Hard Core FAQ

Written by: Daniel Bradburry

About this document

The purpose of this FAQ is to help advise players on how to prepare themselves
for the gripping hell that is Dead Space 3 Hardcode mode. I completed this
mode legitimately, as in I didn't modify my system settings or make copies of
a save file. I will NOT answer questions on how you can do that, so don't ask.

About me

I've been playing games now for 35 years, the first of which I 'beat' was
Pitfall II for the Atari 2600. My god that was a long time ago. By now, I 
have completed hundreds, if not thousands of titles on dozens of systems.

I am a freelance web developer here in McKinney, TX where I live with my

I wrote the original Dead Space 2 hardcode FAQ (found here on,
and thought it would take a lot to be a tougher experience. Well kiddies, here
it is.

Table of Contents

What is Hard Core? ............[01]
About the Guide ...............[02]
General Advice ................[03]
Weapon Advice .................[04]
Enemy Advice ..................[05]
Chapter Advice ................[06]

Chapter 1 ....................[C01]
Chapter 2 ....................[C02]
Chapter 3 ....................[C03]
Chapter 4 ....................[C04]
Chapter 5 ....................[C05]
Chapter 6 ....................[C06]
Chapter 7 ....................[C07]
Chapter 8 ....................[C08]
Chapter 9 ....................[C09]
Chapter 10 ...................[C10]
Chapter 11 ...................[C11]
Chapter 12 ...................[C12]
Chapter 13 ...................[C13]
Chapter 14 ...................[C14]
Chapter 15 ...................[C15]
Chapter 16 ...................[C16]
Chapter 17 ...................[C17]
Chapter 18 ...................[C18]
Chapter 19 ...................[C19]

Credits .......................[07]

[01] What is Hard Core?

For those that complain that DS3 is not a survival horror game (with which I
agree, it's a pretty solid action game), try this mode and then say that again.

Dead Space 2 hardcore was all about inventory management, pacing, and playing
though about 3 hours at a stretch. If you could accomplish that, you earned a 
rest and opportunity to continue from that point.

Dead Space 3 is considerably different - you can save and reload at anytime,
but if you die, that's it. The fear and panic is so overwhelming at later
stages that it can substantially affect your gameplay.

I clocked in at about 8 hours when the credits started rolling.

[02] What this guide will and will not do

These thoughts apply to Dead Space 3 as they did to Dead Space 2, so they are
included again:

I am not going to tell you how to fight, as you should know before starting. 
I am not going to tell you where all of the enemies or items are, as everything
is where it is in other modes. I won't be breaking down damage specs from the 
weapons to pinpoint which is best. What I will do is offer you advice on how I
ran the campaign, including what weapons I assembled at the bench, and how to
tackle certain enemy types reliably. There are far too many combinations to go
through, and that's not the point. I built the best weapons for me which I
will share in this guide, and I am interested in hearing what works for you. 
But if I do not endorse your weapons, don't hate me.

[03] General Advice

There are certain things to know immediately. 

Finish the campaign on normal or hard first, so that hardcore unlocks.	Second,
finish the campaign on pure survival, so that several important items unlock
for your hardcore run. You gain access to a large stash of components, as well
as improved frames and weapon parts that make a substantial difference. For an
easier run, this is incredibly important.

If you die, quit playing and come back days later, unless you are in chapter 1
or 2. If you start over again immediately, you will be so frustrated that you
won't be able to handle it.

Remember, you can save whenever you want so take a LOT of time off. I ran the
campaign over the course of a week. The stress gets so overwhelming that you
will really need the rest.

Ammunition and health are in constant supply, you will not need to buy
anything. Following my advice, components can get limited in this run, so don't
waste semiconductors, transducers or tungsten.

Pick up everything that drops. If you are out of space and it's ammo or health,
move on. Stomp your enemies after they die. Make sure that they drop their
items before moving on, or you will regret it quickly.

Be liberal with healing. In the regular campaign I would happily run around
with 60% health, but here I was concerned if I only had 90% filled. Don't
overuse and waste it, just don't leave it in your pack  as the unknown
incoming swipe can ruin your week.

[04] Weapon Advice:

In the beginning, you are carrying a basic plasma cutter and submachine gun,
neither or which are phenomenal. The cutter will be your go-to weapon for the
first 5 or 6 chapters, until you can build something worthwhile. Here's what
I carried, which allowed me to dominate all combat throughout the game.

Weapon 1 upper- Assemble a telemetry spike with a diffraction torus tip. This
creates a chaingun with an impressive clip size and no spin-up time. There is
a minimal spread that is not affected by firing, so short controlled bursts
are not necessary. With a circuit focus on damage and clip size, your
chaingun can be holding 130+ rounds and can drop enemies and obliterate them
in about 20-30 rounds per. Without your having to reload every 5 seconds, this
weapon is incredibly useful. It allows you to be less accurate and still
reliably provide the same damage. A HUGE plus is that this weapon absolutely
DESTROYS alien necros in the later stages. Couple it with either an ammo box
for a free instant reload, or stasis coating. I also made sure to carry an
ammo support module. The ammo box saved my butt twice during the hardcore

Weapon 1 lower- Assemble a plasma core with the default tip. Your greatest
threat in this game comes when one or more enemies close in on your personal
space. As your primary weapon has no serious crowd control options, the
absolute best defense is a default force gun. Your weapon will contain 12-13
shots per clip, which is more than enough. Blast the crowd back, and then
tear off their limbs with the chain gun.

But wait, what happens when I get swarmed by the Feeders? I agree, that's why
I keep weapon 2 on standby:

Weapon 2 upper- Assemble a rip core with the default tip. Useful in any close
range scenario where there is a swarm of weak enemies trying to eat your face.
Attach a flame glaze for entertainment value.

Weapon 2 lower- Assemble a plasma core with the default tip. The same critical
rules apply to this weapon - keep everyone away, and you will live longer. You
CAN fire the force blast while the blade is spinning, so be mindful of that

Prioritize all circuits on your chaingun, and use your backups on the ripper.
The chaingun will be in your hands for 95% of the campaign.

[05] Enemy Advice:

Maybe it's just me, but combat seems overhauled. On so many occasions, the
guns I tried out at first couldn't keep the enemies at bay and I just kept
soaking up tons of damage. I kept getting frustrated when they would duck
under my shots, close the distance and then hug the left side of the screen
wailing on my knees. Combat dynamics are just different this time around,
and the enemy combinations and variants like the Wasters force you to keep
adjusting strategies.

This is why keeping them out of arms reach is so incredibly important.

This guide is not going to focus on specific enemy details so much, as most of
them require the same approach - target the legs, blast from a distance, and
use the force gun to give you some space when they get close. Any enemies
that don't require this approach or I feel require specific notes will be


The old trick of hiding out of sight and forcing him to close the distance just
doesn't work anymore. The locations where you fight him tend to all be in open
ranges, so hit him first and use cover if available.


Your only reason to carry the Ripper. Funnel them into a narrow pathway and
burn them down. When lowered inside the alien via the cage, I like to hide
inside the cage and funnel them into the door.

Stalker (raptors that hunt in packs)-

My recommended Ripper technique no longer works on these guys - too many times
I went for the feet and had them run right through it, especially the advanced
ones in later stages. Let them run at you screaming, waiting to fire until they
present a target. Keep your finger on the force gun trigger for when they are
almost on you. And ALWAYS keep on the outskirts of the battlefield with them.


Know when and where they spawn, especially in the ice caves where I was 
chain-bombed by three of these guys.

Leaper (scorpion)-

What was in DS2 the biggest threat is now an easy target. In every 
confrontation except the first, they are all downrange and have to charge you 
across an open field.


Forcegun to the face, then tear off his limbs. He apparently loves to hug and
kiss more than the average necromorph.

Alien Necromorph-

Stasis the body, and apply about 40-50 rounds into his torso and arms, and he's
dead before he can move. In chapter 18 when the swarm of these guys chases
after you, the advanced TK pad makes this even easier.

Guardian (the guy stuck in the wall)-

Keep at range and chaingun him. There are only two in the campaign.

Nest (stationary enemy with three yellow pods, throws projectiles)-

Ranged weapons only. You will take too much damage from the others when focused
on one at close range, and you need the dancing room to avoid the incoming

[06] Chapter Advice

The first 5-6 chapters will be your biggest challenge, when you are weak and
underarmed. Avoid ALL optional missions and component caches that are off of
the beaten path - keep yourself on a linear course of A to B, and by all means
stay alive.

Prioritize health and armor in your RIG as soon as possible. With the added
components, you should have a good headstart.

[C01] Chapter 1: 

Make sure you are at the end of the train before Davik gets to '1', or you get
to restart from the beginning. To make that easier, shoot a stasis blast
BETWEEN the last two soliders, and then take them out.

[C02] Chapter 2:

Keep your submachine gun out during the fly-through sequence. Fly straight at
the mines, blasting as you go. Remember, ammo is of no concern in this mode, so
use it. Trying to simply avoid everything will cause an impact with a mine,
spinning you into a wall.

[C03] Chapter 3:

Overall, this chapter is not difficult. The only potential point of failure is
when you are powering up the reactor, and have to deal with incoming enemies
from 2 directions in a darkened environment. Stay healthy, and keep on your

[C04] Chapter 4:

Slow yourself down when coming back through the now active fans. Stasis the
first one, move through it, then stop moving while slowing the second. In the
past I have moved too quickly through this section with disastrous results.

[C05] Chapter 5:

Now the terror begins.

When you clear the path for the tram, be mindful of the 4 or so spitters that
pounce on you at once. I was nearly killed on hardcore when I got penned in and
grappled. Keep moving, and take them out from a distance. And remember the one
that waits in the elevator.

When it's finally time to deal with the hunter, I hope you have already built
the chaingun/forcegun, because you are going to need it. Just keep tearing his
limbs off and running for the door. Arm up and heal at the bench, and don't
mind the stressful music too much. When you reach the room to summon the tram,
race for the panel and activate it immediately. Then it's a matter of looping
in a circle, while keeping the hunters crawling behind you. All you really need
to do is take off his legs and his threat level is substantially minimized. Do
NOT take a stand over by the panel - you will get boxed in and die.

There is a stasis recharge point here, so prioritize on the enemies other than
the hunters, keep moving, and use stasis liberally. When the tram is about 20
seconds out, make a big long loop around the room and time it so that you get
to the gate when it turns blue. Dash inside and get the heck outta there.

[C06] Chapter 6 (a really good time to take a rest):

Go ahead and get off the tram in mid-section, there are a few items you can
pick up. Just don't go into the conning tower.

Head on over to aft section, and cut off the hunters knees before escaping into
the elevator.

Keep an eye out for the exploders, and keep killing enemies until things quiet
down. This was the second and final time I was nearly killed in combat, when an
exploder caught me unaware. Build the relay, and gas up the tank.

This part may seem terrifying, but it's really a matter of timing. Let the
engines fry the two enemies coming for you, then dodge their flame. Time your
incapacitation of the hunter such that the flame has ended, and then run past
him and down the ladder.
When you open the door, don't move. Time your run past the flame from the wall.
Drop the hunter, then ride the elevator. Walk slowly until the flame jumps from
the wall. Make sure to kill the Waster in front of you, as the flame itself
won't do it for you. Ride to the other side, then down	the elevator. Time your
move past the flame from the floor, then through the door and past the one from
the wall.
You are now homefree - finish the gunnery section.

[C07] Chapter 7:

Take a rest here too, that section was terrifying. When ready, fly down to Tau
Volantis. Don't screw up, that's all I will say.

[C08] Chapter 8:

If you have landed on Tau Volantis, you have a really good chance of surviving
hardcore. Now that you have a powerful weapon and your RIG is geared up, you
can manage combat quite effectively. Keep your heat levels up, and progress
directly through the snow. Backtrack as necessary to warm up, and race to the

[C09] Chapter 9:

You better have your ripper assembled by now, as you will need it. You CAN just
sneak by them, but what's the fun in that? Shine your light in their eyes, hide
in a corner and funnel them into you. The rip core will tear them up almost by
a single touch. Look at all the stuff!

Do NOT miss your stasis shot on the machines, or kiss 3-4 hours goodbye.

The snowbeast is of no challenge with the chaingun. Race to the hill (invisible
through the blizzard at first), and keep moving around it. This keeps him from
charging or jumping at you. The spread from the weapon makes it easy to hit his
appendages. Stasis him when the inner tentacles pop out, and blast one of them
off. Do that twice, and the encounter is done.

[C10] Chapter 10:

There is nothing challenging about the early going in this chapter - keep your
head down, and shoot the soldiers. Remember that when you hack the door into
the drilling room, a Waster will pop out and attack you, so engage the
unlocking mechanism, then when the logo comes on screen drop out and tear down
the assassin.

The drill isn't bad. All you have to do is stay out of its way, and the 
incoming damage from the enemies seems quite minimal in this encounter for some

When you head up to the furnace, kill the enemies you have to, power it up and
the race for the elevator. You can ignore those that spawn when you are running
for home, as they back off when you step inside.

[C11] Chapter 11:

The stalkers can be a problem without the chaingun. Your ripper just can't stop
them reliably like it could in DS2, so shelve it. Let them come charging at you
screaming, and take them down by aiming at their face. Use the force gun if
they are almost on top of you.

There are no enemies in the warehouse where you find the three pieces, so 

The second fight with the snowbeast conveniently has another huge hill that you
can use to keep him away from you. Drop him three times to end it.

[C12] Chapter 12:

The probe gun sucks as a weapon, so use it only to tag the nodes.

I actually pulled this off with the chaingun, which I regret. When lowered into
the giant creatures innards, I camped out inside the cage and took them down in
the doorway. The ammo box on the chaingun saved me, as I ran out of ammo during
the fight. I really suggest doing this part with the ripper. Alternatively, you
could just keep running and firing behind you, but you can get trapped that

After you get out, put away the probe gun and pick your second gun back up.

The battle with the hivemind can go pretty easily. I got beat up bad by the
feeders chasing me, but when you turn your weapon on the beast, the chaingun
does incredible damage to its chestpiece. Tagging the 4 yellow spots while
being sucked in is easy, due to the weapon spread.

Once inside, keep at range and blast the three nests. Do not engage them at
close range.	

[C13] Chapter 13:

Here it is, the scariest part. Take a rest before you do this, as you will need
your nerves. If you survive this, you can finish hardcore mode.

On every climb, I take the route on the right. I strongly advise that you play
this section on another difficulty level to get the pattern down - it's too
easy to eat a giant boulder because you mistimed a dash. 

I will let you in on a little secret... you DO have a pause button... and the
system DOES have a power button...

Be wary of the exploders in the ice tunnel, and when you spawn them run back so
you don't get pincered by incoming enemies. Do this for every fight in the

Once again, use the hill to your advantage with the snowbeast. He will kill
your other enemies for you, if you let him. Once you get him on the opposite
side of the hill, race for the generator and turn it on. Stand under the
overhang, and keep moving side to side. Once he's tagged, kill him - don't quit
mashing the button until he's dead.

[C14] Chapter 14:

This is a really long chapter, which you can tackle in different ways.

When you are outside pursuing the piece in the biology sector, the second 
stalker section always gives me trouble (after the rickety bridge, then up the
freight elevator). If you engage them from under the overhang by the elevator,
a stalker will drop in behind you. Possibly the safest approach is to sneak
yourself over to the door to the bio lab. Don't leave these guys behind,
because they will still be there when you get back.

When you have to ride the elevator down and turn on the pump for the gas, know
that the two Wasters that pop out of the walls will only follow you up through
the vents if you leave them there. They will easily be on you before you get
the door open, so the solution is to take them out from inside the elevator
while its still on the bottom floor.

The first piece in paleo can be obtained without firing a single shot. Sneak to
the elevator and down - if you can keep out of the path of 4 elite Feeders,
it's yours. Given the danger of this mode, I do NOT recommend that. It's best
to set up a last stand defense while standing on the elevator. You can easily
sneak up to it from the top floor by going left.

If the Feeder swarm gets too nasty, you can force them to regroup by making the
elevator change floors.

The last piece in paleo must be won through violence. You will get noticed as
you sneak out no matter what, and there are two pregnants on the other side of
the exit. The solution to this room is to wake them up, then hide in the
entrance and let the large doors close. This funnels them through the vent one
at a time, which puts the fight on your terms.

Get back to Ellie - you are almost done.

[C15] Chapter 15:

Know your route through the gas before this chapter starts, and don't waste
time. If you get caught in it even once, chances are you will not make it out.

I've never been hit directly by a rocket in hard mode, and now is not the time
to find out if it will one-shot you. Duck down before you come into view, and
the first rocket solider will go down under concentrated fire without getting a
single shot off. The second one WILL put a rocket into the wall behind you (and
stun you), but you can drop him before he can finish reloading.

Be patient with the stalker/solider section right after, let them fight it out
and you clean up the rest. Race up the elevator and through the ruined gate.

Congratulations, this is the hardest fight in the game.

Your salvation lies in a small niche just to your right. When the fighting
starts, hole up in this small space, and defend the entrance. To spawn the
entertainment, walk slowly forward until several slashers burst out of the
ground, then get to your spot. 5-6 slashers will try to get in, which are easy
to take down. After that, 5-6 soldiers will do the same - expect one grenade to
be lobbed in your direction. Lastly, pick off the lone straggler up on the
bridge. Whew, you're half-done.

Proceed almost to the door, walking backwards, until you hear someone yelling.
Run like mad back to your spot, and expect to be stunned by rockets. It doesn't
hurt to keep rolling as you get closer. Once inside, expect about 8-10
twitchers, 2 at a time, to charge your spot.

Stasis and forcegun is the order of the day - use them in conjunction to give
yourself enough space to time a reload. If you can successfully pull that off,
you can survive the onslaught. After they are gone, you can get the drop on the
two rocket soldiers above you, but CAREFULLY.

[C16] Chapter 16:

When the elevator comes into view, race to the railing and QUICKLY take out the
soliders riding it. Doing so makes the first drop incredibly less damaging.
Rappel down, and do nothing but jump all the way. Ignore every enemy you see,
and keep running. When you get to the door, haul it to the elevator, running

Perform the same process with the second elevator, except you want to stop and
take out the explosives on the way down.

You won't be able to take out the soliders on the elevator the third time, so
just keep jumping and weather the damage, as it's minimal. When the alien
necro jumps out, have your chaingun in hand.

I hope you have a lot of +2 damage and at least +1 clip in every socket,
because this is the moment for which you built this thing.

Stasis the alien, and train your fire on his arm - watch what happens. Jump
down, and wipe out the stragglers including the second alien.

For the fourth rappelling sequence, just keep jumping down ignoring everything
in the way. Stasis the fan, and drop through.

[C17] Chapter 17:

Interestingly enough, this chapter is completely straight forward. You do have
one alien necro to tear down, for which you will see how the chaingun handles
in a straight up fight.

Anytime you are about to perform one of the flying sequences, race immediately
to the tk pad that launches you, then cover your rear while you wait for it to
activate. In a couple of cases, enemies will be chasing close behind.

[C18] Chapter 18:

Are you reading this? Are you still alive? If so, you should probably take a
rest right here, because the fear of replaying the last 7 hours can get
incredibly overwhelming.

The swarm of necros in the huge circular room is best dealt with by
antagonizing them, and then racing back to the door. Take them down one by one,
making the reinforcements continue to spawn and become isolated. In time, the
flood will cease, and you can proceed.

Be mindful of the next fly-through. A single error ends it all.

For the final stalker sequence, stand in the corner and aim your viewpoint
where both paths to you are clearly visible on your screen. The stalkers will
regularly charge from both directions, and an exploder will drop in from the
left - listen for his scream. Once the music dies, pick your way carefully
though, looking for cysts.

When you ride up and engage the machine with TK powers, do NOT stand on a TK
pad and fight it out. Everytime, I would get surrounded. Instead, start
spinning the one in the middle to rile everyone up, then run underneath one of
the corner pieces. From here, you have about a 45 degree angle to cover, and
the enemies will be charging down both lanes and get torn to pieces. True, the
TK powers will be unavailable, but you will survive easily.

Race all the way back, and when you reach the circular room with the TK pads,
be ready for the 6 alien necros. Use a TK pad for super stasis, and chaingun
the heck outta them at range. They die so easily it's almost tragic. 

Run all the way back, open the final path, and then head all the way back to
where chapter 18 started. Clear this area by moving left first (I had
continuous spawns from the left when I went right first), and then to the right
by the bench. When ready, open the gate and head to the final rappelling

Timing, timing, that's all I can say. The terror will be gripping you hard as
you make your way up.

[C19] Chapter 19:

Seriously, turn it off for now. If you are here, you need to calm your nerves.
In twenty minutes, it will all be over one way or the other.

Take out the enemies as you proceed, especially the alien. Prioritize the
tentacles and stasis them to give you time to line up your shots. Keep moving,
as you WILL die if you take too long.

The flying sequence is terrifying - I actually ran into a necro which spun me
near a wall. Remember that just before you land a large piece of metal comes at
you from the top of the screen.

More enemies, more tentacles, no time. Keep running. When the spitter pops up
in your face, force blast him down to keep him at bay. Tear up the final
enemies, and take a break at the bench.

The final battle is incredibly easy, if you can just get there. All that stands
in your way is one more flying sequence. Do NOT screw this up, as it's the
culmination of 8 hours of your life, possibly over a week like me. Make it

Once you land, breathe easy. Make sure to use the TK pad to rip off the enemy
limbs - it's the fastest way to down them.

Don't forget to mash the button at the end!

Your reward, along with having to watch the damn 12 minute credit video again,
is quite goofy. It turns the entire game into an old school version of DOOM,
with 16 bit color and the enemies become sprites with like 4 frames of
animation. I turned it off after about 5 minutes. Thanks a lot, Visceral!

[07] Credits

Feel free to repost anywhere, just please give me credit when doing so.

Any additional advice, suggestions or comments email them to me at:

Copyright 2013 Daniel Bradburry