The drill needs to be carried and placed at the hive or obelisk's position by a player in order to start the process of destroying the hive/scanning the obelisk. When carrying the drill, the drill carrier cannot attack at all until the drill is put down. Players carrying the drill cannot climb objects like ledges and railings which require the user to press and hold the jump button to climb it, but this can be circumvented if the player climbs almost immediately after setting the drill down. If successful, the player will still have the drill after climbing the obstacle, but if not, the player may still be able to pick up the drill if the player is close enough to the drill. If close enough, players can even pick up the drill if the drill is on the other side of a thin wall or fence.
While drilling, the player(s) must protect the drill until it finishes. Only Scouts and Hunters will directly attack the drill, but the drill can be damaged indirectly by other types of Cryptids if it so happens to be struck by an attack, although a Scorpion is capable of shooting acid at a drill, but this is very rare. The drill usually suffers just a single point of damage from an unintentional attack. A single Scout or Hunter can attempt to physically mount the drill, and this Scout or Hunter will not get off the drill until it is killed. A mounted Cryptid will deal damage over time to the drill until it is killed. Scouts damage the drill slowly and do not pose a huge threat if left unattended to for a few seconds, but a Hunter damages the drill very quickly and needs to be dispatched as quickly as possible. The difference in how quickly the drill gets damaged between a Scout and a Hunter is so severe that a player can recognize what Cryptid is on the drill just by looking at how quickly the drill's health is dropping. A mounted Scout or Hunter is incapable of hurting players, rendering them extremely vulnerable. Scouts and Hunters can attempt to target the drill if there is already a Scout or Hunter mounted on the drill, and they will usually divert their attention away from the drill after a moment or two.
The drill has 100 health to start with (125 if planted by an Engineer. It can be repaired when it reaches lower than 75 health (a player with an upgraded Engineer class and/or using Team Booster does this job better). The drill's current health is displayed in the top left hand corner of the HUD, and the color of the progress bar will change depending on the health of the drill. The progress bar is solid blue to start, but transitions from blue to green, green to yellow, and yellow to orange as the health of the drill deteriorates.
The player's in-game character(s) will make comments declaring that the drill is under attack by any source, regardless of if the drill is being damaged by a mounting Cryptid or just a stray attack. When the drill passes the health threshold that enables a player to repair the drill, a message prompt will be delivered on-screen all players alerting them of the ability to repair the drill, and the drill will be highlighted bright yellow to indicate its perilous situation. Additional cues are delivered if the drill goes below 50 health and 25 health respectively. When the drill goes below 50 health, the player's in-game character(s) will make comments expressing concern about the condition of the drill. The drill will beep frantically whenever it is below 25 health.
When repairing the drill, the player will set their weapon aside and repair the drill until the process is either interrupted or completed. If an Engineer is repairing the drill, the Engineer retains access to their weapon, allowing an Engineer to defend themselves while also repairing the drill. If the drill is successfully repaired, the drill returns to its maximum health (125 if an Engineer repaired the drill, 100 if any other class repaired the drill), and the player that repaired the drill will get a small amount of cash as a reward.
The following actions will interrupt the drill's repair:
- The player repairing the drill is downed,
- The player repairing the drill halts the repair themselves by letting go of the action button or moving away from the drill's repair range,
- The drill is destroyed while the player is attempting to repair the drill, or
- The hive/obelisk the drill/scanner is operating on is completed.
In Mayday, the Laser Drill can also be used to open doors. Some of the doors need to be destroyed in order to progress, but a number of them are quick, optional doors that just contain schematic toolboxes. In Awakening, the Laser Drill is actually a modified Optical Scanner on the drill chassis, and is used to scan Obelisks, instead of to destroy hives.
If the drill gets destroyed, the game will end. Because the drill's destruction triggers an automatic game over, protecting the drill is one of the top player priorities. Engineers are very proficient at drill protection, as they can give the drill more health when they plant the drill, in addition to being able to repair the drill more quickly, plus being able to defend themselves with gunfire when repairing the drill. Due to the fact that the drill is a natural target for Cryptids, a common tactic by players is to lay an I.M.S. right on top of the drill when it is active (the drill does not have a hitbox that collides or conflicts with the I.M.S. when the drill is in use). The I.M.S. will serve as a great last line of defense against Cryptids targeting the drill. Players also tend to place Sentry Guns near the drill to protect it.
The last objectives on each of Point of Contact, Nightfall, and Mayday do not require a drill, so when players destroy the last hive before that last objective, the drill can safely be forgotten about without any repercussions.