Gaming’s 15 Funniest, Most Unfair, and Memorable Exploits
By David Murphy
PCWorldFeb 18, 2012 6:00 am PST
Exploits. Sometimes, they break games in your favor, allowing you access to powers, abilities, and cheap ways to accomplish difficult tasks that a game’s developers didn’t intend for you to have (and a game’s testers somehow overlooked). But these exploits can sometimes turn the tables against your peaceful adventures–especially in massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or EVE Online, where game-breaking bugs can give your peers untold advantage over your hapless, plays-by-the-rules self.
And then there are the exploits that are just downright funny.
One of the first rules one learns in journalism school is to never use the word, “interesting.” It’s just too vague a word to be of any use. But that’s exactly how you’d otherwise describe the 15 exploits (and a few extra bonuses) that we’re about to detail out below. Some are game-breaking, some are captivating, and some are just plain famous.
Read and reminisce as much as you’d like: We promise you won’t get banned.
1. World of Warcraft–Rooftop Camping
Long, long ago, it was considered right, fair, and fun to jump on top of the not-so-easily accessed rooftops in World of Warcraft and rain all sorts of pain down on your fellow (and likely lower-level) players. Darkshore rooftop camping, anyone? While not a technical exploit, in that any player could conceivably get on a rooftop and start shooing away, the act perturbed Blizzard’s overlords enough that they dubbed it a ban-worthy exploit in 2006.
1a. World of Warcraft Bonus–Baron Geddon Bomb
This one takes the Delicious Chocolate Cake for funny. Here’s the setup: Baron Geddon, the fifth boss of WoW’s first major multi-boss instance, Molten Core, used to be able to target both players and pets with an ability called Living Bomb. The bomb would explode after 10 seconds, hit the target and all players in the nearby area with 3,200 damage, and blast the target straight up into the air.
The exploit? When Baron Geddon casted this on a player’s pet companion, the player could unsummon the pet–which would keep the Living Bomb effect intact. The next time the player summoned the pet back to life, even if the player happened to be in friendly territory (like a large city), the countdown would begin…
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2–Javelin Glitch
An old glitch in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 allowed a player to “cook” an FGM-148 Javelin–or in layman’s terms, prime a missile launcher to fire without actually firing the weapon. Although the player could then only run around and physically hit enemies in the face to keep the glitch alive, the trick turned the player into the digital equivalent of a suicide bomber. For as soon as an enemy shot the player dead, kerboom – the “cooked” missile launcher would explode. If the kill was fairly close-quarters, the player’s attacker would usually die as well.
3. Daggerfall / Oblivion / Skyrim
Every major release in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series seems to come with some game-breaking exploit for creative players. Daggerfall? Park your player in a store and rest until the store closes. The shopkeeper disappears and you can loot as much expensive gear as you can carry–and don’t forget to return to the store during normal hours to sell the vendor his or her stuff back!
Oblivion? Prior to Bethesda’s patching the glitch, players were able to kill and repeatedly loot the body of an NPC named Dorian over in the Imperial City. Each successive loot gave the player free gold, and a player could even boost the amount of gold per loot by bribing Dorian repeatedly prior to killing him.
Skyrim? This one’s almost too easy: Use enchanting to create a weapon that boosts your alchemy, and then use your fortified alchemy to create a potion that boosts your enchanting. Rinse, wash, repeat–you’ll be able to enchant a weapon that can one-shot anything in the game before you can even say “Dovahkiin.”
4. Diablo / Diablo II
One of the unique joys of Blizzard’s first game in the Diablo series was that its multiplayer sessions saved your characters on your computer, not Blizzard’s servers. Not only could you hack the heck out of your character to make him or her practically godlike in a multiplayer session, but you could also save other players’ characters down to your system and play as them in later sessions. Absolutely crazy.
And where do we begin with Diablo II? How about the fact that bots actually work, and work well, within Blizzard’s multiplayer service? Set up your AI bot to kill bosses all night long and reap the rewards with your “actual” character later. This method takes a bit more time than, say, loading the weapon blatantly into your character’s inventory using a Diablo-style trainer program, but it achieves the same, unstoppable result.
5. Battlefield 3–Repairing for Massive XP
This one was fun. Upon the game’s release, players discovered that they could gain an absurd amount of experience in every multiplayer match by having friendly engineers shoot their own EOD bots. The player would then repair the bots; the engineers would keep shooting. Next match? Switch. End result? Massive leveling up for everyone.
6. FIFA 12–Goalie Defense
Bad at a little footsie? An easy exploit for EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer 12 allowed players to replace their meager soccer skills with AI awesomeness just by controlling their team’s goalkeeper at all times. The computer would take over for everyone else on the pitch–a trick that didn’t fare very well against experienced soccer veterans, but could certainly give amateur stars a bit of a match.
Next: EVE Online, Quake, and More…
7. EVE Online–Trifecta
Which exploit is worse? The one that allowed enemy players to avoid appearing in local chat channels (which would alert nearby players of their presence), giving them a competitive advantage in sneak attack-style combat? The player-owned-stations exploit that allowed corporations to obtain high-end materials for free (and jack the game’s economy full of trillions of ISK that shouldn’t have been there?) Or how about the exploit that allowed ships to blast targets with short-range weaponry from an absurd distance away?
8. Ultima Online–Killing the Invincible
File this one under “F” for both “Funny” and “Fire Field.” When Ultima Online was nearing the end of its official beta test in 1997, the game’s creator–Richard “Lord British” Garriott–took his mighty, invulnerable avatar on a tour through the game’s servers to thank beta testers for participating. Take special note of that “couldn’t be killed” part, because someone managed to kill him anyway.
It was later revealed that the assassination of Lord British wasn’t so much the result of an exploit as the result of Garriott forgetting to set an invulnerability flag on his character following a server crash. The killer, a player character named “Rainz,” was nevertheless banned for allegedly violating the spirit of the game’s beta test–British wasn’t his first kill, just his most famous.
9. Quake–The Stanford Stoogebot
While not an exploit per se, the famous Stanford Stoogebot was one of the first third-party “enhancements” for a first-person shooter that a player could use to become “godlike” before the term even existed in the genre. In other words, it’s an aimbot–an intermediary between your game and the server that controls your player’s aiming and firing while you simultaneously control your player’s movement and enemy-hunting. It’s clobberin’ time!
10. Civilization V–War Chest
It always feels like the computer is cheating in Civilization V, doesn’t it? Give some back with this simple money-making exploit. If you’re about to go to war with a fellow civilization–either because it’s on the horizon anyway, or you’re just a pacifism-hating jerk–set up a trade with the target and exchange all of your gold and resources (important: per turn) for a lump-sum payment of as much of your target’s gold as you can barter for. Before the ink dries on your new agreement, declare war.
11. Mario Kart 64–Duh
If the Rainbow Road shortcut isn’t the biggest exploit to ever appear in a racing game, we don’t know what is.
12. Team Fortress 2–Door Blocking and Invincibility
Griefing? Exploit? Either way, using yourself to block the door (caution: language!) that other players need to use to leave their spawn points in a multiplayer match is just plain funny. Slightly more frustrating is the actual exploit that used to allowed TF2 Medics to ubercharge themselves indefinitely–an invulnerable medic might not be as bad as an invulnerable scout or pyro, but it can still be quite detrimental to one’s health.
13. Star Wars: The Old Republic–Get Down
Go Jedi; it’s your birthday. Of all the tricks one could use to escape harm in a massively multiplayer online game, the exploit discovered within Star Wars: The Old Republic proves to be one of the genre’s best and funniest. If an enemy was targeting you with any kind of power or ability, you used to be able to type “/getdown” in your chat window to set your character a-dancing. Be it The Force, your mad skills, or a broken game mechanic, your “/getdown” command would interrupt whatever your target was channeling or casting.
14. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess–Seriously, an Exploit
There are exploits, and then there are exploits. The glitch found in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, for the Wii, didn’t give gamers a competitive advantage in their single-player romp through Hyrule. Rather, it allowed players to execute custom code placed on the root directory of their system’s SD cards. In other words, glitching the game helped enthusiasts run homebrew software on their consoles instead of the Wii’s default operating system.
15. Mortal Kombat
No, not that Mortal Kombat. The newest Mortal Kombat–conveniently titled “Mortal Kombat,” which definitely differentiates it from the 35 other similarly named games in the series. Naming conventions aside, Mortal Kombat drinks from the same well that many fighting games turn to: infinite combo exploits. Difficult to figure out, but fun when you do, an infinite combo exploit allows you to lock your opponent in a permanent world of pain. Successfully keep the combo going and there’s going to be absolutely nothing standing between your foe and sweet, digital death.