Let's fix stealth!

There seem to be two kinds of stealth in the game, passive (the stealth % from armor, thief perk, and infiltrator class) and active (the Triton pain camo and the infiltrator stay hidden thing, which is never properly explained), but which rely on the same “stealth” stat. The mechanics for detection are obscure (at least to me) but there is no RNG involved; there is a check of stealth VS perception where range is the main factor, but no die roll.

This means that an Infiltrator with a stealth of 100% (achieved with thief perk) is virtually undetectable at any range. Even with lower stealth, they are still undectable at anything but very close range. This added to the damage boosts they receive means they can be used as an exploit (see this thread SO! A litte something about 'Why Infiltrators are OP?')

At the same time using stealth in a non exploitive way can be challenging because the mechanics and their effects are obscure.

In brief, my suggestion is to separate “passive” from “active” stealth, and make “active” stealth fragile and expensive.

  1. The game should provide complete visibility on what is going on with “passive” stealth & detection, like showing if a movement or action of a soldier will reveal them to the enemies currently observed (as in Xcom2, basically)

  2. The Infiltrator suit, instead of providing a massive bonus to “passive stealth”, should enable “active stealth”, and the Infiltrator be proficient in its use.

  3. Any soldier or critter no matter how high their passive stealth stat will be detected at a certain LOS range from an opponent no matter how low their perception (e.g. 8 tiles)

  4. However, a soldier in active stealth will not be detected unless it’s broken.

  5. Active stealth will be broken by making any attack or using certain skills (e.g. dash, jetpack) and can be broken by special skills/items used by opponents.

  6. Entering active stealth carries a high WP cost (4-5 WPs) (explanation: to activate the stealth capabilities of the suit the soldier has to exercise extreme self control to remain absolutely still).

  7. Melee attacks carried out from active stealth carry massive damage bonus (as they do now for all attacks).

Thoughts?

1 Like

Don’t really see why any meaningful stealth needs to be made into some ‘magic ability with mana cost’… there’s enough of that already, so avoiding more is only a good thing.

However I do think whilst keeping stealth functionally the same as it is at the moment there could be some kind of physiological check to stealth that limits the brokeness when utilised in certain fringe cases.

Essentially each type of unit would project a kind of ‘threat’ (for lack of a better word) within a limited number of tiles (5 or 6 tiles seems reasonable as a base level), multiple enemy near each other would have their projected ‘threat’ stack onto any overlapped tiles.

When a unit is currently not detected (AKA stealthed), it will check its current tile for any applied threat from nearby enemy and then compare it to their willpoints. If their Willpoints are greater than or equal too any projected stacked hostile threat, then the unit behaves like it normally would in any actions.

If their Willpoints are less than the stacked total of projected hostile threat, then the undetected unit begins to suffer a series of performance penalties depending on the variances between their willpoints and their current tiles ‘threat’ value.

A small deficit would just be some minor debuffs to their basic combat stats.
A larger deficit would begin to actually impact passive attributes like stealth.

Each turn spent in such a situation would apply a new debuff that stacks on top of any existing.

Once a undetected unit moves off a tile that was applying negative status to them, they’ll retain those negative losses and only regain their normal condition over time providing they’re not put into a high threat tile situation again. If it does happen, then they begin to gain more negative debuffs to their performance stats on top of what they had not been able to regain from before.

As the amount of ‘threat’ projected out by a unit is variable to the type of enemy (though for the sake of consistency, the projected area really should be the same for every unit), things could be tuned to a level that keeps some sensible stealth play around but the whole “100% invisible always killing infiltrator” and similar concept builds get nuked.

Overall idea is to keep stealth viable as it exists now. But change the combat viability of keeping undetected units in the middle of a very dangerous situation for more than a handful of turns… a unit left undetected in a highly stressful situation would really dampen their combat effectiveness unless they are given a chance to get out of there and recover… a quick strike might still be possible, but the longer it draws out, the less effective the unit becomes.

I disagree that WPs are mana, since they also play the role of morale, psi defense and opportunity cost of using different skills. So it’s not a magic ability with a mana cost (that would be if they were only used for spells) but rather an abstraction, and as such always (at least slightly) meta. This I understand can be objectionable, especially if you prefer a simulation approach as a solution.

The thing is for better or for worse PP opted for abstraction and IMO implementing one simulation mechanic would make the worst of both worlds. You would see “protocols” for minimizing exposure to “threats” tiles, optimal handling of WP pools, infiltrator builds with very high WP…

It would be nice to have, like in XCOM2, a zone around enemies that shows where you lose stealth.

Currently, stealth doesn’t apply to hearing range so the Pandas still hear you coming nearby. So it is definitely the armor that has the same tech as the Predator.

The concept of active stealth although is nice.
By default, stealth would be capped at 25% but the infiltrator could activate a stealth mode that would give him the full potential of his armor at the expense of lower mobility. He could also deactivate it to gain mobility.

The vanish ability (which activates stealth) should work only to move to a spot where stealth is preserved (far enough from enemies and outside mist - don’t go in mist with your 100% stealth infiltrator).

Shooting with a “noisy” weapon (everything but crossbows) should deactivate stealth beforehand (thus losing the x2 effect). This way, 100% stealth is not as big an advantage.

Since they know where you are with the sound:

  • Arthrons should throw grenades at your position
  • Tritons (that can) should generate mist around you to make you visible to them
  • Chirons already bomb you, so it’s ok
  • The queen threw some mist on my 100% stealth infiltrator making him visible so it’s great too

They should bump into you to make distance 0 and therefore make you visible.

1 Like

All this sounds good to me. The key I think is that the advantages of “active” stealth come with easily understandable disadvantages. And giving the player visibility on what’s going on.

I’d agree with that, though I think using Crossbows or silenced weapons (always hinted at in BB skill trees but not yet implemented as far as i can see) should enable you to stay hidden.

As a very simple fix, I’d simply nerf the Stealth stats of most armour/perks, so that the max Stealth anyone can achieve in the game is 75-80% That deals with 100% Infiltrators straight away.

1 Like

English is not my main language but I thought that this would imply that using a crossbow wouldn’t deactivate stealth.

  • using a non-“silenced” weapon deactivates stealth beforehand -> thus removing the x2 damage
  • using a “silenced” weapon (currently only crossbows) keeps stealth active

Sorry, missed it in my skim through.

That it does, the problem is that even 75% (or 50%) is exploitive, mostly because stealth doesn’t break:

That’s not been my experience. I’ve lost track of the number of 75% Stealth Infiltrators I’ve lost because their cover got broken by those opaque mechanics you were talking about. Infiltrators are far and away my least survivable Squaddie type, so I must be doing something wrong :thinking:

Right now you have to use your Infils at proper range to keep them safe. Perception cap at 30 and only big eye Tritons have it doubled, so 60. Stealth from equipment caps at 75%, if you use mutations it goes up to 85%. So at 75% they detect you at range 8, at 85% its 5 tiles. Remember that it’s considering that you are fully visible. If you are in cover (according to game description) this is even lower. So if you keep that in mind, you can keep your non-thief Infiltrators at safe range and benefit from whatever second class you chose, with double damage and no risk of retaliation. Only Chirons shoot at detected but not visible targets.

So how to fix this? I agree with OP, there should be difference between active and passive stealth. Make active stealth only after skill use like Vanish. Or infer WP cost of moving in stealth, like 4tiles/1WP. Make all loud weapons break stealth. All those things were already suggested but I do think they are a good idea.

EDIT: typos

Enemies have a perception stat:

  • usually 20 for Pandorans
  • 40 for tritons with the “double perception” ability
  • 35 for queen
  • 42 for Synedrion sniper

Your stealth is expressed in percent taken away from this perception. So if I take a typical Pandoran with 20 perception:

  • 50% stealth: the pandoran will see you if you are within 10 tiles
  • 75% stealth: 5 tiles
  • 85% stealth (with leg mutation): 3 tiles
  • 100% stealth (with thief): if it bumps into you (which for whatever reason never happens although they know where you are from the sound)
  • -50% stealth (NJ heavy): 30 tiles
1 Like

@gauthel @pantolomin Thank you, your explanations are very helpful.

So if I understand this correctly, what happens at the moment with the infiltrators is that they get 25% boost to the stealth from armor/thief while they remain undetected, and that is represented as the blue hue around the screen, right? And once they are detected they can use the vanish skill to regain this 25% boost?

I haven’t use many yet but yes it’s dangerous and they die easily, I mean with 75%. But for me not because of opaque mechanism but by being discovered during enemy turn.

They can’t be forward scout, but probably cautious scout.

For kill chains, it’s not working well, the distance is too long for shotgun and closer you get detected

This lead to a second problem when you fail some action, even still not detected, it’s high chance of death and need retreat. So you need ensure let enough WP to finish with a dash.

I think the easier will be sniper, once more. It’s only 100% damages increase but still very good to take. Anyway shoot in back are a matter of opportunity, it’s hard to trigger.

Have close range weapons not breaking stealth will means stealth work at close range and even an active stealth won’t disable exploits from those things. Anyway only Bererk use close range, this is limited.

I don’t think that a Will cost for an active stealth will disable OP Infiltrator teams abusing the system. Even limited to crossbows, it won’t work and such team will be OP.

Stealth needs a cap and it can’t work otherwise. If not 75% then 85% max.

It’s too difficult to make it compatible with all weapons so only some specialized weapons won’t break stealth.

This let the sounds management, I’m not sure if all aliens go closer to sounds, some certainly does. Even if it seems make stealth pointless, such mechanism would ensure a full stealth team could not work. But I guess the AI would need some tuning so it works fine.

At least, infiltrators make assault rifles good.
An assault/infiltrator with an assault rifle doesn’t need to get too close but still benefits from the 100% bonus weapon damage. Piranha goes from 30 to 60 with 20 armor piercing (burst of 5). It becomes deadly and overwatch becomes relevant.

I don’t know if someone knows how hearing range works.
Would a dev mind explaining ? Is it written somewhere ?
@Yokes, any ideas ?

  1. The way it is now you’re encouraged to use long-range perception scouts to eye out the field before moving in anything stealthy. You usually should assume that unless you have that blueish glow, that you’ll be seen if you’re in front of an enemy (but not if you run behind them) and if you do have that glow, do the math on your stealth and estimate the enemies usual perception that you’ve felt out and reduce it by that much. I think it was intentional to have this information obscured as a gameplay decision because just like IRL, sneaking around isn’t an obvious “this is 100% going to work” and is always risky. I like this.

Well in the end I keep counting tiles to know where I can come as close as possible to shoot before going back. Having an indication like in XCOM would streamline it.

When positioning a sniper (Synedrion armor 25% stealth), I have to count even more tiles.

1 Like

To be fair… I’m not sure. I thought that it is close range “detector” around soldier… But sometimes we see in game that soldiers hear enemies on another side of the map, so that implies that hearing range is just something like perception range, but without limitations like with view range (obstacles/mist/night).

If the developers are going to fix 100% stealth,l hope they also fix the unbalanced mission design and the unbalanced enemy mechanics and the confusing research tree together, the first reason l use the 100% stealth build is because the game is too hard to play,even in easy mode,it force you to stick on certain op ability and unbalanced build to play,even Christopherodd cannot forget using the rage burst ability to make progress

Also,100% stealth is not undectable,for some reason,siren and terror sentinel when alerted they can use psychic scream ability to make you lose control of your inflitrator,Chiron can target you when they are alerted,worms can detect and explode near your inflitrator,entering mist remove the stealth perk,And finally the final boss can use mark of void to hit your inflitrator too