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Yes, you can cheese this achievement by using a low-level co-op host. But some choose to do it The Hard Way (TM). This guide is for them.
This is a guide for those dedicated Borderlands players who want to complete this achievement The Hard Way (TM). Which means not using a low-level co-op host (for a still time-consuming, but otherwise trivial run) and playing solo (no team revives). I’ve recorded rounds 19 and 20 in all three arenas from my completion runs. Each of those took about 7 hours, net playtime 6 hours plus breaks, so prepare accordingly. If you get killed and go into the penalty box, you will be sent back to the first wave of the previous round. This is will add 15-40 minutes to the total, depending on circumstances. Some of the advice presented here also applies to co-op completion of the Big Tournament.
1. Recommended class: Siren
It is possible to do this on other classes, sure, but the Siren’s “panic button” ability is a far better tool for surviving solo than the others. The regeneration from Inner Glow makes Vampire/Naked challenges so much easier; you can quickly re-position yourself if you’re surrounded or take a heavy melee/grenade hit, etc. For the rest of this guide, I’m assuming you’re playing a Siren.
As you can see from the videos, I’ve completed the Big Tournament on level 61. It’s doable with lower levels, the skills you absolutely need are the ones which boost Phasewalk (Inner Glow, Hard To Get, Hit&Run, Blackout) and the one which gives shield regen after a kill (Girl Power). You can mix and match the others, I recommend Diva, Mind Games, Quicksilver, Slayer, High Velocity. My SMG proficiency at that time was 46 (not even maxed out), sniper proficiency 15.
I included my equipment at the start of each video. Must-haves:
Non-elemental Anarchy SMG: For Horde waves; fire-elemental Psychos, Skags, Crimson Lance; Close Combat challenge. Aim for the head in close range.
Hellfire SMG: I killed about 80% of all opponents with this one. Aim for center mass, ignite them, then pop back to cover, and hear them scream as they burn to death. Relying on burning is great because you can sort of ignore damage-reducing challenges like Beef Cake, Weapon Challenges, Headshot, Overclocked, etc. The Elemental challenge actually helps you! The burning damage numbers also serve as enemy locators, which is especially helpful in Hell-Burbia.
Shock SMG: For Guardians and some bosses and enemies with strong shields, especially with the Overclocked challenge. Round 20 boosts enemy shields by 68%.
Volcano: Mostly for Gun Waves, for enemy packs behind cover. Used the same way as the Hellfire, aim for center mass instead of trying to line up perfect headshots, and incinerate them all day long.
Low delay, quick-recharging shield: The best ones have “550AWE” or “550OS” in their name. The best manufacturers are: Anshin (recharge delay/rate), Atlas (shock resistance), Pangolin (capacity – has great synergy with Diva/Girl Power), Torgue (health boost). This piece is the hardest to find, truly excellent shields are rare.
Health boosting (Tough Guy/Muscleman/Macho) Torgue shield: For Naked challenge, swapped with the regular shield. The best you can get is 60%, I managed to finish with a basic 30%. All other stats of the shield are irrelevant, though, so it can be a low level white shield.
Transfusion grenade mod: Mostly used in Gun and Badass waves. Easy to find.
Mercenary COM with Ammo Regen as second ability: Bread and butter of this build. Without this, you would run out of ammo pretty fast, especially in the later rounds with stacked damage-reducing challenges and bloated enemy stats.
Super Healing Kits: Fill your inventory with these, and apply as needed. Mostly for Naked/Vampire challenges, but you might need them other times as well, when Phasewalk in still on cooldown and you’re pressured heavily. Remember that solo play has one advantage over co-op: you can pause the game any time, which includes opening your inventory.
Thankfully, both Hellfires and Volcanos are common legendaries, it’s not that difficult to gear up for this achievement.
- Corrosive SMG: Kills Crimson Lance faster than burning.
- Non-elemental Sniper Rifle: For Headshot challenges, especially if Naked is also in effect. Skullmasher is great for easy headshots, Penetrator can be spammed, etc.
- Specter COM with Ammo Regen as second ability: Support your sniper rifles if you use them a lot (I didn’t). These COMs can only be found in The Secret Armory DLC.
4. Wave tips
Starter wave: I usually wait around a bit, because most of the time, different types of enemies spawn and they proceed to thin each other out. In most Starter waves, there will be melee enemies which rush you, be prepared.
Gun wave: This wave takes the longest, at least it did for me. Use cover all the time. Watch out for grenades. Be prepared for flanking, especially if Roadrunner or Spastic is in effect. Most difficult in the Angelic Ruins, be wary of crossing open terrain or sitting too long in the same spot.
Horde wave: The Gully and Hell-burbia have multiple safe spots, use the early rounds to learn them. To my knowledge, The Angelic Ruins doesn’t have one (maybe with a grenade jump), but the double high platforms with stairs on the left are good for making it easier at least.
Badass wave: Again, I wait a bit, listen to the sounds to check if Skags or Guardians have spawned etc. Maybe they will engage with the Bandits/Lancers. Some melee enemies spawn as well and will rush you as usual, be prepared. Badass Bruisers with rocket launchers: Circle-strafe if you need to go close due to a mod or enemy pressure. Guardian packs: Circle-strafe. Archguardians: Go close, at a certain distance, they will stop the annoying and dangerous bombardment, and switch to an “energy spear” attack which doesn’t deal a whole lot of damage, can be dodged, and you can use cover to recharge your shields. Crimson Lance packs with shock weapons: Use Transfusion grenades as primer, so that when you engage them, you will get some heals mid-combat. Be careful, shock blast hits in later rounds can down you very fast due to putting you below the health gate instantly and the DOT from the shock blast draining your remaining health.
Boss wave: As a general rule, remove the adds first. Some bosses are pretty easy, if you don’t get too cocky: Hans&Franz, Nine-Toes, Reaver, Sledge. Baron Flynt and One-Eyed Jack are the most dangerous by my reckoning. Jack’s zigzag bullets can hit you behind cover, they deal strong damage and have a high fire rate as well. Spastic challenge turns Baron Flynt into a rocket-spamming Terminator, beware. He’s pretty fast even without the speed boost, with Spastic, he can chase you relentlessly and spam those rockets constantly without any noticeable reload pause.
5. Location tips
- Be fully aware of enemy spawn locations in all of the arenas, and try to avoid them. In later rounds, there will be multiple spawns during a single wave, and if a strong enemy spawns behind your back while you’re busy shooting, you can be downed in an instant.
- Memorize all terrain features, so that you don’t get stuck while backpedaling.
- The Gully offers a teleporter between the lower and upper levels, use it to your advantage. The enemies cannot willfully use it, but it’s possible that they stumble into it, so don’t assume that no one will follow!
- Hell-burbia is where it’s the easiest to get stuck on a terrain feature while kiting.
- The Angelic Ruins is in my opinion the most difficult arena. Least amount of cover, lots of “bad” cover where you’re easily flanked. It’s easy to get downed with no enemies nearby due to the larger engagement ranges. Spastic and Roadrunner challenges make covers even less reliable. I had the toughest situations during rounds 14-18 here, which were not recorded so I cannot share them. Got downed three times with very close Second Winds – I got downed only once on Hell-burbia with an easy SW, and zero times on The Gully. Always check your flanks after emptying a clip if you see close blips on your radar!
Good luck, Vault Hunter! Earn those badges of Badassery!