The eternal dance of stealther vs archer

If you have ever played a stealth class in an MMO, you will know the feeling well when you pick out your next mob and sneak up behind for that perfect backstab … only to have an arrow/ spell/ ranged attack hit it first.

It’s frustrating. Partly because it was likely done in all innocence; you were stealthed after all. How were they to know? So chances are that in PvE, you quickly avoid stealthed attacks unless you know you are alone and you really need that added punch. (Or the devs kindly give you some kind of ranged stealthy attack or a teleport, or somesuch.)

It’s equally annoying if you’re duoing with a ranged class and they get aggro all the time, which means that the mob runs off towards them and you have to peg it after them. (Maybe GW2 with its position based aggro will avoid this trap.)

Traditionally, stealthers have been penalised in PvE because they’ve tended to be strong in PvP. But I wonder if it would be better if every class could stealth, and then more stealth based PvE would be opened up for everyone.

Stealth gaming

I sometimes wonder how well stealth classes really fit into MMOs. And that’s a shame because it is a very fun play style. And seems to offer a lot of possibilities that MMOs don’t cater to well because they wouldn’t be accessible to non-stealthers and one has to be fair. And also, in a gogogo era, who has time for sneaking up carefully to a mob when you could just sling a dagger at it?

LOTRO is actually not a bad game for stealthers in PvE. This isn’t because the dynamics are any different but because they do throw in a few quests that ask you to go scout out enemy camps. Clearly you could do this the ‘scouting via full frontal assault’ method, but as a burglar I just sneak in. Job done. Stealth is a great ability for explorers.

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7 thoughts on “The eternal dance of stealther vs archer

  1. That’s one of the reasons I chose burglar and usual go for stealthers in other MMOs, just so I can skip most mobs but it can feel a little lazy sometimes. What really makes stealth more fun is ‘shadowsteps’, including being able to blink behind a mob right in position for that backstab, a combo of riftstalker and either assasin or nightblade in Rift is a lot of fun, you end up with 3 or 4 ways to close the distance, and get a +15% crit bonus every time you blink. I think Rift does stealth well, I like the tension of having a 30 sec duration for stealth unless invested heavily in the assassin soul, even 15 sec would be plenty most times, as long as it’s balanced by having plenty of movement abilities. The thief in GW2 seems to be following a similar tack to RIft, the longest stealth seems to be 30 sec, there is other ways to gain stealth but they are short lasting or end if the player moves, the ‘big’ change besides.including plenty of movement abilities is that stealth can be used in combat even if it only lasts a few seconds that should be plenty to sneak around an opponent.

  2. The last paragraph reminds me of what I loved as a Feral Druid in WoW. Frequently, you were asked to eliminate the boss who was hidden at the back of the compound behind loads of trash goons.

    The ability to stealth through it all to get behind the boss, stun the boss from kitty and then turn into a raging bear to take him down was like “Oh hai! SURPRISE!”

    After a bit of licking care to smooth the fur it was back to stealth to return to the quest giver.

    Endless fun!

  3. I had the most fun of all the toons I’ve leveled with my rogue for the precise reasons you mention. However, when playing with others, I experienced the same problems, too. I would like in WoW for there to be an ability that works like Distract, but instead is targeted and causes the mob to move to investigate, something like “Lure.” That would work both for moving mobs to you (and away from ranged) as well as allow more subtle approaches to groups.

    Why doesn’t stealth have a solid ranged opener? Snipers are essentially stealth ranged attackers. I think that should be a viable option, too.

    Great post!

  4. MMOs do seem a bit confused or undecided about stealth. I had a blast in City of Heroes playing an illusion controller, but I leveled very slowly because my fun also did me out of a lot of xp. The game rather expected that you’d slaughter defeat your way through missions, despite having a powerset that allowed one to bypass fighting (and a less powerful stealth skill anyone could take, if I remember right). It left me with a lasting thought that there really need to be multiple ways to complete missions and don’t penalize people for not taking the frontal assault path all the time.

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