The Doomsday Scenario Beam Hack Guide - with a video showing all puzzle solutions
This guide is designed to help players complete the hack puzzles in the Act III Doomsday Finale quickly. Below I have posted a video which I believe shows all the possible puzzles you can draw. There are 14 variants I have completed on video, plus a 15th in the game files that looks like it is never used (see more details below).
Why is this important?
Obviously you must pass the hack puzzles to complete the finale, but they aren't particularly difficult once you've got used to them. However, there is a very large time differential between an experienced hacker and someone who isn't really sure how to approach them yet. I have seen some players take over 2 minutes, but all of the puzzles should be do-able in 1 minute or less - and you have to complete four of them.
It doesn't matter what your team are trying to achieve, be it just getting to the finish, or scoring your personal best time - doing a good versus a bad job at the hack puzzles can easily save you 5 minutes in total. That's hugely significant. If you are just trying to complete the finale and have been struggling with it, that's 5 minutes less the team has to withstand constant re-spawns during the hack. If you are new to Act III and dying a lot in this section, you might be impressed by the difference efficient hacking makes. The time you spend under fire can easily be halved, which causes the likelihood of someone dying to drop substantially. And if you're going for the Elite Challenge, speed is obviously essential.
The Video Guide
Click here to expand the spoiler to see the times where each hack puzzle starts:
- The rotatable mirrors are not perfectly analogue. In other words, they move in discrete (albeit relatively fine) notches. That means it might look theoretically possible to divert the beam at a certain angle, but in practice it isn't - you'll jump either side of the line you want to hit. If you are struggling to achieve the angle you want, don't persevere. More than likely you will need to bounce off one of the fixed corner mirrors instead - something I overlooked a few times when I first tried these puzzles.
- It is possible to complete every puzzle without hitting a single red node. However, providing you don't lose all your lives, you will not fail for doing so and can still even get the Elite. If you are really pushed for time and a red node is blocking your path to a blue one, sometimes taking it out may be the easiest option.
- When rotating you can brush past a red node without worrying about destroying it. It takes a couple of seconds of cumulative contact before it is triggered. Don't bother rotating around the long way to avoid all contact (a mistake I made earlier on) unless it is already vibrating heavily.
- In the same principle, when you have locked on to a blue node, it will also take a second or so before it is destroyed. During that time you should be considering setting up your next move, rotating the next mirror you need to where possible. You should look ahead though - sometimes the puzzle sets traps where after destroying a blue node the beam will bounce off a corner mirror and hit a red node.
- The spinner nodes will often have a red node in their fixed rotational path. You should break the connection by moving one of the rotatable mirrors until it is no longer pointing at the red node, and then re-establish it. This is important in hacks #07, #14 and #15. If you can turn a mirror that breaks the beams connection to the spinner node in a way that also takes out another blue node, so much the better.
- Some blue nodes can be hit by rotating the mirrors back and forth even though the beam will not permanently rest on them. I use this technique in puzzles #08 and #13.
- You should use the speed up key for the mirror rotation where possible - something I don't do often enough.
- There's a good point that's often made that it's advantageous for the CEO to hack because while they do so they are invulnerable, and the associates all get a proximity health bonus. That's generally true, but if your CEO isn't confident a hacking consider having someone else do it. The difference in time save may well make it worth it.
How which hack puzzle you get is determined:
Credit goes to Fun 2 for identifying in the game files there are 15 unique hack puzzle textures and how the script selects them. The first time you do the hacks, you will receive them all in the order shown in my video. I was able to verify this as I recorded my very first games of the finale.
However, there was, at least in my case, one exception. The hack puzzle for #05 did not appear at all. Instead, #13 appeared in it's place, and #14 followed on directly from #12. The texture for #05 looks very similar to #13, but it is not the same. Notably, #05 has only three microchips, but #13 has four.
My initial guesses around this were:
- Either a bug prevented #05 from loading for me - but I've done a bit of Youtube research and I've never seen anyone get it, so I assume so far it's the same for everyone.
- R* intentionally removed it from the script late on for some reason so it never runs.
- Perhaps it is replaced intentionally by #13 which looks like it might be a more complex version of #05. Maybe under some circumstances it will load - perhaps, and I'm theorising here, it will run if you fail a hack or die on your first play through, and then this will load after the 4th attempt, before continuing on to #06.
UPDATED - Fun 2 has kindly shared below the part of the game code pertaining to this. It looks like (in my video) #05 may have been intentionally edited out of the script late on and replaced with #13, but they did not remove the texture file. Note in the code the index numbers start with 0 rather than 1, so this pertains to 4 and 12 respectively.
After you have played all the hacks in order once, you will be given a random one, not necessarily different from the last one you did (albeit with a supposedly low probability of it being redrawn).
You can find the hack puzzle textures in the game files here, and view using a tool such as Open IV:
Grand Theft Auto V\update\update.rpf\x64\textures\script_txds.rpf\
Individual textures have file names with the structure mpbeamhack_lvl##.ytd where ## is the puzzle number.
An advanced consideration for Elite Challenge players
Note that while you are doing the hacks it is the only time that enemies continually re-spawn. Throughout the rest of the finale there are a fixed amount of bad guys to fight. So getting this bit done quickly can only be a good thing, right? In general yes, but there is one other consideration - you have to score 150 head shots to get the Elite. If you're super efficient at hacking, but not so hot at putting bullets in the NPC skulls, you might wish you'd had a few more of them to face. This can be a particular issue for the world record runners where they can get some amazing times but miss out on the Elite by a few head shots because they were so fast they didn't trigger as many spawns. That's a more difficult conundrum. But if you're going for a bog-standard Elite, you are completing the time comfortably, but missing the head shots, you might consider tactically taking a bit longer on the final hack to generate some extra spawns. Remember you are invulnerable whilst doing the hack, and if you are the CEO, everyone else gets the proximity health boost bonus.
I'm not sure if that will ever be much of a problem for anyone, but my crew blitzed the hack section and only scraped the head shot count by 8 on the PC in our first Elite run. I wouldn't have fancied my chances of being the right side of 150 if we'd being using control pads rather than a mouse and keyboard - but we had over 5 minutes to spare to beat the overall time, which would have allowed us a bit of trade off if we'd needed it.