Battle plans

Here are some battle plans to try (best three first). Depending on quite how many enemies you're dealing with, some of these may only be viable on the lower difficulty levels however (I've mainly used Normal).

Enclosure defence

Associated movies… BCM10, 82

Ever feel a bit cornered?

Up at the far end there's a small area that sometimes contains a Shade. I call it the 'enclosure' and it's a pretty obvious defence position. From there you might initially do a bit of sniping as enemies approach, though there's usually not time for more than a few mags. When they get closer you can retreat towards a corner if you like, forcing enemies to advance through the entrance before they can get nasty with you. In one corner (the left as you face out) there's quite a nook at the back which can give you good cover and give you time to duck back and reload or recharge. Actually, if you hide in that corner before enemies arrive, it may be while before they spot you (you'll probably get rumbled by a Grunt); and then all of a sudden you've got a mass of covies to deal with.

Grenades quickly build up near the entrance, making this a great plan for setting off chain reactions. You'll probably find it hard to stay in one corner due to the pressure and possibly some incoming plasmas from the Grunts, but that's ok; it's a lot of fun moving around from one corner to another, and you can pick up grenades as you go. There's an almost constant supply of them.

Clear!

This defence spot makes for a fantastic battle against 40+ covies on Normal using plasma weapons and and the AR; and with a bit more skill you could bring a needler into it as well. It's utter carnage, and it's really a case of fighting for your life. Make sure you give this plan a go!

I've also tried surviving with just the sniper rifle and grenades, trying to keep the covies back as much as possible, but usually they close in too quickly (as seen in BCM82). You might just about manage it if you shoot fast and make every round count, or if a lot of covies are unusually slow to arrive, but for me this battle is mainly about close-range carnage.

Incidentally, it's possible to escape from either corner by jumping over where the rocky fronting joins the cliff, though that really isn't part of the plan. Could come in useful if you're just dallying here as part of a defence on the move however.

If you're using a Grunts-only save, it's quite an amusing sight as they approach, especially through a sniper scope with light amplification. If there was a 50s B-movie called 'Attack of the Grunts', this view would be just the thing for the poster. Here they come, toddling along from all over, eager to put their needlers and plasma pistols to good use. Cute!

One other remark; your flashlight seems to be a bit fickle in the enclosure, sometimes not illuminating things even though it's on. There's some sort of glitch there - but you get some of this trouble in other areas of the dustbowl too.

Cliff path defence

Associated movies… BCM9, 94, 125

Hah, tagged him!

Defend along the cliff path. There are various options here but I think the most enjoyable is to defend in the section stretching between the two entrances to the dustbowl (the ramp entrance and the far end entrance). You'll potentially have enemies coming at you from both directions, making you the meat in a pretty nasty cyborg sandwich! I've had a load of fun with this against 40+ enemies on Normal and it's one of my favourite defences. This stretch of ground is relatively well lit too (more towards the far end), another reason I like it.

Depending on how many enemies you're up against, you may be able to enjoy just running around taking out covies one after another, throwing grenades about the place and generally tormenting the enemy.

Who says Jackals can't fly?

There are plenty of rocks and trees to use for cover, though that becomes rather hard when enemies are arriving from both ends. Lots of fun for melee too; watch out for heads to whack as you run around. I really like using a plasma rifle here, perhaps coupled with an AR for the fun of drilling enemies up close. Come to think of it though, I like that combo pretty much everywhere in the megabattle.

If you want to have enemies arriving mostly from only one direction to give things a less chaotic flavour, it's easy enough to engineer. To get most of them arriving via the ramp entrance, you could just hang around at the safe spot for a short while to get everyone clustered below in the dustbowl, then run along the side path and to the entrance (or you could jump across and go over the bridge, but you may take more fire that way). If you instead want most enemies arriving via the far end entrance, you could head around that way yourself, ideally pausing a while (still cloaked) before moving onto the path, to let more covies get drawn that way. You can see that method being used in BCM125. In both cases there are other ways too though, and once you're in that section of the path, it's fairly easy to draw enemies to one particular entrance simply by being nearer to it.

Likewise, if you want them coming from both ends, it's quite easy to get them doing that. I like to get them coming from both ends because it generally makes things more interesting. Against 40+ covies on Normal, you'll need to work hard to stay alive.

Ramp defence

Associated movies… BCM79, 83, 95

Have some of this grunty!

Defend around the base of the entry ramp, having arranged for the covies to come flooding down from above. This is a really great bottleneck situation, wonderful for grenade use. With so many enemies being killed in such a small area, chain reactions can be massive and it's a lot of fun to see covies go flying off into the void. Also, sometimes an individual bang will shunt a covie off the cliff edge, which can be amusing.

Originally I classified this as a type of cliffside path defence, but when it came to doing BCM79 I decided that it really merited its own dedicated section as it has a different emphasis and character. Instead of fighting along the path, the idea is to predominantly repel covies from close distance as they come down the ramp or reach the base - though at times you may get forced back along the path some way.

Grenade delight

There's some rocky cover handy on both the left and right as you face the ramp. In particular there's a large rock on the right corner, great for standing behind ready to give someone a nasty surprise, or using as a recharging spot when needed. You can buy yourself extra recharging time by dropping a grenade to give arriving covies something to think about, but don't be too close to that side rock if a big bang is about to occur on the ramp. There's also a tree which can be useful when you're under pressure.

If you want to bump up the challenge, see if you can defend at the bottom of the ramp itself, never letting yourself use cover to either side. Ideally you'll want to keep the covies from getting past you.

All the weapons except the sniper rifle are excellent to use in the ramp defence, though the needler requires more effort and care. In BCM79 I used all four of the standard available weapons by way of demonstration, but my favourite combo is certainly the AR and needler (see BCM83 and BCM95 for triple plays with that combo). The situation is pretty much perfect for the AR, and you can have huge fun with a needler too - and usually you'll be able to maintain a constant supply of ammo for it.

As usual, you can raise the challenge by limiting your grenade use, or forbidding them entirely. Mind you, grenading the covies on that ramp is so addictively glorious, I find it rather hard to forego the pleasure.

Top path defence

Associated movies… BCM78

Now this is what I call fun!

At the end of the bridge there's a short bit of path to the left. There, you're in a great little area from which to defend against enemies that come along it. If they were initially gathered in the bowl or near the passage entrance, they should mostly come along just as desired.

You've got various rocks available for cover, including one on the inside corner where the bridge and path join, and one against the cliff wall. You can flick between those as desired, or just stand out in the open flaunting yourself if you like. You could also advance to the odd holed rock that sticks out of the cliff wall, to see if you can keep everyone back from there, or to give arriving covies an extremely close-range surprise. Real in-your-face stuff!

I think you're supposed to throw them, not stick them on your nose

This is a favourite defence of mine and it's great for setting off one chain reaction after another if you're in the mood for some high-explosive fun. Mind you, with all the plasma grenades littering the place you have to be mighty careful not to blow yourself up!

Don't overlook the needler in this defence plan. Yes it's slower than the plasma weapons and AR, but if you pick your moment it can give you a very satisfying bang. The enemy only has a narrow gap to come through, and they're not great at dodging.

As seen in BCM78, the sniper rifle is viable too, including with 10x magnification if you position yourself quite a way back. But be aware that if you were to back off sufficiently close to the passage which leads to the next area, you'd cause enemies to start flocking to the passage entrance, rather than continuing to head for the top path. So stay a few metres clear of the edge. Also, if there's a Shade there, you might like to grenade it off, to make sure you don't accidentally board it when reloading in battle.

Quite often there will be enemies gathered further back near near a tree where the active camouflage was, sending needles and plasma your way. Watch out especially for needle streams. It's easy to get too focused on enemies closer to hand, and then all of a sudden you realize you've got a stream of needles piling into you. Not good news! If you've got a spare grenade, clusters of enemy on that mound make a nice target. One other thing to beware of is the occasional enemy coming across the bridge behind you.

Bridge start defence

Hold it right there fellas

First get the enemy gathered down in the dustbowl near the passage entrance or thereabouts. You can make that happen by waiting at the safe spot for a short while. Now run to the area between the start of the bridge and the cliff wall. If you were waiting at the safe spot as suggested, you just need to run along the side path and continue a bit further. Turn to face the enemy (the start of the bridge will now be to your left) and defend from there, trying to keep the covies back as they come up the slope towards you.

You'll have a tricky job as the enemy has quite a wide area in which to advance. You can defend either from up top or from lower down where there's a large rock formation for cover. They seem to favour coming around the right side of that formation but you'll also get some coming around the left. If you're defending up close to that rock, try switching from side to side to keep them back. That may be the best tactic and I had good fun with it against 40+ enemies on Normal. Better chuck a lot of grenades though!

Two mounds defence

Arrgh! Get back you grunty devils!

With the enemy gathered down in the dustbowl, defend from well ahead of the enclosure at the far end of the area. You'll have a mound to your front left with a rock jutting out of it, and a mound to your front right where there's sometimes a Shade. The ground makes a nice curve between these mounds and the enemy can be quite a spectacular sight as they come into view (heads first, if you're back far enough). You can defend from whatever depth you fancy and could every try using a sniper rifle if you go well back. From well forward you'll have the best chance of keeping them contained in the bowl but you're also exposed to more enemy fire, so you'll probably have to back off pretty soon.

The enemy has a wide area to come up and they tend to spread out, so you'll probably have some enemies coming in at you from your sides. This can make it hard to stay in control, and things may soon degenerate into a chaotic affair with enemies all around you. But that can be an enjoyable aspect of the battle of course. You've got a nice big patch of fairly level ground for moving about in - and movement is going to be pretty important if you want to stay alive!

Good deeds were done here

Because you're fighting without cover, this can be a rather hard battle and may not be viable if you've got a load of Elites present. It may be best played against lesser enemies only. I tried to defend against 30 Grunts on Normal using a plasma rifle and AR, and it was tough work, especially if I disallowed myself the use of grenades. Made for a lot of fun though! After a battle like this, take the time to survey all the blue Grunt blood splattered around. Oooh, pretty!

With this battle you may need to make a bit of an effort to get the enemy coming up out of the dustbowl in the desired manner, rather than having a lot of enemies arriving over the humps themselves, giving you trouble from your sides. Assuming you're starting off cloaked, try the following. Go to somewhere near the start of the bridge (e.g. underneath the start of the bridge - or perhaps further back against the cliff wall where there's a solitary ground light) and wait a short while for enemies to flock your way and gather, then head up between the two mounds. That should give you a good attack, though you'll probably still get a few enemies coming in from your sides. You'll find that you can influence them with your position. A little to the left or right and they tend to go that way.

Choke point defence

Associated movies… BCM55

Get enemies following you, then take up a position at a choke point where they can only get at you one or two at a time, allowing you to kill one after another quite easily. Explore for the best places. You can have some good fun with this, and it's a fine recipe for chain reactions if you fancy clearing the ground of bodies occasionally.

That's right grunty, you're next

Bridge rock choke point

Possibly the most amusing instance of this idea is when you've only got Grunts around and you lead them towards a rock you're sheltering behind, so they come into your sights at very close range, which is when you inject them with bullets or plasma, or give them a good whack if you like. For example, lead your grunty mob across the bridge in the direction of the grav-lift, and shelter behind the second rock you come to (as seen in the pic). Crouch down and prepare to fire crossways as the victims come through, sometimes with an amusing sideways hop facing you. Here you've got the added benefit that enemies often stagger back from a light peppering and fall off to their deaths (e.g. on Normal try two or three AR rounds fired staccato style). You'll hear the death cries. Hilarious! You can see some of that in BCM55 (in which things get set up in quite a roundabout way as I take my time eliminating the Shades). A bit of grenade work can be amusing too, though you have to be careful not to get yourself blown up. Sometimes Grunts dive off to avoid a throw. The third rock can be used too, though Grunts won't die from falling off the bridge there.

You might also like to jump out and see the Grunts queuing up along the bridge. Quite a sight, and you can have some fun using grenades on them or just laying waste with gunfire.

Cloaked mischief

So many possibilities…

Do some mischief while cloaked. Major fun! Here are some ideas.

Tagging unsuspecting enemies is the obvious thing to do. Watch their comical reactions. Tag lesser enemies low down to make them shoot up; see my general article on launching Grunts and Jackals for details.

Bashing enemy skulls should also be on your list; see how many you can get. Can you get all the Elites and Jackals? Or maybe all the Grunts? Use a plasma pistol or AR so you can whack fast.

Here's something else, best done with a concentrated mob. Lob a grenade straight up in the air and watch the enemy follow it as it comes in amongst them. Enjoy their somewhat dim-witted reactions and the subsequent bang sending them flying. Bunch of idiots!

If you've got lots of Grunts in a nice gaggle, fire off a shot and enjoy watching the whole lot leap off the ground in surprise. You have to see that!

Special set-up advice

To get more time for using the camouflage, you might like to create a dedicated save using one of the methods described in Cloaking issues. That'll be no trouble on Easy, a difficulty level which seems perfectly fine for cloaked mischief.

Launch me

Higher next time please

This isn't much of a battle plan as you're going to lose quite badly, but here goes.

Stand where needler-wielding enemies can really pile in those needles; maybe on top of a rock or something. You want as many needles as possible. Eventually, BOOM! You go soaring up from a needler explosion igniting your grenades, and you can briefly see part of the level from above. Fascinating. That's the first time I've seen it from the air. Different places can tend to send you different directions, depending on nearby surfaces and how your grenades drop. Explore.

Special set-up advice

To make things as spectacular as possible, you could perhaps use a special save in which only enemies with needlers are present. This way, plasma fire won't contribute to your death and you should hopefully take even more needles. I haven't actually tried this idea out yet, but I like the sound of it. If you can manage to set it up on Heroic or even Legendary, I think you'd get even more needles heading your way as enemies are more aggressive.