Combat with Jun's Falcon
Posted November 9th 2011
Once you've stolen Jun's Falcon you can make use of it in combat, either slaughtering covies with the cannon or using it to drop yourself off at some novel position from which to shoot, e.g. up on a pinnacle. In this article I'll go into detail on some of the possibilities.
As mentioned in the exploration section of my article on stealing the Falcon, you can effectively choose which side of the cockpit you dismount on by using the right joystick to look that way slightly, just beforehand. You'll want to use this for getting yourself dropped off in precarious places, where a dismount on the wrong side could mean falling to your death.
Needle rifle and DMR
With all the situations covered here, there's the possibility of having a well stocked needle rifle if you harvested ammo from enemies around the map. You could also have a well stocked DMR if you took one from a trooper then walked over the spare on the ground, to combine the ammo.
Going back for the Elite squad
If you bypassed the Elites before rally point alpha, you can fly back to tackle them in the Falcon. On the higher difficulties especially, they could very well all still be alive despite the efforts of your squad members; but it'll help if you didn't hang around long at rally point alpha - because while you do that the Elites will be taking fire from Kat and Emile.
Shooting them up is pretty effortless, so maybe you can draw things out by doing some exciting low-level attack runs or something. They quite enjoy tagging the Falcon with plasma grenades when it's low, but that doesn't matter because it's indestructible. Carter and Jorge will complain, but those bozos are indestructible like the Falcon so I don't know what they're worried about! For a challenge, see if you can kill all the Elites by knocking into them with the Falcon.
Unfortunately the game will give you a checkpoint almost immediately after the last Elite is dead, removing the option of reverting for another battle - a shortcoming I complained about for Halo 3. Best you can do is use suicide reversion, which seems to work just the same as in Halo 3.
Carter at the controls
If you like, you can have Carter doing the flying and shooting, while you stay on the ground. Exit the Falcon and get more than 35 metres away (about three quarters of a sprint), and he's liable to hop out and take the pilot's seat. While he's busy firing from the air, you can either watch or lend some support - though you better not get too close to the Elites or you could catch some of Carter's wild firing. After the Elites are dead he hovers high (unless he got himself caught up in a tree) but the Falcon is within range of a plasma ball, giving you the means to get it back. When it's down, quickly get near the canopy to reclaim your seat.
Don't leave it too late
If you're going to return within normal bounds to have fun with these Elites, you'll need to do it sometime before going near the missing troopers after officially locating them, otherwise the game won't let you back. As you near the top of the valley you'll get rudely transported out of your ride (it would be the same in a truck) and find yourself facing the other direction while the Falcon settles to the ground out of reach. That's really playing a bit rough I think!
Attacking from out of bounds
If you care to escape normal bounds courtesy of a dropship at the trooper area, you'll be able to get the Elites' area reloaded from high up, as described in my article on the wandering dropship escape method (though that method isn't essential for being able to do this). Having done that, you'd have the option of dropping yourself off somewhere extra high for a bit of marksmanship with a well stocked needle rifle or DMR.
I'd been hoping that if I bypassed the earlier covies - stopping only to grab a plasma pistol - I could tackle them with the Falcon too. But sadly that doesn't seem to be on the cards. Very annoyingly, the game progressively removes enemies behind you when you get sufficiently far advanced. I'm not yet sure if this practice extends throughout the game, but it's always going to be bad news for those of us who like to engineer novel fun. It's possible to go back in the truck and still find some Grunts alive near the Elites, but to retrieve the Falcon you have to go further down the slope, and those latest Grunts would get removed (earlier enemies would already have gone). For me it counts as another aggravating design flaw.
Combat at the evac zone
There are a few small enemy groups in the east valley, but the meatiest combat will of course be at the evac zone for the missing troopers. There are two possible locations for that, and you'll have three dropships to deal with. The Falcon can easily slaughter the enemy and can also blow a dropship's cannon off; but don't forget that you can be knocked out of the air by a plasma ball, and yanked out of the cockpit by an Elite.
It would be nice if you could slaughter enemies as soon as a dropship door falls open, but annoyingly they seem to be unaffected until out. Still, you might be able to get a few in mid-air.
Carter and Jorge can't fire from the Falcon, so you might want to avoid having them aboard. The troopers will get better protection if your Spartan buddies are on the ground - if that's anything you're worried about. On the other hand you could have Carter and Jorge aboard and deliberately let the troopers die (maybe even help a little), so all the killing will then be up to you. It may not be quite what high command wanted, but hey, they're out of radio contact anyway; we don't have to tell 'em.
Pinnacles and more
At the higher one there are some excellent high pinnacles around where the covies are dropped, giving you some fine options for shooting down on them, though blasts from the dropship could dislodge you (best leave Cowbell off I think). I'd recommend getting a well stocked DMR beforehand as it's just the job. There's also the possibility of having a well stocked needle rifle by now, as mentioned in the intro. The other weapon of choice would be the pistol of course.
At the lower location near a stream, there's a massive pinnacle to the left as you look at the defence area, from which you'll get a good view of the attacking covies. A good spot from which to use a DMR or needle rifle, though you'll be quite a way off. For another interesting high spot, fly over to the waterfall. On the left there are few patches you can drop yourself on, to enjoy some long-range shooting from behind the enemy.
Because of the difficulty of dismounting onto a pinnacle, it's perhaps worth trying to get a checkpoint when you're up there, so you can keep reverting for some shooting fun. To arrange that, be in position before you trigger the reinforcement dropships. They usually seem to be triggered when you've been sufficiently near the troopers (near enough to end their temporary invulnerability) and reduced the enemy count to no more than three. Once they're triggered you should get a checkpoint, and there won't be another one due until all the attackers are dead.
Combat at the relay outpost
There's a strong covie attack at the relay outpost and you can use the Falcon there too, though you'll be doing it somewhat out of the event sequence the game intended. Fasten your safety belt…
Escape and load
To use the Falcon at the relay outpost, first you need to escape from normal bounds to reach the area. You can do that either using a departing dropship as described in my original article, or use the wandering dropship escape method I found later. I recommend the latter so there won't be any danger of getting 'OBJECTIVE COMPLETE' for the defence of the evac zone. If you were to get that you'd be unable to dismount from the Falcon, or get back in the pilot's seat if you're out. Also, any allies you brought may vanish, and the Falcon too if you're not in it.
Initially stay high as you head for the outpost. There's a long windy road leading there but the outpost will be missing. To get it loaded, get sufficiently low down along the path, not far away from it. E.g. you could be skimming along the path as you round the corner, or you can just descend near the shadow line across the path; you don't even need to get very low at all (it can be triggered as high as 387 feet). There's a checkpoint after the loading, ideal to save as a battle start checkpoint.
Looks a bit hot down there!
As you fly forth over the outpost, Kat and Emile will be present with covies attacking. Once those covies are killed you can trigger the dropships by landing on top of the outpost or indeed anywhere you like, and dismounting, which triggers the prompt 'ADVANCE INTO RELAY OUTPOST' and a new checkpoint. You can then reboard and continue fighting in the Falcon. You might want to stay above the invisible ceiling of normal bounds, because it's very low and somewhat cramps a Falcon's style when you're under it. You can safely fly as low as 110 feet and still be above the ceiling.
An alternative to slaughtering covies from the air is to drop yourself on some high place from which to shoot on foot. From most places you can probably get down later if you want to continue the level. The level can continue even without the defence of the evac zone completing.
If you bring any allies to the outpost, you'll need to get them out of the Falcon if you want them to start shooting. One nice way of doing that and remaining reasonably safe is as follows. Drop yourself on some bit of high ground to the right, letting the Falcon fall down the hill. If it ends up overturned, they should pop out and get to work. You can lend support from where you are, or whatever. If you're going to bring any pals along though, it's good to use the wandering dropship escape method to avoid their possible disappearance, as mentioned earlier.
It's possible to bring all three troopers along (they'll even fit inside with Carter and Jorge), though in that case you won't be able to do the wandering dropship escape. To pick them up, kill the initial covies and let them climb aboard before dropship 2 arrives (do this at the lower evac zone, where escape is easiest). Try and blow its cannon off as it comes in, else it could damage the troopers during the escape.
Standing on a dropship
One rather interesting place you can drop yourself is on top of the final dropship! After making its drop, it hovers stationary until the enemy troops are sufficiently depleted - which could be a long time. The ship will tend to rotate depending on whether you're on its left half or right half - evidently it's trying to point your way - but if you stand on the centre at the back you can get it to more or less stop, or at least slow down. As well as the rotation, sometimes I've experienced the ship doing some quite violent swaying. It's difficult to fire on the troops below, partly because of invisible surfaces around the ship, and maybe the best spot is on the back of the ship. When the ship finally departs (if you can even get it to depart), you'll probably slide off.
It's also possible to land on the earlier dropships but they don't hang around long. The second one does seem to hover for a good few seconds after making its drop though, and I used that one to see if I could go for a ride standing on top. I managed to make it out of the compound, but slid off outside and died in mid-air.