From Technu to Metal Gear Solid to Dishonored, stealth has played an important role in video games for decades now. A great stealth mechanic is truly something magnificent to behold. They can open up unique scenarios for the player, or just give them an additional challenge to pursue.
The thing is, all stealth mechanics are not created equally. And, sometimes, even a solid stealth mechanic may just not make sense in a certain game. There are definitely a number of titles that have included stealth that, at the end of the day, would be better played using the other systems available in the game, even if just at a few different points.
In a lot of ways, Deathloop feels like a spiritual successor to the Dishonored games. Those games have fantastic stealth. And so does Deathloop. However, it seems like the developers went out of their way to encourage you to let loose with Colt. While the Dishonored games incentivize you to play through the game without ever harming a hair on the head of a single enemy, Deathloop isn’t about that life.
Instead, Deathloop is a much more action-centric take on the Dishonored style of gameplay. Yes, you will absolutely use a lot of stealth in Deathloop, but you should also engage in frenetic firefights where you can use your impressive suite of powers to create absolute mayhem. And hey, if you do want to do a run that is entirely stealth-based, you can always do that on another loop. There will be no long-lasting detriment to letting loose.
Skyrim allows for a stealth style of play, and certainly, there are going to be some thieves out there that swear by it, but it just doesn’t feel great. The beginning of the game, when your stats are on the low side, it makes the experience feel like a complete crapshoot; then later, when you have your sneaking stats fully upgraded, stealth just breaks the game. Talk about going from extreme to extreme.
Also, why choose to crawl everywhere you go when you could be screaming so loud you send out shockwaves? Or using incredibly powerful, arcane magic? Or turning into a werewolf and going on a rampage? We get it, maybe you want to roleplay as a sneak. Understandable. It just doesn’t feel like Skyrim is at its best when you are skulking around.
8 Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
It feels odd to criticize stealth in an Assassin’s Creed game. Traditionally, these titles were, first and foremost, stealth games. However, as things have progressed, action has become more of a central component. In Odyssey, you aren’t even an assassin anymore. Now you are an outgoing mercenary.
It almost feels as though the stealth mechanics are a vestigial limb here. It isn’t that they don’t work, they just don’t feel like they fit the character of Kassandra. You will probably need to stealth your way through some of the outposts, and occasionally sneak around gaggles of enemies, but the game is at its best when you are dodging sword strikes and kicking people off of cliffs.
7 Cyberpunk 2077
While not a lot worked out of the gate in Cyberpunk 2077, there was one thing that felt pretty good: the gunplay. It didn’t break new ground, and it certainly isn’t Doom Eternal, but the guns had a nice feel to them. Do you want to know what didn’t feel good? You probably see where this one is going… It’s the stealth!
From the not-so-great takedown animations (the sleeper hold is particularly bad), to enemies seemingly seeing you through solid objects; the stealth here feels pretty underwhelming. Even when it works, Cyberpunk 2077 just doesn’t feel like it is at its best when you are using stealth. And, the thing is, it doesn’t always work. Our recommendation is to save your knees from the crouching and just go in all guns blazing.
6 Fable: The Lost Chapters
Peter Molyneux, Fable’s director, is well known for pushing his team to add as many features as they possibly can. He was known to occasionally promise the moon. Fable is one of the best examples of that not necessarily playing out well. While his ambition is admirable, it would sometimes lead to things like the stealth mechanics in Fable.
To call Fable’s stealth underbaked would be a huge understatement. Stealth in Fable really doesn’t open up any unique or interesting gameplay scenarios. Instead, it just slows the game to a crawl. Fable was very clearly not a game that was designed to be played using stealth and gamers are better off ignoring the existence of the stealth mechanics in this game altogether.
5 Marvel's Spider-Man
Marvel's Spider-Man clearly borrows a lot from Arkham Asylum, which is a game that provides a great stealth experience. As Spider-Man, you can definitely approach things in a more stealthy manner. You can swing in, string people up, and take out goons one by one.
But the stealth style just feels comparatively slow to the dynamic web-swinging combat. At the end of the day, Spider-Man is a game that is at its best when you are fighting off waves of enemies, hurling objects at people, performing swinging kicks, and webbing people to the side of buildings. What works for Batman isn't necessarily a good fit for Spider-Man.
4 Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami can be played very stealthily. You can weave in and around the stages. You can use quiet weapons to dispatch your enemies. And it plays well this way. But that isn't really the gameplay it is known for. It is at its best when things degrade into a scramble. Blowing doors down, running away, turning a corner, and tossing a bat directly into someone's face. That is Hotline Miami at its best.
So, while it feels like stealth is something you may want to flirt with, it would be a shame if it was the only way you played the game. Instead, we suggest that you embrace the chaos and let your inner animal out.
3 Wolfenstein: The New Order
This Wolfenstein reboot was an absolute treat. This is a game that somehow manages to be incredibly poignant and sincere, while also being extraordinarily silly and schlocky. It plays well, too. The guns have great feedback, and the combat is visceral.
There is also stealth. The stealth stuff is… fine. It isn’t terrible. It doesn’t ruin the game. However, when your two options are incredibly engaging, heart-pumping action, or perfectly okay stealth, it feels like the option you should choose is pretty obvious.
2 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising ends up existing in the exact opposite space as the Metal Gear Solid games. While Metal Gear Solid games allow for a lot of straightforward combat, they simply aren’t at their best when played that way. First and foremost, they are stealth games.
Metal Gear Rising, on the other hand, is a brilliant action game that allows gamers to engage with a stealthier style of gameplay as well. While the stealth isn’t particularly bad here, it just feels so very wrong to forgo the fantastic combat engine in lieu of a perfectly okay stealth gameplay system. Make no mistake about it, Revengeance is at its best when you are dicing up foes with your sword.
1 Breath Of The Wild
On one level, we can respect that Nintendo gave players the tools to play through encounters in a stealthy manner. You can hide in tall grass; you can reduce the noise you make by crouch-walking. A lot of the classic elements of a solid stealth engine are here. But while you may want to fall back on these mechanics once in a blue moon, such as on Eventide Island, it is hard to imagine a more excruciating way to play Breath of the Wild than by primarily relying on stealth.
Breath Of The Wild’s weakest moments are probably its forced stealth sections, so it is hard to imagine why someone would choose to engage with the stealth system of their own accord. When you have a world of possibilities, and a game engine that allows you to be incredibly creative, why would you want to spend your time crawling through the grass?
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