BCM48 - Cavern megabattle
(9:58) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Normal. This shows how to set up a cavern megabattle with 35 covies and a large squad of Marines, as described in my article. I end up with a squad of 12 after killing the sniper, and include a Marine-retaining hog manned by Pelican Marines who usefully don't get targeted by covies. You can see me playing the resulting save in BCM49 and BCM50.
Released June 10th 2012, gameplay recorded May 31st - June 4th 2012. Thanks to Louis Wu for the HBO download versions and the streaming version in the viewer.
Note: I've already described the set-up work in my article, so I won't be talking you through it here. Rather, you should view the movie as an optional accompaniment to that text. Here I'll just make any additional remarks that come to mind - mostly about this specific play.
00:02 (Bridge descent) Originally I wasn't going to bother showing my descent off the bridge, as the method wasn't important and I've already shown lots of descents in other movies. However, it was quite a nice Shade ride - kind of amusing with the spinny bit after bouncing off the ledge - and I decided it would make for a much more appealing start than the Ghost boarding, so I added it in.
00:38 (Handy Ghost for battle) I parked the Pelican Ghost for potential use in battle (it's one of the ones which neither Marines nor Elites will board), then continued to the Banshee in the next Ghost I came to.
00:55 (Shade arranging) I could've disabled all three Shades of course, but I decided to keep one, partly so there'd be a bit of pink plasma flying about in battle, and partly so I could enjoy rocketing or grenading it. But I moved it, to illustrate the possibility.
01:23 (Pelican attack Ghosts) When I overturned the Pelican attack Ghost in the curving tunnel, it probably would've been better to blast it on the other side, so it went to the left. I think the pilot would be less obscured by the Scorpion later, making him easier to kill. An even better option would be to move it so it wouldn't be behind the Scorpion at all, but for the movie I preferred to keep things quick and basic.
01:28 (Marine blockade) The placing of the Scorpion here was close to ideal (could've done with being a little more past the rock on the left, with safe releasing in mind), but it wasn't necessary to completely block the way. As mentioned in my article, a man-sized gap on the right is fine as the Marines wouldn't use it.
01:43 (Squad formation) I formed the squad much like in BCM41, but getting an extra hog using the variation shown at the end of that movie. The original hog is Marine-retaining, which is useful for getting continued chain-gun support in battle. A brief flashback shows me getting two Pelican Marines aboard as soon as they run over the step (see here for advice). Those guys don't get targeted by enemy fire, which is handy. I later got the sniper rifle and rocket launcher from the first battle area (reminder: keep the launcher with you for now). During the fight in the Pelican area I killed the sniper with a quick bit of Banshee fire (after finishing the nearest group of covies) as I didn't want one, plus I didn't want two Johnsons (my Pelican sergeant happened to be Johnson rather than Stacker).
02:21 (Killing past the Pelican area) When advancing to trigger and delay the Pelican checkpoint, I could've had the sniper rifle zoomed in on where new covies spawn in the tunnel, to kill some almost instantly. But it was easy enough to get them later instead. The Ghost pilot turned out to be rather obscured though, an issue mentioned earlier. Instead of continuing to jump, I could've thrown a grenade somewhere safe to continue the delay, letting me target enemies more easily. As for the enemies down the hill, for a while I stopped jumping because I knew the checkpoint delay would be continued by enemy threat. I elected to top up my sniper ammo after that as usual, but you could do it later instead. However, the Pelican supplies will vanish when you trigger the enemy retreat to the cavern, so you'd have to get the ammo from elsewhere.
03:03 (Checkpoint at the curving tunnel) You don't have to be in the position I'm hovering at here. Just anywhere that makes the Marines gather near the tunnel entrance, though obviously you want to be pointing your fire away from them!
03:17 (Two-Wraith area spawning) On my first spawning of the two-Wraith area, there was a Shade on the left hence I only got two Grunts, not three, so I reverted. You think I'm going to settle for anything less than maximum gruntage? Hah! Think again. In the movie you see me going up close to the Shade before reverting, but that was only to highlight it. In normal play I would've reverted the moment I spotted it. On the second spawning I got the full three Grunts. I'd yet to see whether any covies got squashed by their own hardware, so I wanted the checkpoint delay to continue a while, but enemy threat took care of that for the most part, so I didn't have to keep firing. I did a spot of firing in the tunnel though, as there could be covies yet to get squashed. That danger is conveniently illustrated by the Hunter who jumps clear of a Ghost as I head back out. And later when I'm way up high, you can see a Jackal almost get creamed.
04:20 (Ejecting Ghost pilots) Two of the three Ghost pilots fell out of their Ghosts by clumsy driving while I hovered up high out of danger for a few minutes, and this last one I carefully blasted out.
04:58 (Ejecting Shade gunners) I ejected the Grunts over the space of about forty seconds but I've edited things down to the highlights. When I shunted the high Shade off - not a very clean shunt because I clipped the ground and got deflected a little - I wouldn't normally follow it down. I'd more usually fly clear to view what happened. As you can see, I incurred a needless spot of Banshee damage because of following it.
05:24 (Ejecting Wraith pilots) Although only one delayed checkpoint is shown here, I got one prior to each of the Wraith pilot ejections; a good idea because of the dangers. I got the first pilot out straight away with a brisk two-push flip - no struggling at all. That's how easy it can be. With the second guy I tried to flip the Wraith by pushing the nose as it went over the edge, but it didn't work this time. I could've reverted for another go but I elected to continue, and after a brief struggle he was out.
06:26 (Getting the Banshee pilot down) At the start of my Banshee pilot footage, you see me finishing a checkpoint delay with a fuel rod shot as I close in. You can't get too close to the pilot or he'll be alerted and the delay would get continued by enemy threat, so I think it's best to fire a bolt from a distance which won't alert him, then close in a bit while it's in the air. That lets you get the checkpoint fairly close.
This guy turned out to be a nasty red, which made the prospect of significant Banshee damage much greater. Because of his aggression and the fact that I'd been a bit negligent in preserving Banshee health earlier, I needed to get him onto the rim so I'd be able to close in fast for the nudge (he'd be unlikely to dive clear), otherwise my Banshee would've ended up dangerously fragile for the later entry into the cavern. Getting him onto the rim required him to be relatively near it before his final dive, so I was trying to position him for that. I actually got him down several times but kept repeating it to try and get the nicest example, including good follow-up footage. After a while I got the descent you see here, showing good efficient technique (but on Easy or on NTSC/PC you'll need to try another method). A quick spot of Ghost use moved him up the battlefield a little (made him dive three times), after which he started running.
07:08 (Clearing the cavern entrance) After getting the pilot to move on from the first hump (where covies stall), I arrived at the cavern entrance and waited a while, watching red dots move off. Hunters were bringing up the rear as usual, but at least they both went up the final hump. At that point the entrance looked safe enough so I reboarded my Banshee.
07:21 (Effecting a bridge retreat) I probably came close to colliding with those Hunters as I flew in - they'd unexpectedly stopped on the peak - but I saw them and it was ok. I woke a Grunt on the broken bridge, and after triggering the bridge retreat I woke a few more, one of whom was at the far end and not shown in the movie (you wouldn't have seen much in the murkiness). I subsequently watched the retreat for a few seconds and briefly checked the right of the nearside platform for stragglers, though I wasn't expecting any as I hadn't given the mob long to head for the supply area before I entered.
07:58 (Weapon preparation) Already carrying a full sniper rifle and rocket launcher, I got additional weapons from earlier in the level and laid things out ready for future pick-up, ending up with my preferred starting combo for the battle. The pistol, AR and plasma rifle came from the supplies in the two-Wraith area, while the needler and plasma pistol came from earlier, pre-handled to keep them around. Actually the topped-up needler came from the first ground battle. Wasn't sure I'd be able to form a full needler from covies in the Pelican area, so that was my safeguard. I could've had a spare sniper rifle too (useful for when you want to eliminate Hunters before the battle), but I kept to the basics here, just having weapons for the start of battle.
08:05 (Normal hog) If you're wondering why I'm bothering with this hog, remember that unlike the original, it's not Marine-retaining, so it can be used differently (you wouldn't have to take the time to make Marines dismount in battle, as they'll do it themselves). But also, with two hogs you'll be able to have two chain-guns rattling away at once.
08:20 (Releasing the Marines) I'd already seen that the Marines were well back from the Scorpion, so there wasn't going to be any danger of squashing any. Hence I didn't bother getting a delayed checkpoint prior to release, nor did I make any effort to stop the Scorpion's tail swinging down as I drove off (not that it swung much, as I'd positioned the tank quite carefully). All the Marines advanced right away this time; nobody was left standing around needing encouragement. Subsequent footage shows them heading for the penultimate corner of the tunnel leading to the cavern, and I flew ahead to park the Banshee. I could've brought the Scorpion to the cavern too (overtaking the Marines so as to avoid them), but didn't bother here as I'm not a big fan of it.
08:53 (Positioning the Banshee) I later realized that pointing the Banshee towards the entrance like this has a drawback. When you head into battle on foot, a Marine can quite easily get caught up behind it, running on the spot (trying to get to the entrance) and going nowhere. After seeing that, I'll be pointing the Banshee a different way in future.
09:04 (Marine-retaining hog) You didn't think I was going to forget Johnson did you? One aspect not covered in the movie is the speech anomaly you commonly get, which you can read about in my article. I still don't have a good understanding of this issue so I didn't want to commit any fixing advice to the movie. On this occasion I had a bit of a struggle to get things fixed. My original attempt failed and I had to try something else - which led to my updating the article with modified advice. I deliberately left this hog for last so that any fix to the speech anomaly would be as fresh as possible, as there seems to be a possibility of it wearing off after a while (though I'm not sure of the details).
09:28 (Final checkpoint) The wait on the peak was less than a minute. On PAL there's a delay of about 73 seconds imposed between successive tunnel checkpoint triggers.
Closing remarks I don't say I'm going to make a habit of doing set-up tutorials, but this megabattle is new and the setting up involves a nice variety of techniques which I thought people might like to see, so I decided to show it as best I could, edited down to make something reasonably snappy and entertaining. I used Normal because that's what I suggested starting with in the article.