Vidmaster Challenge: Annual Walkthrough
Many people cringe upon the very sound of this achievement. A deadly combination of the flood, legendary difficulty and the endless amounts of team-work required to accomplish the challenge, puts most people into fear! Eh...well, maybe its not that bad. Regardless of what you think about this achievement, it's actually very easy to do and there are so many reasons to do it. You've got the challenge, the fun, the laughs, the look on your face when you see its worth 0 GS, and with the ever nearing prospect of unlocking the Recon armor variant for use in multiplayer really gives you that urge to tackle it. For me, this achievement is a lot of fun and I get the most enjoyment out of it when I hear that sound of accomplishment from those who do it with me.
So, myself and the Spartan I Project "Annual Team" have worked together to bring you this in depth walkthrough on how to approach and conquer annual and do so in a time that won't have you ripping your hair out! We'll cover the simple things like where to position yourself to avoid being killed, shortcuts, using Sgt. Johnson to his full potential, battling spark and using the ghosts efficiently. We'll also take a look at some simple but important team work skills that you'll need while going through the level. All in all, this mission can be done comfortably in less than 30 mins. So sit back, enjoy the read and grab some popcorn while you watch the short clips too! Just to mention that the methods used in this are based on the idea of doing this quickly but as safely as possible.
For this achievement:
You can actually get this achievement by using a guest account too. But I stress the fact that "guest" is singular. Anymore than one and it more than likely won't work. If you don't have the "Iron" skull in your possession, you can collect it from Sierra 117. If you don't know where on the level, just YouTube it. The one thing that many people fail on when trying to do this is their lack of team-work and communication. This achievement is completely orientated around those two specific skills and without them you will not get far. Many players tend to adopt the "run and shoot" strategy but it doesn't even come close to working. And to be honest, nobody wants to put up with endless amounts of deaths. Finally, because of the route we take in this guide, checkpoints tend to become...confused. They pop up in random places or just don't pop up at all. However, the way things work out, you'll barely need them. Okay, now that that's all cleared up, let's go!
So here we are after crash landing our lovely pelican into the snow covered Halo ring. I'm sure most, if not, all of you know the story finale by now so I won't bother rambling on. Anyway, in four player co-op on halo, Master Chief will spawn with and AR and Rockets. The three elites will have plasma rifles and fuel rod guns. When you begin you'll be facing away from the pelican. First thing first! Turn around and look behind you. You'll notice an array of weaponry all over the ground beside the crashed ship. There are three BRs on the ground. One is right beside where you spawn in front of the pelican, a second is in plain site behind the ship and the third is up on the mound of snow to the right of the second. Trade your AR/Plasma rifle for a BR or shotgun. Make sure to keep your rockets/fuel rods! When you get sorted, make your way towards the construct. Bear in mind that on your way to the tower, you pass by the skull for that level and also one of the seven terminals. Why not try and grab two or three achievements in one!
In order to do this mission, a member of your team is going to execute simple shortcut by jumping up the side of the tower, and then up onto the center column. They will then walk up the tower and jump across to the snowy platform where Johnson stands with his laser. As a result, the flood will actually abandon the battle on the ground level and jump up to the top level of the tower leaving the remaining three players alone and allowing them to safely climb the tower (if they want to). They can otherwise sit tight and be teleported up later on. Before you walk out into the open space and engage in battle, decide who is going to execute the jumps. The jumps can be executed by using grenades, fuel rods, gravity hammer, brute shot or rockets. You can also double jump people up. You'll see more on the jump executions further down. For now, arm yourself and get ready for battle...
When the flood start to drop, one person should take out the hammer wielding, brute combat form. The rest of the team should make their way up onto the snowy ledge that sits above the cave entrance. Just walk around to the right, ignore all of the flood and climb up. From this spot, you can move back into cover if your shields get too low. When all four of you are up on the ledge, start picking off the flood with whatever weapons you have. Make sure to take out the human forms wielding SMGs/ARs and the brute forms wielding maulers/brute shots. They tend to cause the most problems. Whoever has the rockets should waste them first and then pick up some of the fuel rods lying around but only if it is safe to do so. Note: Bear in mind that whoever is going to be going up the tower should keep a few rounds of BR ammo. You'll see why later! Once you pick off most of the flood and you're sure it's safe to jump down, head over to the left side of the tower. The three players not executing the jump can sit tight or they can follow. Just make sure you don't kill yourself by accident (it happens A LOT). Stay away from the right side of the tower. If you venture over to far, you'll trigger the flood in masses!
Okay, so if you're doing the jump you should have (preferably) a BR and a fuel rod gun. As I mentioned before, there are several ways you can do this and we'll look at them momentarily. All of these methods take practice so I suggest you go into easy campaign first to try them out and see what works best. Stand on top of the raised cliff section beside the tower wall (see video). Arm the fuel rods, face the tower's edge and look down. Move forward. Then jump and fire! Keep your joystick in the direction of the tower. If you did this right, you'll be propelled up onto the side of the tower. You should also have only lost a third of your shields. There should be a split second between your jump and fire combo. Doing both at the exact same time will diminish all your shields and this can be dodgy if any flood drop down! Once up on the first level, position yourself at an angle with the center column. Using the same technique as before, perform a fuel rod jump up onto the beam. This jump is the trickier of the two so practice, practice, practice! The edges of the column are slightly slanted and landing on them will slide you off and into the giant pit below. Once on the center platform, make your way up the tower.
You can also do the jumps using other weapons. Another suitable way is to use grenades. Frags and plasmas both work but each has its own technique required to use them. Frags pose less of a risk when jumping over them, whereas plasmas can potentially kill you if you don't jump over them at the right time. You can also use a brute shot, the gravity hammer or in the extreme case of having no ammo and you can't double jump people up, you can use rockets. I recommend you don't though. 90% of the time, you'll just kill yourself. Check out the clip below for a look at each alternative weapon.
Once your jumper is up on the tower this level now becomes easy street. Walk up the tower to the very top. You'll hear Johnson talking with Guilty Spark for a brief moment. What you need to do now is go towards back wall and look over at a small, upward slanted ledge on the left between the construct and the cliff. Run and jump across onto this ledge. Then crouch jump from the ledge onto the Cliffside. Be careful not to jump from the very top of the ledge as you'll risk hitting the snow above you and then falling down onto the tower with the anxiously waiting flood army. Continue around towards Sgt. Johnson. Remember when I said it's handy to have some spare BR clips? Well we're going to use them now! We're going to kill Johnson and steal his laser. Don't worry though he comes back to life. Why kill him, you ask? Apart from the sheer pleasure of it, his laser has infinite ammo! The reason for the BR clips is that head-shotting Johnson is an instant kill. You can shoot him with rockets, plasmas, etc, but there is the possibility that he'll blast off the cliff and hence loosing the laser or he'll show off his "bad-ass-ness" and won't die.
Anyway, what you need to do is headshot Johnson and when he drops his laser, pick it up. But...when you pick it up, do the weapon carrying trick, sometimes known as "Juggling" (pick-up laser, pick-up BR, pick-up laser, etc while moving forward) and move your dropped BR away from his body. By doing this, Johnson will spawn with another laser. Why is this important? Well, you'll notice that the first laser he drops only has one shot left in it. This is not the infinite version. Use this laser to kill Johnson once more, and collect his second laser. The newly acquired one will have an ammo reading of somewhere between 60 and 100. In the meanwhile, the other 3 players just need to sit back while you clear the top of the tower with the laser. If Johnson managed to stay on the cliff without falling, he'll spawn with another laser and will begin aiding you in the cleansing process.
When all is clear, you'll see "loading" appear on the bottom corner, followed by a checkpoint. At this point, you can go ahead and drop down to the construct. The three players, way down below, can still sit tight. Search the top of the tower for a bubble shield, dropped by an elite form that was wielding a fuel rod gun. If it's not on the top deck, it could be on the second level, where the flood originally spawned. Once you've found it, head on inside. On your way in, start "juggling" a third weapon. We're going to use it to drop out our laser so it respawns for us when we beat spark. When you reach the first doorway, the gravemind will speak out. At this point, a re-grouping checkpoint loads up and all four players are reunited. Before you approach the door to Spark, have everyone hold back. Juggle your weapons over to the pillar just opposite the doorway. Now leave the laser on the ground and activate the door. You should see it lying in the background of the cut scene. Now, time to take on 343 Guilty Spark!
Some things to note when fighting spark:
When you load up on screen, move everyone back to the door. Now drop your bubble shield. Everyone is now protected and the bubble dies off just as Johnson takes his shot. Since Spark concentrates only on Master Chief, use this to your advantage. When Johnson shoots Spark, whoever is playing as the Chief needs to run up to the glass walls on the left hand side and crouch there. Do NOT pick up the laser on your way! Leave it for someone else. Spark's energy beam will not be able to get you from behind the glass. Plus he is now open for a free shot. Whoever picks up the laser can now three-shot him and end the battle with ease.
**The Way the World Ends**
So we come to the final leg of the mission! This is by far the most fun aspect of the level. It's fast paced and the raw epic-ness, that is explosions + cowbell, makes it thrilling too. Anyway, when you emerge from the control room, you should see that your infinite laser is still there. Go get it! Then slowly get everyone to move up. Take out the infection forms from a distance with your AR and use the laser to take out the elite combat forms. Once that's done, head outside and start clearing up the sentinels and the stray flood on the cliff. In the meanwhile, everyone else can go get their ghosts and bring them topside. The ghosts are located on the second level underneath the ramp to the left of where you emerged. It's dark down there so you may not spot them immediately. But they're there! Now, it's time for a nice, neat trick. Many people fall off the Cliffside ahead when trying to maneuver their ghost around it, being bumped by other players or when trying to follow the ghost in front. However, all four people need not go across. Instead get one or two people, preferably the person holding the laser and another player and let them go across to the "doorway in the cliffs". The other two players need to just stay sitting in their vehicles. Once the room is cleared of flood, move up to the corridor of flood carriers. When the players enter here, another regrouping checkpoint activates and the two players are teleported along with their ghosts. Make use of the alley on the left to go around the carriers and head on outside.
Wait for each other outside! This is the most organized section of the level. Having a structured format right from the start helps a lot. The most important roles in the ghost run are the leader and the guy taking up the back position. The guy at the front needs to know where he is going all the times and is responsible for setting the pace of the pack. The guy at the back, probably more important than the leader, is responsible for keeping an eye on the other members of the group and needs to dictate the pace at which the leader is going. He is constantly calling out to the leader saying things like "Keep going", "Someone has flipped, slow down", "tighten up the group", etc...He can see everything; the leader only sees what's in front of him. Usually, experienced players take these positions. There is no real trick to this other than following a preset path. Keep your boost on at all times and take it off when making sharp turns or when you find yourself getting too close to people. Bumping into ghosts flips them very easily. Also, when following people in front of you, try to keep your vehicle within the blue lines trailing behind them and keep yourself roughly a warthog's length in distance away. The videos below will show the most preferable route to take that will get you to the end in one piece.
I find that the second base structure is one place in particular that many people tend to fall at (no pun intended). As you approach the second base, use this as an opportunity to regroup into formation again. This base in particular is crawling with flood and, in particular, carriers. Bumping into these will send you flying and could knock you out of the vehicle leaving you in the line of fire. And trailing behind. Avoid them at all costs! Take the area slowly, but not too slow that you'll be shot to death. The most important part of this base is leaving it. At the second right-hand turn, wait for each other and regroup. That section is like a bridging point between one area of enemies and another. Use it to make sure everyone is back together before taking to the ramp. If you neglect to do this and one person starts to make the jump off the base, tiles will begin to explode and by the time the last person has begun to make the jump, it could be too late...
From here on in it's all about following the rest of the preset route. Watch the final clip below and see the final half of the ghost run without interruption.
And that's it! You've just completed the Vidmaster Challenge: Annual. The sweet "bleep bloop" sound should be ringing in your ears. Hopefully you found this walkthrough of benefit to you and I wish you all the best of luck in tackling this on your own. From myself and all of us at the Spartan I Project, thanks for reading! Remember too, that if you are having any trouble in gathering a party of people together to do this, the SIP Annual team is always here to help. We carry out annual runs everyday, and guarantee completion in less than 30 mins. If you would like us to help you out, then head on over to SIP and get in touch with the Annual Team!