|“||Use Power Nodes to upgrade your weapons and RIG.||”|
Upon finding a Bench, Isaac can upgrade any of the four weapons he is currently holding, as well as his Stasis or Kinesis modules, or his RIG. What aspect the player can upgrade differs according to the equipment you have chosen to upgrade. Isaac's RIG can be upgraded to have more health and air, and his weapons can be upgraded to have more damage, or do things like hold more ammo or reload faster. Many weapons also have special upgrade options, such as the Line Gun's mine timer, or the Contact Beam's charge duration.
Upgrade is done through an upgrade path. The player inserts Power Nodes into the branches of what they want to upgrade. However, Isaac can't simply place the nodes wherever he wants. To place a node, there must be an adjacent node next to where you are trying to insert a new one. The first node you place in a branch is pointed out by an arrow.
In Dead Space 3, a new form of bench has been made that can allow the player to forge their own weapon or make a combination of two weapons, giving the new combined weapon a greater capacity to cause more damage. It also takes on some of the responsibilities of the Store as the user is able to craft items from health pack to ammunition with material instead of purchasing with credits. This version of the bench also allows the player to place items in a safe for latter retrieval, this function was previously a part of the store.
Upgrades to RIG suits can no longer be performed at the bench, the Suit Kiosk is required for this instead.
- DMG - Damage Node, increases damage performed by a weapon.
- CAP - Capacity Node, increases the ammo capacity of a weapon.
- SPD - Speed Node, increases fire rate of a weapon.
- REL - Reload Node, decreases reload time of a weapon.
- ALT - Alternate Fire Node, increases damage of a weapon's alternate fire.
- CHR - Charge Node, decreases the charge time of the Contact Beam. In Dead Space 2, also appears in the Stasis Module and decreases the Stasis recharge time.
- DUR - Duration Node, increases the duration of the flames on the Flamethrower. Also present in the Ripper. In Dead Space 2 it reduces the time it take's for the Line Gun's alt-fire to detonate.
- RNG - Range Node, appears only in Dead Space, increases Kinesis Module range.
- WID - Width Node, unique to the Line Gun, increases the width of the fired blast.
- SPC - Special Node, appears in Dead Space 2, adds a special ability to a weapon, such as incendiary rounds for the Plasma Cutter.
- Blank Node - Nodes that connect various circuits, must be filled to reach other Nodes.
In Dead Space 2 you unlock an ability at Chapter 7 called "Respec" that allows you to remove all the Nodes from one tool and return them to your inventory. These recovered Nodes can then be applied to other tools and equipment. The Respec process costs 5,000 Credits to perform.
You can completely restore your health at any time by using Respec on your RIG and then reapplying the Nodes in a Health upgrade. This can be done an unlimited number of times as long as you have the 5,000 Credits for each Respec procedure. It is the same cost that a medium pack and cheaper than a large med pack, so it is profitable if you are really low on health.
As regards weapons, "respec" allows to get ammunition thanks to the reload effect of upgrading CAP circuits. It doesn't look interesting at a first sight, but note that every variant of the same weapon you're holding will be impacted. If we do the Maths, supposing an empty magazine and every possible variant equipped with full CAP upgraded:
- Three weapons have too cheap ammos and thus are not interesting: Seeker Rifle, Plasma Cutter and Rivet Gun.
- Seven weapons allow to save money from the store thanks to the 5 000 flat rate:
- Max of 1 000 for the Javelin Gun. Profitable starting from more than 25 ammo to reload.
- Max of 4 000 for the Force Gun. Profitable starting from more than 16 ammo to reload.
- Max of 9 000 for the Flamethrower. Profitable starting from more than 125 ammo to reload.
- Max of 16 600 for the Ripper. Profitable starting from more than 11 ammo to reload.
- Max of 21 250 for the Pulse Rifle. Profitable starting from more than 100 ammo to reload.
- Max of 31 000 for the Line Gun. Profitable starting from more than 5 ammo to reload.
- Max of 37 000 for the Contact Beam. Profitable starting from more than 2 ammo to reload.
- Above all, the Detonator has an extra bonus since Isaac can retrieve the mines set up, so it is possible to make money infinitely with it.
So, with DLC, you'll never have resource problems.
- You need a minimum of 152 Power Nodes in Dead Space to get the "Maxed Out" achievement, assuming you choose the correct slots while upgrading. Legitimately, this imposes almost clearing the game twice at the bare minimum, as the first playthrough simply does not have enough item drops for Isaac.
- Dead Space 2's weapons require a more substantial amount of Power Nodes to be fully upgraded than their Dead Space counterparts; the reason possibly being that more Power Nodes are found in one playthrough of Dead Space 2 than in the first installment of the series.
- Also different in Dead Space 2 is the fact that the upgrades for the Kinesis module are now involved in the upgrades for the RIG, and as opposed to affecting range, it affects the force/damage of an object propelled with Kinesis.
- In Dead Space 2, Bench upgrades for certain weapons have a "Special" Node, which grants a unique ability to that certain weapon. A few examples are listed here: the "Special" Node for the Plasma Cutter adds the ability for the rounds to ignite upon contact with a foe, the "Special" Node for the Javelin Gun adds an explosive effect to its secondary fire, the "Special" upgrade for the Contact Beam gives its secondary fire a Stasis effect, and the "Special" Node for the Detonator increases the blast radius of every deployed mine.
- The Bench returns in Dead Space 3, however, it has far more functions. In particular, it allows creation of weapons and weapon customization, and it uses Upgrade Circuits instead of Power Nodes for upgrading weapons.
- It also acts as a mini-Store, in that it has a safe, and "sells" items which Isaac/Carver can "sell" back.