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Taking your first steps on the road to good or evil with Infamous: Second Son

Infamous Second Son screenshot 22
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Check out our review of Infamous: Second Son.

Infamous: Second Son is a game that’s all about choice. You choose your path, you choose the lethality of the powers, you choose how you approach the game and what order to tackle things. It’s also a fairly big game that takes hours to explore and complete. With that in mind we have a few tips that should help you get started, and some suggestions on what choices you should make to best suit your play style.

This guide is not intended to be a walkthrough, but rather offer a few hints that make your life easier and prepare you for some of the things you’ll come across deep in the game. If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to sound off in the comments below!

Make a choice and stick to it

The Infamous games all feature a Karma System, which rewards you for following a “good” or “evil” path. The Karma System takes into account your style of play; if you subdue enemies using non-lethal methods and heal injured citizens, for example, you earn good karma. If you execute enemies and kill civilians, you earn evil karma. Infamous: Second Son is no different. The Karma system returns, and how you play influences what kind of person Delsin Rowe becomes. Just like in previous games, there are also random events scattered throughout that push you in one direction or the other by design. They are identified on the map by a blue marker for good karma missions, or a red marker for evil ones.

Infamous-Second-Son-interview-mem-2 All of your actions affect your karma, but the choices you make during the story – scripted moments that present you with two options – are where the majority of your karma is earned. Within the first few minutes of play, you are presented with a choice that could be considered either virtuous or selfish. The choice won’t affect the way the story unfolds in a significant way, but it does set you on the related karmic path. Choose wisely and stick with your choice for the rest of the game. You’ll want to go all-good or all-evil, since you won’t be able to unlock every ability on the five-stage Karma scale unless you stay committed to one path.

The story remains mostly the same in the broadest sense, but your actions will unlock different missions on either the good or bad side. It also culminates with a choice right before the final mission that determines how the game ends, but you can only access the mission that aligns with your karma. You’ll have to replay the game, or walk a line between the two which means you’ll be limited in your power, if you want to see both endings.

There are also five categories to upgrade throughout the game: four Conduit abilities that you earn during the course of the game, and your base melee abilities. Each of these five upgrade trees has abilities that are specific to the good and evil paths, though they are somewhat similar. For example, the evil path’s level 3 unlock is “Energy Drain,” which allows you to “Execute” a surrendering enemy for a health boost. The good path equivalent, “Karmic Healing,” gives you a health boost for choosing to “Subdue” surrendering enemies without killing them. The powers are slightly different, but the end results are the same.

inFAMOUS_Second_Son-Neon_laser_sword_434_1392034961Budget your shards

Once you reach a new level, you’ll then need Shards in order to purchase those abilities. Lots of time is spent collecting Shards scattered throughout Infamous: Second Son‘s open world. Besides being the currency you need to purchase upgrades, collecting these Shards in each district also weakens the D.U.P.’s control of that area. The city is divided into multiple districts that you can take control of, but to do that you need to unlock the associated “District Showdown” side mission. There are a handful of ways to do this, including collecting the shards. Shards can be collected in three ways. You’ll always get some after you destroy Mobile Command Units, which are mini-bases located in each district. The explosion scatters a handful of shards that you can then pick up. Destroying an MCU also allows you to find the remaining Shards easily – they appear on your map once the MCU is gone. You can also earn Shards is by destroying scanning stations, which are marked on your map with an icon that looks like a hand. Blow one up and you’ll find a shard in the wreckage. The third and most common method for collecting Shards involves destroying the drones floating around the city. They’re all powered by Shards, and they’re marked on your map; just remember to look for them up in the air when you get close to one’s location. Shoot them down with an energy blast and take your Shard from the wreckage. There are some drones that are stuck in signs or on top of buildings, so just search the area a bit more thoroughly if you don’t see one in the air.

Infamous shrds
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you have the Shards, you can spend them to upgrade the potency of your abilities and unlock new moves. Newly earned Conduit powers are fairly weak, but you can unlock more core abilities for that power by destroying the handful of relay stations associated with it. Think of this process as a tutorial that introduces you gradually to the new ability, as you’ll need to do this as part of the story mission. Once you’ve destroyed all the relay stations and are free to experiment, having a surplus of Shards will instantly allow you to make that power formidable.

If you collect all the Shards in the first of the two main areas of Seattle you can explore in Second Son, you’ll be able to fully upgrade the first two powers (barring abilities locked by your karmic level) and have a few left over to spend when you head to the second area. If you then collect all the Shards when you reach the previously locked section of Seattle, you will have enough to fully power up the third power once you get it, as well as the upgrades locked by karma. You’ll have several extras, but you’ll need them once the final mission begins.

Collecting Shards is easy enough, and you should be able to find them all without much effort – with one exception. One Shard, located in the southern section of Seattle on the news tower, can only be collected in a mission. You don’t need to finish the game with every Shard, but you’ll be glad you have them all for the finale.

inFAMOUS_Second_Son-Delsin_chain_whip-1080_1392034957Exploration at the speed of light

When you begin the game your only ability is “Smoke,” which offers a semi-automatic like projectile attack, a missile-like attack, a grenade of sorts, and the ability to slow your fall and almost glide. It is very much like Cole’s abilities in the first Infamous. The element is different, but the way you move and fight is similar.

With just the Smoke ability, moving around the city can be a chore. Like Cole, at first Delsin moves by combining parkour climbing with his smoke abilities. You can go anywhere using this method, but you still need to jump from window to window, handhold to handhold as you scale upward. When you jump off a building and hold the Jump button, you slow your descent and cover a big distance, and you can also dash in the air for a moment (twice if you upgrade that ability). There are also vents located at the base of many buildings that instantly take you to the roof, but exploring can still take time just to get around. If you want to save a little time, wait until you earn the second ability, Neon.

Neon is a light-based power that offers its own set of offensive abilities, but most importantly it allows you to run at hyper speed, including up straight walls. You fall much faster when you jump and hold the button, but once you upgrade to unlimited sprint, you can hold down the Dash button, let Delsin fall, and immediately run up walls and over roofs. With Neon, you can make your way around the city much more quickly than before, and complete the sidequests quickly.

paper trailFollow the Paper Trail

Infamous: Second Son includes an episodic metagame called “Paper Trail,” with six episodes set to be released over the first six weeks of the game’s life. In order to activate the content, you need to first go to the website and link your PlayStation Network account. Once that is done, you will have access to the content after you complete the main story mission “Chasing the Light,” which introduces you to a Neon-based Conduit. Once you find their hideout, a special icon should appear on your map.

infamous-second-son-mem-5You may want to wait a bit before tackling this though, at least until you enter the second section of Seattle (through a Story Mission). By that point, you’ll already have the Neon powers, which will make the coming chase sequences you’ll soon be engaging in much easier. Part Two requires you to cross the broken bridge anyway. 

Paper Trail combines in-game activities with online detective work. In the game you’ll be taken to a crime scene, where you use Delsin’s camera to take pictures of the area. You then collect evidence (you just go to it and press the action button when the icon appears). From there you head to the specifically linked mailbox, which sends a message to your profile letting it know you’ve completed that section. From there, head to the website and look at the evidence you just collected by clicking the associated link.

The first puzzle is a little confusing if you don’t know what to do. If you want to solve it yourself, skip to the next section.

If you are having trouble, look at the “Detective’s Wallet,” then examine the photos. Check the back of each for info you will need later, then look at the business card. On it you will see an email address, which also contains a web address. Type that address into your computer’s browser (in real life, not in the game), and it will take you to the detective’s agency site. Click the Employee’s access link, enter the email address, then choose the option to get help with your password. The answers to the security questions can be found in the wallet, and once you are in, click on the only case file open, which is regarding a familiar face.

From there look for a frequency number, and go back to the Paper Trail website. Click on Delsin’s phone, enter the frequency, then back in the game you should be able to track the frequency, just as you do in many missions that use the frequency scanner. that will take you to the next event.

You’ll need to jump back and forth between the game and your computer to solve the puzzles. Keep checking the Paper Trail website for more information, and to know when the next episode is available.

The abilities you earn (Page 2)

Infamous Second Son screenshot 17

The abilities (possible spoilers)

Where original protagonist Cole McGrath was a Conduit with the ability to utilize lightning, Delsin’s power is to mimic the abilities of other Conduits that he meets, and swap between those abilities by finding a related source to drain (Smoke from a chimney for Smoke, a neon sign for Neon, etc.). Over the course of the game, you’ll earn four Conduit abilities, although you only get the chance to utilize three of them during the main campaign.

All powers share a few similar features: They have a projectile attack (fired by hitting R2), a powerful missile (launched with R1) with limited “ammo” that is regained by draining more of that ability, a zoom/aim function (used by holding L2), and a unique ability activated with the L1 button. All powers can also slow your descent when falling by holding the Jump button – some are better at it than others – and they all offer some form of dash, but each dash is unique to the power.

Delsin’s first three powers also have a “Karma Bomb” special attack, activated by pressing the D-Pad. It needs to be charged up before you can use it though. To do so, you need to fill a gauge located in the upper left corner of the screen by helping or hurting enemies and civilians, as your karmic path dictates. You can fill the gauge using any power and swap abilities without fear of losing your charge. It stays with you until you use it or die, though it drains if you do the opposite of what your karma requires (killing an enemy instead of subduing them, for example).

You earn each power in the course of the story, and once you do, you then begin missions to unlock more abilities for each power. Once you are finished with that, you can then upgrade the new ability, assuming you have Shards to spend, and only as far as your karma level allows.

We won’t spoil the circumstances of how you earn the powers, but stop reading here if you’d prefer to discover the powers yourself.


Smoke is the first ability Delsin learns, and to fans of the previous Infamous games, it is also the most similar to Cole’s abilities in the first game.

Smoke offers a projectile like attack that fires a single blast with each button press – think of it like a semi automatic rifle though you can charge it up by holding the button down. When it is fully charged, release the button for a more powerful burst of energy. Think of it like a shotgun blast, and treat it accordingly.

When approaching enemies, repeatedly use the single blast from a distance, then move in and use the more powerful burst at close range. Since you need to power it up and release the button, it’s partly a matter of timing. Learn to get into a rhythm with it. Release the button, dash to an open spot if you are in danger, then hold and release when you get a clear shot. And repeat. Smoke, like all the powers, has a rocket-like attack that is limited by the number of “missiles” you are carrying. The more you upgrade Smoke, the more missiles you can carry. To refill the missiles, simply drain more smoke. Weaker sources may yield fewer missiles, but it’s easy to fill up.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Smoke ability also comes with a grenade that can be upgraded along either the good or evil karmic path. When you throw it at a group of enemies, everyone in range will be affected. You then must rush in to Subdue or Execute them, earning good or evil karma, respectively. If you upgrade this ability along the good path, you can only Subdue, while under evil you can only Execute. If you don’t reach them in time, the enemies will regain their composure and attack.

Smoke’s Karma Bomb is useful against a group of enemies concentrated in a single, confined area. You need a bit of room above you though, as Delsin jumps straight up in the air then crashes back down like a meteor.  The attack lays waste to people and equipment in a radius of the impact point. Its range is limited compared to the other powers, but it’s devastating if you connect.

One reason you may find yourself coming back to Smoke frequently is the ease with which you can find power sources to drain. Refilling your energy also earns you health, so if you are in trouble, Smoke can save your life.  If there are no obvious sources nearby for any of your powers (you can find color-coded sources on the mini-map), you can bash a car with your melee ability and create smoke to drain.


Neon is extremely useful if you need to get somewhere quickly. When you press dash, Delsin runs straight up walls, moves at incredible speeds, and covers a huge amount of territory on foot quickly. If something is in your way, no problem. Just go straight up and over it. Once you purchase the upgrade for unlimited dash – and you should as soon as possible – navigating Seattle becomes much easier and faster. Simply hold down the button and run. Run straight up buildings and jump off, then drop and run some more.

When you are exploring the city, Neon is the fastest way to find things like Shards. Keep one eye on the map in the corner of the screen as you look for the telltale drone icons, and the other eye on your character to judge the best way to get there. Treat buildings like ramps, and time your jumps for maximum velocity.

infamous neon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Neon offensive abilities offer a projectile as well, akin to a sniper rifle, and upgrading the Neon ability makes all the difference. When you zoom (by holding L2) with the Neon power equipped, time slows down. You can upgrade the duration of this effect, as well as purchase the ability to spot the weaknesses of enemies. You can then use these abilities to fill up your special attack gauge. Once upgraded, hold down the L2 button and aim at enemies; you’ll notice their heads are highlighted red, while their legs will be blue. If you go for the headshot, you earn evil karma towards your special attack (assuming you are on the evil path – if not it still gives you a tiny evil karma bump, but won’t fill your special meter). Hitting the legs subdues them non-lethally, and grants you a mark on the good karma meter.

Neon’s special attack picks up all visible enemies, lifts them in the air, and then unleashes a torrent of energy blasts, wiping out even some of the most powerful foes in the game. Make sure to fill that gauge as quickly as you can, and use it often. If you are heading to a sidequest where you know there will be enemies – like an MCU – take the time to fill it up before you get there. Once engaged, run around for a bit using the dash ability to stay ahead of opponents, then try to lure them into a central area. If you time it right, you can wipe out an entire section full of enemies with a single press of a button.

Along with the sniper-like blast, you also have a rocket-attack (which is similar to Smoke’s), as well as a stasis field that freezes enemies and leaves them floating in the air. It’s a good attack for when you are in a tight spot, but its range is limited and the zoom’s slowdown is more useful.


Although Video isn’t the last ability you earn, it may as well be; it’s the last ability you’ll be able to experiment with before the final battle, and it offers some interesting new ways to approach the game.

When you have Video equipped and upgraded (including the ability to dash twice in air), you can cover huge sections of the city in seconds. Video allows you to dash directly up the side of the building. When you reach the rooftop, you can dash up into the air again, and then hit dash once more to extend wings and glide for a limited time. You can glide twice and then hold the jump button to slowly float down. Once you get the timing down, you can jump from building to building, and almost never touch the ground. It’s not quite flying, but it’s close to it.

Once you have Video, you can also use the TV antennas located on the city’s rooftops like they’re catapults. Simply dash into one and you’ll be shot across the city. You can only go in the direction the antennae is facing though, so you won’t want to rely on these all the time. Many of these antennae also have video screens on them, which is the source of Video’s power. If you are trying to catch your breath from enemies, the rooftops are a relatively safe area to run and refuel.

Infamous Second Son screenshot 9Video’s projectile attack is similar to an automatic machine gun, unleashing a continuous stream of energy blasts. It drains energy quickly and isn’t especially powerful, but the hits add up and can slow down enemies while also disrupting their attacks. The ability’s rocket-like attack is a little unusual – it shoots digital swords at the enemies, which is slower than either Smoke or Neon’s similar attacks, but more powerful. Video’s melee attack faces a similar issue: it is powerful, but slow.

Video also has one other unique power: the ability to briefly tun invisible. Don’t bother using it until you purchase the upgrade that extends its duration. You may be able to sneak up and get a Subdue/Execute or two, but if there are a few enemies around, you’ll quickly find yourself under attack. You earn Video late in the game when the enemies are more powerful, so giving them an unnecessary advantage can cost you.

When it is powered up though, Video’s invisibility is an excellent way to fill your special attack gauge quickly. Activate the power, then run behind a group of enemies, working your way through their ranks. If you are lucky, you’ll take several out before they even know what’s happening. If you are really lucky, you can fill your entire special gauge and unleash Video’s special attack, which is like an orbital strike that calls in digital allies for a powerful strike. It’s devastating, but it works best in wide open areas, as the incoming attacks can be blocked by roofs.


The final ability you earn is Concrete, but you won’t be able to experiment with it until after the campaign concludes. If you want to roam the streets and try it out then, there are random attacks by D.U.P. soldiers, but other than that there isn’t a lot of use for it – assuming you completed all the sidequests earlier. If not, or if you just want to lay waste, Concrete has some offensive tools that are worth experimenting with.

Concrete’s projectile is essentially a burst fire assault weapon that deals a lot of damage. The dash turns you into a rock-like creature that allows you to run through enemies unharmed. The rocket-like attack is most effective against large groups, as it shoots out buzzsaws made of rock that spread out in a triangle pattern. You carry less of them than you do other rockets, but they are extremely powerful. Concrete doesn’t have a related Karma Bomb, so this is the closest thing to it. Concrete’s unique ability is to lift yourself in the air on a rock platform up to three times by pressing the L1 button. You can also stay aloft by holding the jump button longer with Concrete than any other ability.

Concrete’s melee ability is also the strongest in the game, and following an upgrade you take 20-percent less damage while equipped. It’s a powerful ability to have, but you earn it so late that it’s usefulness is limited. 

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Ryan Fleming
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Fleming is the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. He joined the DT staff in 2009 after spending time covering…
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