Xtra1 - Speed run killing just the Elites

(11:10) Level 4 ('The Silent Cartographer') on Heroic. This shows a speed run (on PAL Xbox) in which I have to kill all Elites but no other covies, even via inadvertent blast damage. It relates to Fire Team Zulu's Ambivalent Cartographer challenge but I'm also following a few other restrictions. No dying or reverting (as ever), no tricks (like in my kill 'em all runs), no vehicles, and using the standard route in which the main facility is visited first, causing the security door to lock. It's not a fully optimized run but I wasn't planning to get that serious. After a bit of trial play I just went for it, without a huge amount of planning. The 13:02 run time starts when I exit the Pelican and ends when I reboard. With entertainment in mind I've edited out the uneventful parts - mostly running. This movie isn't part of my usual series; it's number one in a new series of miscellaneous extras, whatever those may turn out to be.

Released September 28th 2014, gameplay recorded September 27th 2014.


00:02 (Landing zone) After getting the first Elite from a safe distance with pistol fire, I move in to swap my AR for his rifle, then use it to do a 'zap and whack' on the second Elite - another blue. You'll see plenty more zapping and whacking later. On my way to the next group I zap a Grunt, mainly to help out the Marines a bit. I try to get one of the two far Elites with plasma fire but I have to break off before I take serious health damage. He was almost dead though, and I circle the structure to finish him off. A small rock gives me cover from potential Jackal fire while I kill the other Elite and grab a new rifle.

01:01 (Route to the main facility) I plan to attack the next Elite from the rear, so I head straight through the Jackal rocks area. Today they're a bit persistent with their fire, and just when I think I'm clear, more fire alerts the nearest Grunt. I've got the Elite in my sights though, and he gets the zap and whack treatment. I also zap a Grunt as I run clear, 'cause it's funny.

01:40 (Main facility entrance) Ok, now one of the toughest parts. With zoomed pistol I see that the two outside Elites are close together with no Grunts near, so I throw a high plasma - and BOOM! - it takes out both. Ideal start. There's a red inside the entrance but he wastes time pointing and I kill him quick, simultaneously dodging needles from a blue. That guy turns out to be surprisingly resilient. I thought he'd go down on my second whack but it took one more. I'd ducked into a side compartment for shelter from Grunt fire.

02:08 (Main facility door) Have to be careful picking out this guy, with Grunts so close. He turns away just as I'm arriving, and I get busy with the plasma rifle. He doesn't quite go down when I whack him, but another zap finishes him as I back off to make my escape. One Grunt tries to needle me and I'm wary of getting a load in the back, but I get clear in time - no thanks to a panicking Grunt who gets in the way.

02:34 (Route to the next area) Heading back outside, a plasma shot panics the Grunts for a while, then I drop to the grass. A Jackal is near the overshield but I give him something to think about as I approach, and with a bit of dodging I get away with no damage to the overshield. I certainly want it in good shape for the next bit!

03:03 (Path to the interior) Again I'm going for a rear approach to try and take an Elite by surprise. On an earlier run I managed to smack him dead from behind and get to the path with no shield damage, but this time things don't go as smoothly. I get him in my sights but a Grunt jumps in surprise before I'm close, so I start zapping, using a tree for cover from the Jackals, and especially from their plasma balls which are a big danger here (I lost my shield on an earlier run, and the outcome wasn't pretty). I finish the red with a whack and get clear. After taking down another red near the start of the path, Cortana says "It looks like there is a path into the interior of the island", but I'm already halfway up it. Her circuits must be a bit slow today. The second Elite is only a blue and he's easily zapped.

03:43 (Interior ground) Medkit ahoy! I get an overshield too, and dodge the Hunters. When the Jackals come into view I zap a few to give them pause for thought while I continue on to pick off the Elite. He's a bit tricky to get, surrounded by Grunts. During my trial play I smacked a Grunt dead here by accident, so I'm being pretty careful this time! After some careful shooting I see that he's well enough separated that I can move in to finish him with a whack. And just after that, a Grunt goes down from friendly fire.

04:22 (Substation) I want a new overshield, so I have to dawdle slightly to take fire here. But not too much fire, obviously! I judge it fairly well and head down. Dodging past the Hunter is no trouble but the return trip isn't so easy. Heading for the exit, an Elite takes a Hunter blast and I quickly get outside before the next blast sets off a dropped plasma or something. From there I finish the Elites, but then I want my overshield wiped. I should've let the Elites do that, but now instead I give a Hunter a free shot. I was maybe a bit overconfident though, and lose a health bar. After that, I'm starting to leave when I realize my plasma rifle could do with replacing; so that wastes more time. Actually I could've got a new plasma rifle from the next few Elites anyway, so I didn't really need this new one.

05:47 (Back to the main facility) With a fresh overshield I ignore the crashed Pelican area. I don't really need the launcher and it couldn't have been used in many areas anyway, due to the danger of killing minor covies. I restore my lost health bar at the next supply area though. At the main facility I run past the Hunters and panic a few Grunts.

06:23 (Down to the Cartographer) There's a security door Grunt from earlier (I'm not sure what happened to the other two) and I'm concerned that his fire will alert the next Elite. But I get lucky and I'm able to whack the Elite from behind as usual. Inside the room proper, I drill the blue with plasma, then drop down through the floor hole to continue on through the Hunter chamber. I could've dropped down just beyond but I had another approach in mind. A Hunter chases me for a while but I escape his fire. Actually, after that drop from the floor hole I could've saved plenty of time by dropping off the edge near the supplies. Could've got to my target area quicker that way. But like I said at the outset, this run wasn't fully optimized.

07:27 (Lower area) I tag one of the two guards and the blast kills both, as usual. On my exit after using the Cartographer, there's a blue Elite I probably could've just whacked from behind, but I just start zapping instead. The Grunts panic when he dies, which is a relief, because if they don't, it can be hard getting away in decent shape.

07:58 (Up to the next Elite) I manage to hop past the first Jackals ok, but next I want the active camouflage. Unfortunately a Jackal retreats into the tunnel and blocks my way for precious seconds. Maybe I should've whacked him. Anyway, after further struggling I reach the camo and get clear without health loss. From old habit doing kill 'em all runs I take a needlessly long route up to the next Elite. I bump into a Jackal as I near my prey - whoops! I plan to smack the Elite from behind, but just as I'm closing in he moves away, so I switch to plasma fire. Nice steamy overheat there!

09:03 (Hunter chamber again) My cloaking wears off just before I reach the Elite outside the Hunter chamber, but he's still taken by surprise and goes down fairly quick from my plasma fire. My shield is bleeping though, and I'm concerned about the possibility of Jackals on the ascent ramp, so I pause to try and recharge. However, plasma fire from behind changes my mind and I advance. Luckily the coast is clear and I'm able to recharge.

09:31 (Top room and security door) In the next room the Elite seems to start firing at me even before he's caught sight of me. Nevertheless I get the upper hand as I close in, administering a whack to finish him off. Next comes the gold Elite, but a Grunt emerges by surprise and stalls my progress as I try to hop over him. The gold starts growling and I realize I could be in trouble. I throw a plasma to tag him quick, then head for the platform to try and get clear. But actually I'm not even sure the grenade stuck, so I about-face in case I need to start shooting him. Turns out I did tag him. And then BLAM! - I take damage but I only lose a few health bars. Phew! Wary of more grunty opposition, I pause to recharge, concerned that there might be a Grunt around the corner. But actually there was only that one door Grunt around, so I wasted a few seconds there.

10:04 (Exit) I'm rather slow clearing the cloaked Elites. This is the one place I really could've speeded things along with a rocket launcher, but I make do with grenades instead, plus assorted weapon fire. Eventually the coast is clear and I'm off, with just the Hunters to skip past. Foe Hammer is a bit slow to realize I'm aboard though. We're going backwards for a while, before finally jetting off.

Closing remarks Well, that was quite good fun, though bypassing enemies certainly goes against my nature and is downright frustrating when they're right in your face! I'm pretty sure I could get a faster time with a bit more playing, but I wasn't going for a tough-as-nails record here. This was more along the lines of informal speedy fun which might encourage other folk to step up and have a go.

On some earlier runs the same day, I used a plasma pistol a lot, sometimes coupled with a finishing pistol headshot after a plasma ball. But then I switched to using a plasma rifle, partly because that's the weapon Elites keep dropping, and partly because it can be faster and more precise than a plasma pistol, yet it still has a stun effect. If a plasma ball misses an Elite and he starts dodging about, you can quickly get into trouble trying to zap him unless you're at close range; whereas a plasma rifle has higher shot speed, making targeting easier.

I did have one earlier run (with plasma pistol) which I thought was successful, but when I watched the footage later, I realized I'd killed a Grunt while trying to zap an Elite coming down the path into the interior of the island. Arrgh! This convinced me that you either have to be very careful about when you shoot, or else record your play and watch it back to be sure. Otherwise you could easily fail to notice a death amid the confusion.