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Pacific Drive’s controversial save setup is getting these vital tweaks

Without sacrificing how Pacific Drive’s high-stakes save system plays out, Ironwood is making important tweaks to make the PS5 console exclusive more friendly.

Pacific Drive can often be a slow and methodical experience, relying on its superb atmosphere and immersion to create an incredibly unique PS5 exclusive. However, with its controversial save system being stingy with checkpoints, it’s quite easy to lose upwards of an hour or so of progress in the blink of an eye; the Olympic Exclusion Zone is anything but predictable or welcoming. While the unforgiving Pacific Drive save system isn’t going anywhere, developer Ironwood is making some vital improvements.

In a blog post explaining the Pacific Drive save system amid community confusion and concern, game director Seth Rosen defends the current design, claiming the PS5 exclusive “would be nowhere near the game that it is [had it] taken a different path”. Although the current system will remain in place, including the lack of manual saves, the developer is aiming to make it clearer when the game does save, better preparing you, and bringing the mountain of optional settings to the forefront for players to tweak the experience closer to their liking. The goal is to keep the philosophy intact yet improve approachability so one of the best PS5 games is more welcoming.

More specifically, the new changes include creating save backups in the event of corrupted progress and making the save indicator more obvious. However, additional improvements are coming in the “near future”, including an explainer for new players (or new playthroughs), additional difficulty options, and a new ‘save and quit’ option during a run to make the current implementation clearer to the player.

While many have questioned why the new PS5 game only saves when you change levels or in your garage – and not allowing mid-level saves – Rosen stands firm that it’s the best fit for the team’s vision.

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Craftily bringing in elements of the best survival games, best roguelike games, and even the best racing games, Pacific Drive is “driven by a sense of stakes: the threat of failure, the threat of starting from scratch after a misstep.” By allowing manual saving within runs, “these games lose their teeth.”

“Worse yet, if you could save and reload at any point in the middle of a level, it would mean that any inconvenience or situation that is starting to tilt against you no longer needs to be dealt with. Pacific Drive is at its best when it asks you to be dynamic, to react to a changing situation, especially a situation you didn’t quite anticipate or prepare for.”

Interestingly, Rosen also explains that there are technical issues involved that would make manual saves during a run difficult to implement – even if the team desired to.

Pacific Drive save system explained: A light blue station wagon in the garage, with wonky lights and a makeshift bumper.

“We thought long and hard about whether manual saves [were] something that we could implement given the time and resources we had available to us, and at the end of the day, the answer was a pretty clear “no” unless we were willing to sacrifice a whole bunch of other stuff that makes the game and the Zone what it is, which we were not.”

Manual saves are available in the garage as it is a “much more controlled space”, making it much easier to track and save your information. “In a junction level, none of this is true. We procedurally spawn all the anomalies and resources and many buildings. There are in each level hundreds of anomalies and resources and buildings and item containers.”

“Pursuing this feature would have caused a significant downward drag on the overall quality and scope of the game. And that was not a compromise we were willing to make.”

So, while the potential for heartbreaking losses will still be looming over your every run, that’s very much the point. However, these small changes should make it easier to track your progress and plan your expeditions. Before your next journey into the Zone, find out how Pacific Drive’s quirks perfectly capture the crappiness of your first car. For more PS5 news, dive into how Sony’s PlayStation layoffs will affect the future of the platform or when you can expect to get your hands on the PS5 Pro upgrade.