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I am hosting a multiplayer game with my friends, but I want to use a different character. But if I leave the game, that will reset our progress back to the last checkpoint, and we have to fight my way through areas I already cleared.

Is there a way to allow me to change my character, but still keep the progress I've already made?

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...Are you changing characters? If so, and you're the host, I doubt there's a way to preserve the game instance. –  Frank Nov 15 '12 at 16:59
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As I see it, you have 2 options:

  1. Play through the game with the second character and do exactly as you did with the original.
  2. Play through however you want and have one of your friends host it. The save file of the other players in your group also contains the map and quest completion information.

However I do not think there are any major game changing events. So it might be sufficient to just get your character to the same point in the story line as your friends, and you should be able to carry on just fine.

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I think the op is asking more about not resetting the current level progress and kicking everyone out of the game so they have to rejoin; in other words, switching characters in mid-game. Which isn't possible. But your suggestion here is as bout as good an alternative as possible. –  Mufasa Nov 16 '12 at 4:39
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