When's the last time you looked up a walkthrough?

A pirate holds a map
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Long ago, when we still huddled around the campfire in fear of screeching dot-matrix printers as they stalked the plains, walkthroughs used to be .txt files with ASCII art. Sometimes they had FAQs at the end suggesting a long and arcane history of beefs between competing writers. It was a different time. Now, you're more likely to find a professionally written guide or an expansive wiki. Either that or have to scrub back and forth through a YouTube video with the sound turned down so you don't have to listen to someone talk.

When's the last time you looked up a walkthrough?

Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Natalie Clayton: I s'pose I occasionally look up guides for loose quests or items, but the last time I went full "15 walkthrough tabs open" mode was in replaying Halo 3: ODST last year. I made it about halfway through collecting that game's audio logs before realising I had no clue where to begin to find the rest—and with those logs telling a pretty solid little noir narrative, I wanted to see it through to completion. Cue me copying walkthrough maps into MS paint, checking off locations that I knew (or was fairly sure) I'd visited as my poor soldier stalked through rain-soaked Mombasa streets. I'm glad I did it, mind. That short story ties very nicely back into the main plot, and ODST's jazz-infused midnight streets are a joy to inhabit.

Katie Wickens: Most of the time I don't tend to bother with guides, especially as I've never been one for hundred-percenting. I tend to wander blindly, taking things as they're thrown at me and enjoying whatever surprises are in store... until I inevitably reach an impasse.

I think earlier this year I checked a walkthrough for The Forest, simply because fumbling around in that disturbing, labyrinthine underground tunnel network chased by cannibals is not an option—get me outta there as fast as possible, please.

(Image credit: Mossmouth, Blitworks)

Evan Lahti: Spelunky 2 is dense with oblique secrets. For me, it's the sort of game that you don't want to wiki your way to victory because the experience of discovering a hidden door on your own or through word of mouth is so much richer when it happens organically. But at some point, you've run your hands across every wall, thrown a bomb at every block, and you need to just crack that book of secrets. Last week I finally looked up how to get the Alien Compass so I could finally reach The Mothership after 150 hours. Looking this up allowed me to finally unlock Pilot, one of two characters I hadn't rescued.

Christopher Livingston: I use guides and walkthroughs pretty regularly—I've certainly checked them a lot for New World to learn where various resources are found and where fishing hotspots are located. When returning to a game after an absence I look things up to remember how they work, as I did when I started playing No Man's Sky again after the last update. And I used our own Far Cry 6 guide to find a rocket launcher because Castillo's helicopters were raining on my parade.

The last time I used a proper detailed walkthrough was playing the new version of Myst last month—which is still the same old Myst, really, so those ancient walkthroughs written almost 30 years ago still work for those puzzles I could neither remember nor figure out myself. I even used a walkthrough when playing Sam & Max Hit the Road a few months ago. I've played that so many times I remember the location of just about every single item and the solution to every puzzle, but this time I couldn't remember where to find a cork. It was in a wine bottle at the Sasquatch party. Of course.

festival of the lost headless

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Lauren Aitken: Today. I had to look up my own guide because my lizard brain forgot what I was doing in Destiny 2. I'm a professional.

Phil Savage: It's impossible to seriously play Destiny 2 without at some point referring to a guide. Sometimes that's fundamental, basic information, like where the hell is Xur—a roving vendor that for whatever reason isn't marked on the map. Sometimes it's more intriguing, like the obscure rituals that need to be performed in order to launch the most obscure exotic quests. Sometimes it's more in-depth, like the recommended gear for the game's most difficult PvP and PvE activities. And sometimes it's just depressing, like the list of activities you need to finish before they get 'sunset'—aka, deleted out of the game—with the launch of the next expansion.

(Image credit: Bethesda, Arkane)

Robin Valentine: I check guides all the time. I'm a very indecisive person in games, and I'm often worried about making the wrong choices, so I'm often looking more for advice than pure info. I think most recently I was reading up on where I should be spending my Infusion points in Deathloop—whether it was better to infuse rare guns, trinkets, weapon upgrades, or something else. 

I am also just deeply impatient. I rarely like bashing my head against a puzzle or a hidden secret for too long. The treasures in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, for example, that give you little hints or drawings to interpret. After about five minutes of pondering, if I haven't gotten the answer straight away, I'm off to Google to figure it out for me.

Dave James: The last guide I checked was actually for FIFA 22. Not because I've forgotten how the offside rule works, or need a reminder just how much of my own real money I should be spending on FUT (the answer, of course, is none; screw that mode), but because after all the noise about how realistic the latest version is, or how good the new goalkeepers are, it played... dull. Thankfully there are discrete sliders you can tweak to your heart's content in order to make for a more realistic experience. So I just went looking for a guide that helped provide me a real challenge, without being utterly impossible.

New World review

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Alan Dexter: It probably says something about the kinds of games I play, or maybe just me, but I generally have a guide open alongside whatever is on my main screen. At the moment that'll be something related to New World—where to find a particular resource, what's the best way of levelling Armorsmithing, which dungeons I should be hitting next, what are the best builds for the Life Staff, etc. As someone that has sunk a lot of hours into WoW and Magic: The Gathering, I've just got used to this way of playing. There's no point reinventing the wheel every time. Draw on the experience of others and save time while I'm at it. 

Harry Shepherd: I'm PCG's Guides Editor, so I already know everything there is to know.

Please don't attempt to verify that.

From our forum

ZedClampet: It's been too long for me to remember exactly. I sort of decided that if I had to use a walkthrough then I wasn't interested in the game. 

Walkthrough: Put cat on the turntable to play the secret message.

Me: I'm not playing this anymore.

I should mention that a lot of the games I've been playing now lean toward an extensive wiki rather than a walkthrough, and I use wikis all the time for figuring things out like "How often does the meteor strike?" As for YouTube videos, they are an absolute last resort. Content creators just don't value my time enough. I end up skimming through a 30-minute video just hoping I accidentally land on the right spot. If you are doing a video on a specific topic, just get to it. I don't need elaborate intros or meandering soliloquys.

Pifanjr: I think the last time was for Dark Souls to get a better idea of what route to take and where to grab some nice items. I also had to look up how to level up in Dark Souls 2. I either missed a hint or the game just straight up doesn't tell you.

Far Cry 5

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Brian Boru: That would be about 2 hours ago! Doing the Clean Water Act mission if Far Cry 5—where you have to blow up a pair of pumping stations at a water plant—I couldn't figure out how to reach the second station, and finally looked it up. It was definitely a tricky one!

Apart from getting stuck, generally I'll look up things after a first playthru—or occasionally halfway thru first play—to see what others have to say about the best weapons in each class. I often miss stuff like this gun has an under-barrel grenade launcher attachment, or there's armor-piercing bullets for that rifle.

Previous time was my first play of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 when for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get a steady—ie non-sway—sniper scope for long distance. Never found the info, and ended up discovering it by accident later 

I also sometimes enjoy watching YT videos after the fact, to see how others approached the more interesting or challenging missions.

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McStabStab: I use the Wiki for Divinity: Original Sin 2 a lot. There's so much in that game and much of it I may have missed if I would have done it blindly. In the end I don't feel like I'm cheating, but really unlocking more of what the story has on offer.

pathospades: Probably a few days ago. I watch some Dead by Daylight videos and they always talk about "this perk" or "that perk". As you know, with competitive multiplayer games, there's always a ton of info, so it's just expected for everyone to know there's a wiki. Other than that though, I think I looked up TD Bloons wiki once or twice.

Alm: I have no shame in looking at walkthroughs (and playing games on easy difficulty). Last time I used a walkthrough was a couple of weeks ago on Zelda on the Switch. I'm very much there for the story in games and if I get stumped by puzzles that don't seem intuitive I'll generally look it up. I don't see the point in stressing over solving things myself just to serve some sort of principle.

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DXCHASE: Why just a few minutes ago! Looked up some stuff for Far Cry 6 on where to go to unlock a whole special outfit that I want.

mainer: I won't use a walkthrough, wiki, or any other source for an entire game, but I have consulted those sources at certain points in a game when I'm completely frustrated by some kind of puzzle that I just can't get my head around. One of the more recent times would be in Dragon Age Inquisition (3rd playthrough) when trying to solve some of the Astarium Constellation puzzles. I love the game, but some of those puzzles just left me completely frustrated, and it wasn't worth spending literally hours on trying to solve one. Some were relatively easy, but others weren't, like this one.

I spent way too much time on that one. Another source of frustration resulting in me consulting a walkthrough, was towards the end of Divinity Original Sin EE and the constant barrage of Teleporting Pyramid Puzzles just to advance the game. I wasn't going to quit the game (because I loved it for the most part) and I was so close to the end, but I just hit a wall and my brain locked up; so I looked up the last few puzzle solutions in a walkthrough.

(Image credit: Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital)

Kaamos_Llama: Death's Door today. I just killed Betty the Yeti and I have no idea where I'm supposed to go next. I don't get that frustrated if I can't beat a game section, but if I have no idea where I'm supposed to go or what I'm supposed to be looking at I'll be straight to a walkthrough. Wandering around kicking the scenery is boring to me.

Krud: Hmm. I don't remember. Last Tuesday, maybe? I'm so unabashedly casual about it now that I don't pay attention. Waaaay back when I felt guilty about it, I could tell you every time I gave up on a puzzle and looked it up, but now I'm just lazy and entitled, er, I mean, too busy and efficient...

(Image credit: Activison)

Sarafan: It was quite recently. I was playing one of the Star Trek classics, Bridge Commander, and couldn't get through a mission that requires a stealth approach. Basically Bridge Commander is a game where you have a limited direct control of the spaceship. You can do it, but it's better and more fun just to give orders. This is what this game is all about after all! The problem starts when you have to avoid enemy patrols just by giving orders to your crew mates. And what's very important, you can't save the game during the mission. So if they detect you, the only option is to start again. After a few tries I had enough and decided to check a walkthrough on YouTube. I didn't regret this, because the mission was too much...

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 Playboy.com, 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.