Cliff path slaughter

Posted November 4th 2007


Here's some good fun early in level 6, The Ark, in which around 20 Brutes and Grunts have retreated to a cliff path, ripe for slaughter. The path I'm talking about is the rising path that leads indoors from the second circular arena near the start of the level. On Normal or Easy you'll have 5 Brutes and 14 Grunts, whilst on Heroic you get an extra 2 Brutes. There are a few ways of setting things up, but try this for starters.

Quick and simple

Once off the Pelican, run straight past both arenas, preferably skirting around the outside for safety. This is quite easy even on Heroic, and note that you can hop up onto the raised wall of the first arena via a large rock at the cliff edge. On the way you may like to kill some or all of the Jackals in the second arena as they won't be part of the retreating mob. There are carbine Jackals up on the AA gun the covies were preparing, and normal Jackals below. The Marines will get left behind at the first arena.

As you near the top of the cliff path you'll meet 7 Grunts and a Brute, but it's quite easy to skip past them and finally get indoors where you can pick up a few plasma grenades and a Brute shot if you want it (er, yes please). There are a few spikers at the top of the path too. You should also get a checkpoint. Get back to the top of the path by jumping up onto a prong then onto the path. You can do that in a nifty little bounce move if you want to be slick; bounce off the prong by jumping as you land.

The Brutes and Grunts from the second arena will be retreating up the path, plus you've got the ones you passed at the top. You can now have fun slaughtering the lot. A gung-ho approach with Brute shot and grenades is just one idea here, if you care to blast your way down the path laying all asunder. But it's also possible to tackle the mob from the other side after skipping past the topmost enemies and jumping down off the edge. If you're going to do that, best do it quick before any of the retreating enemies start reaching the top of the path and making it even more hectic there.

Hunter death checkpoint

If you do jump back down you may still have some Jackals there, and you'll certainly have the two Hunters that came in by Phantom after you went up the path. You can simply run past them and get on with your cliff path slaughter, or you can take the time to eliminate them so they won't bother you (Hunters would potentially come up the path behind you). Rather usefully you get a checkpoint after killing the Hunters, ideal for repeatedly reverting to. So, you may like to first kill any remaining Jackals then kill the Hunters to get that checkpoint.

In regard to Hunter killing, note that there are some spikers in a weapons holder nearby. Dual wielded spikers can do a good job on a Hunter if you concentrate on his back, which you can get at by dodging a swipe. Alternatively you could fetch weaponry from the first arena, such as a plasma cannon - a weapon Bungie has made far too powerful if you ask me, but at least this time it'll be working for you! Tagging Hunters with plasma grenades or spike grenades is another good option, except that you may be wanting to hold onto those for the cliff path fun.

Marine concerns

If you do go back to the first arena for goodies, you'll reactivate the battle there which has apparently been frozen since you moved on. Marines will probably still be trying to struggle through, though they're unlikely to make it on Heroic. Any Marines that get through will foolishly continue on without waiting for you, heading for that indoor location you visited. On Normal or higher the Hunters will probably have them for breakfast, in which case your cliff path mob should be be left intact for you as desired. But if you want to be sure no Marines damage the mob, you could always kill the Marines yourself.

Rocket launcher please!

It's actually possible to have a rocket launcher for your cliff path fun. Woo-hoo! When you get indoors, go through and fetch one from the crash site, making sure to also pick up the rocket case. That'll give you 4 rockets to play with back at the path. At the crash site it's pretty easy to get the launcher and make a getaway without bothering to eliminate the enemies there, even on Heroic. But if you want to cleanse the place a little first, that's fine.

Sorry, only 4 rockets

There are two more rocket cases at a later crash site, but unfortunately there's no point going off to get those to make a full launcher. When you get back, you'll find that the first door you came through is locked. I actually tried to keep it open by leaving a Mongoose there, but on return I found it destroyed. Looked like that door shut itself hard!

Fun from below

If you've got back past the enemies on the path to tackle them from below, here are some ideas for fun ways to slaughter them.

Cyborg rampage

The most obvious way is to rampage up the path with your weaponry of choice. The explosive power of the Brute shot or rocket launcher should do nicely, but be careful you don't fire that launcher at enemies too close! Dual-wielded spikers are also a lot of fun. Note also that you could have got an assault rifle from a Marine.

Safer distance

Or, maybe keep a safer distance. If you want some explosive fun you can rain in some rockets, grenades and Brute shot blasts. If you fancy a bit more precision you could use a battle rifle, carbine, or sniper rifle. Maybe see if you can headshot every single enemy.

There's a novel place you may like to do some of this shooting from, namely the raised edge along the right of the bottom of the path. You can hop up onto it and go up, giving you a nice view over the enemy. That edge eventually merges into cliff face that looks way too steep to be able to grip, but surprisingly you can hop onto it and move along to yet more rocks, which can also provide a bit of cover.

One way I like to play things is to first pick off the Brutes with a sniper rifle. That leaves 14 Grunts to enjoy headshooting with a battle rifle. Great fun with the Grunt Birthday Party skull. Pop pop pop, one after the other; sounds like those kids are having one hell of a good time at that party!

Down in the arena

You could even go right down into the arena or onto the surrounding wall or whatever, and see what damage you can do from there. One bit of mischief is to lob grenades up and watch enemies go flying out across the arena. Hee hee! Have the Cowbell skull turned on for best effect. Of course, that skull is great for any explosive fun you plan on having!

Up on the AA gun

It's possible to grenade jump up onto the AA gun for a novel view over the enemy, albeit one with alarmingly little cover. On the rock I'm talking about, the gun mount will be blocking out the sun. My technique was to throw a frag grenade down to the outside of my left foot as I stood, then jump before it went off. Once up on the platform where the first carbine Jackal was, you can hop up onto a leg if you like. It's also possible to hop around to the other side.

Weapon stash luxury

With just a little effort you can set things up so you've got a stash of weapons handy not far from the bottom of the path, giving you more ways of tackling the mob from below. You'll be able to quickly select weaponry each time you revert. Here's an outline plan for arranging that.

Run past both arenas and get a Brute shot and rocket launcher plus a few plasma grenades. Come back and jump down. Go back to the first arena and kill any remaining enemies and Marines. Pick up any spike grenades. Move any desired weapons through to the second arena to form your weapon stash. Kill any remaining Jackals, then kill the Hunters - perhaps with a plasma cannon. You then get a checkpoint and you're ready for your cliff path fun.

Carbine tip

Note: When you first pass through the second arena, it can be worthwhile leaving the carbine Jackals alive so they subsequently jump down. That way you'll be able to get your hands on their weaponry when you kill them.

Some variations

Let me say a bit more on the enemy retreat behaviour at the second arena, and point out some consequent variations in how you can set things up.

Triggering a shallow retreat

As you start up the cliff path there's a pair of containers in the way. If you just go as far as those, that's enough to trigger the Phantom that brings in the Hunters, and to make the Brutes and Grunts retreat to near the start of the path once the Hunters have arrived (also, the carbine Jackals will jump down). So, if you now back off, you can potentially kill the Hunters to get a checkpoint, then attack enemies gathered near the start of the path rather than further up. But they'll try to retreat further after taking enough casualties.

Triggering a deep retreat

If you instead go beyond the containers and just past the large rock on the left a few metres on, that's enough to trigger the Hunters and make the Brutes and Grunts retreat further up the path, as I originally described. You didn't need to continue indoors; that was mainly for if you want a Brute shot or want to be able to tackle the enemy from the top of the path. If you don't care for any of that, you can just turn around and go back the way you came - or go up the path a bit further then jump off the left, potentially landing on the arena wall.

Staying on the path

Actually, in either case you also have the option of staying on the path to try to fend off the mob that heads your way. Because of the severity of fire from the Phantom however, not to mention the Hunters once they get down, this plan is perhaps only viable on Easy.

Marine support

If you want to get Marines in on the action - maybe just to watch them tackle the mob themselves - there are two approaches you can take. But either way, you'd best be using Normal or Easy or they won't last long.

Approach 1: Marines heading indoors

Suppose you reached indoors as I originally described, or at least the top of the path. When you reactivate the battle at the first arena, Marines will potentially come on through and head for that indoor location, due to how far you progressed (you triggered a new behaviour in them). On Easy they'll pretty much run straight through the mob, skirmishing on the way.

Approach 2: Marines holding back

Suppose you only went far enough to trigger a shallow retreat, as I described in the previous section. When you reactivate the battle at the first arena, Marines will potentially come on through and attack the mob, but they won't immediately be heading indoors. They hold back part way up the path, and won't advance further until you've triggered their "get indoors" behaviour or the enemy gets wiped out. I think this makes for better fun and it's certainly longer lasting. On Easy they'll gradually wear down the enemy from their position - you may like to lend a hand -and it's good to watch from on top of rocks.


Whichever approach you use, here are a few tips worth noting.

On your way past the first arena it may be worth killing a few enemies to give the Marines less resistance; e.g. rapid sniping can take out a few Brutes. That should help keep them all alive. On Easy it's not really needed though.

Before you go back for the Marines, kill the Jackals and one Hunter, and severely damage the other Hunter. When you return with the Marines, finish the second Hunter quick and you'll then get a checkpoint before the cliff path action starts; ideal for reverting to.

When you go back for the Marines, there's a particularly narrow place in the tunnel where you can stand to block them. You can use that as a way of getting them collected, so they end up heading into battle together rather than all strung out. The place is a short way into the tunnel as you come through from the second arena, and you'll have an outcropping of white crystal on your left. If you're in the right place they'll sense the blockage and stop a short way away from you.

A couple of times, Marines have obstinately refused to move on from the first arena. I'm not quite sure how that stationary behaviour got triggered, but I just thought I'd mention it. Usually I've had no problem.