Xploder review: Morally fine PS4 cheats (really)

 

 

Software provided by the publisher

When I was younger, I entered a lot of magazine competitions; and I seemed to win an awful lot of them. One prize that really sticks in my mind is a Game Genie for the NES (yup, I’m that old). This magical device sat between a game cartridge and the console, and allowed for all sorts of cheats. Invincibility, level selects, infinite lives, special abilities available early, and much more. In the SNES era, the Action Replay did this job. Cheat devices have been all but killed off since (legally, at least), especially since the dawn of internet-connected consoles. So, what is Xploder for PS4 from… er… Xploder, and what does it do?

There’s no physical aspect to it. Xploder is software-only, a PC application; there’s absolutely no tinkering with PS4 firmware or hardware. At its most fundamental level, what we have is basically a PS4 save hub. You find and download saves from a curated database, transfer them to a USB stick, then onto your PS4. As anybody who’s tried searching the internet for saves before will know, it’s not quite that simple.

Ordinarily, the PS4 will realise if a save game on a USB stick doesn’t match your profile, and refuses to even recognise it. Xploder therefore allows you to “re-sign” the saves you download to match your profile; all you need to provide is any existing save file from your PS4. While it might start to sound like a complicated process, it really isn’t. I certainly recommend skimming the quick start guide before use, but it’s an incredibly user friendly and pretty fast program. You don’t really need to know how to do much more than read, and click a mouse button.

At this point, I’ll stress something important: the fact that this is entirely save-file-focused means that Xploder’s effects are limited to single player only. It’s not even possible (to the best of my knowledge) to use it to cheat online; if it were, I’d refuse to have anything to do with it. Xploder has confirmed this to me in fact, and this is the reason that they assert use of their software does not present any danger of a PSN ban. It’s also important to realise, though, that the nature of the program means that it doesn’t work in the same way as the aforementioned Game Genie and Action Replay devices.

As you’re not using a modded, pirated version of a game – and you’re not interfering with the PS4’s innards – you can sleep safe in the knowledge that you’re not the sort of person who ruins gaming for other people. However, this also means that Xploder isn’t strictly speaking a cheat system. In-game cheats are extremely rare these days, but when they’re there, you can generally turn them on and off at will – as the retro cheat devices also allowed. Xploder however doesn’t change anything within your existing saves; it merely offers replacement ones to use. If you’re halfway through an epic RPG, and you want to continue but with, say, max level, this software doesn’t allow you to do that.

When transferring Xploder saves onto a USB stick and then onto your PS4, you’ll probably find that they want to overwrite any existing save for the same game. You’ll get a big fat warning about this, but for the god of gaming’s sake, if you have a save that you want to keep, make sure it’s backed up before transferring an Xploder one!!

So, what of the games covered? It’s a reasonably modest selection so far (still over a hundred), but there are plenty of big-name titles catered for such as Nier Automata, Persona 5, Nioh, and Minecraft. It’s promised that more games will be added on a weekly basis, so the range should become healthier and healthier as time goes on.

Finding and selecting games and their saves couldn’t be easier; but the detail given within the list, and the content of the saves themselves, are somewhat erratic. One save for example might tell you that the game’s campaign has been completed on Normal, and you find that – yes – all missions with that save are immediately accessible. Many saves however carry no description at all, with the content being a bit of a lucky dip; the one I used for Modern Warfare Remastered, for example, only had a few levels complete and three pieces of intel collected. While most of the saves are sort of like having somebody play the game for you (to varying extents), there are a small number of saves loaded with ‘proper’ cheats.

The Persona 5 cheat save is an interesting one. It allows you to play the game from the very beginning, which is important. It also, as promised – after the first tutorial fight – delivers maximum character level, maximum development for Personas, maximum money, and maxed out relationships. It does just what it says it will, but… is that really how you want to play, with some of the core facets of gameplay finished off for you from square one? If nothing else, it could prove useful for a second playthrough.

There are a few saves on offer for GTA V. One of them gives you 100% completion, a selection of tasty weapons, an utterly ridiculous amount of money, all stats maxed out, and a very dangerous-looking Michael. Although it isn’t marked as a cheat save, I’m pretty sure that it gives you invincibility too, as an enormous amount of law enforcement ended up shooting me from ground, air, and sea without making any noticeable difference to my health bar. This is the sort of save that makes a lot of sense, especially if you finished the last-gen version of the game and you’ve decided to upgrade. All of the content available instantly, with no need to spend dozens of hours doing everything you’ve already done once before (though you can replay story missions).

One final aspect I’d like to mention is Xploder’s ability to change the region of game saves. This isn’t something I’ve been able to verify the effectiveness of myself but, presuming it works (and there’s no reason to doubt it), it’s another proverbial feather in the cap. It means that any save can be made compatible with any (supported) region’s version of that game. Downloaded saves aside, you could start playing a Japanese import and then, if/when it gets localised, continue using the same save for the localised version. Again, however, that’s a very specific set of circumstances that I haven’t been able to test.

Important note: Xploder works with PS4 firmware 5.01 (most recent as of 12/12/2017), but the developers are happy to admit that future firmware updates could potentially negate it. Needless to say, they would work to ensure compatibilty as quickly as possible should the need arise.

If you can see yourself making repeated use of this, I’d say the one-off £29.99 asking price is perfectly fair and, in fact, at time of writing you can get it for half price with the code XPLODER15 (displayed prominently on the website itself). Very quick and easy to use, works exactly as described, and signs of long-term ongoing support. If you think popping a 100% save in will unlock a load of trophies with no effort – nope, doesn’t work like that. You still have to earn ‘em (or, er, use a save where some of the work has been done already). Cheaters never prosper, but they do unlock all the characters and fill up the mission select menu.

Text has been amended since publication, to emphasise the fact that Xploder the company is responsible for developing Xploder the software.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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