THE PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
- Do you turn your PC off at night?
- What's the most disappointed you've been by a game's ending?
- Claptrap: good, bad, or the worst?
No matter how much a game is QA tested before it's released, there's always going to be a loophole, a glitch, or a bug that goes unnoticed. That is, at least, until the game falls into the hands of the players. Once a game is in the wild, the tiniest crack in the code will instantly be swarmed by a freight train of players who exploit the issue for their own gain.
And we're not pointing fingers, because we've definitely done our fair share of it over the years! We've used weapon and item dupe exploits, bugs that allow powerful bosses be killed with no risk, achievement and XP farming, and more—hell, just last week Chris was using an exploit in GTA Online (which has now been fixed) to win big at the casino horse races.
So we're coming clean and admitting our crimes against games—though some of us clearly feel no shame about it. Our question for our staff and readers is: What's the biggest game exploit you'll admit to using? Come on, it's okay. You can tell us. We're just as guilty as anyone.
Phil Savage: Team Fortress 2 - achievement farming
It's a point of pride that I never resorted to one of TF2's achievement servers, but—back in the days when you needed to complete achievements to earn new weapons—I did visit many a bot-filled custom server. The more predictable AI, the looser rules, the consistently easier kills, the instant respawns and intractable stalemates made farming achievements much easier.
And it was fun too—a chaotic change of pace where you could have fun with characters you were otherwise incredibly bad with. It's why I—a terrible Spy—have the most points in a single life and longest life with Spy. It wasn't technically cheating. And even if it was, the low human populations of these servers make it an (almost) victimless crime.
Chris Livingston: Minecraft - block duping
Back in the very early days of Minecraft I played on a server with a bunch of friends, and I remember using a dupe glitch one of them told me about. If you dragged an item or stack of items quickly back and forth between your inventory to a container, every so often you'd be able to make it appear in your inventory before the server noticed it had left the container. Suddenly, instead of appearing in one place or the other, it would appear in both at the same time.
I turned 4 blocks of TNT into eight, and then 16, and then 32, and soon I had stacks and stacks of it. Well, soon probably isn't the right word. It would take ages, honestly, sitting there dragging the blocks back and forth until a tiny bit of server lag happened and the dupe trick actually worked. It probably would have been quicker to just craft the stuff. The point is, everyone on the server had built amazing houses for themselves and my house looked like ass and the dupe glitch gave me enough TNT to wipe it off the map before anyone saw it.
Morgan Park: Dying Light - weapon duping
I try to only use exploits or glitches to get around mechanics that feel bad, and that was the case with Dying Light's weapon duplication exploit. I loved slicing up zombies, but hated how quickly even my best weapons would break and need repairs. An exploit discovered soon after the game's release allowed me to very easily duplicate any weapon I wanted by throwing it, pausing, and dropping the same weapon from my inventory before the thrown weapon hit the ground. The game hadn't acknowledged that the weapon left my inventory yet, so it just dropped a copy.
It was too easy to pass up and helped me enjoy Dying Light more. The exploit was patched out in a matter of days, but it was there long enough for me to finish the story having a great time.
Andy Kelly: Final Fantasy VII - W-Item bug
I hate to admit it, but the first time I finished Final Fantasy VII, I used the infamous W-Item bug. This exploit lets you use a materia called W-Item, normally for using two items in one turn, to create copies of anything in your inventory that can be used during a battle, up to a total of 99. It's horribly easy to do, and cloning items such as elixirs and chocobo greens (used for breeding) makes certain parts of the game much easier. And because you can sell the duplicated items, you'll never be short of money again.
I've since replayed the game without using the exploit, but I still feel bad about using it that first time.
Lauren Morton: Guild Wars Prophecies - Charr farming
Around 2009 there was a thriving community in Guild Wars who never left the tutorial area of the game. There was a title and achievement for hitting max level without continuing past the point of no return. Problem was, you'd eventually stop getting XP for killing the enemies as they were too far below your own level. At the time, the only way to reach level 20 was to spend a LOT of time in a particular zone aggroing enemies (Charr), pulling them to a resurrection shrine, then allowing them to kill you.
You'd get resurrected automatically before the Charr left aggro distance, so they'd return to kill you. Over and over and over again. Eventually they'd level up enough by killing you that you'd be able to return the favor and actually earn XP for it. It was some very dry MMO stuff but I have many memories of sitting in a TeamSpeak server chatting with guildies while my character got beaten to death repeatedly by murderous cat people.
James Davenport: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - idle assassination
I'm not sure if it counts or is particularly clever because I'm sure everyone did it, but what the hell. Brotherhood let players recruit their own assassins and send them on missions to level them up and unlock new abilities. Since missions were based on simple timers, I'd just leave the game running as I went about my day, sending assassins on new missions every hour or two. I'd only just unlocked the ability to recruit fellow knife experts and had the most elite team of assassins to ever grace the earth overnight.
The rest of Brotherhood was a breeze. A quick whistle and my crew would leap from heaven and plunge a sharp edge into every guard in sight. It was effortless. Easy. Rewarding. And a pretty big waste of time.
Tim Clark: Destiny 2 - all of them, apparently
Obviously my answer relates to the Destiny games, and equally obviously there isn't a cheese I haven't sampled. (Brilliantly, Bungie actually has an in-house team dedicated to finding the most degenerate exploits which is simply codenamed: Velveeta.) In the original game I squatted under a platform for the best part of half an hour shooting the Archon Priest in the shins just so I could complete the Nightfall whilst massively underleveled. And of course I pissed away entire nights firing mindlessly into the loot cave, despite the developers patiently explaining that this was actually a less efficient way of farming for loot than just playing the game properly.
Raids have inevitably been one of my biggest sources of gorgonzola. Yes, my first Crota clear involved yanking out a LAN cable to freeze the poor bastard taking a knee so we could whale on him. No I didn't feel the least bit bad about it. On PC, the fromage feast has continued. To be fair to us, my raid team had multiple Riven kills under our belts before we found out you could skip the lengthy and heinously tense sniping sections and instead just pummel the poor girl in the mouth with cluster rockets, turning the greatest encounter in the game into a triviality.
But probably my favourite piece of cheddar has been the Menagerie exploit. You could re-instance the final chest after killing the boss by running back and forth between areas, which led to players doing a relay race that could earn them six or more legendary drops per completion. The fact you could target what weapon or armor you earned made it perfect for no-lifers like me who wanted god rolls. Bungie was mercifully slow to fix this one, enabling many of us to stock our vaults with near-perfect guns. In fact that exploit was a huge part of what made the mode fun in the first place, and I suspect they'll find a way to replicate the fun of it—albeit slightly less generously—when Shadowkeep launches in October. (And no doubt brings with it a new smorgasbord of Stilton-based shenanigans.)
Jody MacGregor: Borderlands 2 - final boss camping
The final boss of Borderlands 2 is a giant alien biological superweapon called The Warrior. You have to fight it on a platform surrounded by lava which The Warrior can knock you into with a tail attack. It regularly summons crystalisks, which have explosive attacks that can also knock you into the lava. After a bunch of hot melty deaths I gave up on coming out to play. Instead of charging into the arena after respawning, I found a vantage point where I could see ever the lip of it and get a few shots in when The Warrior leapt about or perched up on a high rock. Then I fired every bullet I had at it, strolled back to a vending machine to restock, and repeated until it was dead.
That fight's probably balanced for multiple players, but all my co-op buds had moved on from Borderlands 2 by that point. As the guy who no-lifed almost 200 hours in it, being able to cheaply take out The Warrior was a blessing. I did it again in True Vault Hunter mode too. No regrets.
Fraser Brown: Neverwinter Nights - monster murder
I've used exploits in plenty of games, but this is the only one I actually regret. I used to play a lot of Neverwinter Nights when I was in university, specifically the player-run persistent worlds that sprouted around it. These mini-MMOs felt like living D&D campaigns, and one in particular got me to stick around for years. It was a roleplaying server where stats and levels didn't really matter, but when I realised there was one area where you could murder high-level monsters who couldn't fight back, I was there like a shot.
It was totally pointless, and I was well aware that it was against the rules and that the GMs knew about the exploit—I have no idea why I did it. I got caught, of course. Right in the act, too. I was very sheepish about it and claimed ignorance, though I have a feeling nobody was buying it. This was over 15 years ago and I'd still feel awful if anyone I played with back then found out.
Wes Fenlon: Battlefield 3 - the ultimate shotgun
Cheating in online mulitplayer games is dirty, and I've never used wallhacks or trainers or anything like that. But I did once gleefully take advantage of a bug in Battlefield 3 that turned one of its shotguns into an insanely broken murder machine. That shotgun was called the M26 Dart. It wasn't even a standalone weapon: The Dart was an underslung add-on for assault rifles that pumped out a muffled burst of flechettes for close-range kills. It was quiet, good for sneaking up on people but hardly the most powerful weapon in a firefight. Except when a bug in a Battlefield 3 patch made each pellet the M26 shotgun fired deal as much damage as a bullet from the primary weapon it was attached to. It required a funky combination of the M26 and a heavy barrel to trigger the bug, and suddenly every pull of the trigger produced instant death. The extreme power of every dart and the extra range from the heavy barrel meant you could obliterate people at assault rifle ranges if just a few pellets landed. And let me tell you: That was fun.
I only used the M26 Dart for half an hour or so before I felt guilty and switched back to normal guns. I was never very good at Battlefield, but for a few glorious minutes I was unstoppable. I wasn't as brutally efficient as Jackfrags in the video above, but I still felt superpowered.
Robin Valentine: Nothing, ever
Honestly, as far as I can recall I've never taken advantage of a bug, glitch, or exploit in a game. I've never duped an item, I never went to the loot cave, I don't even save scum.
Some combination of my fear of authority, an overblown respect for the developer's vision, and the worry I'll irreparably break something has always kept me on gaming's straight-and-narrow. Frankly, I think you lot should all be ashamed of yourselves—it's only yourselves you've been cheating.