Augmented ascent fight

Posted June 20th 2014

Associated movies… BCM106, 316

Does it seem a bit more crowded in here today?

When you head down into the main facility to reach the Cartographer, there are quite a few covies along the way. If you bypass any of these, they'll remain and you can deal with them on the ascent instead, making for meatier combat. That's the core idea for this article, though I'll also cover some other ways you can alter the usual ascent fight.

Aside from the two Elite guards near the Cartographer, who you'll likely want to kill before using it, it's no trouble to bypass all the covies while retaining full health for the ascent. The easiest way is to go onto the platform where a cutscene plays (which you can cancel by throwing a grenade just before it triggers), wait for the checkpoint for safety, then make one or more falls until at the bottom. If you've got an overshield it can be done in one big fall. The two Elite guards can easily be taken out by approaching unseen and tagging the nearest. Works like a charm!

Yup, definitely more crowded!

Alternatively you could perform a few falls elsewhere, though you're more likely to get spotted at various points. See my shortcuts article for options.

If you now use the Cartographer, you'll get a checkpoint. Save it, and you can play your augmented ascent fight repeatedly (though you can expect multiple checkpoints on the way up, so at the end you'll have to eject the disc and reload if you want to get back to the start, which is a bit of a drag).

Discluding the two Cartographer guards, the covies on the way down are namely as follows. There are some in the upper room (starting with an Elite operating some sort of device), Jackals down the ramp from that room, Hunters and Jackals in and around the 'Hunter chamber', and a squad in the lower room comprising an Elite with Grunts. On Legendary that makes 27 troops, while on Heroic it's 22.

There's trouble out front too

Extra covies outside too

Actually you can also bypass some covies just outside the facility, so you can tackle them after getting through the cloaked Elites. Specifically you can bypass two Hunters right outside, and a group of Jackals off to the left as you face the facility (3 on Legendary or Heroic). These guys spawn after you've used the security substation to get the door open (assuming you visited the main facility to make it close).

When you emerge from the facility and engage the Hunters, often the Jackals will be alerted and close in. Sometimes they remain unaware though, as in BCM316.

Eliminating the music

For me it's also desirable to eliminate the excessively loud music which gets triggered early on the way up. I described how you can get rid of it in Ascent without music, but here's my advice on how best to incorporate that in the present situation.

After killing the two Elites and using the Cartographer, go along their tunnel and turn right at the end, heading up a ramp. Continue across the room, preferably trying to avoid getting spotted by any of the Grunts (though it doesn't matter much, even on Legendary). Cross the camo Jackals trigger line at the next ramp, but keep the checkpoint delayed initially by jumping or by relying on enemy threat. Continue the delay until the music is over, then get and save the checkpoint at your chosen starting spot, wherever that may be.

Note: When you kill the Cartographer guards, a Grunt (or sometimes two) will probably run down to the active camouflage area. If you want to make him back off to his squad, I think basically all you need to do is alert him to your presence. But sometimes he goes back without you even needing to do that.

Land safe, rocket launcher

Preparing extra weapons

Another way you can adjust the ascent fight is to've done some weapon arranging beforehand. These could either be weapons brought in from outside, or weapons available inside the facility. You could have a weapon stash at your starting position for initial selection, and more interestingly you could have weapons along the ascent (e.g. a load of needlers!). I'll say a bit more.

In regard to weapons from outside, a good way to get them down into the facility is to take them onto the cutscene platform and throw them down. There are multiple surfaces in sight. The highest is the area outside the Hunter chamber, and a weapon thrown there could help you tackle the covies there or higher up. If you throw a weapon lower - I'm mainly thinking of the two bright surfaces - you could get down there yourself later and move it somewhere else. There's a lot of scope for thoughtful placement.

Ready to ascend, with all six weapons available at the start

Throwing weapons down isn't the easiest thing though (they easily bounce off into the void), so it's good to get a checkpoint beforehand; and if you want to get a lot of weapons down (I did fourteen for one save), you'd probably want to consolidate with a checkpoint after every successful throw or two. There's a checkpoint associated with the platform (you can cancel the cutscene as mentioned in my shortcuts article), and if you want others you can keep returning up to surface level, where checkpoints can be repeatedly triggered near the end of the ramping. After doing all your throwing, you can follow on down and move the weapons to their final positions.

In regard to a weapon stash at your start location, it would be nice if it lets you start the fight with any two of the six available weapon types for this level. Then you could see if you can get through with a particular weapon combo. You can get a plasma rifle from one of the two Cartographer guards of course, but as for the other weapons, you'd probably want to bring them down from outside. Pistol, AR, rocket launcher (that has to be from outside of course), plasma pistol and needler.

Say goodnight fellas

As for weapons from within the facility, there's a pistol and AR outside the Hunter chamber, but those would be problematic to access for moving, due to the patrolling Jackals (quite murderous on Legendary). You'll probably want to leave those where they are.

Moving Hunters

One other thing you can do is to lead one or both of the two Hunters down to a lower area, to tackle in a novel place later. I think they need to go quite far down though, else they're liable to simply return to their chamber. Here are two specific examples of moving.

If you lead a Hunter down the ramp which leads to the active camouflage, you can make him go over the edge at the bottom by dodging a swipe. It's not too hard, though it may take a few attempts. In my experience he'll then go into the room where the Grunt squad is, and will likely take up a similar position to that of the second Hunter in BCM106.

Both Hunters in the bottom room

If you lead a Hunter along one of the outer walkways you can make him fall down to the area with the overshield by dodging a swipe. From there you can expect him to go up the short ramp to join the Grunt squad.

In the picture here you can see both Hunters in the bottom room, having been moved in the manner described. This picture comes from the save I used for making BCM106, and I must say that it's excellent fun having both Hunters in that bottom room. If you instead leave them in their chamber, that place can be rather tough to enter later on, bearing in mind the Jackals.

Note: Prior to doing Hunter moving, you may want to get a checkpoint in case you mess up (e.g. you might take a hit and lose health). After throwing weapons down and following, I was able to get checkpoints in two places. I got one by heading up towards the Hunters (there was some associated intercom babble, the gist being that we'd better find the Cartographer), and one by nearing the Grunt squad in the bottom room.

Enemy numbers

If you bypass all the covies except for killing the two Cartographer guards, and if you also have the extra covies outside as I mentioned, how many covies will you face in all?

On Legendary it'll be 77 (of which 32 were bypassed), comprising 13 Elites, 32 Jackals, 28 Grunts and 4 Hunters. On Heroic it'll be 60 (of which 27 were bypassed), comprising 11 Elites, 25 Jackals, 20 Grunts and 4 Hunters. I haven't bothered counting for Normal or Easy.