About 3 months back, I reinstalled Windows 10 as I was having issues launching some games and thought it might be DirectX dependencies conflicting or something else equally fiddly to remedy. I don’t make a habit of checking every game’s saves to see if they are backed up somewhere, but my games are installed on separate drives to Windows. I did a fresh install of Windows on an SSD I had cleared up and kept my old installation of Windows where it was, so I could go and grab files afterwards. A large portion of games now use either Steam cloud or their own online save system, which conveniently avoids losing progress and (sometimes) settings after a reinstall. I was somewhat surprised to find that Just Cause 3 doesn’t do this.
Surprised, because it’s the kind of game where you wouldn’t want to unexpectedly lose your progress. I don’t know how far through the main plot line I was before reinstalling, but while I certainly wasn’t finished, Steam says I put in about 25 hours of play and I rarely leave games idling. Surprised also, because you can’t play the game without connecting to SquareEnix’s servers, though it’s essentially a single-player only game.
Forcing players to authenticate is, I suppose, an effective form of Digital Rights Management, making it very difficult for people to play without having purchased the game, but one would hope that legitimate players would not be adversely affected. Such an ideal situation doesn’t come to mind though – I’ve not tried to play Just Cause 3 without a working connection, but I know that this year’s HITMAN, also published by SquareEnix, also a single-player only game, completely segregates online and offline play.
Just Cause 3 might not function without an Internet connection, but, despite that, does not keep essential files either in the Steam cloud or on SquareEnix servers, instead using local saves in
\Documents\Square Enix\Just Cause 3\Saves\
where it stores a measly few hundred kilobytes of data. It doesn’t seem like so much to expect the files to be backed up online, given the DRM, the progression of the game and the overall 55GB install size.
I didn’t have much trouble looking up where the saves were kept and then rummaging a bit on my drives to find the actual files. Now in the correct location, I presume next time I load JC3, I will be where I left off before reinstalling. If not I’ll be forced to start right from the very beginning of the game again. It’s quite a fun game, with its own style and feel of play, but the notion of starting everything over fresh isn’t exactly appealing.
I’m glad I was able to find the previous save files, so it’s not an issue in this instance. However having an external backup of any and all save game and settings files would be invaluable in many cases. I don’t store documents in the default folder, so it is somewhat fortunate I still had the files. If the problem was hardware rather than software, I might not have been able to recover the local files. Steam does have a button under each game’s properties to “Browse local files…”, but perhaps, at some point, Valve might add a similar button specifically for browsing to save files, which are often not kept in the same location as the main game data files, or, if they are, may not be easy to distinguish from game data that could be re-downloaded.