As the years go by, players have experienced many action-packed scenarios where they must either quickly hack into some kind of console, or gain access to an electronically locked location. Many games opt for keyboard-quick typing animations or mobile hacking devices to allow players to enter these locations when the time is right, but other games try to stand out from the crowd. The studios behind these games either develop minigames that the player can attempt in order to access these locations, while others create unique hacking tools to make the game stand out from the crowd a little bit more.
As can be expected, not all of these devices and gameplay mechanics make a lot of sense when put into practical application. Some are real head-scratchers, and we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the weirdest hacking methods in video games to highlight just how strange game developers have made things in order to make their titles more a little more unique and memorable.
Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2 revitalized the franchise and took gamer’s across a stunning campaign that not only gives an invigorating look at the bond between man and metal, but fleshes out the universe in which The Militia takes the fight to the IMC. While the Militia are understandably the more rag-tag of the two forces, we have to question the design of some of their tools – namely, the Data Knife. For the unaware, imagine a USB Stick, but it’s a knife. You can stop imagining now, because that’s exactly all the Data Knife is: players stab it into a console’s inexplicably deep “knife slot” to hack things, and absolutely never use it to do regular knife things (i.e. chop cucumbers or shank enemies).
Why a knife is a good hacking tool we’ll never know, as we have to imagine anything with such a sharp edge wouldn’t be good when combined with the delicate innards of electronics which need to transfer sensitive data. Titan Pilots are all about power, but the Data Knife is the most unnecessary testosterone-filled hacking tool we’ve laid eyes on in some time. Admittedly, it’s probably one of the coolest ways to hack something, but in the end it makes almost no sense to use a knife as a data transfer tool – even if it is cutting edge technology.
Line of sight isn’t usually something that matters much in the world of hacking, but Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs franchise seems to disagree. Watch Dogs 2 leaves the bleak environment of the first game behind and ventures to a sunnier and crazier San Francisco locale, but some of the weird hacking methods from the first game have made the trip over, too. While it’s food for thought that seemingly everything electronic is networked in San Francisco (old roadsters and motorcycles alike can be hacked in seconds), it’s always a little strange that the player can hack into a camera and begin hacking nearby objects seemingly by line of sight.
Now, don’t get us wrong, hacking-by-sight is an entertaining way to do things, and it’s a system that works well for Ubisoft. That being said, it makes almost no sense. It should go without saying that one can’t hack something just because they can see it, especially considering many of those objects are likely on entirely different networks, or even not networked at all. If the average person could hack things just by looking at it through a camera, we have to imagine the world would devolve into The Purge-like chaos within a day.
The usual thing about passwords and access codes is that one wants to either encrypt them entirely, or at the very least keep them stored out of an intruder’s eyesight. In the Boston Commonwealth (and Bethesda’s Fallout series in general), however, terminals open a prompt which contains many similar words, one of which is the actual password. It’s a risky confidence trick, but in the end, the best method for preventing someone from guessing your password is probably not to have it appear on your computer screen at all.
Even if the intruder makes a mistake, the computer helpfully points out how close of a match the incorrect answer was to the real password, which is oddly helpful for a terminal designed to keep those exact people out. Finding and selecting matching brackets on a Fallout 4 terminal also gives users additional chances in case they’ve made mistakes, making the Fallout 4 hacking method an oddly user-friendly experience.
For those who still hate it, though, they can always bring the ever-trusty Nick Valentine along to do all the dirty work for them.
We get that BioShock is a very aquatic title thematically, but connecting pipes as liquid slowly ebbs down the enclosed space has to be one of the weirder ways anyone has gained access to locked content. Whenever players encounter one of these puzzles, they must mix and match different sections of the pipe in race against the clock. Soon, liquid will pour forth from one end, and only if it can connect to the corresponding exit block without spilling will people gain access to the locked contents.
Aside of probably being one of the messier methods of hacking into something, the entire idea is pretty nonsensical. Why does the pipe need to be connected in order for the player to bypass the locks? Does somebody have to scramble those pipes whenever they lock something? Couldn’t an intruder just connect a different pipe, pump in some liquid, and gain access to the locked content? The BioShock method of hacking is pretty fun, but the pipe game makes little sense as a viable method of getting access to things.
In the original Mass Effect, whenever a player fails to make it past an encrypted lock they always have the option of overriding it by expending omni-gel. Why slathering any kind of electronic lock with goo is somehow an appropriate response to being locked out is anyone’s guess, but the fact that it actually works more or less means every security analyst near Commander Shepard should absolutely lose their job. It means anyone with omni-gel can break into any lock, provided that they have enough of the goo to sufficiently slather the lock – it’s no small wonder that Commander Shepard runs into so many criminals throughout the first game!
Thankfully, this confusing bypass was phased out in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 in favor of more logical hacking minigames, which means that the galaxy’s collective races finally realized, long after the invention of space travel, that locks should stop unauthorized people from getting in regardless of how much goo they have in their pockets. We can only hope the inhabitants of the Andromeda galaxy have similar technological prowess, because we doubt that Ryder and company stocked up on enough omni-gel to slather every single lock in the new galaxy.
From computers that need to be stabbed to liquid-filled pipes, the gaming industry has truly come up with some weird methods to hack computers. Imagination is a powerful tool, although it doesn’t always match well within the confines of reality. Each of the above titles didn’t fail to entertain, so maybe there’s something to the fact that each of the above games vied so hard to be different in regards to a game mechanic which can otherwise be overly generic and forgettable.
Do you have any favorite video game hacking methods, Ranters?