Game magazines used to have whole sections devoted to cheats, pages of codes and arcane secrets. Back in the day that was how we learned about things like god mode in Doom (IDDQD), how to spawn a Rhino in Grand Theft Auto 3 (GIVEUSATANK), and free money in The Sims (Rosebud). We all have our favorites.
Obviously these are all singleplayer cheats, harmless goofs only the most humorless of scolds would object to. Cheating in multiplayer games is not on.
The topic of our PCG Q&A this weekend is this: What are your favorite cheats? Let us know in the comments below.
Bo Moore: The Cobra car in Age of Empires 2
I played a lot of RTS games in my formative years, and I used cheats more often than not. In those younger days, mucking around in a game was more entertaining than playing through the campaign, so I didn’t hesitate to cheat my way to resources, reveal the map, or just activate god mode. (‘It is a good day to die’ and ‘Power overwhelming’ for Warcraft 2 and Starcraft, respectively).
But my favorite of them all was a cheat for Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings. ‘How do you turn this on’ added a special unit to my army. Yes, with this cheat I rode into battle not wielding a sword or bow on foot or on horseback, but in the driver’s seat of a Ford Mustang GT Shelby, holding a rocket launcher. My car army (carmy?) was absolute. We conquered civilizations. We ended kings. Wololo didn’t stand a chance.
Shaun Prescott: Noclip in Doom
My favourite is Doom’s IDSPISPOPD, which became IDCLIP in its sequel. I rarely played the original Doom games properly in the ’90s, for me it was all about exploring the maps and trying to figure out how everything fit together. The original game languished unfinished on my old 486 PC until my uncle gave me the game’s cheats. After that, Doom became an obsession.
The first thing I did was dash into the mountainous sky box of Doom episode 1 with no clipping on. I hoped that I’d be able to reach those mountains, but of course I was met with an infinite, overlapping mirror instead. Dashing through the outskirts of maps and witnessing uninterrupted kill closets from afar felt truly uncanny, and it’s safe to say I was genuinely terrified when I visited the inside of Doom 2’s final boss to find a severed head on a stick. Cheats triggered an absorbing obsession with Doom map creation which pretty much got me through my teenagehood unscathed. I don’t think I ever finished either of the games properly.
Samuel Roberts: Unlocking the Millennium Falcon in Rogue Squadron
I always remember the N64 version of this cheat—you memorably entered FLYBOY in a certain screen—and for some reason it took me until about 2001 to find the same cheat on PC. WOOKIEPELT or PKDWXE or CRBSIFA will add the Falcon to your hangar in Factor 5’s ancient arcade-style classic. While the Falcon is almost too big for some levels, and not that useful at all on any levels with AT-ATs if I recall, the novelty of flying it was not lost on my young self. Best cheat ever.
Joanna Nelius: All the cheats in The Sims
If you play The Sims and you’ve never used any of the cheats, are you even playing The Sims? Motherlode, freeRealEstate on/off, and bb.moveobjects on/off are the three I use regularly for different reasons: Motherlode when I’m purposefully creating a high-society family; freeRealEstate when I moved my sims into my Sim Quentin prison; and moveobjects because you can’t always properly decorate a house on a grid. Sometimes, you need clutter, like this gorgeous Buffalo Bill house. And, of course, The Sims games are famous for their bugs, so using resetSim [First Name] [Last Name] is a life saver if any of your sims freeze in place.
I’ve used cheats in other games too, like accessing that not-so-secret-anymore developer room in Fallout 4. I think I even used the noclip cheat in Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines once in Chinatown because a bug prevented me from entering a building.
Wes Fenlon: All the cheats in Goldeneye
I’m going to cheat here and choose Goldeneye for the N64, because there are just no cheat codes that compare for me. Rare’s approach of letting you “unlock” cheats was amazing at the time, first giving you a reason to play the game over and over again, then giving you reason to play the game over and over but different once you unlocked the cheats. I think my friends and I played multiplayer with paintball mode enabled for years. We definitely goofed around for hours with the silly big head mode. I remember trying to speedrun so many levels to unlock the cheats, and there were at least a few I never got. What a game. Playing shooters on the N64 is a hard experience to go back to, but I’ll always have my memories.
Tom Senior: Fallout 3’s console
The Fallout and Elder Scrolls games are extremely hackable. Bethesda leaves the console wide open for you, exposing its games innards to anyone with the power to type ‘Fallout 3 console commands’ into Google. You can become the size of a mountain and run at absurd speeds. You can spawn the best weapons and armour in the game, and then boost your level to use them effectively.
I’m struggling to decide on a favourite though. It’s more of a package. I like the time of day switches to be a little faster. I’ll toggle freecam to look around a cool area properly. If I can’t be bothered to fight some supermutants I can use the ‘killall’ command. For me, the cheats help the game to go down a little smoother. If I find an annoyance, I can always cheat my way around it.
Andy Kelly: Every Bethesda RPG’s console
As someone who occasionally likes to wander around virtual worlds without being hassled by quests and enemies and other distractions, ‘tdetect’ (a console command featured in every Bethesda RPG) is one of my favourite cheats. This disables AI detection, meaning you can swan around Skyrim, the Mojave Wasteland, or wherever you happen to be without being attacked by bandits and cazadors. I have used it a couple of times when I couldn’t be bothered fighting my way to the next mission, but mostly I just use it for sightseeing and virtual photography.
Jarred Walton: Trainers in Borderlands
It’s not a built-in cheat, and you can find similar hacks in other games, but there’s a trainer for the original Borderlands that lets you speed up your character movement and jump height. There are tons of optional sidequests in all of the Borderlands games, and often you end up running (or driving) across large sections of the map. It gets old fast, especially for an old guy like me. I recently revisited Borderlands (last weekend) and happily used the speed hack to zip around the map. More games need cheats like this (not for multiplayer, which I don’t really care about any longer)—let me fast forward through the boring parts and get to the good stuff.
Jody Macgregor: Nose-picking in Quest for Glory
Like Bo I used a lot of cheat units against the computer in Age of Empires. The Flying Dutchman, E=mc2 trooper, and PHOTON MAN saw a lot of action in those ancient skirmishes. But my favorite cheat comes from the Quest for Glory RPGs. In those games you improved at skills through practice, but it was hard to practice lockpicking covertly. Type in PICK NOSE and your skill would skyrocket. It was risky, however. If you started out with a low enough score there was a chance you’d unpick all the way through to your brain and die.