AA gun megabattle

Posted March 22nd 2008, modified later (to do with eliminating Arby)


If you play The Storm normally, you typically end up attacking about 16 covies up at the AA gun, including just 4 Brutes. How would you like as many as 52 covies instead, including 19 Brutes? The trick is to bypass lots of earlier enemies and trigger them into a massive retreat to the gun. You can then have some phenomenally good fun blasting away with a rocket launcher and Brute shot and anything else you care to use, especially if you've got the Cowbell skull on. I call it the AA gun megabattle, and it's the most satisfying carnage I've experienced in the campaign so far, by quite a way. Actually you can also have some excellent fun intercepting the retreat; but that's covered in a separate article, Intercepted retreat.

I suggest you set things up with my 'quick and simple' plan first, to get used to things and have some fun with minimal delay. It's the way I was doing things myself to start with. Later you can take things up a notch by doing a spot of careful extra work to get as many as 10 Brutes out of the factory, to add to the retreating horde.

New development (May 2008)

Some while after I posted my original account of the battle, Nerd Boi found a simple way to eliminate the Arbiter from the level, which is a big help if you want to set up solo battles with very high enemy numbers. In particular, Arby won't be around to kill or damage enemies prematurely! I've modified my account accordingly.

Setting up quick and simple

Start off with Easy. That makes it dead easy to bypass enemies and set things up, and it's also a great choice for having wild fun blasting enemies at the AA gun. I've had good fun on Normal too though. Things are also workable on Heroic, but I didn't bother trying Legendary.

The following description assumes the Arbiter will be present as normal. But if you don't want him in the megabattle, preferably eliminate him from the level. That'll also help keep enemies alive for the battle because Arby won't be wiping them out beforehand.

Reach indoors after the Scarab battle

If you're mainly looking forward to explosive fun, make sure to have the Cowbell skull on, and have a full rocket launcher and full Brute shot by the time you get indoors from the Scarab battle. Brute shots were available from a Brute at the first lake bed, Chopper Brutes, and a Scarab Brute. Also be fully stocked with grenades, and preferably get the grav lift from the Scarab area as you can have quite a bit of fun with that later. Save a checkpoint inside, in case you need to get back to it for another try at what follows.

Bypass enemies and trigger the retreat

Run past everyone in the factory and outside. This is trivial on Easy, but on higher difficulties you'll want to be more thoughtful about your route and may need to pause for cover along the way. One detail though. As you near the factory exit, preferably frag the 4 workers that run in, simultaneously setting off the nearby fusion cores to clear your way. The main reason for wanting the workers dead is to help minimize enemy casualties. You can replace the frag later. Outside, I recommend hopping up onto the sidewalk and running along past the back of the long container.

As you advance, the Arbiter will be trying to keep up with you but he's liable to do it via magical Bungie-powered teleportation as you reach certain points. Check it out in Theater mode if you're interested.

At the end of the narrow alley, you make a right turn and the hill comes into sight. A friendly gets shot down overhead and you're due a checkpoint. As you draw level with the TRAXUS crate just ahead, you'll trigger the enemy retreat to the AA gun. Also the Arbiter will usually teleport to join you, but he'll then run back to Truth's loudspeaker post to do his repetitively scripted "I will not be shamed" line to no one in particular. He's such a drama queen that guy.

Let enemies retreat

Run up to get near the hilltop to cause the hillside Grunts and Jackals to retreat, then wait somewhere to let the main retreating mass reach the AA gun. There are various options for where to wait, but I like to go along the precarious ledge on the right - a ledge you may already know about as a route for sneaking around behind the enemy. Part way along you can get a checkpoint. There are a few relatively deep V-shaped recesses you can pause in, but for cover from long-range Hunter fire and carbine fire you'd best continue around as far as a tree. You tend to get spotted by hilltop Grunts there, but the tree gives cover from any fire.

Get a battle start checkpoint

Finally, get a 'battle start checkpoint' for convenient replaying. You can get one at the top of the hill, or by killing the Hunters that are likely to come after you. If you want to fight without music, wait for it to stop first; it lasts about six and a half minutes. Save your checkpoint so you can get back to it even if you get one or more during the battle, which is a possibility. See Checkpoint advice for further discussion.

Setting up with extra Brutes

With the simple plan, the retreating covie mass will be mostly or entirely comprised of the 18 covies outside the factory. With extra work however, it's possible to get as many as 10 Brutes out of the factory to join the retreat, beefing it up nicely and allowing you to get as many as 52 covies at the AA gun. The extra work is quite easy; just a bit more to read and get used to. In my description of the changes here, I'll initially assume that you've eliminated the Arbiter from the level. That not only helps you maximize enemy numbers, it also simplifies some of the set-up work. If you want to retain the Arbiter however, see my advice about that at the end of the section.

Save some early Brutes

Head into the factory area, preferably armed with a spare rocket launcher and a battle rifle. Initially there are 4 Brutes and 4 Marines, but when you advance you'll get another 6 Brutes and 2 Marines. If that second Brute group gets reduced to only 2, all Brutes will retreat around the corner to the third skirmish area, and they'll later be able to retreat to the AA gun. To get as many as possible, try to keep the first group alive and kill 4 from the second group, so a total of 6 retreat. You'll also want all Marines dead.

Tips: On Easy you'll need to kill the first 4 Marines fast to keep the first 4 Brutes intact. A rocket or frag can take out the nearest 2 instantly (unless you've got Mythic on), but you may want to go for the catwalk Marines first because they pose the most immediate danger to the Brutes. Slamming a rocket up into the side of the catwalk can often do the job quick. When you draw level with the catwalk to trigger the final 2 Marines and 6 Brutes, a few rockets can take out the Marines and 3 pursuers fast. But if you prefer to leave the green-armoured pursuer with the Brute shot alive, you'll need to be more careful. Personally I like to keep him intact. He adds colour to the megabattle, and the more Brute shots there are, the more ammo I'll be able to pick up for my own in battle.

When the Brutes have retreated, kill the 3 workers cowering in a couple of locations. One of these locations is in the corner just through the entrance to the next area, but don't go through yet; stay off the thick yellow line. If you can't see them to shoot them, you can use an explosive blast.

Note: If a Brute mans the chain-gun on the catwalk, you can get him off it just by walking underneath his location and maybe firing off a few wild shots. He'll run off to join his buddies.

Maybe backtrack for weapons

At this point you may want to go back to swap weaponry or bring some through, before the door to the factory floor closes for good - which it will when you advance shortly. If you're going back among allies, wait if necessary to be forgiven for recent traitorous deeds. You want to see friendly yellow dots, not red ones!

Kill some new friendlies

Back on the factory floor, preferably get armed with a battle rifle, good for headshots. At the entrance to the third skirmish area where Brutes now wait, move halfway across the thick yellow line then immediately back again (the immediacy is to avoid getting a checkpoint). You'll trigger 4 new Brutes and 3 new workers. One worker will get killed by a Brute. Kill the other 2 when they run into view, if they make it. By now 2 reinforcement Marines will have materialized behind you; they seem to appear when only 2 workers are left. Kill them.

Get Brutes out of the factory

Head through into the next area. Just as you get past the thick yellow line, you'll also be due a checkpoint, thanks to the fact that you stepped back off the yellow line earlier to avoid getting it then. It's a good idea to make sure you get it before exposing yourself to the Brutes, and to save it so you can get back for another go if things don't turn out as well as you'd like. Bypass the cluster of Brutes and head into the final factory area. To get Brutes out of the factory use one of the following routines, or your own variation. Both routines involve killing friendlies. Frag grenades and battle rifle headshots are good for that; you'll be able to replenish frags and battle rifle ammo later.

Here's routine A. Kill all the workers. Cross the thick yellow line at the exit, triggering the Brutes to head out of the factory (they're heading for Truth's loudspeaker post). Get back indoors to cover (e.g. in the corner under the stairs; or back near the sandbagging) and let them leave. A pair of Marines may materialize as support; kill them if so. When the Brutes are gone, backtrack into the third skirmish area for a checkpoint if you want one; a good idea if things have gone well so far. Then head for the AA gun hill as normal. Obviously you'll be having to run past more Brutes than usual, but on Easy at least, it shouldn't be a problem.

Now here's routine B. Kill most of the workers (e.g. the 4 that enter from outside, plus a few others), leaving only a little resistance for the Brutes. Leaving at least 1 worker alive will hopefully prevent any new Marines materializing as support. Head out of the factory, triggering the Brutes to leave. The door will start closing just before you get halfway along the narrow alley after Truth's annoying loudspeaker post. To give the Brutes time to exit, you need to dawdle for a total of around 10 seconds before that. One place you could dawdle is behind the long container up on the right walkway just after the factory exit, but Hunter blasts can knock it for six and there are also a few Grunts nearby that can get a bit grenade-happy. Better, there are a couple of dark green dumpsters you can hide behind near the loudspeaker post. Another option is the first open storage space on the right in the narrow alley. You can jump to the back and slot yourself in. The first open storage space on the left is just past the trigger point though, so that's no good. Continue towards the AA gun hill after dawdling.

Note: Instead of crossing the thick yellow line to trigger the Brutes to leave the factory, you could instead get about halfway into the second of the high rooms up the stairs.

Kill a final pair of Marines

As you get to the bottom of the ramp that leads down to the chain-gun, a couple of Marines are likely to materialize back in the narrow alley as support, due to the absence of any allies. Kill them, e.g. by backtracking a few steps to headshoot them with a battle rifle as they round the corner.

Can you get more than 10 factory Brutes?

In getting Brutes out of the factory, it seems important to cause a retreat into the third skirmish area first. That's because when you leave the factory, Brutes that haven't retreated tend to end up running smack into the side of a big container just through the entrance to that area, as if trying to make a beeline for outside. It looks like a failure of their navigational AI. Because of this, I suspect that 10 is going to be the most we can extract from the factory. If you can find some way of getting more, let me know!

Retaining the Arbiter

If you're keeping the Arbiter around, here are the changes you should make to the plan, with the aim of minimizing the damage he inflicts on the enemy.

Block him from entering the factory floor by deploying a portable shield ahead of him in the narrow snaking corridor, but put it slightly off-centre so you can easily squeeze past. You'll need to have brought the shield in from outside, but that needn't stop you bringing a grav lift indoors as usual too, to pick up later. You can move it indoors by repeatedly swapping equipment, just like with moving weapons. Note: If you have the Thunderstorm skull on, you don't seem to get any portable shields; but you can still block the Arbiter by other more laborious means as described in Skull advice.

He won't be blocked for good. When you get past the thick yellow line that leads into the third skirmish area (where Brutes wait), he'll materialize a few metres back.

In regard to getting Brutes out of the factory, I suggest using routine B so the Arbiter is kept on the move. That should help minimize the damage he does.

Checkpoint advice

Now some advice relating to checkpoints you can get at the battle area or nearby, including the business of getting a battle start checkpoint.

Hunter death checkpoint

Killing both Hunters triggers a checkpoint, though it tends to get cancelled if you're in the thick of some action. It can also be cancelled manually by jumping non-stop five or six times, but it's a drag to have to do that in battle. Yet if you get a checkpoint in battle, you lose the ability to revert to your battle start checkpoint (unless you're happy to do suicide reversion). For this reason - or just because you don't like Hunters continually getting in your face - you may prefer to eliminate the Hunters beforehand. If you don't want to waste your main weaponry on killing them, possibilities include using melee, the chain-gun, or the plasma cannon a Grunt may have abandoned. I'd normally use melee with a Brute shot.

The way to melee a Hunter effectively is as follows. When he swipes (which you can provoke by getting close) quickly circle leftwards around to his back where he's weak, and strike once or twice. Next you can expect a back-swing but you can see it coming. Circle and attack again. Repeat as necessary; he back-swings, you circle and strike his back once or twice. On Easy this method is pretty safe, but on Normal you're in more danger and it's a good idea to be doing the work near a rock or something, so you can always dash to cover to recharge if you take damage - especially if you're tackling both Hunters at once. Another good use for a rock is that when you disappear behind it, you can circle around and potentially get a bonus whack at the Hunter's back, depending on how alert he is.

Getting a battle start checkpoint

You can get a convenient battle start checkpoint near the top of the hill, even if you've already had one or more checkpoints there beforehand. Just wait around and you'll usually get one within about 100 seconds. If you don't seem to be getting one, try moving around a bit; e.g. go down the hill then return. It's a bit fickle but I've always been able to get a checkpoint eventually. Another possibility for a battle start checkpoint is to get a Hunter death checkpoint somewhere.

Suicide reversion

If you happen to get a checkpoint in battle, either because you finished off the Hunters or because you strayed near the trigger area around the entrance, it's an inconvenience as you won't be able to do the usual 'REVERT TO LAST SAVE' to get back to your battle start checkpoint for another bash. But you can use suicide reversion if you only had just the one checkpoint. Just kill yourself quickly five times and you should get bounced back.

Arbiter concerns

As you may be aware, I'm not exactly best friends with the Arbiter. He keeps going on about some "alliance" or other, and I keep explaining to him - typically with the aid of a rocket launcher - that in my particular case there is no alliance, thank-you very much. It's an uneasy relationship, you could say. Obviously then, I don't really want him around in the megabattle. Not least because he has an annoying habit of wandering in front of my rocket launcher when I don't actually want him too! There's also the concern that he'll be wiping out enemies even before the battle has started - so your megabattle might not be quite as mega as you'd like. Originally I was engineering Arbiter-free megabattles by repeating the end of the set-up work until he happened to get disabled in some way. That was often courtesy of the Chieftain's gravity hammer or Hunter swipes sending him flying over a fence or something, but sometimes he had weird navigational difficulties and ended up going around in little circles somewhere, or running up against something. Occasionally he elected to man the chain-gun at the sandbagging, which was another way he ended up out of the action. However, things are much simpler now that Nerd Boi has clued me in on how to eliminate the Arbiter from the level entirely, and I've modified my account accordingly.

Retaining Arby for battle

If you want to set up a megabattle that includes the Arbiter however, you'll have to put up with his proclivity for slaying enemies before the battle is properly under way, though at least my advice should help minimize that. Things are particularly bad if he happens to draw his sword, as he tends to kill more with that. All you can really do is make repeated attempts at setting things up until you're happy with the enemy numbers obtained.

Retreat behaviour

A couple of observations now on the on the enemy retreat.


The retreat is triggered as you draw level with the big TRAXUS crate just before the hill. More precisely it happens when you reach a line a few metres back where there seems to be a join - a join between different loading zones I suspect. It's quite easy to see when viewed at the right angle. This is also when the Arbiter usually transports to catch up with you (if not eliminated from the level), but that seems to depend on his current state. Sometimes he's firing his plasma rifle as he appears, apparently having been suddenly beamed out of the action by the Bungie gods. Must be a bit disconcerting for him.

Dawdling at the sandbags

Covies tend to dawdle for a while near the higher sandbagging, and they seem very fond of knocking stuff away before jumping down through the gap. Flippin' vandals. It's quite funny to watch from distance. Sometimes they jump down in a massive stream like a bunch of paratroopers bailing out. Unlike paratroopers however, they sometimes end up stacking up on top of each other, looking a right bunch of fools until they sort themselves out.


The Hunters and the Chieftain are a bit different from the other retreating covies. They have freedom to roam, and tend to come after yourself or allies. One other exception is that a Brute or Grunt is likely to man the chain-gun if it's still standing. However, you can always get him off it later by approaching. Alternatively you could rip it off when you reach it.

Hillside enemies

When you approach the hill, a scattering of Grunts emerges and you'll also see a few Jackals up at the top. However, they'll retreat when you've got near the top. I normally run up the hill to make them retreat early, but you can leave it until the main retreat has finished if you prefer.

Spare weapons

Before getting your battle start checkpoint you may like to move some spare weapons to the battle area, to give you more options or just more ammo. It doesn't take long and I'd say it's well worth doing. However, you'd probably want the Arbiter out of the picture if you want to assemble more than just one spare weapon, else he'll be killing enemies while you're still getting ready. Let's take a look at some of what you could assemble, to add to the full rocket launcher and full Brute shot you hopefully had the good sense to bring along.

Easy spares to get

You can get a full sniper rifle. There was one at the sandbagging, and you can top it up by going back to the one in the high room near the factory exit.

You can get two full battle rifles by combining the three you passed: one at the sandbagging, one back around the corner, and one back at the factory exit. You could also have two full ARs and two magnums, though I'm not so interested in those myself. The former is imprecise and I've never liked the feel of the latter.

You could lug the chain-gun up the hill, and there's also the plasma cannon if you ripped it off earlier when a Grunt plonked it down (or if you just blew his grunty head off, I suppose). If you want to make sure you get the plasma cannon by ripping it off, pause near the sandbagging until you see it set up. I don't actually use those heavy weapons very often, but it's still nice to have them around as an option. The chain-gun can take out a load of Grunts if you ration your rounds carefully, and it's also great for bringing down the Banshees.

Back near the factory exit was a weapon case with a full plasma pistol, plus one of those second-rate H3 needlers. Sigh… if only we still had the old H1 model. Ah well, a cyborg can dream can't he?

Getting a fuel rod gun

There's a fuel rod gun in a weapon case, deep into covie territory at the AA gun. You can dash in to get it, then dash out, hoping that no covies get lost from friendly fire. Because of the risk to covies and yourself though, I'd recommend getting a checkpoint first so you can always get back to it for repeated tries as needed.

Backtracking for an earlier stash

If the Arbiter was eliminated from the level and you used routine A to get Brutes out of the factory, you can do the following. Once you've got the factory to yourself, move spare weapons into the high rooms. They could include 5 full rocket launchers, a full sniper rifle, and a full missile pod, all of which you brought through to the factory floor from earlier (see Preserving rocket launchers for general advice on getting lots of rocket launchers). Then continue the set-up work as usual, heading for the AA gun hill. Once enemies have retreated to the gun, you can backtrack to your stash to move weapons to the battle area.

Note: A missile pod will lock on to any enemy manning the plasma cannon (its original owner might set it up under the AA gun), and also seems to exhibit a small degree of homing on Jackal shields. It also locks on to the Banshees, if you want to stop them buzzing around.

Locations for spares

As for where to put your spares, one simple thing to do would be to put them near the top of the hill, where you're still unexposed to covies. But the drawback with that is that if you go back to get a spare during battle, you may get a checkpoint in that area, something you don't really want as you'll lose the ability to revert to your battle start checkpoint. So you may prefer to put them somewhere more advanced, outside that checkpoint trigger area; for example, somewhere along the raised paths around to the left or right.

Rather than having spares all in one place, you could scatter them around a wide area so you can move around and continually bump into them. For example that can be good if you've got lots of rocket launchers. You'll be able to run around dodging enemy fire and sending in rocket after rocket.

Skull advice

Here's some chat about using various skulls in conjunction with this fun. I tried them out on Easy, always with the Cowbell skull on - I'm taking Cowbell as a given. The two of special interest are Mythic and Catch.

Mythic skull

The Mythic skull makes enemies a lot tougher, and therefore less susceptible to getting killed during your set-up work, which should help you end up with higher numbers. That's especially the case on Easy where enemies are otherwise rather fragile. On Easy with the Arbiter present (this was before I knew how to eliminate him from the level), I was able to get 51 enemies at the AA gun when using Mythic, whereas normally I'd have been doing well to even reach 45.

Another advantage is that the explosive mayhem at the AA gun will last far longer than normal, and you can really get your teeth into it. Unless you've assembled some spare weapons, you'll probably run out of ammo long before you've wiped out the enemy and will need to acquire more as you go. I've had a fantastic time with this and highly recommend it.

Note however that Mythic also toughens Marines and workers! On Easy for example, even the feeble workers are quite able to make it all the way to the AA gun if you don't kill them yourself. On the one hand that gives you a viable way of having some human support there if you fancy a bit of company. But if you don't want allies damaging covies all along the way from the factory to the hill, make sure to kill them all. Mythic forced me to adjust my normal tactics for killing initial Marines in the factory. They were able to withstand a close rocket blast, so I switched to headshooting them with a battle rifle.

Catch skull

With the Catch skull on, the enemy sometimes do a lot of idiotic self-hurt with nasty grenade accidents during your dash from the factory to the hill. Combined with the Mythic skull however, you can still get high numbers through to the AA gun. When you do, you'll have an almost constant stream of high-explosive flying your way when orbiting fairly close to the enemy. It's a heck of a blast.

In particular you can obtain some phenomenal grenade showers from Grunts. Imagine 20+ plasma-happy critters gathered in a crowd not far from you, all lobbing grenades pretty much non-stop. Hilarious, and definitely worth experiencing. There's a particularly good spot for doing this. When you reach the hilltop, there's a raised path off to the right. Go along to the end section of that path. Masses of Grunts will collect in front of you and give you a warm reception. Lots of grenades may shoot past you over the edge, but with so many coming in, you'll probably get tagged at some point. Fortunately you can survive a whole lot of damage on Easy.

Note: With the Catch skull on, I found that quite often the game failed to give me a checkpoint after the narrow alley. Maybe it's to do with all the grenade throwing.

Thunderstorm skull

As with the Mythic skull, this enhances enemies and should thus help you get higher numbers. However, in practice I found Mythic much preferable. With Thunderstorm the Brutes seem to be almost all in blue armour, which I find rather boring. They also had more carbines and fewer Brute shots, which is unappealing to me because (a) carbine shots are annoying and (b) I want to be able to pick up spare ammo for my own Brute shot when running round wreaking havoc at the AA gun.

If you're setting up with the Arbiter present, the other drawback of this skull is that the game doesn't seem to give you any portable shields, which makes it problematic to block the Arbiter from entering the factory floor when setting up to get extra Brutes. I tried many times (with Cowbell on) but the only shields dropped by enemies were bubble shields. It was as if the game thought you'd prefer them, though I can't see what the rationale for that would be. It's still possible to block the Arbiter however. In the second room were two large weapon cases. Move them through the snaking corridor and get them in front of him. They need to end up vertical, else he can just climb over them. Leave a smallish gap you can squeeze through at the side. When I did this, the cases formed a V in front of him; I sort of slotted them past him to do that. You may need to advance slightly beyond where he's standing to do fine adjustments, but don't go so far that you trigger the factory battle (namely just past where you trigger the door to open). Moving the cases into position takes about 10 minutes, once you've learnt how best to shift them about.

Tilt skull

This skull should help keep Brutes alive in your set-up work - at least in regard to damage from workers - but I don't think it helps Grunts or Jackals, so it's not going to be as effective as the Mythic skull. As for blasting enemies at the AA gun, I didn't notice any difference from normal.

Tough Luck Skull

In general play this seems to make Grunts more likely to go kamikaze and run at you with a double fistful of plasma grenades. Playing the megabattle on Easy however, I saw none of that, which was rather disappointing as I'd been hoping for masses of demented critters to rush me with paws fizzing. Maybe you have to be on a higher difficulty level for those Grunts to start going nuts?

Battle fun

Ok, now for some chat about the actual battle fun you can have.

Get off that rock

Obviously you'll have far more enemies than usual, and the place can be swarming with up to 25 Grunts. A major highlight is the joy of sending rockets crashing into the rock that supports one of the AA gun's legs, where covies like to stand. They'll retreat there after a while, which is when you can probably get the densest concentrations. With the Cowbell skull on, you can get some beautiful covie fountains this way. A bit of swinging with a stolen gravity hammer should likewise prove fairly satisfying if you care to wade into the thick of things.

Running around

You can have a heck of a lot of fun running around the place non-stop, raining high explosive in on the covies, particularly ones on the rock. Rockets, Brute shot blasts, grenades… it's all good. On Easy you can afford to do it close up if you like, for example while circling the rock (poor covies will hardly know which way to turn). This also allows you to keep replenishing your supply of Brute shot ammo and grenades. On Normal though, that's not so viable; you can't really afford to be exposed long and you might want to stay further back, intermittently sending in high explosive as you move from place to place.

Distant mischief

Another way of playing things is to stay distant and attack from good cover. There are lots of nice places that'll give you shelter from the guy with the fuel rod gun until you take him out. Explore and seek them out. It's great fun to send in rockets carefully to do the most damage you can. Or to snipe covies one by one, taking all the time you need.

One of my favourite activities along these lines is to watch for Brutes or Grunts clambering up onto the big rock, then send in a rocket to blow them off just as they're getting up. Ok so I've got an evil streak, I can't help it. A good place for this is near the start of the raised path that starts around to the left when you reach the top of the hill. From around there you get a lovely silhouette view of Brutes and Grunts leaping up to the high left corner of the rock - which in the case of Grunts is rather cute. Poor little guys… if only they knew what was heading their way. After sending in a rocket, I often switch to my Brute shot to watch the impact with a magnified view.

Around to the left

If you go around the edge to the left, you can get some good close-up action with covies clustered around there to begin with, before they retreat. One thing I like to do here is try to blast them off the edge, often still alive. You can often get them diving towards the edge with a judiciously thrown grenade or two, and you can then help them the rest of the way with a few quick blasts from a Brute shot. Be sure to wave bye-bye as they disappear into the abyss.

Tackling the Chieftain

Here's a nifty way of dealing with the Chieftain when he comes after you with his gravity hammer. Stand with your back at a cliff edge and let him come at you with an attacking leap. Dodge and he'll either go off the edge or be so close that you can then blast him off with a Brute shot or rocket launcher, or even a grenade. It's quite satisfying to dispense with the big idiot like that! Alternatively, deploy a grav lift as he jumps. He'll enter the updraft and be boosted up and over the edge. So long, hammer boy!

Fuel rod gun

Remember that there's a fuel rod gun in a weapon case at the back of the area. If you didn't already grab it in advance to add to a cache of spare weapons, you can try to pick it up at some point. However, it's uncomfortably close to some explosive blue plasma batteries, so watch out!

Up on the AA gun

Bear in mind that with a grav lift you can get up on the AA gun, a novel spot from which to attack the covies. If you clamber around to the second little platform, loads of Grunts will gather below, making an appealing target.

Grav lift fun

Watch out for the opportunity to send a Grunt up in a grav lift, as described in Grav lift Grunt. More generally you can use your grav lift as a foe disabler whenever the opportunity presents itself. See what you can do. You can also use it to give yourself a novel hovering position from which to rain in some destruction. Just plonk it down, step in and enjoy the ride.

Enemy selection

Starting from a general save, you could eliminate certain enemies to leave just the ones you want, then get a new battle start checkpoint, giving you a more specialized battle. For example you could leave yourself just the Grunts, to enjoy a comedy rich Grunt-shoot. Obviously a sniper rifle is the best weapon with which to perform careful elimination.

Enemy numbers

Finally, here's a summary of the enemy numbers involved.

You can extract as many as 10 Brutes from the factory: 6 that retreat to the third skirmish area, and 4 that spawn there as you enter.

Immediately outside the factory are 2 Hunters, 3 Brutes and 6 Grunts. One of the Brutes is a Chieftain with a gravity hammer. As you advance, more covies spawn in the narrow alley: 2 Brutes, 2 Jackals and 3 Grunts. Total: 18 covies.

Heading up the hill and reaching the top, you trigger 4 Brutes, 4 Jackals and 16 Grunts (though not all at once). One of the Brutes has a fuel rod gun, and one of the Grunts is lugging a plasma cannon. Total: 24 covies.

Overall this makes 52 covies: 19 Brutes, 6 Jackals, 25 Grunts and 2 Hunters. In practice you may lose some during the set-up work, due to your allies attacking them or enemies killing themselves with friendly fire, but the Mythic skull will help minimize such loss (see Skull advice), and getting the full 52 is a realistic possibility - all the more so if you eliminate the Arbiter from the level.

Also some Banshees

There are also 3 Banshees flying about but I haven't included those in the total of 52 enemies as they seem almost cosmetic, rarely bothering to fire at you. That hardly seems realistic, but in this case I'm sort of grateful for it because they could have been a real pain otherwise.