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PC System Shock 2 Beginner's Guide



Shodan's Insect
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Hello insect (you'll get that reference later), welcome to System Shock 2, the successor to the massively popular original which is currently undergoing a remake by Night Dive Studios. With the game announced I thought I would introduce a game that isn't well-known anymore even though its better than many games today. Sit back hacker.

The basic storyline goes with you as a soldier enlisting for the UNN (United Nations Nominate) which was to prevent Earth's governments from influencing huge corporations run by the government. After you get aboard the Von Braun you are awakened from cryosleep with a voice telling you that something is horribly wrong. The individual tells you your skills and cybernetic abilities will aid you in your journey to the mysterious individual to help shut down the threat. It all begins in 2114, 42 years after the first System Shock event.

Main Characters
- Captain William Diego - Captain of the UNN Rickenbacker
- Dr. Marie Delacroix - Designer of the FTL drive for the Von Braun
- Dr. Prefontaine - First person to observe The Many’s biomass.
- SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access) - Rogue A.I. and primary antagonist from the first game
- Soldier-G65434-2 - The protagonist
- Janice Polito - Head scientist and computer engineer, close friends with Delacroix
- The Many - The artificial biological race indirectly created by SHODAN that has infected the crew and hijacked the Von Braun
- XERXES 8933A/A - The A.I. on the Von Braun

At first the controls are a polished version of the original game. But tweaking the settings allows for a modern version style of play. You will notice that leaning is an option in the controls, this allows the player to peek around corners for incoming threats. This is especially useful for looking for cameras. Security cameras will detect your movement if they are not destroyed fast enough. This will alert many enemies to your position and making it hard to survive. There are two HUDs, the “shoot mode” and “use mode”. “Use mode” is essentially your inventory where you can drag objects into the 3D space to interact with power-up stations and consoles. On the bottom right, there are different buttons that serve different purposes. The disc looking thing opens audio logs that the player has collected throughout the Von Braun. The blue rectangle card opens what access cards you have and tells you what areas you are able to access. The MFD opens all your player-specific skills such as strength, endurance, psionic, agility, etc. Dragging certain objects into the 3D view from your inventory will be necessary, you can’t just click where the object needs to be placed. This game will take a couple hours on your first try. It took me a good 12 hours my first time since I really didn't know what I was doing. This should help you a little, although I don't want to play the game for you, so you'll discover things on your own.

Skills & Upgrades

Strength - Affects melee damage and also inventory size up to 3 spots for every strength point

Endurance - Determines your hit points and resistance to toxins and radiation

Psionics - Investing more points into this allows for greater exploration of more psi powers and abilities, this may benefit you depending on your play style

Agility - Increases running speed and reduces fall damage, and reduces weapon kickback

Cyber Affinity - Cyber points will eliminate filled nodes during the hacking sequence, one point for one node, more equals less obstacles

Hack - Hacking allows you to turn off cameras and control torrents either to move past an area safely or clear a room of enemies

Repair - Repair allows the user to repair broken weapons, most experienced players denounce this as a useless skill since there are plenty of tools to repair weapons instead of wasting your skill points

Modify - Allows the player to mod weapons for upgrades such as increased clip size

Maintain - Allows the player to keep weapons at a fair maintenance level and keeping them breaking

Research - Research allows you to pick up enemy items and research them to gain perks like increased damage to that specific enemy.

Weapon Skills

Standard - Most important combat skill since most of your early weapons will fall under this category. Having a higher level allows you to use more standard weapons

Energy - Energy weapons fair best against robots and other mechanical enemies

Heavy - Allows the user to gain access to weapons like the grenade launcher that can take large groups of enemies

Exotic - Major disappointment, exotic weapons are introduced way too late in the game but allow you to use very powerful weapons

O/S Upgrades (Player specific upgrades that rare to find)

Strong Metabolism - Damage from toxins and radiation reduced by 25%

Pharmo-Friendly - Extra 20% benefit from all Hypos

Pack-Rat - Three extra inventory slots

Speedy - 15% increased movement speed

Sharpshooter - Each non-psionic ranged weapon deals 15% more damage

Naturally Able - One time bonus of 8 Cyber Enhancement Units

Cybernetically Enhanced - Allows two implants at once

Tank - Hotpoint’s increased by 5

Lethal Weapon - Melee damage increased by 35%

Security Expert - +2 hacking skill to security computers (needs at least 1 point of the skill)

Smasher - Allows for overhead melee attacks

Cyber Assimilation - You are able to extract repair module from destroyed robots

Replicator Expert - All items in replicators cost 20% less

Power Psi - Psionic burnout no longer damages you

Tinker - Nanite cost for weapon mods is 50% cheaper

Spatially Aware - Automap for each level is filled in



Talon M2A3 Handgun (Standard 1) - Probably the best weapon until you get the assault rifle

Single shot and burst mode available

Anti Personnel Bullets - Increased damage against fleshed enemies

Standard - All around weak damage for all units

Armor Piercing - Increased damage against armored units


Shotgun (Standard 3) - Plenty of ammo and good for killing anything with the right ammo

Single shot and triple shot modes available

Slug Round - Standard rounds

Pellet Rounds - Extra damage to fleshed units at a very close range


M22 Assault Rifle (Standard 6, Strength 4) - Best weapon in the game, hands down

Single shot and automatic modes available

Same ammo as pistol (see above)


Apollo H4 Lazer Pistol (Energy 1) - Fairs well against mechanical units and okay against flesh units

Regular shot and overcharged shot available

Rechargeable energy as ammo


Laser Sabre (Energy 4, Agility 3) - If you can, use this instead of the wrench when you can

No modes

No ammo


EMP Rifle (Energy 6) - Only useful against robots

Regular shot and overcharged shot

Rechargeable energy as ammo


TC-11 ‘Brick’ Grenade Launcher (Heavy 1) - Very powerful weapon used to take out groups of enemies

Normal (explodes on contact) and bounce (bounce then explode) modes available

Fragmentation Grenades - All around damage

Incendiary Grenades - Damage bonus against flesh units

EMP Grenades - Anti-mech ammo

Proximity Grenades - Explodes when something enters its radius

Disruption Grenade - Small explosion, huge damage


Stasis Field Generator (Heavy 3, Strength 3) - You can’t kill anything, just freeze things in place for a short time

Single target and AOE modes available

Prisms as ammo


Fusion Cannon (Heavy 6, Strength 3) - Want to kill yourself? Here you go, tight quarters = suicide

Normal mode and death mode which fires slower projectile but more damage

Prisms for ammo


Crystal Shard (Exotic 1, Research 4) - Strongest weapon in the game, unless you have the points invested already, use the laser saber or wrench instead

No modes

No ammo


Viral Proliferator (Exotic 4, Research 5) - Stick to the pistol

Fires anti-human rounds and anti-annelid rounds as different modes

Annelid worms as ammo (must use a beaker to collect worms on the ground then use as ammo)


Annelid Worm Launcher (Exotic 6, Research 6, Strength 3, Agility 3) - Don’t even. Fires yellow heatseeking projectile into a target

See Viral Proliferator for modes and ammo


Wrench - When ammo is low, use this

No modes

No ammo


Black Ops Psi Amp (Psi 1) - Boost your stats and your killing skillz!

No modes

Uses Psi Points as ammo​



Light Armor - Available early on, use it ASAP


BioHazard Suit - Stops same damage from toxins and radiation


Powered Armor - Strongest armor but needs a constant power source or the defense it provides is gone


Standard Armor - Standard armor gives +30 defensive bonus compared to the +50 bonus of Powered Armor, doesn’t need a power source which is a plus


Heavy Armor - Although it requires 6 strength, it gives a +40 defense bonus


Annelid Armor - 20% defensive bonus, +2 PSI ability (drains PSI points), and gives 30% radiation/toxin resistance. Last armor encountered and not the best since you can still die from 2-3 hits​


BrawnBoost - STR +1

SwiftBoost - AGI +1

PsiBoost - PSI +1

EnduranceBoost - END +1

ExperTech - Hack, Repair , Modify skills +1

LabAssistant - Research +1

Researchable Implants

WormHeart - Requires research of 5, stops all toxin damage and heals 1HP every 30 seconds. When removed it fills your toxin meter up

WormBlood - Research of 4, right click on a worm pool to generate full health and also destroy the pool, very useful when you are actually using it

WormMind - Research of 3, converts every 1 of 4 damage you take to your PSI points

WormBlend - Research of 2, Annelids at close range won’t recognize you and attack you, up close they can still attack


Health Hypo - Abundant, heal about 10HP

Medi Kit - Heals all of your health, rarer and more expensive in Replicators

Food - Godsend in Hard and Impossible, Snacks and Canned Drinks heal 1HP each while Alcohol gives 2HP. Although Alcohol will take away Psi points and cigarettes are useless, they just harm you, like real life

Psi Hypo - Same as health hypo, gives 20 Psi points

Speed Hypo - Doubles your speed for 12 seconds, very useful for speed running this game

Strength Hypo - Since strength only affects inventory space and wrench damage, you can make the obvious guess for using this hypo

Anti-Radiation Hypo - When entering a radioactive area, the radiation can damage you as time passes, this hypo will take a chunk out of the radiation bar in the bottom left of your screen where you can see how much radiation you have

Anti-Toxin Hypo - Same as anti-radiation hypo (see above)

Surgical Unit Activation Key - Combining this with a incomplete surgical unit will allow you to restore your health to maximum

MFD Game Player - Entertainment only, use cartridges to play corny remakes of old computer games

Disposable Maintenance Tool - Use these to keep your weapon from breaking

Battery - Restores energy to weapons that need it, useful when no recharge stations are around

Item Recycler - Trash unused items to nanites

French Epstein Device - Modifies any weapon for free

ICE Pick - Instantly hacks any hackable console in the game

Auto-Repair Unit - Repairs any broken weapon

Researchable Items

Annelid Healing Gland - Very rare but heals a large portion of your health

Annelid Psi Organ - Very rare, fills Psi points to maximum

PSI Booster - Will raise your PSI stat by 1 for 5 minutes


- ALWAYS destroy security cameras, this will save you about 2 minutes of going through hell trying to fight off 20 enemies, which in this game is hard even on the easy difficulty. If you do get caught by a camera, try to get to a console to hack the system and shut them down.


- Save OFTEN, this game has no auto-save so make sure you save often.

- KNOW your PSI abilities and what they can bring to the table. Need a hypo that is far away and an enemy is around the corner? Use Psi Pull. Investing some time to look at all the possible abilities will help your strategies.

- LISTEN to the audio logs. They story is entirely told through the audio logs, so make sure you listen to them as they also provide information about how to advance to the next level.

- Open the in-game map and select Minimap.


- Hold down “space” or whatever you have jump bound to and press forward at the same time to literally climb onto crates that are to high to normally jump onto.

Easter Eggs

There are only 2 known easter eggs in the game. On the third year of your training in the beginning of the game, look to the left instantly and you’ll see a dancing robot. This video shows how to do the basketball easter egg since it requires lots of detail.

Want to play System Shock 2? Here's a guide on how to download mods to create a HD version of the game and give a new life to the Von Braun.

System Shock 2 is one of my favorite games to date even though it is 17-years old (older than me, jeez), and provides hours of fun and a mystery that will boggle your mind. You can find it on Steam and GOG. Make sure you are on the lookout for System Shock Remastered and System Shock 3! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask below!

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