold up the movie on that account. Besides which, there may be a further development coming.