On hardcore. Or pure survival. Or retro.
The Dead Space games were designed around the idea of shooting monsters in the limbs, which often flail wildly so you’ll have to use stasis to freeze them. This makes it much easier to aim for the shoulders and thighs, or whatever equivalent exists on some Thing inspired squirming amalgam of dog, zombie, and octopus you’re fighting at any given time. You can subvert this concept entirely by playing on the easier difficulty levels and just pouring ammo into the monsters. Dead Space is a perfectly viable meat circus if you want to do it that way.
But to really enjoy the combat model, and to traffic in the survival horror economy, and to get the achievements, you’re going to want to play the harder difficulties and especially the new game plus modes like hardcore and pure survival. However, you have to prep first.
After the jump, cue Eye of the Tiger for your training montage
The first thing you have to do is unlock the harder modes by finishing the game on any difficulty. Since the amount of resources you’ll earn is based on the difficulty level, I recommend playing on casual for a maximum return on your time investment. Blam, blam, blam. You’re mashing monsters, sucking up resources, deploying your scavenger bot, ignoring the story. Blam, blam, zap, pew. You are ignoring the story, right? You’re better off just watching Event Horizon or Pandorum or any other incomprehensible space horror movie. Zap, crackle, blam. Cinematic set pieces! Blam, bang, zap.
You can freely build and dismantle weapons, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Lord knows, this part of space is littered with work stations! This casual runthrough is your training grounds, your test run, your economic foundation. Pick up everything. Sell extra ammo for scrap metal, extra stasis modules for transducers, and extra medkits for somatic gel. Your transducers upgrade your stasis and kenesis powers. Be sure to boost stasis, as it’s going to be important when you graduate to harder difficulties. Somatic gel is used to upgrade your health and armor. Tungsten is the rare element that will limit which badass weapons you can build. Use your tungsten wisely. Note that you can craft a tungsten key for 20 tungsten. Always have one handy. These will get you into special supply lockers, almost all of which will have some sort of weapon component well worth the tungsten you spent to get in, even if you just sell the component for its materials.
Finally, ration tickets will let you buy the downloadable resource packs EA is selling to people dumber than you. Ideally, you want to save these up until you’ve got thirty, which will get you the resource pack that also includes a random powerful Mk.V weapon component.
The limited edition of Dead Space 3 gives you a serious leg up by starting you with some powerful weapons. Feel free to dismantle these and use the components, especially the elite frames, to make other weapons. These elite frames undercut the usual part of a game where you have to use a pistol by jumping you straight to the equivalent of a grenade launcher and uber shotgun. Enjoy them. Use them to build whatever you want. Feel free to craft new components rather than waiting to discover them. I recommend putting a telemetry spike on an elite frame as soon as you can. But if you’re playing on casual, there are no wrong weapon choices. This is the best time to play around and see what everything does (note that you can also do this using a weapon testing arena available from the main menu).
Once you’ve played through on casual, now you’re ready for harder difficulties and some of the new modes. Your suit sports extra health and armor. You’ve got improved stasis and maybe even maxxed out kenesis (a great way to save ammo). You’re rocking a pair of grand weapons studded with upgrade chips. Now you’re almost ready. Feel free to plink away at the new modes if you like. But the final ingredient on hardcore or pure survial — and a hugely important one — is another player. In co-op, with each player simultaneously contributing a different weapon power to any given encounter, Dead Space 3 turns into a grand sci-fi tactical shooter featuring crazy guns and crazy space monsters. Now you’ve finally arrived at the best of Dead Space.