Great moments in PC gaming: Importing a save

(Image credit: Beamdog)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

The idea of importing save files to play the same characters across multiple games goes way back. Some versions of 1982's Wizardry 2 didn't even have character creation as an option—it was assumed you'd obviously show up with your party from the first game on a disk, like a polite dinner guest bringing a bottle of wine.

It was the wild west for save transfers in those days. The Bard's Tale 2 would let you import characters from the first Bard's Tale or from a couple of completely different games—Ultima 3 or Wizardry, but only if you had the Apple II version. Characters from the first Gold Box D&D videogame (Pool of Radiance) and its sequel (Curse of the Azure Bonds) could carry over, or bounce across to a terrible spin-off called Hillsfar, then back again. Might and Magic 5 not only let you import characters from Might and Magic 4, but then combined the two games into a single massive entity called World of Xeen with a new endgame for high-level characters.

The Quest for Glory series took it pretty far as well. Though anyone could play a fighter, mage, or thief there was a secret fourth class—the paladin—unlocked by being disgustingly honorable all the way through the second or third game. That character could be exported, which was the only way to be a paladin in the rest of Quest for Glory.

I was having none of that at the time. In the series' debut, Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero, thieves got enough points to buy every skill and then cheese across the sequels as if multiclassed—a thief who could also join the magic academy and win most of the fights. My hero never made it to the fifth and final Quest for Glory, though. Thanks to a bug in Quest for Glory 4 he's stuck in a swamp forever.

When I've lost old saves and had to recreate them with tools like the Dragon Age Keep, or the Q&A that ensures your Clementine in The Walking Dead: The Final Season had the appropriate upbringing and haircut, I feel a little regret at my carelessness with those old friends.

(Image credit: EA)

My Commander Shephards fared better, two of them making it all the way through the Mass Effect trilogy with morality and romantic history intact (though during Mass Effect 2, Miranda has to ask who you chose to be councillor because the endgame save was before that decision). It's satisfying to see a face you designed pop up in a new game, then climb back into that persona. It's like sliding on old pants.

Sometimes there are little bonuses as well. Export a character from Baldur's Gate with the seemingly pointless golden pantaloons and you can begin the Pantaloons Enigma across Baldur's Gate 2 and its expansion. In Silent Hill 2 you have to fish a wallet out of a gross toilet, and when you try to dig around in a toilet in Silent Hill 3 it'll check for a savegame and, if it finds one, have the protagonist look at the camera and say, "Who would think to even do that?"

And let's not forget the best old save bonus. Get Geralt drunk in The Witcher 2, then never remove the questionable neck tattoo he wakes up with, and that topless lady tattoo will stay with you all the way through every very serious cutscene in The Witcher 3.

(Image credit: CD Projekt)
Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.