Crazy-firing Elites

Posted August 21st 2012

Associated movies… BCM54


Woo-hoo, it worked!

In late 2011 I posted about crazy-firing Grunts, in which you get a Grunt firing his Shade or needler non-stop at high rate, i.e. 'crazy-firing'. I've now managed something similar with Wraith pilots, following an idea I had while pushing Wraiths about during my work on the cavern megabattle. I pushed a manned Wraith to the corner in which I'd had the Shade, and managed to get it crazy-firing in the same sort of manner as with the Shade, namely by crossing the loading point as it's firing a shot (though it was a lot harder because it's just one shot, not a rapid volley). You can subsequently eject the pilot and he'll continue the crazy-firing with his plasma rifle, though it repeatedly overheats and he has to let it cool down. And just like the Grunt, the direction of his gunfire is influenced by where his previous bit of machinery is pointing!

The picture here shows my original crazy-firing Wraith from May 4th after I'd spent maybe twenty minutes or more trying to get it going, not knowing if it could even work. A later picture shows the ejected blue going nuts with his plasma rifle.

Setting up

Here's how to set things up with a handy checkpoint, after which you'll be able to get the Wraith crazy-firing. Any difficulty can be used, but there's a small advantage to using Heroic or Legendary as I'll explain later.

You're going to need a Banshee. The easiest way is to steal the platform Banshee when you get to it, but you could instead descend from the first bridge to get a Banshee in advance, before resuming normal play.

Let's get this thing down

In the two-Wraith area, eliminate all opposition except the high Wraith. Also get rid of any remaining Marines, as they'll only interfere with your later work. Let them die, or kill them yourself.

Continue to the cavern and kill the covies there. Preferably also kill the ones after the loading point (though you could leave them for later) including the Jackals up the tunnel, but don't trigger the dropship checkpoint yet as it's useful later. A sniper rifle is good for this work.

Fly back to the Wraith, getting a tunnel checkpoint on the way, handy for reverting to if anything goes bad. Push the Wraith off its plateau, getting it onto the slope which leads down into the tunnel.

Not far to go now

Now push it through the tunnel and cavern and beyond. In doing this, try to stay close so it won't fire. There's very little danger if you're careful. If you're ever nose to nose and it's not budging, just back off a bit then ram it to get it moving again. It's also possible to get underneath the front and stay there a while as you 'carry' it along, though it takes a fair bit of skill to stay there.

With good technique you can reach the loading point beyond the cavern in under four minutes. As you cross it, the pilot loses his AI and the Wraith will no longer rotate to face you, nor will it fire. Push it into the corner area, e.g. with its nose a few metres past the metal floor-strip.

Now fly back to trigger another tunnel checkpoint, but keep it delayed with Banshee fire and head back towards the Wraith. Let yourself get it at the corner just before the Wraith comes into view again (tip: you can expect to be flying around the corner a great many times from this checkpoint, so it's good to be lined up nicely). This situation is just like in the set-up for a crazy-firing Grunt.

Crazy-firing initiation and fun

Crossing at just the right time

To get the Wraith crazy-firing, you'll need to cross the loading point just as it's starting to fire a shot. To be more precise, I think you need to get the "Loading…" message on the first frame of the firing animation (the second seems to be too late, judging by the video footage of close failures I've examined). That's a very slim window of opportunity and there's also considerable randomness in how long the Wraith waits before firing; it can vary by about 2.5 seconds between the shortest and longest delays. So although you can try to optimize your chances by choosing a good time to cross, it's still liable to take a lot of tries (though when I was making BCM54 it only took 23, which I'd say was very lucky). The specific way I suggest working is as follows.

Fly briskly around the corner and start counting seconds or half-seconds as you skim over the peak. Come to a halt just before the loading point (the bottom of the dip), wait, and cross it as a certain time is reached. On Heroic or Legendary use times between about 4 and 6.5 seconds, but on Easy or Normal use times between about 4.5 and 7 seconds (the Wraith is a bit slower to fire on average). In view of the difference, you could expect to achieve success slightly quicker on Heroic or Legendary because you're doing a bit less waiting each time. That's the "small advantage" I referred to earlier.

Note: If crazy-firing is initiated, the initial shot will vanish as you cross the loading point, so there's no need to worry about being in its path. Just make sure you're clear of the next shot!

My original crazy-firer. That plasma rifle sure gets toasty!

Crazy-firing behaviour

On PAL Xbox the Wraith fires 25 shots per minute, or one every 2.4 seconds (timing details may be slightly different on NTSC/PC). You can stand on top of the Wraith if you like; it'll ignore you.

If you eject the Elite, which is easiest by ramming the back of the Wraith to flip it, he fires his plasma rifle in cycles lasting 4.72 seconds on PAL Xbox, once up to full speed after a start-up burst. Each cycle comprises 15 rapid shots then an overheat cool-down period. He'll ignore you but will protest if you whack or shoot him. Interestingly, when I hold down the trigger on a plasma rifle myself, each cycle comprises only 14 shots and lasts 4.92 seconds. Different!

The direction of his plasma rifle's fire is influenced by where the Wraith is pointing, just like a crazy-firing needler Grunt is influenced by where his Shade is pointing; so it seems like there's a common mechanism at work here. Accordingly you can push the unmanned Wraith with the Banshee to adjust the Elite's aim (or press X to flip it, if it's overturned).

Handy checkpoint for play

Post-initiation checkpoint

Having got the Wraith crazy-firing, you can fly deeper into the level to get a checkpoint, namely triggering the dropship checkpoint near the start of the rising part of the tunnel. He'll still be crazy-firing when you return, and in fact you can delay the checkpoint until you're back because the game doesn't consider him a threat to you (it'll only delay for plasma in the air). It's good to have a checkpoint so you can repeatedly play around with the crazy-firing without needing to restart it each time the Elite or yourself is killed.

Note: If you left the Jackals alive up the tunnel, they'll potentially be triggered to come down after you, and could end up pestering you when you're having fun with the Elite. That's why I recommended killing them earlier. However, you could instead do it with the Banshee after triggering the checkpoint.

Going back over the loading point

Warning: If you go back across the loading point, your crazy-firer will snap out of his trance and become normal again, if still close enough to the loading point. Just the same as with a crazy-firing Grunt.

Refined initiation plan

In view of the large number of attempts it's likely to take to initiate crazy-firing, it's in your best interest to maximize your attempt rate, to try and minimize the overall time taken. With that in mind, I developed the following refinement which you may like to use if you don't mind a spot of additional set-up work. It cuts a few seconds off each attempt and there's agreeably less work needed on the controller. You can even make attempts with your eyes shut!

Checkpoint, crouched in the dip

After moving the Wraith into position and getting a checkpoint for safety (e.g. a standard initiation checkpoint), put the Banshee somewhere past the Wraith, out of the way. Dismount and head back through the cavern. Trigger a tunnel checkpoint (reminder: you can't do it sooner than about 73 seconds since the last trigger) but keep it delayed, e.g. with jumping. Return and move to the bottom of the dip, without crossing the loading point. Initially the Wraith will be firing at you but its shots are likely to get blocked by the hump ahead. Crouch to hide. It loses track of you and after a while the game should grant you the checkpoint.

You can now make attempts at initiating crazy-firing. To make an attempt, let yourself stand up so the Elite sees you. Delay suitably then cross the loading point, hoping to do it just as he's firing. If he fires a shot before your advance though, you could make another attempt without reverting if you want. Subsequent shots come at random intervals of between about 2.4 and 3.7 seconds on Legendary, 4.0 to 5.8 on Heroic, 5.1 to 7.0 on Normal, and 5.8 to 8.7 on Easy.

Going places

Slowly getting there

Using a Banshee, it's possible to move a crazy-firing Wraith up the rising part of the tunnel, out into the open. But it takes real perseverance. Once at the rising section you'll need to repeatedly ram it, moving it up bit by bit. It's no good trying to push it continuously because you just don't have enough power. Try to hit it right on the nose, and avoid getting deflected up or else you'll be in danger of getting hit by a shot.

With the danger of nasty accidents to your Banshee in mind, it's a good idea to periodically consolidate progress by flying back to trigger a tunnel checkpoint (once the Wraith has been moved past the hump after the original corner), then delaying it until back across the loading point.

Note: You won't usually be able to delay until back near the Wraith, because of the continual presence of nearby airborne plasma (namely when the Wraith's fire is describing a suitably long arc, which it'll be doing up the rise).

That's a pretty funky aim you've got there fella

Pushing a standing Elite

It's also possible to move a standing crazy-firing Elite up the tunnel and beyond, by pushing him with a Banshee or Warthog, but you obviously need to be careful not to accidentally squash him. Using a Banshee seems easiest, and progress can actually be quite fast once he's on the snowy part of the rise (much faster than moving the Wraith), though it depends how much you want to gamble that he won't get squashed. He continually bumps away from your vehicle. It would be sensible to get consolidating checkpoints along the way to guard against mishaps, but don't go back across the loading point because the game is prone to removing him if you do that.

To avoid his plasma fire while pushing, you'll want his aim directed away from you, which you can arrange by getting his Wraith pointing in an appropriate direction. That's what I did when pushing the pictured red up the tunnel and beyond. His fire was going into the ground near his feet, off to the side.

Ice patch Wraith too

Starting a carry to the slope

It's possible to likewise use the ice patch Wraith, but there are a couple of difficulties arising from the fact that it keeps trying to return to its patch, until you're over the loading point.

For starters it's hard to get it away from the patch and onto the slope leading down into the tunnel. Here's my advice. Facing the tunnel, ram it to get under the nose, and start carrying it along, trying to stay underneath so it can't manoeuvre properly. It's tricky but you may be able to carry it all the way to the slope. If you only make it part way, switch to normal pushing, and with good shepherding you might get it the rest of the way (try to keep the momentum). Things become easier once on the slope, but you'll still need to carefully keep it in check.

No escape for you now chum!

Getting it onto the bridge is the next tricky bit, as there's quite a small gap to squeeze it through. When you get near that point I recommend returning for a tunnel checkpoint, in case it ends up going into the chasm while trying to evade you.

Things are relatively easy after the bridge, and when you cross the loading point it loses AI and stops fighting you. But once you've got it into position, you need to move something in front of it to prevent it moving off later. A Ghost will do. If you don't do that, you'll find that when you fly around the corner to make an attempt at initiating crazy-firing, the Wraith will already be moving your way (it seems to start moving just before you turn the corner), which ruins things.

Further remarks

Multiple crazy-firers

Although using the ice patch Wraith is harder, it does mean that you could potentially end up with two Elites crazy-firing if you want, by first getting one going, then moving him out of the way and bringing up a second Wraith to get another going. But the first crazy-firing Elite would need to be moved far enough through the tunnel that he won't snap out of it when you go back across the loading point for the other Wraith. Moving him just past the next hump after his corner should be ok.

No rage mode?

Here's a little curiosity. It seems to me that you can't get a crazy-firing Elite into rage mode. Normally an Elite will do that when taken close to death, but I haven't been able to make these guys rage.