System Shock 2

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 cover
Irrational Games
Looking Glass Studios
Electronic Arts
Night Dive Studios
Dark Engine
Release dates
Windows August 11, 1999
macOS (OS X) (Wine) June 18, 2013[1]
Linux (Wine) April 1, 2014
System Shock 2 guide on StrategyWiki
System Shock 2 on MobyGames
System Shock 2 on Wikipedia
System Shock
System Shock 1994
System Shock 2 1999
System Shock: Enhanced Edition 2015
System Shock (2020) 2020
System Shock 2 Enhanced Edition TBA
System Shock 3 TBA

Key points

Install outside C:\Program Files (x86)\ to avoid problems.[2]
Install SS2Tool to add widescreen/multi-monitor support and fix various compatibility and performance issues.

General information

Modding guide on the PCGamingWiki blog
SHODANPEDIA - Unofficial System Shock wiki
TTLG Forums - System Shock Series Forum Forum - SS2 Troubleshooting Guide Community Discussions for game series Support Page
Steam Community Discussions


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
SafeDisc DRM[Note 1].
Publisher website
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Purchase via Humble Widget.
macOS (OS X)
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macOS (OS X)
Green Man Gaming
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macOS (OS X)
Humble Store
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Humble Store
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System Shock Pack, 2 games bundle.
macOS (OS X)
DRM-free after installation through Steam client (notes may include more details)
macOS (OS X)
SafeDisc retail DRM no longer functions properly on Windows Vista and later (see above for affected versions).
All the digital distribution versions are pre-patched with NewDark.
OS X and Linux versions use Wine.

Essential improvements[edit]


Essential patcher which integrates the NewDark patch and fixes various issues.
Latest versions automatically disable the intro video for you (if you wish to re-enable it for whatever reason, add always_play_intro to the cam.cfg or cam_ext files).
SS2Tool requires Vista or later due to included Rsync, however NewDark runs on 2000/XP or later. One can patch it on a Vista machine then transfer it to an older machine. Digital versions already include NewDark and compatibility fixes for modern systems however the tool is still necessary for proper mod support.

Recommended mods[edit]

Modding guide available on the PCGamingWiki blog.
Alternate modding guide with updated links and mod info, from the System Shock 2 forums.
Mod list


  • Alt weapon sounds - An alternative/expansion to DeepFriedBeer's Sound Upgrade that improves the weapons effects furthor (you can merge and overwrite DeepFriedBeer's original files if used as an expansion). Note that this mod contains a Duke Nukem voice clip for the weapon break sound, which can break immersion for some players. To fix this delete the file gunbrek1.wav (or if being used as an expansion simply don't copy).
  • Vurt's Hi-Res Space Textures - SHTUP already includes a space texture, but this is a nice alternative.
  • Necro Water - Alternative to Vurt's Water.
  • Hi-Resolution Player Models - Rebirth includes player models, but here's nice alternatives.
  • ImpyNickers RebirthSkins - Makes the Rebirth Hybrids look more vanilla (scary). Requires basic Rebirth to be loaded first.

OS X version[edit]

Modding the Wineskin version can be done by firstly installing the Windows version in a virtual machine, patching it and installing all desired modifications and then replacing the System Shock 2 installation within the Wineskin version with the custom version. If you are using the Steam version it may be necessary to deactivate Steam's "Keep up to date" function for this to work.

Game data[edit]

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\*.cfg[Note 2]
macOS (OS X) <path-to-game>/Contents/Resources/drive_c/Games/System Shock 2/
Linux ~/.systemshock2/systemshock2/drive_c/Program Files/SystemShock2/*.cfg
cam.cfg contains game settings.
cam_ext.cfg is the configuration file for the game once patched using SS2Tool.
It's unknown whether this game follows the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux. Please fill in this information.

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\[Note 2]
macOS (OS X)
Save games are kept in multiple folders, e.g. \save_0\, \save_1\

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy
Steam Cloud

Video settings[edit]

General settings.
General settings.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
Native for digital versions; for retail versions install SS2Tool.
Native for digital versions; for retail versions install SS2Tool.
Native for digital versions; for retail versions install SS2Tool.
4K Ultra HD
Native for digital versions;[5] for retail versions install SS2Tool.
Field of view (FOV)
See Field of view (FOV).
See Windowed.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Enable Windowed mode, then use desktop resolution in-game.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Native for digital versions; for retail versions install SS2Tool.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Native for digital versions; for retail versions install SS2Tool.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
See Vertical sync (Vsync).
60 FPS
120+ FPS
Default framerate cap is 100 fps. See High frame rate.
In addition to setting video options, editing cam_ext.cfg will allow you to set the interface/HUD scale and transparency. There are also custom crosshairs available (using them with a mod manager requires changing their extension from .ss2mod to .zip).

Field of view (FOV)[edit]

FOV of 150.
FOV of 150.
Change field of view (FOV)[citation needed]
  1. For retail versions install SS2Tool.
  2. Edit <path-to-game>\cam_ext.cfg.
  3. Change ;fov 90 to fov # (any number).


Change windowed mode[citation needed]
  1. For retail versions install SS2Tool.
  2. Edit <path-to-game>\cam_ext.cfg.
  3. Change ;force_windowed to force_windowed

Vertical sync (Vsync)[edit]

Disable vsync[citation needed]
  1. For retail versions install SS2Tool.
  2. Edit <path-to-game>\cam_ext.cfg.
  3. Change ;vsync_mode 0 to vsync_mode 0

High frame rate[edit]

Change frame rate cap[citation needed]
  1. For retail versions install SS2Tool.
  2. Edit <path-to-game>\cam_ext.cfg.
  3. Change ;vsync_mode 7 to vsync_mode 7
  4. Change framerate_cap 100.0 to the FPS cap you want.
Ensuring correct game speed[citation needed]
  1. Go to the installation folder.
  2. Edit cam_ext.cfg.
  3. Change ;phys_freq 60 to phys_freq 60
  4. If you want more than 250 FPS, change SlowFrame 4 to ;SlowFrame 4

Input settings[edit]

Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Full remapping available, but no 'default' can be loaded.[6] (although in the Steam version there is a "standard FPS" preset available)
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
Official Steam Controller bindings only.
Steam Input
Steam Input API support
Official Steam Controller bindings only.
Hook input (legacy mode)
Official controller preset(s)
Steam Controller button prompts
Cursor detection

Audio settings[edit]

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Up to 7.0 output.[7]
mod on
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
EAX (2[citation needed]) and A3D. For further info refer to this thread. Effects from both APIs are remapped to OpenAL in NewDark versions.
Follow this guide for OpenAL Soft HRTF in NewDark.[8]


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
SS2 English Subtitles
SS2 Deutsche Untertitel / German Subtitles
Fan translation, download.
Fan translation, download.


Multiplayer is officially unsupported in NewDark. Even so, a guide for use with NewDark is available here.

Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
4 Co-op
Online play
4 Co-op

Connection types


Protocol Port(s) and/or port range(s)
TCP 2300-2400, 28800-28900
UDP 2300-2400, 28800-28900
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) support status is unknown.

VR support[edit]

3D modes Native Notes
Nvidia 3D Vision
See install/setup instructions.
See install/setup instructions.
Officially supported game, see official vorpx game list.

Issues fixed[edit]

Random crashing[edit]

Use SS2Tool[citation needed]

See SS2Tool.

Left-clicking or dragging does not work[edit]

Use SS2Tool[citation needed]

See SS2Tool.

Small game window or black screen[edit]

Edit cam_ext.cfg to disable multisampling[citation needed]
  1. Go to the installation folder.
  2. Open cam_ext.cfg using Notepad.
  3. Comment out and change multisampletype 8 to ;multisampletype 8
Enable SS2Tool Safe Mode[citation needed]
  1. Download and run the SS2Tool installer.
  2. At the Choose Components installation step, enable Safe Mode.
  3. Click Install and finish installing.

UI too small on high screen resolutions[edit]

Edit cam_ext.cfg to enable ui scaling[citation needed]
  1. Open cam_ext.cfg in Notepad or any other text editor.
  2. Uncomment the line ;d3d_disp_scaled_2d_overlay 64 by removing the semicolon.


If this does not fix the issue, you may try scaling the UI to arbitrary resolutions by re-commenting out the above line (add back in the semicolon), uncommenting the line ;d3d_disp_scaled_2d_overlay 640 480 and adjusting the 640 and the 480 to your desired resolution. However, this may cause the ui to become blurry/pixelated, so try the initial fix first.

Poor performance on Mac wineskin version[edit]

Enable X11[9]

Find the System Shock and right-click on it. Click Show Contents and run In the Screen Options, you should see a checkbox that says Use Mac Driver instead of X11. Uncheck that box and that should fix the problem. If box is already unchecked then check it instead.

Can't dive in Mac or Linux version[edit]

Place this dml file in the SS2 folder[10]

Other information[edit]


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 6.1, 9.0c Originally released with 6.1, and 9.0c support was added in modern re-releases
DirectDraw 6.1
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes
macOS (OS X)


Middleware Notes
Audio DirectSound, OpenAL Replaced with OpenAL in NewDark

System requirements[edit]

Original retail release[edit]

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 95
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 200 MHz / Cyrix 6x86 / AMD K6
System memory (RAM) 32 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 200 MB
Video card (GPU) 4 MB of VRAM
DirectX 6.1 compatible
Sound (audio device) Sound card with DirectSound support

Digital re-release[edit]

Operating system (OS) XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
Processor (CPU) 1.8 GHz
System memory (RAM) 2 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 2 GB
Video card (GPU) DirectX 9.0c compatible
macOS (OS X)
Operating system (OS) 10.7.0
Processor (CPU) Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GHz
System memory (RAM) 2 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 2 GB
Video card (GPU) 256 MB of VRAM


  1. SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows 10[3] and is disabled by default on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 when the KB3086255 update is installed.[4]
  2. 2.0 2.1 When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).