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One of the best survival horror video games of the 21st century yeah, I said it Dead Space 2 is as close to a masterpiece as any developer will get. It’s the terrible result one experiences when combining a mind-melting sci-fi story with intense gameplay.
It’s the perfect sequel to the trauma we all endured in the first Dead Space title, and it more than foreshadows the coming tension between the Church of Unitology and, well, everyone else.
Dead Space 2 is a game that uses every kind of scare in the book to make players jump out of their seats. An ominous banging will follow you through the halls, the lights will cut out at the worst possible moments, and you’ll have PTSD flashbacks to the horror of Dead Space 1 more than a few times.
Necromorphs will play dead in your path, others will silently stalk you through the halls, and you’ll find the jumpscares plentiful.
However, once you’ve conquered a specific part of the game, you’ll understand what it has in store for you the next time around. You’ll start to anticipate each of those necromorphs playing dead and ambush them before they ambush you.
You’ll learn to expect the flashbacks and the ominous banging and discover they can’t hurt you. Once you’ve gone through the horror, you won’t be nearly as startled next time. And that’s the best way for you to beat Dead Space on more complex difficulties: desensitization.
Welcome to a Dead Space 2 Hardcore Mode guide.
This Hardcore run for Dead Space 2 should not under any circumstances be attempted until you have beaten the game on lower difficulties. Why? Because of that desensitization I spoke of earlier. Enemies in Hardcore will one-shot you.
Enemies in Hardcore take more ammunition to kill. You must rely on your kinesis module throughout the game, and knowing where terra-spikes are stashed in a level isn’t just helpful. It’s downright necessary for Hardcore.
You won’t know there’s an explosive canister hidden behind that door unless you’ve gone through this room before; likewise, you won’t know there’s a bundle of spikes in the corner of the cargo hold unless you’ve explored the cargo hold before.
Beat the game on Normal. Then beat the game on Hard. Then beat the game on Zealot. Then, beat the game on Zealot again. By then, you’ll know where each store is, where all the workbenches are, and you’ll know just how many power nodes you can acquire before Chapter 10. This is necessary knowledge to undertake Hardcore.
Key Info Up Front
Want to beat Hardcore mode? Beat Zealot mode twice, and on your second playthrough, think long and hard about where you will use your three saves.
Hardcore mode took me 7 hours to beat, and that’s because I had one death. It probably would’ve been closer to 6 otherwise.
I set aside a day a good 7 or 8 hours saved at the beginning of Chapter 4, the end of Chapter 7, and the end of Chapter 12. You do the same, with your muscle memory fresh and your mind immersed in-game, and you’ll beat Hardcore mode no problem.
Hardcore mode is not much different from Zealot mode. The enemies are about the same health and damage, the ammo is about the same quantity, etc. But you can only save three times throughout the entire game.
And instead of the game giving you checkpoints outside difficult rooms or boss fights, when you die, you go all the way back to your last save. Whenever the hell that was.
So, if you’re familiar with Dead Space as a whole you know the enemy locations, treasure locations, and power node locations you can beat Dead Space 2 on Hardcore difficulty with little trouble.
And if you’ve unlocked the more advanced suits with more extensive inventories, give bonuses to damage, and come with tons of armor, your attempt just got even more manageable.
There aren’t more enemies in Hardcore. They’re just more powerful. Every ammo pack, every semiconductor, and every stashbox is in the same place.
When going through Zealot and taking notes on how best to handle Hardcore, there were many lessons I learned the hard way. To lessen your frustration, I suggest you pay attention.
There are a few ways to ensure Issac is always packed to the nips with ammunition during your Hardcore run. The first is simply to purchase ammo from the store whenever you can.
Of course, you’ll have to find a few ammo blueprints for the store to carry them. Then, you’ll have to ensure you always have an emergency stash of credits on hand.
I almost always grabbed a few stacks of Plasma Cutter ammo every time I hit the store to stay topped off. And I always sold ammo I wasn’t using to purchase more ammo I was.
The second way to conserve ammo is only to carry one gun. Or, if you can’t survive on one gun, the absolute minimum number of weapons. There are two different kinds of ammo drops in Dead Space 2: mutable and immutable. Immutable drops will always be a particular type of resource credits, health, ammo, stasis, etc.
Mutable drops will change depending on what weapons you’re carrying and sometimes based on your health. If you take four different guns into battle, then the game gives you ammo spread out evenly for those four guns.
This means you’ll constantly have to switch between weapons during combat whenever you run dry.
To minimize this, carry one gun and one gun only. For example, the Plasma Cutter. This ensures mutable drops will almost always be Plasma Cutter ammo or health, both resources you’ll need the most. This also condenses your power nodes into only a few items to upgrade, allowing you to upgrade them to the max.
Related read: Dead Space Weapons Guide.
Alternative Ways to Kill Necromorphs
Kinesis is your friend. It should be something you got the hang of in lower difficulties, picking up enemy limbs or spikes and shooting them at incoming necromorphs. If you didn’t get the hang of it, Hardcore will have a steep learning curve for you.
If you look for them, you will find spikes in just about every single room in Dead Space 2. They have a noticeable white light that glows on their end, so you can usually pick them out even in the dark. You should immediately look for these deadly rods whenever you walk into a room.
If you don’t see any of their small, white lights, try making some spikes. If there are glass windows, metal poles, handrails, or pillars around, you can probably smash them with a melee.
And once shattered, sift through the rubble with your kinesis to find something long, sharp, and deadly. Again, you’ll discover that just about every room in Dead Space 2 has some part of the environment that can be a weapon.
However, you will find that your kinesis is relatively weak at the beginning of the game. Therefore, it should be one of the first things you consider upgrading.
It’s under your RIG, and upgrading it will also boost your health, so it’s a win-win. Once you’ve put a few nodes into it, you’ll be impaling dark necromorphs with a single broomstick.
But it’s not just your kinesis module that can help you in a bind. Throughout gameplay, you’ll come across large glass windows that look out into the vastness of space.
Not all windows are breakable, but you’ll see a glowing red triangle on the top of the ones that are. If you shoot the glass, the room will enter a vacuum and suck all enemies out into space. Of course, you’re being sucked out into the void as well. You’ll have to be quick and shoot that red triangle to drop the bulkhead.
If you’re a good shot, this is a badass way to clear entire rooms of enemies without even looking at them.
What Should I Upgrade First?
Health. And your primary weapon. And kinesis. By the time you’ve reached the end of Chapter 3, you should have at least six power nodes in your possession, and that’s if you didn’t purchase any from the store.
So, buy four more from the store for a total of ten. That’s enough to upgrade the first damage node on your weapon, your RIG’s health, and your kinesis damage. It’s a start.
Once you’ve fully upgraded your health, you won’t be one-shot by enemies anymore even the dark versions so it’s a high priority. But once you’ve added some damage to your weapon, you can dismember enemies with one shot yourself and use far less ammo, so that’s a high priority as well.
But also, once your kinesis is upgraded, you can conserve even more ammo and keep enemies at bay painlessly, so that’s also a priority.
The particulars are up to you, but those should be your goals. Don’t waste your power nodes on anything else. Once those three are sorted, move on to your stasis. When you’ve got your stasis up to a few charges, your kinesis one-shotting necromorphs, and your HP at max… what is there to fear?
Where Do I Save?
Ah, yes. The most crucial part of Hardcore mode: where to use your three saves.
I saved at the beginning of Chapter 4, Chapter 8, and Chapter 13. Those were my chosen saves because those chapters presented the most problems for me. Chapter 4, with the introduction of the Stalkers, is dicey.
There’s a chamber in the Church of Unitology where multiple Infectors pop out of the air vents, making a problematic room that much worse.
Chapter 7 is the one with ANTI, the super creepy artificial intelligence that tries to kill you in every single room. The combination of Leapers, Lurkers Crawlers, and an evil AI placing trip-mines in front of me while I walk is a lot to handle. Once I complete the chapter, I save so it’s behind me for good.
Chapter 12 is the mining area where you and Ellie team up, dig through a bunch of rocks, and fight off dozens of dark necromorphs.
It’s also where you have wave after wave of necromorphs to fight off while sitting on top of a mining drill. It’s hard. And right after, of course, is the Government Sector. Saving at the beginning of Chapter 13 is the last foothold I need to power through to the end of the game.
And if you’re wondering where my one death was during my run, it was to the Ubermorph. Thank goodness I saved in Chapter 13. There’s a room close to the Marker where you’re immediately attacked upon leaving by the dark versions of a Puker, a Lurker, and a Leaper.
On top of avoiding the relentlessly regenerating Ubermorph. It’s a doozy. I died right there, trying to use spikes instead of all the ammo I had. I learned my lesson.
Some people see Nicole and the final boss fight as a serious challenge, so they ensure to save right before the struggle. For me, I found the final battle almost too easy. Beat it in under 30 seconds with a fully upgraded Plasma Cutter. I’ve seen people beat it in under 18 seconds with a fully upgraded Seeker Rifle.
So, when deciding when you should save during your Hardcore difficulty run, consider the chapters that hold the most difficulty for you.
Lord knows Chapter 10 on the Ishimura is a nightmare, so maybe you want to save in that chapter instead. Or perhaps Chapter 4 is easy for you, so you make it all the way to Chapter 6 before you have to save for the first time.
Think of yourself as a rock climber scaling a massive mountain. As you go up, you have to place anchors in the wall so that you don’t plummet to death should you lose your grip. Instead of dying when you fall, you drop to the last anchor you placed, dangle for a bit, ponder your mistakes, and try again.
Your saves in Dead Space 2 are your anchors. Place them a safe distance apart so that if you fall, you don’t plummet to the start. You dangle for a bit, you ponder your mistakes, and then you head out to kick more ass.
The Best Tool for the Job
You don’t get much better than the Plasma Cutter if you ask me. I have seen many players use the Javelin Gun to great effect, impaling and zapping the shit out of everything in front of them.
But the Javelin Gun is unforgiving. If you miss, you’re fucked. And I found it wasn’t any better than my kinesis module, so I usually avoided it.
The flamethrower is a great weapon to use, and it does high damage once upgraded a bit. But it takes time to work. Time where the necromorph is still alive and attacking you, it’s just on fire now.
The flamethrower is perfect for smaller enemies, like Swarmers and the Pack. But do you want to lug it around the whole game just for those few encounters?
The Force Gun never appealed to me, and the Seeker Rifle made no sense in a game that takes place in the closed quarters of a spaceship. Why do I need a scope? I can see the enemy’s eyeballs, for crying out loud. Likewise, the Line Gun is just a bigger version of the Plasma Cutter. Not interested.
The Contact Beam and the Ripper are plain old fun. The Contact Beam feels like something out of Halo. It’s crazy powerful. But its ammo is the most expensive in the game and rarely dropped by enemies.
Same with the Ripper; it’s wild fun using suspended buzzsaws to dismantle enemies, but it’s hardly efficient. Fun weapons are fun, but not for Hardcore runs.
The Detonator sucks. It’s a stupid weapon. I won’t waste words saying anything else.
I used nothing but the Pulse Rifle and Plasma Cutter in my run. Coupled with the upgraded kinesis and stasis modules, I never needed anything else.
I have seen plenty of players make it through a Zealot or Hardcore campaign with nothing but the Javelin Gun, Plasma Cutter, or the Seeker Rifle and the Line Gun. It can be done. And if you find yourself drawn to the Contact Beam or the Javelin Gun more than anything else, lean into your strengths.
The best tool for the job is the one you are most accurate with.
Here are a few tips on how to conquer specific types of necromorphs in Dead Space 2.
Take the arms off first. I used to aim for their legs first, which bought me time to then take their arms off. But that method uses too much ammo. It takes losing at least two limbs to kill a Slasher an arm and a leg, two legs, etc.
If you take off an arm first, you should be quick enough to kinesis that arm before it falls to the ground and shoot it at the leg of the necromorph. This tactic uses the least amount of ammo and will see you disposing of dark necromorphs with minimal ammo.
Did you know you can kinesis the acidic vomit these two necromorphs shoot at you? It’s true. If you’re quick enough and paying attention you can snatch their projectile vomit right out of the air, allowing you to shoot it right back at them. Saves a lot of ammo. And it looks cool.
You don’t actually have to shoot the Crawlers to detonate them. Another clever use of the kinesis module is using it to shoot heavy objects at the Crawlers. The impact of the object is enough to detonate the explosive sack on their back/belly. Yet another way to conserve ammo.
If you’re good enough with your aim, you can take out the legs and arms of the Pregnant necromorphs before they seppuku themselves and unleash a wave of Swarmers at you. I went through my entire Hardcore campaign without triggering one of their horrific births.
Those explosive orb-shooting sphincters that grow on walls throughout the Titan Station are called Cysts, and they suck. Much like Pukers, you can catch that ball of death they shoot out and use it to kill other Cysts. Isn’t kinesis great?
The Tripod and Brute are both treated as mini-bosses in Dead Space 2, but neither should be feared. Both are easy to handle if you use stasis. Stasis the Tripod and then unload your clip at one of its arms.
You should sever it before stasis ends, and you can repeat the process with the second arm. Brutes are no different. You just have to circle to their flank where the weak spot on their arm is exposed.
I. Hate. The Ubermorph. However, if you’ve got yourself a fully upgraded stasis module, there’s little to worry about.
The duration is so long that you can quickly shoot the Ubermorph and then forget about him for a while; the recharge is so fast you never need to refill with a pack; you have so many charges you can shoot five stasis projectiles before you’re in trouble.
You should upgrade your stasis all the way just to handle the Ubermorph easier in the end.
Bits and Bobs
- Don’t forget to grab Peng’s Treasure in Chapter 7! That’s a lot of credits, and there’s more than just her statue in that secret room.
- Don’t trust elevators. Don’t trust their doors opening. Don’t trust the security of their innards. Necromorphs will ambush you in and out of them.
- What’s the best suit you have at your disposal? Wear it. I did it with the Security Suit. Not because it’s the best, though. Because it looks the coolest.
- Enemies won’t follow you through rooms. Most of them, anyway. Sometimes they may wait for you to come back, but they won’t follow. Which means if you can avoid fighting some enemies, do it. If you’re already next to the exit and more necromorphs appear, forget them and bail.
- In lesser difficulties, if you die in a particular spot a few times, the game will adjust somehow to make the situations slightly easier; fewer enemies, enemies spawn farther away from you, weaker version of the enemy, etc. This is not the case in Hardcore.
Once you have successfully put the memory of Issac’s dead girlfriend to rest and blasted off into space with his new one, you unlock several trophies. Hard To The Core is an obvious one you get for beating Hardcore mode.
But if you followed my advice and stuck with one weapon throughout, you will probably unlock Picking Favorites when you upgrade it all the way.
There’s the trophy for picking up Peng’s Treasure and Fully Outfitted for upgrading your RIG and stasis to the maximum. Think fast is for killing 30 necromorphs with kinesis objects, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t unlock that before your Hardcore attempt.
It should be noted that trophies currently do not exist for the game on Steam. Much like the game’s DLCs and multiplayer content, trophies on Steam have been swept under the rug and treated like they never existed in the first place.
Along with getting a few trophies, you’ll unlock for yourself the Soldier Suit for your next playthrough.
Question: Hardcore was too Easy for me; is there any Difficulty Harder than Hardcore?
Answer: Not officially. But you can always make your own challenges. Go through Hardcore with the weakest suit in the game. Play with nothing but the Seeker Rifle.
Attempt to only punch and stomp enemies to death. Speedrun Hardcore. Go through Hardcore with no damage. There are plenty of ways you can stretch the challenge.
Question: How do I Get Into the Secret Conduit Rooms?
Answer: Well, look at you finding footage of easter eggs on Youtube. The Conduit Rooms are only accessible to those playing the game on Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, so that’s already a tall order. Second, you need at least one save file from Dead Space: Ignition on your system.
Ignition is a spinoff game set on the Sprawl of Titan Station and takes place during the initial necromorph outbreak. Once you have just one save file for the game on your system, all Conduit Doors will open to you.
Question: How Long did it Take You to Beat Hardcore Difficulty?
Answer: In a specific time frame? Seven hours and forty-two minutes. And that’s only because I died to the Ubermorph. If I had made it through without dying, I’m guessing within the six-hour mark.
But that’s just the Hardcore run. If we count all the hours I put into every other run leading up to Hardcore, it’s considerably higher.
Question: My Accuracy Sucks no Matter what; is there a Way I can Improve it?
Answer: If your aim isn’t suffering from your fear during gameplay, it’s time to look at your settings. If you’re playing on a computer with a mouse and keyboard, lower your mouse sensitivity settings, so you’re not flailing wildly. If you’re on a controller, same thing. It may just be that your settings are too sensitive.
Dead Space 2 is a game that has frightening twists and haunting turns. But it’s also a very linear story that, once conquered, loses much of its scare factor. This is a good thing; once that scare factor is eliminated, you should find blasting your way from room to room effortless.
If you are keen on beating Dead Space 2 on Hardcore difficulty, you will do well to brush up on everything mentioned in this guide.
But as I mentioned earlier, if you’ve beaten the game on Zealot, you can beat the game on Hardcore.
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