Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.
This is largely old news, but I just found out it actually goes quicker than I thought. Also, the board is getting some new people from the ME2 runoff - a lot of which are very interested in getting to level 60 for that game.
I - What is the glitch?
The glitch is pretty simple to perform and hasn't been patched as of March 22, 2010. Considering ME2 is well on it's way, I'd say it's unlikely it ever will be.
The planet Therum is a main story planet, so it's impossible to completely miss the opportunity for the glitch. After traversing the above ground portion of the mission and defeating the ambush at the dig-site, you deal with a fairly basic squad of enemy geth and talk to Liara.
To break Liara out of confinement, you'll need to crack the mining laser controls. Activate the panel, then (A), (X), (B), (Y) to make it go. After the animation, you get a level dependent XP reward and can proceed through the newly dug hole to rescue Liara.
OR, you can save the game, beginning the infinite XP loop. Save the game, load that save, wait for the XP reward to pop, save again, later, rinse, repeat. Everytime you load that save, you will receive the XP reward again. It will be adjusted to your current level, so the XP gain goes up as you level up. Eventually, you can use this to get the whole way to 60.
II - How much XP do I get?
The reward for each cycle appears to be governed by the same formula that controls almost every other XP reward in the game. Basically,
XP Reward = RewardType * Multiplier * PlayerLevel (PlayerLevel <= 5)
Since you're farming the same reward over and over, the only thing that changes is PlayerLevel. With both XP bumps from the achievements, the other two factors are a combined 18. So, it simplifies to,
XP Reward = 18 * PlayerLevel.
Which gives us 1062 at level 59, 1044 at 58 and so on down to 90 at levels 5 and below.
As mentioned, the lowest PlayerLevel the game will use for this equation is 5, but good luck getting to Therum before then.
I've verified this for levels 9 - 12, 32 - 36, and 57 - 59. I've no reason to suspect the formula fails anywhere else, but I just wasn't dedicate enough to check for certain.
If you don't land right on the necessary total XP to level up, the remainder of the XP is prorated to the next level's reward. So you may see numbers other than those predicted by the formula.
III - How long will it take me to get to level 60
It's actually more dependent on the save count; the exact time will depend on how quickly and accurately you can put yourself through the loop somewhere around 700 times. But, as outlined in the topic that spawned my interest, I estimate 5.5 hours to take Shepard from level 10 to level 60 using the glitch.
Now, given the amount of XP in the rest of the game, it's really not necessary to get the whole way to 60 on Therum. At the very least, you'll then be wasting the fight with the krogan battlemaster and the entire endgame.
So, save Therum for last, then use the glitch to get to around 812,100. The conservative estimate for experience accrued in the endgame is around 50,000, so this is the safe way to play.
Considering you can do a basic story run in about 8 hours if you know what you're doing, I'd guess the total time for a level 60 run at about 12 hours - depending on how many sidequests you do.
IV - Is it worth it?
I still don't think so.
Quite honestly, it is the quickest way to get to 60 though, so weigh your patience for the mind-numbingly dull of the glitch vs. the tedium of either three-four repeated story runs or two fairly comprehensive runs that would have to include most sidequests.
V - Does this work on the PC version?
Surprisingly, yes. In fact, it's actually quicker thanks to quicksaves and, thus, more useful.
VI - Are there any potential pitfalls?
The glitch is very reproduceable. The only problem I would warn against is that you have to wait for the reward to show on screen. The ticking odometer of your total experience is just for show; the reward itself is not. If you hit [START] to go to save before the experience shows on screen, you've screwed yourself of the reward for that cycle. Otherwise, it's pretty stable. Just make sure you've killed all the geth in the area or you might not be able to save.
VII - Where'd you get your numbers?
I got the experience formula from the wiki and did the time study myself. At the risk of being accused of shameless self-promotions, it's here:
Hopefully that covers it.
Nice post, I wish I had come across this a week ago when I was looking for this information. I ended up sitting down for 2 hours at the Liara part figuring out how the hell to work the glitch.
I glitched myself from level 15 to level 44 or so. It works like a charm but I couldn't realistically recommend it to anyone. My intention was to do it until 55 and as you can see I fell well short. It took roughly 250 saves to get those levels, and while early on it only took around 5 or so save/reload cycles per level it was around 13 when I stopped. Just painfully boring even for the most task driven people.
Glitching 10-15 early levels is a cakewalk though and hard to turn down.
maybe this'll get rid of idiots like that 'its official!' moron.
also, the wikia explicitly states that the glitch doesn't work with quickload. care to confirm?
I like my women like I like my coffee, cold, and with a bitter aftertaste.
@ark - Do you mind going back and letting me know exactly how much XP you were getting at level 44 (or any of the later levels). What you're reporting isn't consistent with what I found, so I'm curious if the XP reward isn't what would normally be predicted by the formula.
@abhil - I don't think they sticky single issue topics, but thanks! I don't have the PC version, so I can't confirm whether quickloads work, but a PC user confirmed the use of quicksaves in the other topic.
That's why I didn't say anything about quickloads, just the quicksaves.
That said, the save and load parts of the process are the main contributors to the length of time it takes. Quicksaves might cut 20% off the time.
Ok, I just went and checked my totals.
I had a reload point that took me into level 44. I got 786 xp on that reload, which pushed me to 44. I needed roughly 10500 xp to go from 44-45. My 1st reload of level 44 netted 792 xp. That means it would have taken me 14 reloads to go from 44-45. I'd like to say from memory that I was averaging around 12 reloads per level since level 40 at least.
The rest of this info is from what I can piece together from memory, so my numbers aren't exact. I would have started glitching between level 13-15. I did everything on the Citadel that I could and then went to Therum, so I would have been either deep into level 11 or just into level 12 when I hit Therum. By the time I was in the mine I would have definitely hit level 13, but wasn't higher than 15. I had less than 20 saves by that point, but let's figure I had 20 to be safe. I reloaded save number 271 to achieve level 44. That's 251 saves for somewhere between 29-31 levels. I know I made a few mistakes and saved on accident, so to make a nice even number I'll assume it took at LEAST 225 saves to get to 44.
Based on the math you did in the other thread as far as save/load cycles of roughly 4.5 minutes per cycle of 10 (which I feel is accurate, it took me a bit over a minute per cycle of 2 but I was a bit slow I think), it would have taken me about 1 hour 45 minutes to do that if I was going as fast as possible. If the next 11 levels each took 14 saves I was looking at about another 70 minutes to get to 55. Then it would have gotten REALLY mind numbing going from 55-60.
For the record, this character has the 10/5/5 experience bonus achievements active.
792 is what the formula predicts. I'll reexamine some of my numbers tomorrow.
I think I made a major error in the time/save count.
Yeah, I'm looking@the experience guide and running the numbers really quick. The number of cycles needed for each level from 44-60 are as follow by my calculations:
15, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26, 30, 35, 43, 56, 78, 115, 189
Which is 719 saves for those last 16 levels. At an average of 4.5 minutes per 10 that would come out to just under 5.5 hours just for those last 16 levels alone.
I got bored and did the math from 13-44 also. I figure if you do everything on Eden Prime and everything you can on the Citadel before leaving, and hit Therum immediately, you should be at least level 13 by the time you hit the exploit point.
From 13-44 should take 277 saves. That's 2 hours and 5 minutes worth of email@example.com minutes per 10 save/reload cycles.
So from 13-60 should take between 7.5-8 hours worth of reloading if you're taking absolutely no breaks at all and doing it as fast as you possibly can with no mistakes.
By my best calculations, the diminishing returns hit about level 35. Level 13-35 takes just over 1.25 hours which is approximately 1 level per 3.5 minutes. Even levels 13-19 take roughly 2.75 - 3 minutes a piece so this is a pretty good return on time investment still. Levels 35-44 take about 5 minutes each which marks the 1st big jump in the time it takes to gain a level.
From there on it begins to take nearly 7 minutes a level at least
My conclusion is that if you have glitching in mind it's best to do everything you can on Eden Prime (of course, since you can't return) and then do as little as possible on the Citadel and Therum in order to get into the mines and to the glitch point. From there, glitch to 35 and then go and play through the rest of the game including what you skipped on the Citadel.
And if someone would double check my math that would be awesome :)