Monday, August 19, 2013

Mod Review - Torchlight 2 Synergies Mod

Synergies Mod 2.189 for Torchlight 2

Synergies Mod is an example of a mod with great ideas, but packaged with too many changes. The net result is that you might want some of it, but not all. In a way, you're back to vanilla Torchlight 2 -- A sort of all-or-nothing situation. Very large mods do tend to be released in a sort of convenient single package, but this really defeats the purpose of the modularity of mods. (Torchlight 2 does have a 10-mod limit, so this does tend to encourage compilations, however).

One of the interesting ideas here is "elite" and "hero" non-champion enemies. You could randomly encounter them, and they don't have special abilities like Champions, but are tougher. Some are tediously big and tough, however, like Hero Warmakers with a huge amount of health and an irritatingly high block rate. They are big and neat to see the first couple of times, but after that they are just boring and tedious to grind through. It slows the pace of the game down, and wastes your time handling one tedious and unimportant enemy.

Another interesting idea is "world bosses" -- super-tough boss enemies. Again, an interesting idea, but they could block your way in game story progress and then you have to wait for the world to respawn (you can force a reroll of the game world in single player by starting a LAN game and checking the Reroll box). It's not for everyone and could be a gamestopper. It's packaged with Synergies, so it's likely a lot of work to take it out if you even want to fool around with the mod editor.

Yet another idea is increasing the number of enemies that spawn, increasing their health a lot, and simultaneously reducing the level requirements for skills. This accelerates your game slightly in terms of level advancement and seeing skills, but I feel the cost is too much -- too much grind just killing the enemy hordes. Also, the amount of health combined with the increased amount of enemies means area effects and crowd control are suddenly much more important.
The amount of items that drop simply because there are more enemies increases, but it's generally just more junk because the rate of good loot dropping hasn't been increased. If you do play Synergies, you might want to get something like a Bag Mod to reduce the amount of time you send your pet to town.
Despite the increased enemies, you may find the game not appreciably harder than regular Elite mode, and possibly easier (e.g., my Engineer playing Synergies on Elite difficulty finished Mordrox of the Bring Out Your Dead quest using no potions, but in vanilla Elite mode had to use a few healing potions). But the pacing is definitely slower.

Depending on which character type you are playing with, trying to play Synergies on Elite might be impossible as you can't get past the opening Act to reach the Enclave because you run out of Health Potions (you could, however, just die and get respawned again and again...). A single Elite or Hero enemy could keep wiping you out or at least soak up your resources.

New classes such as the Necromancer, and lots of pets, are added in Synergies and more work is being done on them, so if those are of interest to you it's worth watching to see how things develop.

Some mods that modify Synergies include a loot drop rate mod (which doesn't seem to do that much) and a population control mod (which seems to also disable the skill unlock level changes -- but you can get that back with this mod).
You can also ease the getting-to-the-Enclave start of the game by using a Heal Self I or Heal All I spell. To spawn it (since you can only get spells from loot until Act II), use the single player console and the allitems spell command. This creates all spell scrolls at your character's location. Take the one you want and reset the game world, or put it in your shared stash (which you can access anytime if you have the BagMod) for another character to pick up.

Overall I decided not to use Synergies, and instead went back to choosing more modular mods and in that way have greater control over tweaking my game.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Borderlands 2 Cheats

You can use a savegame editor to do various cheats for Borderlands 2 and accelerate your game. With the savegame editor, you need to exit Borderlands 2 before saving changes for any changes you make to be recorded in the .sav file.

Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode
Normally, to play Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode you need to play through the game at Normal, then again at True Vault Hunter Mode. However, with the savegame editor listed above, you can skip directly to Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
  • Make a new character. For convenience, follow Claptrap until you get to the Teleporter. Otherwise, when you reload the game, you will be forced to sit through the crawling-in-the-snow intro.
  • Quit Borderlands 2.
  • Load the savegame in the game editor and go to the "Raw" tab. Change "last playthrough number" to 2 and "playthroughs completed" to 2. This makes the game think you have finished Normal Mode and True Vault Hunter mode.
  • Start up Borderlands 2.
  • Even if you only have 1 character, use "Select Character" to select the character you edited. This should result in a dialogue box asking you which game to load. First, Load the True Vault Hunter mode.
    • If you load the Ultimate Vault Hunter mode, you will get some sort of garbled message. It appears the game works just fine, but I recommend playing it safe here.
  • Save the game and exit back to the menu.
  • Use Select Character again and now choose Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
You will probably want to save the game and exit at this point so that you can go back to the game editor. There, you can set your character's level to 50 (and Sync the XP as well), as well as level up any gear you have.
When you go back in the game, you may also want to save-and-reload a few times to repeatedly loot Claptrap's place until you get a shield and some weapons or grenades. At Liar's Berg there is a level 52 badass bullymong who will probably wipe you out no matter what you have, though.

To get some purple gear to start, you could also make a new character and level them up to 50. Then use the savegame editor to place them in Sanctuary. There, you can repeatedly open the special chest with the Golden Key (see how to do this below). That chest always gives purple gear, but of a random type.

Badass Ranks
If you want to skip doing annoying challenges such as finding Cult of the Vault symbols and instead just give yourself a bunch of Badass Ranks, you can do so quickly using the savegame editor.
A character's progress toward Baddass challenges is recorded in the .sav file. The total badass ranks accumulated so far is recorded in the profile.bin file. To get lots of badass ranks quickly, you can therefore make a dummy character designed to accumulate badass ranks.
  • Make a copy of your profile.bin file in case you want to undo the results of your gross amount of cheating.
  • Make a new character and save them once you reach the first teleporter at Claptrap's place.
  • Use the game editor to give that character $3,000,000. This should be enough to get them rank 5 for the money-accumulated challenge.
  • Make a copy of the new character's .sav file. You will need to re-use that.
  • Start Borderlands 2 and have the character pick up some money (e.g., from a locker). The game should calculate that you have over $3 million and award you a series of completed challenges and Badass Ranks.
  • Exit Borderlands 2.
  • Use the copy of the new character to overwrite the existing copy.
  • Start Borderlands 2 and again have the character pick up money. The game should again award you Badass Ranks. Repeat as many times as you like.
Reusing Golden Keys
A Golden Key opens the special chest in Sanctuary, and gives you purple items levelled to your character's current level. If you want to cheat and get lots of purples, or if you just want to keep retrying until you get something useful, you can use this cheat.
  • The data on whether you have opened the chest is stored in the character's .save file and the profile.bin file.
  • Make copies of those files before opening the chest in Sanctuary.
  • Save the game and quit Borderlands 2.
  • Use the game editor to copy the code for the items you received. You can later paste that data into any other character, and thereby get that item.
  • Use your backup files to restore your game state. You should now be able to go back to Sanctuary and re-open the chest.
God Mode
Use the editor to change your level and your shield level to something grotestquely overpowered. For example, if you are in Normal Mode playthrough, change the level to 50. You will get practically no XP for kills, however. Do not Sync your XP to the level. Instead, when you are ready to turn off this hack for god mode, Sync the level to the XP to restore your level.

Extra Skill Points
The game calculates how many skill points to give you based on your level. However, if you spend points and then reduce your level, it will not take points away. And when you go to Respec your character, your point total will not be recalculated based on level, but based on how many points you have spent.
For example, a level 10 character has 6 skill points.
To give them an extra 5 points, use the game editor to set the level to 15. Then assign all points in-game. Load up the game editor again and reduce your level back to 10.