Thursday, August 29, 2013

Exploiting Checkpoints in Deadspace 3

Dead Space 3 has a rather strange save system where inventory is saved when you quit the game even though progress through the story is lost.

The game has both "hard" and "soft" checkpoints. The soft checkpoints are far more frequent but are not permanently saved. If you die while playing you respawn at the last soft checkpoint but if you quit the game  you will return to the previous hard checkpoint. Since hard checkpoints are relatively infrequent you can lose quite a bit of progress unless you are disciplined enough to always wait till the next hard checkpoint (indicated by a symbol in the corner of the screen) before quitting. This sucks of course and is the type of thing which convinces me that save anywhere is much better than rigid checkpoints. The developers of Dead Space 3 decided to soften the blow of losing progress by allowing you to keep your entire inventory and health when you quit even though you lose your progress in the story.

Collecting loot to upgrade your weapons and gear is a  major element of Dead Space 3 so being a allowed to keep your loot is a big deal. It is also open to exploitation. Most containers respawn when you restart so all you have to do is start the game, loot a few nearby containers and then quit. Restart and loot the same containers again. Repeat for infinite resources. The loot seems to randomise every time so it is pot luck what you get and to the best my knowledge really special stuff doesn't respawn but you can get plenty health ammo and basic crafting components.

Before you dismiss me as a no good cheating exploiter let me point out that the game showers you with loot anyway (on the standard difficulty setting) so the exploit isn't worth the effort in most cases. It can be essential however if you get yourself stuck in a bad situation as happened to me at the very first real boss fight:

There is a trick required to kill the boss so even though I started the fight with a full inventory of health and ammo I died a few times while I figured out the pattern. Not a problem because each time I died I respawned back at the start of the fight with my original full inventory. Dying doesn't preserve inventory. It was getting late however so I decided to call it a night and finish off the boss the next day. I saved and quit.

Restarting the game the next day I was first pleased when I started back in the boss arena but then horrified to see that I had low health and was completely out of health and ammo packs. There were a miserable few pieces scattered around the arena itself but no where near enough to actually kill the boss. I simply did not have enough bullets to kill it even if I managed to avoid ever being hit. This was all due to the unusual save system which saves inventory but not progress. I had quit the game at the end of an attempt on the boss at a point after I had run out of supplies but before I had actually been killed. I restarted in my very depleted condition but with the boss back to full health. 

Thankfully the exploit saved the day but not without considerable tedium. There was one loot crate  that I could reliably get to before the boss jumped me so I would start the game run and loot that crate  and then save and quit before I got hit. Restart and repeat ad nauseam. The loot randomisation made the whole process a lot slower but at least I got a lot of crafting material en route to getting enough health and ammunition to finally renew my assault.

It is worth noting that the same inventory quirk which allowed the exploit was directly responsible for me getting stuck in the first place. In the circumstances I think I was justified using it in this case.


Jayedub said...

The save system in Dead Space 3 drives me crazy. I have noticed the loot respawn and used that to my advantage a few times know I was probably going to have to replay an area after quitting.

mbp said...

I finished the game today JD and looking back I really enjoyed it. The weapon crafting system is incredible. Perhaps the most flexible I have every seen. Totally agree that the save system sucks though. I had to replay quite a few sections over because I misjudged a checkpoint.