THE PCG Q&A
When a game lets you maintain separate save files, how many is enough? Do you keep as many profiles as you’re allowed, just in case you ever want to go and undo some mistake you didn’t even realize you were making back in act one? Do you save over the same file each time for the sake of simplicity and to heck with the consequences? Do you rely purely on autosave like some kind of maniac?
How many save files do you keep per game?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Sarah James, Guides Writer: Three, rotating through them each time I save. Occasionally though, I like to really push the boat out and add a fourth slot, especially if I feel like I’m about to do something risky that I might regret. I think this stemmed from accidentally overwriting a save file years ago, messing up, and not being able to go back. Whatever the reason, it’s become a habit I can’t break.
Lauren Aitken, Deputy Guides Editor: I keep two “big” saves, a quick save and an autosave. I’ve fallen victim to autosave too many times, much like writing in the CMS.
Robin Valentine, Print Editor: I’ll take as many save files as it’ll give me, rotating through them for maximum safety. I’ve played enough sprawling RPGs with hard choices and game-breaking bugs to know that you never know when you’re going to want to go back to a specific spot an hour, two hours, five hours, whatever ago. I’ll take 100 save slots if you’ve got ’em. I’ve never really understood why most games are so stingy with them—they barely take up any space, and it’s not exactly hard to fit a scrolling list into a UI.
I never trust an autosave if I can avoid it—I’ve been stung too many times. Even if it’s just flashed up the icon, I’ll still do a manual or a quicksave before something important.
Imogen Mellor, Features Producer: Depends on the game mostly, but I like to go for a rule of two minimum. One for the BIG save and then another for the small. The first is for when I’m putting the game away for the evening or completing large chunks of story. The second save file is for smaller chunks that I wouldn’t want to have to go through again. I understand this sounds entirely arbitrary when you can have more than two saves, but hey, it’s not failed me yet.
In the few cases that I use more than two, I’ll go all out and use all slots available but one. That one is for emergencies. No I don’t know what emergencies might need an empty save slot but it feels like the sensible, mature thing to do to the 10-year-old in my brain.
Mollie Taylor, News Writer: It is I, the dirty one-slot saver. I’ve gone all these years saving my grand JRPG adventures with hundreds of hours into a single save without any consequences. I have learned no lessons here, therefore I will not change. People who need multiple save slots are cowards!
Christopher Livingston, Features Producer: If a game gives me a thousand save slots, I’ll eventually use them all. I’d prefer two thousand, though, because when I save and then quit, and the game asks me if I’m sure I want to quit because any unsaved progress will be lost, I save again. Just to be sure. And always in a new slot.
I’m mostly talking about games like Skyrim, partly because I use mods and it’s a bit risky using a single save slot because something could very easily be broken. I also test a lot of mods, meaning it’s helpful to have a bunch of clean saves I can try them in without worrying about mod conflicts in other saves. Mostly, though, why not use a bunch of save slots? There’s no benefit to limiting myself to a single save, and plenty of benefits to having a bunch, even if I never touch them.
Jacob Ridley, Senior Hardware Editor: The cascading save file strategy for me, starting from the top and using them all up in descending order until I run out. Though this works best when the save files automatically rearrange themselves based on how recent they are, that way you don’t have to remember where you are each time. If they’re manual save slots, it can become a bit of a mess, though I’ll never be like these one-savers. Truly abhorrent behaviour.
Phil Savage, Editor-in-Chief, UK: Yup, like all people with a sensible approach to risk management, I will use a new slot every time I save. We’re not in the PS2 era any more, trying to eek out as much room as possible on an 8MB plastic card. Hard drives are big, save files are small, why would you not? What possible thrill are you receiving from the vague possibility of having to play 100s of hours of an RPG again?
Mollie Taylor: I need something to feel alive, Phil.
Brian Boru: When it’s a free save system, I typically keep 3 saves, with filenames a, b, c. ‘a’ is typically the start situation in case I want to start over, while ‘b’ and ‘c’ are alternate saves later in game, usually for when I quit that session. If a game has auto saves and/or quick saves, I leave those on too, since it can’t hurt.
If it’s a stupid console port with only one hidden save slot—eg Ghost Recon Wildlands—then I play until the devs’ arrogance annoys me some other way, and stop playing the game.
Pifanjr: It primarily depends on which is faster: overwriting the last save or creating a new one. Some games automatically fill in the name for a new save, while others automatically select your last save to overwrite. In the first case, I probably have a hundred saves until I get around to deleting some, which might only happen when my drive gets too full. In the latter case, I’ll probably have 3 of them: one primary one, one secondary one I made before a big decision and a third one when there was another big decision but I didn’t feel comfortable overwriting the other save for that yet.
DXCHASE: I create a new save every time because I’m evil.
mainer: I have to admit that I’m an obsessive-compulsive game saver, save-scummer to some, or maybe I’m just evil like DXCHASE. But my save strategy varies depending upon the game I’m playing.
In games that I mod heavily, like Skyrim or Fallout 4, I make hard saves at least every hour, before and after important events or combat, and absolutely turn off all the autosave options as I’ve had more game freezes or CTDs from that feature than anything else. I will use quick saves at times, but I don’t really depend on them. I also backup my save files to a separated storage drive by moving the older saves and keeping my current save folder smallish, as save file sizes tend to bloat the further you get in the game, with that folder becoming several Gigs in size if I’m not careful. I also never, ever, overwrite hard saves, as I’ve read too much about getting corrupted saves from overwriting.
Other games that I don’t mod, I’m not quite as picky, and will use all the saving options, though I still do hard saves frequently, and backup those save files to a separate drive as well. But I do appreciate it when a game has multiple save slots. The exception to that are ARPGs like Diablo 2 or Grim Dawn, where you get one “save on exit” save slot. I can live with that for those types of games, but I absolute hate games that use a “check point save” system.
Sarafan: My approach differed in the past. During the first few years of gaming I usually used one or two save files. I wasn’t even a fan of quick saves. Relied mostly on manual ones. This changed in time. At first I increased the number of save files to four or five and finally reached a point in which I am in the present day. Right now I rarely overwrite saves. I just decide to make new files almost every time I save manually and, what more, I’m a quick save maniac.
As for the reasons of change… I don’t know! It just happened! I rarely load anything older than two most recent save files, so I really don’t need so many saves. It has become my habit to create them however. The problem with it is that there’s no room in the cloud for bigger ones. So unfortunately I have to delete the older saves in these cases…
WoodenSaucer: I do whatever takes the least effort. If the game automatically puts me on a new save, and I have to scroll up to get to a previous save, I’m not going to scroll up. I’ll just keep saving new saves. If it automatically puts me on the last save, then I’ll save over it and only have one save for the entire game. I’ve been sorry about that a couple of times, but I’ve never changed my ways. It’s just whatever takes the least effort.
I will say that I do save my game pretty frequently, though.
Alm: I used to just keep creating new saves but I normally keep it to 3 these days. 1 for the latest checkpoint which I save to quite often and 2 previous at last 2 eventful moments. If I come to a change in story I’ll switch to overwriting the oldest save.
Zloth: It’s tough to say a number, but I keep saves back roughly to the point where, if I have to go back any further, I’ll just quit playing completely. If a game is particularly pretty, I might keep more saves so I can go back and take more screenshots later, but that’s pretty rare.
ZedClampet: I generally will keep 3 saves. One is called “Temp”, and I scum save to that. The other two saves are for when something important has happened or I’m about to log out. These are called just One and Two. For instance, in Xcom, I might save in either One or Two before a mission. During the mission, if I choose to save, I will do it in Temp. Once the mission is over, I save to either One or Two, just depending on whichever one has the oldest data.