BCM34 - Massed Hunters, close combat with assorted weaponry

(4:53) Level 4 ('The Silent Cartographer') on Normal. This shows four rounds of close combat using assorted weaponry against six Hunters, having set things up as described in my article Massed Hunters. As well as obliging myself to constantly mingle with the Hunters and try to draw any distant ones back into the fray, I'm adding to the challenge by playing on a 'no hit' basis, by which I mean that I'm not allowed to get whacked at all. So, lots of dodging needed!

Released May 5th 2011, gameplay recorded April 30th - May 2nd 2011.


00:02 (Round 1) In this first round I'm using an AR only, foregoing the pleasures of grenades and melee. The AR is my favourite for close combat fun. The action is somewhat fluid and extensive so I won't comment move by move, but I'll pick out certain things and talk general tactics.

00:09 This rise in the ground can give you an enjoyable launch to make your arrival. Being the first round, I thought I'd give you a nice shot of the Hunter collection at the start. I deliberately aim the hog to make one of the Hunters jump, then wait for them to make their move. The guy on the left gets a shot off but I'm not too worried. I dodge the swipes and I'm quickly through to the guys at the back to spread my attention around.

00:29 I hop over a charging Hunter, which is a risky business. Normally a Hunter's swipe would cause damage as you go over (you can get knocked way up high), even though it looks like you're clearing him. But if you're over early enough in his swipe animation, you can get away with it. There's only a small window of opportunity and you need to get pretty attuned to things, but it feels good when you manage it. I definitely wanted to include some hopping in the movie because it looks good. I'm partly playing for show, I should add. I don't just want to take these guys down, I want to do it in style.

00:33 Three Hunters are starting to warm up their cannons, having become quite distant. Cannon fire can quickly ruin your overshield, and once they get those things going it seems to make them extra enthusiastic, so I want to get over to them quick to try to forestall a nasty bombardment. Hunters are continually getting distant enough to fire (sometimes due to being knocked away by other Hunters), but keeping on the move can help you avoid fire while you work to bring them back into the fray. At 0:42 a Hunter takes a friendly blast in the back - hee hee - and a few seconds later I've got everyone back in a nice jumble again.

00:51 Just after drilling a succession of Hunters, there's another who's approaching from my left. I knew he was over there and I was deliberately moving that way to get him back into the mob. I also knew he'd move to swipe as I got close enough, which is why I didn't even need to look at him to move clear. You'll see me do that sort of thing quite a bit. It helps that I play with headphones on, letting me clearly hear the sound of his approach. Headphones also give a great sense of directionality, for maximum all-round awareness.

00:58 A spray of bullets brings down a first Hunter and he get comically knocked away by the clumsy swipe of another. I've seen some pretty funny stuff like that. The guy doing the swiping goes down a moment later from a nice drilling to the back. Now I'm down to four, the dodging around should become a lot easier.

01:11 A Hunter gets knocked my way by a friendly swipe, and a few bullets ricochet off his shield to damage my overshield. Plasma can ricochet back too. For this reason I don't think it's worth trying to impose a "no overshield damage" restriction for extra challenge. Not when you're using such weapons anyway. It would be a bit of a fun-killer to fail just because of a few unlucky ricochets.

01:25 I pick out a Hunter for some sustained drilling as I continue to dodge around, and it eventually brings him down nicely.

01:32 The three remaining Hunters get somewhat scattered after whacking at similar times, and I briefly have to look around to get a picture of where they've all gone. Two are killed soon after. I reload for what I expect to be a final drilling for the last Hunter, but I don't quite get the chance for anything vicious. He crumples with only a few rounds - though I give him a few extra just for good measure. Thanks to my efforts in keeping the Hunters close, they only fired nine shots during this round, which is relatively low.

01:53 (Round 2) This time I'm using a pistol and allowing myself only six shots. My arrival causes a Hunter to dive to the left, and he gets a bullet in the back as I pass. The adjacent Hunter starts to swipe as I leap over him, then I turn and take him out the same way. The only thing his swipe makes contact with is the hog. More swipes come in and I take my time to pick out another clear shot. The remaining three Hunters come together to swipe at me but only succeed in knocking themselves about. I give the closest guy an opportune bullet to the side. Hunter five gets an easy round to the midriff (backstepping to shoot the exposed midriff is the most effortless way of dropping a Hunter), and for variation I do a back shot on the last. Job done, and there's a nice view of all six lying on the ground at the end.

02:28 (Round 3) Here I use a plasma pistol and needler, plus lots of grenades and melee. Also, I try to draw the Hunters over to the shallows for a variation of scenery. It's nice to hear them splashing about, and you can get some great splash effects from grenades. As with round 1, I'll just pick out certain things to comment on.

02:36 I use the rise in the ground to get a bit of a launch again, but this time I cheekily jump straight into the midst of the Hunters, firing plasma as I go, then I smack one as he misses a swipe. Let the festivities begin!

02:48 Here's the first of four tags. The safest way is to tag your target as he's about to take a swipe, then continue on the other way to make sure you're well clear of the blast. With this first tag I actually dawdle a little, but I was still pretty sure I'd be clear. My second tag - moments later on a Hunter running out of the shallows - is more typical.

03:00 Third tag, and I'm aiming for the face as usual when approaching head on. Grenades aimed lower down sometimes end up bouncing off the shield. I follow with a frag which adds to his hurt. Right after that the first Hunter goes down from plasma fire, just before a fuel rod shot lands nearby. That shot brings my attention to the firer, and I go for him. He gets my last plasma grenade, which ends up sticking to his back.

03:13 Hunter two goes down from a nice melee kill. I did consider doing a whole round using melee only, which is certainly possible, but I thought weapon fire would keep things more enjoyable for watching. There's another melee kill about ten seconds later. Got him just before he could swipe, heh heh.

03:26 Hunter four crumples from plasma fire, and the end is in sight. Time for a few needles I think! Actually I wanted to use the needler a bit more than this, but at least I got a few nice bangs in finishing off the last two Hunters. Most of this needling was in the back, but you can also be effective on a Hunter facing you by circling right, so the needles get around his shield. The Hunters fired a mere three shots this round, which is very low.

03:47 (Round 4) It's time to use the rocket launcher at last. You didn't think I was just going to leave it lying on the ground did you? I curve in from the sea and make a Hunter jump clear, then I hop over another. For a while after this I'm dodging about waiting to pick out a safe shot. Dodging isn't quite as easy when you've got the launcher blocking so much of your view, but I do ok here.

04:10 I hop over a pair of Hunters - enjoyed that - and it opens up a possibility for a shot on a Hunter warming up his cannon, but here I'm only going to fire on Hunters which have just attacked. Sort of adds a bit to the challenge. I let him swipe then I fire, but unusually he survives. I think he must've been the one and only strong Hunter of the bunch, because weak ones go down with only one blast.

04:16 After a brief spell of dodging about, I turn and pick out a shot, which takes out two Hunters at once - one of which was the earlier guy I believe.

04:22 There's a nice sequence of dodging now. Three Hunter swipes narrowly miss as I weave my way through them, then I turn and let loose with another rocket, taking out Hunter number three. I come back the other way dodging two swipes, then turn to take out a fourth. After a spot more patient dodging, I place a rocket between the final two - a nice ending.

Closing remarks In all of that combat, I wasn't particularly trying to minimize shield damage; just to avoid getting whacked. However, by keeping on the move and keeping Hunters close to minimize cannon fire, my overshield stayed in good shape in all cases, the only damage being from a few bullet ricochets.

I also wasn't playing for speed. If you want to play for speed, I think the thing to do would be to try and isolate a particular Hunter and concentrate on him, rather than spreading your offensive action against the whole mob. That should bring down the enemy count faster; and the lower it becomes, the easier your job of dodging becomes.

You'll notice that there's a checkpoint at the end of each round. That was due to the Hunters from the security substation. Their collective demise triggers a checkpoint, but in close combat like this it always gets delayed by enemy threat until the end of the fighting. If it wasn't for the fact that I was recording footage for the movie, I would've reverted before getting the checkpoint or kept it delayed manually until ready to revert, so I could continue to another round without having to eject and reload.

Finally, let me say a bit about the save I used. I've just got a save checkpoint triggered a couple of metres behind me, and I've got handy spare weapons ready to pick up in front. The hog is close, but not so close that I'm in danger of accidentally boarding it when merely intending to swap a weapon. Marines are deliberately left well clear of the hog so I can drive off alone without anyone trying to board it. If I ever fancy Marine company I've got four guys back around the corner, arranged in a wide square so it's pretty easy for me to pick up any two I want, and to get a particular guy to man the gun (Stacker is the most fun). They all have different voices, so I've got good scope for variation.

Out of the six Hunters, only one was strong (it would take nine whacks to kill him), namely one of the guys from within the main facility. The others are all weak (six whacks to kill). On Normal, most seem to be weak. Talking of difficulty level, Normal seems plenty hard enough, believe me! That said, I'm going to try things out on Heroic too and see how viable it is for close combat like this. I plan to return to the theme of massed Hunters in later movies, so watch out!