Follow TV Tropes


Useless Useful Stealth

Go To

Many Role Playing Games that are mainly based on combat also have a "stealth" mechanic that can ostensibly be used to get past monsters without fighting, thus enabling another choice of strategy. However, this stealth often turns out to be close to useless, for the following reasons:

  • There are many enemies that players must kill to complete key objectives, such as bosses, that are harder to kill than enemies that you can stealth by. Hence, if your character or party is powerful enough to kill the bosses (as is necessary in order to progress in the game), you will also be more than powerful enough to kill the grunts, so it is unnecessary to stealth by them.
  • Stealthing by enemies leaves them in place, so if you were to stealth by them and later end up in a situation where you had to run away, you would be sandwiched between two sets of enemies.
  • Stealthing by enemies prevents you from getting the experience and loot rewards that you would have received had you killed them, so it leaves you handicapped for later in the game. However some video games actually reward you for sneaking past enemies or otherwise going through areas undetected.
  • Stealth is simply unreliable or difficult to use effectively, due to either game mechanics or interface limitations.
  • If you do have a party with varying degrees of stealth rather than just a single sneaky character, then your chances of the entire group being able to go undetected for any length of time are limited by its least stealthy member(s) anyway. Unless you split up, of course, which comes with its own drawbacks.
  • The developers didn't take into account the visibility for the user interface, and the stealth is so good that the player cannot see his/her own units and either goes "out of sight out of mind", or makes it very difficult to control because you can't see exactly where your character is (especially when your character is not always at the centre of your screen.)

Similarly, Real-Time Strategy games often have a few units with stealth capabilities. These are typically useless for anything but scouting, because:

  • They're overpriced and underpowered.
  • Counter-stealth defenses are often cheap, easy to build, or so ingrained into even a beginning player's routines that only a computer player deliberately hamstrung by the programmer wouldn't use it.
  • There's no strategic benefit to infiltration. Things that are expensive to build are generally hard to destroy, and a lone infiltrator can only do so much damage before being spotted and killed. Base structures usually aren't highly interdependent anyway, so there are no "weak links" that can be targeted to cripple a base.
  • There's no tactical benefit to ambushes. Game mechanics limitations such as Critical Existence Failure or lack of "morale" mean RTS units generally suffer no drawbacks for being surrounded, taken by surprise, caught in bad terrain or out of cover, sniped down or attacked at point-blank range, and (like base structures) there usually isn't a particular unit that can be taken out first to gain an advantage. (Except hero-type units, in games that have those, but heroes generally have too many hit points to be killed quickly.)
  • In addition, since The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, they are often useless against AI opponents. They may be restrained by the same attack rules, but The All-Seeing A.I. knows where your stealthed units are.

Subtrope of Underused Game Mechanic. If the game is benevolent enough, it may never actually force you to use stealth, becoming an Optional Stealth.

See also Stealth Run.


    open/close all folders 

  • One of the new features added in Dead Rising 4 was the ability to use stealth. This might have been useful if this wasn't also the game that made Game-Breaker combo weapons incredibly common and easy to obtain, meaning that simply incinerating the horde is far easier.
    • Long before that, one of the skills unlocked in Dead Rising is "Zombie Walk", which allows Frank to shamble like a zombie to avoid attention. But he moves very slowly, in a game with multiple, very strict timers, and it doesn't work on non-zombie enemies, who become increasingly numerous after the first 24 hours. Also, the game is about using items to kill zombies by the boatload. Zombie Walk is best forgotten, save for one single battle in Dead Rising 2 where you need to survive against a horde of zombies for a period of time and suddenly the ability to have them not notice you is quite handy.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features an aversion: the invisibility from the Magic Cape is quite useful to go through certain boss fights and other situations without taking any damage.
  • Oni featured an item which temporarily cloaks the player character, making them invisible. However, the effect is triggered as soon as the player character picks up the item, the effect only lasts for thirty seconds (and the levels are so big, and enemies spaced so far apart, that it routinely takes longer than that to travel from one enemy encounter to the next) and the player character becomes partly visible if they are touching another person (so even if you manage to successfully Back Stab an enemy, any other enemies nearby will instantly spot you). These factors make the item effectively useless.
  • In Overlord, there is a temple guarded by ghost elves that attack anyone they see. Your advisor instructs you to avoid being seen and the level is built with a stealth mechanic in mind, including doors behind which you can trap the patrolling ghosts in certain rooms. However, it's far easier to just take a group of blue minions and kill all the ghosts. They don't even count for the Karma Meter.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has stealth elements, as befits a game about playing a Ninja. However, they're just elements - it's an action game first. You can use stealth to evade or kill a lot of normal enemies, but being noticed is frequently unavoidable, even with all the stealth upgrades. If you want get past enemies without fighting, you're usually better off just running past them. Or just fight them - stealth is useless against bosses, and you're going to need the practice.
  • In Spider-Man, there's an unlockable alternate suit which allows you to become invisible. This is extremely useful in regular levels (as they're all beat-your-way-to-the-end). However, the invisibility trick doesn't work with bosses.
  • Stealth is extremely useful in the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy, especially in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider where Lara is a fragile Glass Cannon waging a one-woman war against an enemy with vast numerical superiority. However, this only works as long as you can keep dealing One Hit Kills. This becomes nearly impossible to do at range once all enemies start wearing helmets (read: well before the halfway point), which makes Lara's numerous silent weapons including her bow completely useless for this purpose — fail to instakill a single target and everyone in the area charges Lara's position immediately. The only way to keep stealth viable by this point is through melee finishers, and this becomes increasingly challenging the further you progress, plus there are a lot of segments that simply don't allow you to play stealthily thanks to cutscenes leading straight into massive shootouts.
  • For the first three Uncharted games this is rather prevalent, as you have to be set up for a stealth sequence, which is either in a bespoke room or just to take out two or three goons before the firefight begins. Uncharted 3 is especially noticeable about it because if you try to stealth through a large arena, the game will automatically have you discovered anyway no matter where you actually are. It wouldn't be until Uncharted 4 that stealth would become a viable option for fights where you weren't discovered beforehand, thanks to hiding in tall grass and being able to lose your pursuers.
  • In the original Wizards & Warriors for the NES, the Cloak of Invisibility only turned your character invisible to you; the enemies could see you just fine.

    Action Game 
  • Played with in Batman: Arkham Asylum. While most of the trope applies, the game was designed around stealth-as-a-predator rather than stealth-as-hiding. Thus being sneaky is a very pro-active task in the game and is always useful, barring a handful of encounters to break up the gameplay.
  • The WWII-based tactical squad game Hidden & Dangerous had a stealth mechanic that was absolutely worthless, which was probably due to the fact that the game in question was so damn buggy.
  • Being a Hideo Kojima series, Boktai makes much of its stealth elements, but it was only a necessity in the first game where being spotted meant being spammed by Klorofolun which clung to you in huge numbers, slowed you down, and would kill you in seconds. As the games went on and became more action-oriented they fell directly into this trope: the stealth elements are there but you'll rarely use them when the game doesn't force you since you're more than a match for most enemies during a direct attack and not fighting means you get less experience and items. One change made in Lunar Knights is particularly annoying: instead of knocking on walls with A to lure monsters to that spot, you have to whistle by blowing in the microphone. It's hard to run for cover in time with a DS in your face.
  • Since the basic gameplay in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is entirely action-based and killing everything is mandatory 90% of the time, the few stealth options the game has are of questionable use at best: you only really use them as a way to dispatch an enemy or 2 of your choice before you fight the rest normally and choosing to stealthkill all the enemies even when you have the option to do so just generally screws you out of a battle ranking. That being said, the stealthy approach is required for some of the collectables and achievements and Blade Wolf's DLC episode is focused around stealth with numerous gameplay enhancements that makes it worth doing when playing as him.
  • Cloe Walsh's stage in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. Right from the start, you are encouraged to hide from the stage's spotlights and guards, but getting caught only means that you have to fight all the guards instead and they each go down in 2-3 hits. Plus, the poorly implemented stealth mechanics make it far more difficult not to get caught. On Bitter difficulty though, the guards are much stronger, so stealth is encouraged.
  • In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, stealth was mostly just a suggestion as you were more than a match for most enemies in a head-on fight and, with how linear levels were, you could just lumber through without even bothering to fight or use any form of stealth. Stealth wasn't bad, but at best it was pointless. Starting with the sequel the games were heavily retooled to avert this: levels were non-linear and had tons of verticality so stealth was more fun than just charging through, enemies are now much stronger, call for reinforcements, attack in groups, chase you for long distances, and have difficult-to-avoid attacks, and using stealth allows for pickpocketing for much better rewards and one-hit stealth kills.

    Adventure Game 
  • Deadly Premonition allows the player character, York, to hold his breath. Somehow, this makes him invisible to the zombie-ghost-like enemies. However, he can't do it for long and he slows down to a crawl while walking that way, so there is practically no situation that calls for you to sneak past an enemy you'd be better off just killing.
  • Averted in the first four Quest for Glory games, where playing as the Thief class often means you can sneak past or trick your way through every combat in the game. With the fifth game, stealth won't work with the tasks that involve killing monsters/notable bad guys, but you can still safely sneak past or knock out most of the outer guards without worry about sandwiching.

    Fighting Game 
  • Any fighting game that includes an invisibility, such as Mortal Kombat, will end up being completely useless against A.I. opponents. It can also be bad for you, since you can't see your now-invisible character.
  • The cloaking device from the Super Smash Bros. series is fairly useful against human enemies (barring a few flaws), but its secondary effect is much more useful against both humans and computer players. While cloaked, your character still takes knockback, but doesn't take damage. Just don't lose track of yourself and fall off a cliff. It's also got a few more flaws that make its primary ability not as useful against human players as it should. For one, there's usually not much room for you to hide, unless you're playing in a large stage (Especially the absolutely massive Palutena's Temple and The Great Cave Offensive in for Wii U) where the fighters are already spread out. Also, if you decide to play with a custom name in Melee said name and a little arrow still appears above your head when cloaked, defeating the first purpose of the item. Finally, your attacks' sounds aren't masked, so if you know which sounds correspond to which attack, you only have to worry about where the attack will come from.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Alien vs. Predator games are built around averting this trope for the Alien and Predator when fighting humans. Marines have enough ranged firepower to drop you very quickly in open battle but suffer heavily from The Guards Must Be Crazy: Staying hidden and taking them down one-by-one is pretty much mandatory. Played straight when the two fight each other, as both Alien and Predator can see through each others' stealth (and the Marine never gets to be stealthy. Ever.).
  • BioShock actually has a viable stealth mechanic, but 95% of players won't even notice, since your character is tough enough and ammo/health is plentiful enough for you to simply Rambo your way through the game. Combine this with the fact that you can't die in this game. This is in sharp contrast to System Shock 2 (which was on turn built on the Thief engine), where your character was much weaker and ammo/health was much less plentiful, pretty much forcing you to stealth through much of the game simply to survive.
  • BioShock Infinite mostly thrives on frantic wide-open encounters with lots of enemies, making stealth useless as either enemies are scripted to spot you, or you can get as far as a free shot on the first enemy. However, it averts the trope HARD in one of the latter stages, where you are required to navigate a hospital-cum-asylum. The place is littered with lunatics who will ignore you... UNTIL one of their trumpet-headed overseers spots you, screams and sends potentially dozens of lunatics at you. This is also the only part of the game where ammo drops are in extremely short supply, so even if you showed up with two fully loaded weapons, after the first wave of lunatics you will undoubtedly be running low. All of this combines to make sneaking past the trumpet-heads a very viable option (possibly the only one on higher difficulties).
  • In the Call of Duty series past the second game, the player may opt to use smoke grenades to cover movement. While not really a stealth item, this trope is averted in the fact that if you throw one to obscure your movements, it actually works. This is one way to approach machine gun posts. Of course, smokescreens are a double edged sword, as the enemy also uses them against you during Hold the Line segments.
  • In Command & Conquer: Renegade, Nod players can use the Stealth Black Hand, which is fairly cheap and comes with a decent all-purpose laser rifle. If weapon drops are enabled, they can use sniper rifles... And of course, the Stealth Tank, which has overrun many an unaware GDI player. The base defenses detect stealth, though.
  • Averted in Dark Messiah: Heroes of Might and Magic where stealth is a viable approach throughout most of the game, at least when in dark poorly-lit areas.
  • Deus Ex:
    • The first game progressively conforms to this trope outside of no-kill runs. In the beginning, the player has few weapons or enhancements; at least some stealth is essential, if only for sneaking up on enemies for a nonlethal takedown in one hit. Minimising bloodshed is also rewarded by positive interactions with some NPCs. Later in the game, enemies become more difficult to stealth by (but you can become entirely invisible to either humans or robots), and while they also become more dangerous, the player has been gaining enhancements such as regeneration and ballistic protection that let them survive combat, better equipment (or improving equipment they've had since the start), and improved skills. Plus, by this point in the game, you're fighting definitely bad guys. In fact, later attempts to stealth can often backfire: when a player gets into trouble and has to retreat, they can easily run into lethal crossfire if they haven't been killing as they go.
    • The second game, Deus Ex: Invisible War, finds use for stealth throughout the game, but only if a person is trying to completely avoid enemies or speedrun. Any player who tries to use stealth mechanics like the sneak attack, however, will be in for a rude awakening, as enemies are introduced that will react to sneak attacks (which can only be close quarters) by exploding, releasing gas, or shrugging them off and attacking you.
    • The prequel, Human Revolution, brings back stealth as a viable alternative to brute force in every type of situation but one: fighting bosses. If you've been stealthing through levels using only your trusty stun gun, punches, and that stealth enhancer augment, the boss fights are going to chew you up and spit you out, since they're designed to be fought with the loud and lethal weaponry of an offensive run. The Updated Re-release changed this, and allows the player to deal with bosses using a stealthier approach.
  • In the small but loyal fan community of the original Doom, most players see the "partial invisibility" powerup as more of a burden than anything else. This is because monsters fire much less accurately at invisible players, which sounds like a good thing, except that's it's usually harder to dodge projectiles when they're scattering all around you than when they're flying predictably towards you in a straight line (to the point that the sphere seems to make enemies more adept at leading their shots rather than making you harder to hit). Also, partial invisibility doesn't really make it harder for the enemies to actually SEE you and thus start attacking (and even if it did, your gunfire alerts them anyway). This is abused in some user-made levels where the player is required to pick up an invisibility sphere, just to make a fight harder.
    • Certain ports of Doom also suffered the same "enemies always face forward" flaw that ports of Wolfenstein 3D did. Not only are they impossible to sneak up on, but it nearly eliminates the fun and useful strategy of monster infighting (enemies can still hit each other, but the one in front can't turn around and retaliate).
  • Far Cry
    • Far Cry Classic throws out the stealth mechanic that was so useful in the original PC version, as enemies can now see you through the previously concealing foliage.
    • Far Cry 2, despite how the game play works, does have a stealth mechanic. The problem is that it's so unclear that it's just easier shooting everyone, even with the stealth suit that you can buy to increase stealth.Best Advice  Far Cry 3 and following games fixed this problem by giving the player a meter so they can visualize how much the enemies can see them while still using the same mechanic.
  • Hiding used to be an effective strategy in Left 4 Dead, until tanks gained the ability to detect players who should be invisible.
  • In the Command Post level of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, it is nearly impossible to avoid setting off alarms in the houses, as the guards always know you're coming, no matter how stealthy you try to be.
  • The Invisibility spell in Memoirs of Magic prevents you from attracting the attention of enemies, but enemies that are already shooting or pursuing you will keep doing so unabated, and enemies will still spawn even if it's on. There's also no warning when it's about to run out, not to mention its effects will immediately stop if you try to fire a gun or cast a spell, including itself.
  • Certainly present in most of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Sure, you can slap a silencer on most weapons, even get a VSS Vintorez which is virtually completely silent...but unless you get a one-hit kill, the rest of them instantly know exactly where you are, which is actually helpful because then they show up on the mini-map. Even if you get a one-hit kill (requiring a headshot) with the VSS Vintorez, after one or two kills the rest are typically moving around too much to get a proper shot off. Stealth is reserved mostly for getting into a good position, seeing how many guys you're up against and getting the first shot or grenade off. Besides, sneaking past is (usually) not an option and really not recommended, since you get most of the best hardware, plenty of artifacts, and your main income from looting corpses. Shooting one guy and sprinting past the rest into the next area, however...
  • Strife gives you a punch dagger and a poisoned crossbow to make stealth kills on living targets. However, most areas have alarms that you can't avoid triggering and/or robots that can't be killed with stealth.
  • Semi-averted in Unreal - the invisibility pickup can let you sneak by Titans without being detected (that said, half the times you encounter them are unavoidable Boss Battles - natch) but the Skaarj will almost always know you're there. Then again, this might be justified as Skaarj are far more intelligent and alert than Titans in terms of programming and backstory both.
  • While Wolfenstein (2009) has a takedown mechanic and the option to silence some of the player's weapons, enemies still zero in on the player the moment they see a comrade go down.
  • In the Mac port and many other ports of Wolfenstein 3-D, the enemies only have a forward-facing sprite, making it impossible to sneak up on them, unlike in the PC version.

  • In Ace Online, B-Gears gain the ability to stay Invisible, emulating a stealth bomber. Other Gears are able to do this through Stealth Cards as well. In the case of B-Gears' invisibility, it allows B-Gears to be untargetable by opponents. To attack, B-Gears forcefully decloak. However, due to B-Gears' nature to be able to kill almost anything in one hit most of the time, a successful sneak attack is a devastating tactic. Furthermore, anti-stealth countermeasures rely on the M-Gears' Scan ability or the Search Eye semi-rare item, making Invisible very useful to briefly elude pursuit to be able to return later to execute an attack when the opponent least expects it.
  • City of Villains has an entire archetype, the Stalker, who gets the best stealth in the game at level one and relies on it as they are designed to be a sneak attack class. Unfortunately, anti-stealth powers become ridiculously commonplace in the late game amongst both players and NPCs. The Rikti War Zone is the worst example, as nearly every group of Rikti has Drones that can see through stealth, making Stalkers aggravatingly difficult to play. Recently, however, a patch increased the power of Stalkers, with increased damage, increased criticals, and status effects on their best attack while also increasing their base HP considerably.
    • There is also the aggravation in that ambushes tend to be The All-Seeing A.I. variety and will home right in on you while you're stealthed.
    • Not to mention that (with the infuriating exception of ambushes as mentioned above), your stealth affected all NPCs regardless of hostility. Escort Mission's meant decloaking so that your ally could actually see you, unless they had enough perception buffs to overcome your stealth (and that, in one infamous case, caused its own problems.
    • That being said, speedrunning task forces often relied on stealth to quickly complete missions where the only objective was to find a glowie or kill the boss. Althoguh even there, tougher characters would often "stealth" a mission by running through it at high speeds so that the enemies didn't have time to kill them (aggro limits meant that NPCs would quickly lose aggro once you ran past the next group).
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, the Invisibility spell is mostly useless because, unless the player is actively Sneaking, enemies will hear them pretty much automatically. Sneaking slows the character's movement and only works for for characters who invest considerable resources in it. Some enemies, like spiders and oozes, automatically detect sneaking characters. Finally, once an enemy has noticed a character under any circumstances, that enemy will always notice the character once it's within range, even if he breaks line of sight and then successfully Sneaks.
    • Add in game mechanics that do not support stealth. Many dungeons use a "kill mobs to unlock door" mechanic, so players who are attempting stealth will find themselves unable to advance.
  • EVE Online features cloaking modules for ships, which actually work completely as desired for the purposes of being stealthed. The problem is that the module takes up gobs of fitting capacity that cuts into anything you need to fight, slaps a significant speed penalty to ships using it, and disables the ability to warp or lock onto things. In addition, you can be decloaked just by being near anything, which isn't usually a problem given the emptiness of space.
    • Eve counters this by designing specific ships for use of cloaking modules, by giving them many reductions for the penalties associated with using cloaking modules and allowing them to use the covert ops cloak that lets you warp while cloaked. Some however, still suffer from this trope, such as the Black Ops battleship, the least used class of ship in the game due to being extremely expensive and while having almost no benefits to use except limited cloaking ability (and unlike every other ship with cloaking bonuses, they can't even warp while cloaked). Although the Black Ops do have a use in being able to create jump portals to covert cynosural fields, allowing them to "hot drop" other cloaked ships onto unsuspecting enemies.
    • Most of these restrictions exist for game balance purposes. Any ship capable of using cloaking devices without penalty tends to suffer from crippling overspecialization.
    • A particularly fond strategy for some alliance gamers is to warp into systems, find a hole somewhere, then cloak up and go afk. The purpose is to shut down local industry by scaring everyone into thinking they'll be suddenly attacked if they undock, since the chat system registers the presence of the cloaked user in the system. In this case, the cloak is merely a scare tactic rather than strategically useful.
      • This is compounded by most AFK cloakers being in Stealth Bombers, which are capable of taking out most PvE ships singlehandedly (albeit usually with the assistance of NPCs), or fitting Cynosural Field Generators, enabling them to instantly call the cavalry. It's a scare tactic with teeth.
  • Perfect World puts a spin on this; all non-Assassin characters and mobs have an Awareness Level equal to their level if they're not using pots. Assassins have, as an added stat, a Stealth Level, which, discounting other skills/pots, is equal to Character Level+Stealth Skill Level. Any character that has an Awareness Level higher than or equal to an Assassin's Stealth Level can see and target the Assassin, but if it's lower, you're dead. However, making Stealth slightly more (and less, at the same time) useful are the Catlike Tread and Sharp Observer skills: the former increases Stealth Level by 2*Skill Level, and the latter increases Awareness Level by 3*Skill Level.
    • Don't forget the mana cost of stealth that decreases when you level your skill, going from 24 to 15 mana/second.
      • Further complications arise when you take into account the fact that early-game "Sins" can only use stealth outside of combat mode, until they reach Level 29, when they get the Shadow Escape skill, allowing them to activate stealth in combat.
  • RuneScape has the Shadow silk hood, a fairly rare and extremely coveted Dungeoneering drop, which hides the player from all non-magical, non-elemental, non-boss humanoid monsters in the dungeon. It doesn't, however, work on non-humanoids (making a strong bat, guard dog, hellhound, demon or *shudder* dragon a player's worst nightmare), bosses or anything that uses magic. To make things even worse, some enemies can disable the hood, revealing the player wearing it to every single monster in the rooms they pass through until it reactivates.
  • Inverted in Star Trek Online, where one of the biggest complaints from Federation players in regards to the Klingon faction is the cloaking device. Per Canon, the Federation is not supposed to use stealth technology. Since Klingons are primarily a PVP faction, what this ends up meaning is that you go into a match with the Klingon team automatically cloaked and the Federation team sitting ducks, with no way to know where the Klingon attack will come from. This led to the "Fedball" tactic, where Federation players would sit in a sphere shape so as to cover everyone's backs, and hope someone's finger would slip on their cloak button. Naturally, this makes for very boring matches. Klingon versus Klingon was even worse, because both teams would spend the entire match cloaked, so people would end up wandering around fruitlessly searching for an exposed player to pounce on. This has been fixed to some extent with enhanced Cloak detection techniques and a Federation starship with a cloaking device, but it can still be quite frustrating.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has some heavy-duty restrictions on stealth - like not being able to recharge your hit points or activate items while cloaked. It can also be a steep learning curve on knowing how close you can get to enemies or how to evade detection. For those who figure out how to work within the limitations, it's difficult, but awesome. In particular, judicious use of stealth can be used to speedrun certain flashpoints, skipping all the mooks and just fighting the bosses. Given that the rewards for killing mooks are usually not worth the time it takes to fight them, players who aggro everything in sight tend to draw the ire of veterans.
  • In World of Warcraft, as the main goal is to fight and kill enemies, stealthing by them is not very useful. Stealth is generally used as a way of "front-loading" damage at the beginning of the battle, as stealth enables powerful attacks which can only be used once and then you come out of stealth.
    • That's not to say it's completely useless though. Within the large community, tactics have arisen for "stealth runs", which generally consist out of sneaking through large parts of an instance, therefore saving time, to kill a specific target for valuable drops. Since druids are passable stealthers in addition to also being able to tank and heal, even tougher bosses can be done in that manner. Rogues can also use Vanish to stealth in combat for a nearly guaranteed survival in dire situations.
    • To say nothing of PvP, where it is the furthest thing from uselessness conceivable.
    • Once upon the time when the game was new, stealth runs were feasible in many dungeons. Dungeons in the original, vanilla game were huge, taking hours for even a dedicated, competent group to completely clear. Some had potential shortcuts built in, some didn't. So if a group of rogues and/or druids could go for just two or three predetermined bosses, quests or other goals and get that in a fraction of the time it would take without stealthing. However, that has been scaled back more and more in later expansions of the game. Almost every dungeon from the Burning Crusade on has at least one early boss which makes a gate open when it dies, can't be skipped because it patrols a chokepoint, or calls all previous Elite Mooks you haven't already killed them, and/or some guards with All Seeing AIs. Fortunately, almost every dungeon since the original vanilla game is also significantly smaller than original ones, so stealth runs wouldn't save as much time anyway.
    • This is also averted for many quests. A Rogue can do certain gathering quests very very easily by stealthing, using Sap on any nearby mobs, looting the item, and restealthing. You miss out on XP and loot this way, but it lets you get the quests done much faster than they would be if you fight every enemy,note  and stealthing also lets you fight enemies on your terms and control the opening.
    • Additionally, it is possible for the single surviving member of a raid to, on a doomed attempt on a raid boss, go into stealth, and then cast Mass Resurrection (a perk earned for getting a guild to Level 25) to bring back the entire raid or use some Goblin Jumper Cables (if they have the Engineering profession) to raise a healer, enabling the group to get back in the instance and try again more quickly.

    Platform Game 
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, it's possible to 'Speed Kill' enemies by sneaking up on them and completing a Quick-Time Event. This can be very difficult to get right, and it's almost easier to go for an all-out fight.
  • In Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction you can use a Holo-Pirate Disguise to sneak past Space Pirate enemies without being detected. Problem is, when using the disguise you walk very slowly and can't jump. Considering Ratchet is a One Lombax Army who can easily dispatch a few pirates, all you're really accomplishing by being stealthy is cheating yourself out of XP and Bolts.
  • Sonic Unleashed has some instances in the werehog stages where you can sneak up on enemies and perform a finisher despite them having max health. This feature only comes into play when the level design permits it, which is very rare. Also, you still have to go through the quick-time-event to kill them, and the window for pressing each button is inversely proportional to how much health the enemy has. ON AN ENEMY WITH MAX HEALTH. The result is a QTE with an absurdly small window, even for the game notorious for its incredibly demanding reaction time.
  • Super Princess Peach has a "walk" function that prevents Peach from waking up sleeping enemies. This would normally be pretty helpful to use if Collision Damage still didn't apply. About the most you can get out of this mechanic is attacking sleeping enemies before they wake up.
  • The original ToeJam & Earl has a sneak button. Its only uses are to walk by the occasional sleeping enemy without waking them up, and to sneak up on Santa.
    • And there are some caveats; if you just drank a root beer (for health), you will burp often for the next minute or so. Also, Toejam or Earl might spontaneously sneeze at any time, though this is rare enough that you can go a whole game without sneezing (much less doing so while sneaking).
  • A classic example is the NES game Wizards & Warriors, which offered a special powerup called the Cloak of Darkness that turned you invisible. Except a) it doesn't make you invincible, b) the enemies still have no problem homing in on you or shooting at you, and c) being invisible means you can't see where you're going. "THOU HATH WASTED THY FUCKING TIME."

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Averted in Achron. The units need energy to cloak, but being cloaked drains the energy so slowly that it doesn't matter most of the time. Each of the three races has one unit that can cloak and while those units are not the most powerful, they still pack quite a punch, especially the Grekim Tier 2 bomber unit. They all can attack without giving up their cloak and the enemy units can't see or attack them. They are still balanced because there's three units on each race that can detect cloak (one Tier 1 infantry unit, one Tier 2 aircraft and the turret equivalent).
  • Averted in Allegiance. Of course it's a multiplayer-only game, so AI cheating and limitations don't really play a role. Still, it is essentially a Real Time Strategy game with human players directly controlling each of the individual units, and some of the most feared ships in the game are stealth-based. A good team can sneak stealth bombers into an enemy sector to strike when the enemy has no chance of successfully defending, and competent players can use stealth fighters to quickly take out the miners that are the back-bone of every team's economy. Even units that are not designed to be stealthy can take steps to lower their chances of being detected, and this often adds greatly to their effectiveness. One of the most feared factions in the game (when in the hands of a veteran commander) has stealth as their hat. Trying to keep your forces stealthy and to keep enemy stealth units from sneaking up on your team are significant elements in the strategy in the game.
  • Averted in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2. Almost all ships can activate the Running Silent stance that makes them impossible to target from outside the shooter's visual range, and most weapons can shoot farther than the carrying ship can see. Chaos, Aeldari and Druchari fleets are the masters of Stealth in Space, taking full advantage of their speed and ability to pour unfailingly accurate firepower into their opponent from extreme range while the target has a hard time getting close enough to retaliate. Tyranid bioships use their natural stealth capabilities to close in undetected until they can launch devastating melee attacks on the unsuspecting enemy. This expansive stealth mechanic is the primary reason why no fleet should take to the battlefield without escorts, the only reliable way to gain a target lock on stealthed enemy ships. There's nothing more aggravating than your powerful but ponderous Imperial ships of the line getting whittled down by lance volley after lance volley while being unable to shoot back because they can't draw a bead on the shooters.
  • Used with one of the heroes in The Battle for Middle-earth 2, who possesses the ability to attack while invisible. For you, this results in the computer sending troops to right where he is to attack him as though he were totally visible. For you, it involves painstakingly searching the area in hopes that one of them will accidentally trip over him.
  • The Command & Conquer series has some stealth units of questionable advantage. Stealth tanks are decent at scouting (as long as the gunner isn't stupid enough to shoot random enemies nearby), even against the AI. However, later games feature "gap generators" that reform the Fog of War around them. They might hide what's there, but there is the minor detail of a large (and often mobile) unknown region, which not even the computer falls for.
    • Slightly more useful is the spy, which can disguise himself as an enemy unit and infiltrate buildings for a variety of effects. Though more useful against computer opponents, who can't detect spies unless they wander into a dog, the spy's abilities range from cutting the power in the enemy base for a while — effectively halting production, disabling automated defenses, and buying you extra time to deal with any superweapons they've built — to stealing tech and money. Of course, the enemy AI has disturbing luck sending a tank to "scout" (read: flatten) the exact location your invisible unit is, even if they are across the map. Play Command & Conquer: Generals for the most blatant examples.
    • Another factor that made stealth useless in Generals is the fact that every base defense structure can detect stealth. Yes, even Stinger Sites, which are literally just three guys with Stinger launchers and some sandbags. This made sneaking into enemy bases with stealth units alone next to impossible.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Spy exchanges the skill to steal technology and unlock new units for a truly useful ability of bribing enemy units to fight for you - a reasonable area of effect and costs $1000. No delay either, making his disguise ability incredibly worthwhile in combination. Not to mention that only tanks can flatten infantry in this game.
    • The same game also introduces the Sudden Transport, which can also use disguises. As a vehicle, it can only be crushed by extra large vehicles, and isn't directly threatened by most scouts (ie Dogs and Bears). Without a disguise, however, it can get destroyed pretty easily if it doesn't take evasive action.
    • Stealth tanks can actually be useful in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, as vehicles take increased damage when attacked from the rear. However, combat in that game is so quick and chaotic that by the time you've maneuvered the tanks around to the back of an enemy column, the fight is likely already over. Besides that, though, stealth tanks are very useful units for a number of reasons: they're very fast, they fire a lot of missiles with every barrage (Heroic & Elite stealth tanks fire even more), and they are extremely effective at Anti-Air, which makes them ideal for ambushing unsuspecting aircraft. And harvesters.
    • Somewhat averted in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun: Stealth was a mechanism with a pretty strong influence on tactics, at least in multi-player. One rather basic-yet-cheeky technique for a one-on-one quick win was to build an engineer-laden Subterranean APC and shoot straight for the opponents' Construction Yard/War Factory; this in turn would be quickly countered by concrete/walls/MSAs, but these themselves would take resources/concentration away from army building to do thoroughly. Late-game, similar cheap-ish flame tanks could be used to wipe out power (and thus radar/base defense), whilst the battle rages elsewhere, or used as a distraction for an opponent who you know will be looking out for them. And not to mention the expansions' stealth generator/arty combo...
  • Company of Heroes. While sniper unit's combat prowess is questionable, their ability to act as artillery spotters is anything but.
    • Many units have an 'ambush' ability, that when active, cloaks them. When they attack, the first shot is much stronger than normal. In addition, ordering a cloaked Stormtrooper Squad to attack allows them to face and aim, only revealing themselves when they open fire. This is useful for ambushing other squads, as the targets have to turn and aim while already under-fire, which will usually result in a slaughter if the Stormtroopers aren't horribly outnumbered (and if they are, you could instead introduce them by throwing bundle grenades to even the odds a bit). Often times soldiers from the ambushed squad will run for cover before returning fire as well.
  • Averted in Dark Reign. An Infiltrator inside an enemy base can do all sorts of useful things, like steal plans for units and buildings, spot for artillery fire or superweapons, or see the location of every enemy unit and building.
  • In Dawn of War and its first expansion, Winter Assault, Infiltration was a toggleable ability that made your units go invisible but stop shooting. Had its uses, but not exactly many of them. In Dark Crusade onwards, units can now fire when infiltrated. Not just the lightest ones, either.
    • Some sides merrily fight with invisible versions of their mainline combat units (Chaos Space Marines), arguably the best anti-vehicle unit in the game (ork Tankbustaz), or, with the help of an item, their whole army (Necrons)...
    • Space Marine Scout Squad can be upgraded to be stealthed, which is particularly funny if you also give them flamers.
    • The Imperial Guard and the Sisters of Battle both use invisible assassins, a Cold Sniper and a ninja-like sword-wielding nun respectively.
    • The Eldar's Pathfinders are cloaked snipers.
    • Soulstorm made it slightly less useful when playing against the Dark Eldar, who can temporarily make any of their units a detector instantly.
    • Its sequel even has commander units dedicated to stealth. The lictor can take upgrades that make it more powerful when away from your army and has an ability to pluck single high value units and reel them in for a beating. Combined with the ability to highlight enemy commanders on the map this makes it a powerful assassin unit able to infiltrate behind enemy lines and pick off lone high value targets or pull one out of the middle of an army for your troops to easily target as a nasty surprise.
    • Even before Dark Crusade's update to Infiltrating units, there were a couple of very powerful ways to use it. Assuming you played a faction whose Infiltrators had a decent sight radius, it was usually possible to sneak in close enough to spot enemy buildings for artillery fire. If you destroyed the last HQ building the enemy had, it was an automatic win, regardless of how many builder units or how large an army remained. A Vindicare Assassin and a trio of Basilisk self-propelled guns usually spelled the doom of your opponent.
  • Their predecessor Dune II had a supposedly invisible unit — Ordos saboteur — in the last two missions. Slow and unarmored, like a single light infantryman, it carried enough explosive to take out any single building. Or so its designers intended. Unfortunately, saboteurs were only invisible to the human player, but computer-controlled units saw them and shot on sight. Fortunately, player's units in "GUARD" mode and turrets also counted as computer-controlled and shot enemy saboteurs too. The only time where invisibility did matter, was when you tried to give orders to your saboteur, but couldn't find where to click to select him. All game guides called Ordos saboteurs and palace (that built them) useless and Ordos the weakest side in the final missions (Harkonnen and Sardaukar had nuclear missiles and Atreides got heavy Fremen infantry for free).
  • Homeworld and its sequels have several ships capable of cloaking. However, this cloaking is temporary and is mostly useless, especially since it's very easy to research cloak detection. The Kushan in the first game have the Spectre-class cloaked fighter, which wasn't particularly powerful and was really only useful in taking out lone resources collectors (for which regular, cheaper fighters would work as well). The Cataclysm stand-alone expansion features the Assassin-class ion array frigate, which can also cloak. However, it's also incredibly slow, meaning that the cloak will run out before the ship can get within range and align its Wave-Motion Gun for the shot. The Somtaaw have three stealthy ship classes that are actually a little more useful. The Leech-class breaching pod is unmanned and is small enough to avoid being picked up by standard sensors. It can then attach to a larger ship and slowly drain its HP, until the ship suffered a Critical Existence Failure, or just bring back the drained HP as resources. It can still be detected by scouts, but it's nimble enough to find holes in sensor networks. The Mimic-class infiltration craft can use holographic projectors to impersonate an enemy ship or an asteroid, get close to the enemy and suicide-bomb them. Two Mimics can combine into a corvette-sized Martyr, which can impersonate even larger ships or asteroids and has a bigger bang.
    • Stealth could be really useful in the campaign, during one specific mission in which you had to destroy an entire fleet of enemy beam ships guarding a hyperspace jump suppressor. If you had three stealth generator ships, you could keep only one powered on and switch out their cloaking when they began to run out of energy, meaning you were permanently cloaked. Your permanent (but very micromanagey) cloaking field would conceal a fleet of salvage ships, with which you could steal the entire enemy fleet essentially undetected. Fifty free beam ships for your next mission.
  • Inverted in The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring. The Elven Archers and Haradrim Slayers both are permanently invisible and are some of the highest damaging units available, so often there isn't reason to build a balanced force. Especially with the elves, which can outrange most other units and even towers. The detection units for both sides are largely useless in combat and die quickly.
  • Outside of Stealth Based Missions, cloaking is pretty much useless in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, as the goal in other missions usually involves fighting and destroying the enemy.
  • In Populous: The Beginning you can train Spies that will change their colour and sneak into enemy bases and then set fire to buildings you've selected. Problem being is that if there are any spies guarding your enemy in a tower they will be spotted instantly, destroying a building with fire doesn't have you instantly spotted but if anybody sees you (which is likely as villagers are always running about) expect that spy to die soon and they're not immune from Priest conversion so if they run into any or come across one in a tower it's no good. The only reason you build them is stick them in a tower yourself to spot any AI sent spies and to steal balloons and boats from the enemy.
  • Spy units in the Seven Kingdoms real time strategy game and its sequel are extremely powerful to the point where you can defeat another human kingdom using only spies; spies do not work on any of the non-human factions. When disguised as an enemy unit they will respond to orders given to them by the enemy player so they cannot be detected by their simple lack of responding to orders. When inside an enemy fort they can try and convince enemy soldiers to join them, assassinate the fort's general, or even the enemy king. They can be promoted to generals by the enemy who does not know they are a spy whereupon they can at a command seize the fort and claim it and a portion of the soldiers therein, dependent on their loyalty, for the player who owns the spy. Finally, if the enemy king is killed in any way a general is picked to replace him, if that general is a spy in disguise then the entire enemy kingdom comes under the control of the player who sent the spy, defeating that enemy instantly.
  • In StarCraft, stealth and detection are frequently factors in victory: Without a detector, stealth units are invulnerable, even when attacking, unless an area effect goes off nearby. The Zerg get a flying (but slow) detector from the very beginning, so they're relatively immune to stealth attacks. But the other two races have to constantly be on the lookout for cloaked units. The Terrans get the ability to scan an area of the map, temporarily revealing any cloaked units, as well as missile turrets and a midlevel detector flying unit. The Protoss get a permanently cloaked detector that is relatively cheap. As for cloaked units themselves, the Protoss have the Dark Templar, which if even two of these find their way into your base without detection, you can kiss your workers goodbye. Terran Ghosts aren't as useful (at stealth, anyway—the Lockdown ability is still killer), particularly as the metagame evolved, but cloaked, flying Wraiths have some utility when going up against small numbers of Protoss Carriers. And the Zerg's Lurker can only attack while burrowed (an immobile form of stealth), but it is damaging enough that those without detection usually can't effectively fight them. Most Zerg can also burrow but not attack.
    • Stealthed Ghosts could stand next to your base and tell the nukes where to hit you unless you found out where they were fast enough to kill them before the nuke launches. And the Protoss had a ship that stealthed other nearby units, such a fleet of Carriers (making them invisible too) to make a slow but powerful death unit.
    • Against the Zerg, however, this trope is played straight. The Zerg have Overlords for detection, which are always mass-produced (as you need more of them to build more units). They also fly, so they can go anywhere. Using stealth against a Zerg requires them sucking badly or you executing a deliberate campaign of Overlord slaughter and immediately hitting them with your stealth units (Corsair/DT).
      • Completely flip flopped in StarCraft II where the Overlord's all-around functionality has been split up between the Overlord itself (an air transport that also independently spreads the Creep) and its Tier 2 evolved form the Overseer, which is a Detector with a handful of caster abilities. While Zerg will inevitably have more detectors than other factions, their utter immunity to cloaked units from the first game isn't as foolproof now. This led to some amusing moments in multiplayer when players used to the Overlord being the default detector would either have their cloaked units flee or take terrible, terrible damage when playing as Zerg due to forgetting this change.
      • On the other hand, the Zerg also got a bit more of their own brand of stealth, with Roaches and Infestors being able to move while burrowed
  • Nearly all Romulan and some Klingon ships in Star Trek: Armada have cloaking devices. This also includes the Romulan most powerful unit the D'deridex-class warbird. True to Trek canon, cloaked ships can't fire weapons or use shields. While this is seemingly offset by allowing the Romulans to spring ambushes, if they happen to be detected, they will be destroyed before they have a chance to decloak and open fire. Also, scouts are cheap and cloak-detecting systems for them are one of the first upgrade options.
  • Cloaking devices are much more useful in the Star Trek: Starfleet Command games, but other ships can still be set to scan for cloaked targets which will sometimes result in a temporary reveal. Additionally, while it's easy for a cloaked ship to sneak up, decloak, and open fire, it also leaves the first ship vulnerable, as it takes a second or two for the shields to come back up. Even the Scimitar (from Star Trek: Nemesis) in a special mission of the third game acts like a regular Romulan ship when cloaked (i.e. lowered shields, can't fire), even though the fact that it could do both was kind of the point of the movie.
  • Spiritual Successor Supreme Commander also features cloakable units, but they suffer from the same weakness. Some units can give radar stealthiness to nearby forces, but nothing becomes actually invisible. So all it takes is a lonely enemy scout passing over your base or advancing units, and you can expect a Rain Of Death real soon.
    • Plus the highest level of radar tower overcomes both cloaking and stealthing. This all makes life hard for the Cybran Nation, the faction that prefers unconventional tactics like stealth.
    • The cloak and stealth defeating radius of that tower are much smaller than it's normal radar range though, and those radar towers are rather expensive to maintain. And thanks to the huge maps and the large number of weapons that can fire beyond visual range, there is an advantage to only being noticed once you're right on top of the enemy. Cybran fighters and bombers especially benefit from their stealth capabilities, since their high speed means they are unlikely to be spotted en route, and can be attacked by AA enemies for only a short time while they are within visual range.
  • In Total Annihilation, the "Shooter" kbot can cloak and has a powerful sniper laser. But once you fire it once, you are exposed and the laser takes a long time to reload. You're toast if you are in the enemy's base. There are a few high-value targets that you'd want to kill, such as the Commander, which can be an instant win if killed. Too bad that it takes more than one shot to kill him with a Shooter. And once you de-cloak after firing, the commander can D-gun you. (The D-gun is an instant kill weapon that only the commander has.) Cloaked fusion generators, on the other hand, are pretty useful.
    • Averted, however, by stealth fighters and jamming units, which have their uses. Besides, most units are expected to be built more than once, and there's nothing (apart from the bad pathfinding...) to stop 10 Shooters from simultaneously attacking the enemy commander.
    • Also, the commander can be cloaked, which in the later game is Useful Useful Stealth against any enemy that favours assassination.
    • TA: Core Contingency had an Eraser, which was a submersible sonar jammer. Because of how sonar works in that game, it was undetectable and prevented detection of nearby submarines, allowing free naval attacks. The only way you could kill it was using nuke spam in a general area and hope it hits.
    • Core Contingency also introduced stealth K Bots. As in, unarmed K Bots which could cloak themselves. These things were the absolute definition of useless: you were ostensibly supposed to use them to scout, but even that is pretty useless when they still show up on radar even when cloaked!!!
    • One thing to note is that you can safely expand a base while under enemy bombardment with a cloak train on your farthest-back kbot/vehicle facility, if there is one. Since the opponent typically glances at the front of your base to see how well he is penetrating, or the middle to see what you're preparing as assault units, and presumes your away-structures are making the same thing, you can sometimes build cloak/jammer combos to cover construction vehicle movement to another area. It's a good tactic since TA is far more about macro than micro, meaning it's a decent last-ditch tactic for a 'total annihilation' game as it's heavily micro. (ie commander death does not end scenario) It also has a greater chance to succeed if your moves during the stalemate are blatantly predictable so that you keep his main force locked in one area. While the computer cheats, it seems to only cheat with your main base. Until the last building falls it won't 'know' you have a second unless, again, it runs into it by accident.
  • In the Total War series, units do get tactical advantages from ambushes, as being charged in the side or back (especially when already engaged) incurs a massive morale penalty. A good ambush can break armies, but it takes a very good commander to do so and it's usually pointless against the AI, who will either rush at you with all his units in a big mob or break into a defensive formation and stand still (depending on its numbers compared to yours); ambushes are very seldom applicable in either scenario.
    • The Peninsular Campaign DLC to Napoleon: Total War introduces the Spanish guerilla units, whom you can use as the British or Spanish. They are weaker than regular troops, but come in full-sized units, can hide, and can be placed anywhere on the battlefield during set-up, allowing for some nice pincers, enfillades and ambushes. You can also hide a regular army in the woods or mountains and intercept a passing enemy in an ambush, which means they will start with all their units in a very awkward, dense marching column you can easily destroy with an artillery barrage.
    • In Total War: Shogun 2's Fall of the Samurai Expansion Pack, players are finally given full units of Ninja that can use stealth while running, in two minute bursts. This ability also increases their charge bonus, making them perfect for breaking the enemy's flanks. They also can be deployed behind enemy lines from the start.
  • In Warcraft and WarCraft 2, Invisibility spells are useless against computer opponents due to The All-Seeing A.I.. They are however quite effective in multiplayer games with the "mage bomb" tactic which can be a Game-Breaker: if you're human, it involves making a Mage invisible and then sending that invisible Mage who can cast Blizzard into the enemy's gold supply lines, raining a deadly ice storm upon the line of workers harvesting gold. It is devastating, if not decisive against the enemy's army production. If the enemy was a Human player, the only way to ensure defense against this tactic was to use your own army to wall off your base. One false move, and a mage would be inside of your base and your workers would be dead in seconds. If your goldmine was within 12 spaces of a Mage, then the Mage/Death Knight does not even have to enter your base.
    • In 3 it's slightly more useful- but only if you're playing as the Alliance, where Invisibility can be used in conjunction with the Archmage's Mass Teleportation to ravage an enemy's base. Night Elf women can hide themselves at night (but without attacking or moving), the Undead's Crypt Fiends regenerate much faster when buried and their own dedicated detector unit is invisible, and the Orc Blademaster's invisibility makes him do more damage when he breaks it to attack.

  • Averted in DnD-derived roguelike Incursion, where stealth is one of the best tools avaliable to stay alive. Stealth in this game is also much more useful than the ones in other roguelikes.
  • The 7DRL kusemono has you sneak up to angry mutant ants and stab them to kill them, but also lets you go around them to get to your actual goal pretty easily. Thus, a fairly well-executed aversion of the trope.
  • Angband variant Steamband has something one can choose at the beginning of the game called Wonderland Mode. This is Disc-One Nuke coupled with Nintendo Hard pure bragging rights as in order to complete your game you will have to climb back down normally. You start with your new character at the level before the last, but can't go down and face the final enemy. Instead, you must make your way to the top floor then go back down, collecting completely out of depth loot as you go. How might a level 1 character survive you ask? On every floor in wonderland mode every single enemy begins the level ASLEEP even the ones that CAN'T be put to sleep. Hitting an alarm trap or accidentally awakening one monster can lead to a full-on death stampede especially if near enemies that can pass through walls like Ghosts and Vampires. Still, even this can have its use. If you pick up something that fires a particular elemental bolt, you can wake up monsters weak to it intentionally, then fire and rebound it off a wall to kill wildly OOD monsters while near a staircase (as where you find the rod-equivalent determines its strength) catapulting you 20 levels ahead. Averted with loud and noisy PCs like golems and steam-mecha. They might not have the hit dice to go toe-to-toe but they certainly have the strength to take out something 10 levels higher than them, playing one of them turns this into Glass Cannon mode instead. Slap down some of the british soldiers or Nemo's men, then smack around a couple vampires, then mangle some martians, and you'll have a fighting chance from then on. (note that some post-30 monsters are such heavy sleepers even mecha can't wake them!) Also if you're lucky and find a ____ of return, you can leap straight to the top, but if you find two you can't cheat. Reading a second moves you to level 1 only instead.
  • Averted/played straight in the Angband variant Sil: Stealth can be really good, but heavy armor and singing a Song of Power give large negative modifiers to your stealth score. So a character with stealth gear and leather armor might sneak around almost every monster in the dungeon, a heavily armored warrior who uses Songs will drawing attention from monsters which are in another room!
  • In Ancient Domains of Mystery, being stealthy tends to be rather more simply annoying than either productive or counterproductive. Most of what it does is make monsters that you'd have easily killed anyway not come to you, so you have to actually go up to them and bop them in the head.
    • Stealth (and Invisibility) can be very useful, however, if you go through a dungeon that is comparatively dangerous at the given point in the game (Small Cave, Dwarven Halls come to mind). Avoiding monsters that could otherwise one-hit kill you (sometimes with ranged attacks) is very useful. Cavern levels are also easier when the enemies do not see you, because you do NOT want to be swarmed by monsters, even weak ones. You want to pick them off one by one. And finally, the Backstabbing skill works only when stealthy/invisible on hostile characters, and it can give a very nice damage bonus for certain characters.
  • Dungeon Crawl uses stealth as part of a healthy assassination-based gameplay. You'll still be killing as much of everything as you can, you'll just be doing it by stabbing monsters while they're sleeping.
  • Elona does have some use for stealth, but it's not readily apparent, as it looks like the enemy always spots you, however sometimes it is just the AI guessing. Certain powerful units like dragons and blades will move up right next to you then turn around and walk away until they get a * over their head, meaning they have just spotted you. Their 'hearing' is about 8 squares, so it's possible to dodge them, fight whatever is following you out of their 'hearing' range, then continue normally. The fact there are no real concrete indicators of have-they-or-haven't-they until the * makes this somewhat useless, however, as you might begin attacking them only to realize they hadn't seen you yet. Many times you get ambushed by dragons, it's because you just announced your presence to them in a really stupid way because you thought since they were approaching you they already knew you were there!
  • FTL: Faster Than Light has the Cloaking system, which is one of the best means of avoiding attacks at your disposal if you get good at using it; it requires quite precise timing to get the best out of its effect, especially before you upgrade it to last a bit longer. However, the special options it grants for events usually just mean you're going to skip a fight, which you rarely ever want considering you have a limited number of (useful) encounters per sector. That the only player-controlled ships in the game that have a cloaking device installed by default are fast but fragile doesn't help.
  • Mostly averted in Nethack. Stealth only prevents sleeping enemies from waking up when you walk near them; but this is much more useful than it sounds, since many problematic enemies start out sleeping by default, including nymphs (which can steal your items) and many bosses. Swarms of monsters in throne rooms, "treasure zoos," or beehives become trivial to fight with stealth since you can pick them off one at a time. But you still have to watch out for monsters that can cast Aggravate Monster, squeaky boards, or other things that can wake up sleeping monsters regardless of your stealthiness. You can also gain Invisibility, but this is less useful than it sounds—it doesn't generally let you sneak past monsters, it just throws off their aim (they often "attack a spot next to you" instead of hitting), and many tougher monsters are unaffected by it.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Alpha Protocol is sneaky about this trope. Stealth is extremely useful in regular gameplay, with high-level stealth being a borderline Game-Breaker, and makes for a subtle playthrough that several of your allies support and saves you a lot of money otherwise used for ammo and first aid kits... But stealth is useless against bosses. If you haven't put some points in some shooting and fighting skills the boss fights will become major road blocks.
  • Both lampshaded and averted in different occasions in Baldur's Gate II:
    • Stealth intended as passing beyond enemies while avoiding a confrontation is often useless with a few exceptions. Most of the times you could simply smash in with brute force anyway, if you can't then it's probably a powerful enemy already capable of detecting cloaked characters, and if you don't you won't get X Ps nor loot. Not counting the numerous instances where it's impossible to sneak past somebody and you are forced or tasked to fight anyway. Some notable exceptions are sneaking the golems in the de'Arnise keep during early game (with the aid of a potion of speed when you retrieve the item you need), when you are still too weak; sneaking the shadow dragon in early game, for the same reasons; possibly Yaga-Shura's hideout, as you might want to pick up certain items surrounded by enemies before engaging them one by one or coming back later and stronger; and the whole different concept of playing solo (which averts many previous limits as you can avoid many enemies that would be too hard to fight alone and enter new areas freely).
    • Thieves hiding in the shadows are however pretty good at scouting the enemy but above all they have the really useful ability of backstabbing, which can be gamebreaking when properly mastered by a player who knows powergaming.
    • Some mods give Viconia the power "embrace of Shar" (since she is supposed to be a priestess of Shar but the game doesn't portray the class and its mechanics), which is a special ability that can turn the whole party invisible. This can be useful when there is a fight you want to avoid but can't, because you don't have enough invisibility potions or spells for all your party, while your only thief can't sneak alone since there is the limit of map transitions requiring your whole party to gather before leaving the area.
    • Invisibility does work pretty well until you encounter a creature that can cast True Sight, which happens often. Then it will immediately cast it to dispel your invisibility, showing that the computer does know you're there anyway, it just isn't allowed to attack you.
    • An exception is the overpowered Staff of the Magi, which basically grants an infinite uses of the spell Invisibility. The staff's version of the spell is also the only kind of stealth (besides the hide in shadows skill the thief classes get) which work successfully with the somewhat buggy "Cloak of Non-Detection". Combining the two items on a single character averts the trope so entirely it's better classified as Game-Breaker. Enemies will cast True Sight (in some cases infinite times) and stand there twitching, trying to attack you because they can see you but are at the same time forced not to attack you.
    • Perhaps the best example of this trope, however, is the Cloak Of The Sewers. Despite the fact that it allows you to turn into a rat, and the game is (surprisingly) full of plot-irrelevant rats running around (they can be killed for 1xp and never have any drops), all NPCs instinctively know that this rat is different, to the point that trying to sneak past a band of high-level thugs in the sewers as a rat results in them trying to shake that rat down for 500 GP, and unleashing spells fit for fighting an army if it refuses.
  • Go ahead! Do as the Tutorial Level of Baten Kaitos Origins says and sneak past the guards! Good luck facing the rather savage Wake-Up Call Boss at the end of the mission without all the juicy experience points those guards would have given. You're better off charging through like Leeroy Jenkins: the guards aren't tough, you're not punished in any way if you're spotted, and your health is replenished after every battle. It's especially jarring because, while the game makes a point of teaching stealth even before how the combat system itself even works, this mechanic is never used in the game again.
  • In Chrono Trigger, guards snuck up on grant mid-tonics when looted, which come in handy for the next few bosses. This is the only reason to even bother.
    • Later, the party is captured and stripped of their possessions, meaning they need to sneak around the air ducts of their prison until at least one party member gets a weapon back. Unless, of course, you had Ayla in your party, whose fists can't be disarmed.
  • In Cosmic Star Heroine it's possible to squeeze around some Pre Existing Encounters without getting into fights, but since winning themnote  restores all your hitpoints and gets you every used ability, program or item back on top of juicy experience points and money, there's no incentive to avoiding fights other than saving yourself some time and even then there's no rush.
  • Averted utterly and inescapably in A Dance with Rogues, which basically takes the Neverwinter Nights engine and turns it into a Stealth-Based Game. Thanks to its focus on the Rogue class, the quintessential stealth experts of D&D, it fully expects you to spend about half of the play time in stealth mode—and rewards you for doing so. That said, the other half of the game contains some nasty battle sequences that you have no chance of sneaking or talking your way out of.
  • Zig-Zagged in Divinity: Original Sin. The stealth subsystem is much more robust and sophisticated than in most RPGs (accounting for such things as enemy view cones and obstacles), but the experience your get for just exploring the map is negligible compared to what you receive for slaughtering enemies. Then again, thanks to the Teleporter Pyramids, even a single stealthy rogue can bring the (non-stealthy) rest of the party past a tough encounter, and there is even a particular sequence where you must fly under the radar, since the enemies there are literally invincible.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Using stealth to bypass enemies in Dragon Age: Origins isn't a terribly bright idea. However, there are plenty of other uses for stealth. A rogue who strikes while stealthed gets an automatic backstab, inflicting a multiple of base damage or insta-killing enemies outright. The fight against Kolgrim is traditionally considered fairly difficult. Stealthing past the warriors and assassinating the Mages (pretty easy for any Rogue, even in straight combat) is an option that makes it almost trivial. Kolgrim is tough, but without the Mage support he can't do that much damage. A rogue with the second-tier or higher version of stealth can use items while stealthed without being seen. This includes grenades. That's about as broken as it sounds. A rogue soloist with a huge supply of grenades will never take damage again, except from certain bosses who see through stealth. A rogue with enough stealth levels also doesn't break stealth when disarming traps. At least in Origins, enemies love to camp out in rooms full of traps and a sneaky enough rogue can make such fights a great deal easier by clearing the floor of traps right under the enemies' noses.
    • Dragon Age II plays this depressingly straight: most of the time, you won't be able to sneak past any combat encounters, any kind of attack breaks stealth, there is only a handful of fights where there are traps between you and the enemy, etc. Worst of all, there is no "solo mode" anymore: the party AI will make them follow the current leader at a distance, even if the leader is sneaking and the party is explicitly ordered to stay back and hold position, dooming any attempt to scout ahead with a stealthy rogue. Pretty much the only usage for stealth in DA2 is the sneak damage in combat.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition does a bit better: while stealth is still treated like a mainly combat ability to deal more damage, the size of the game's open environments makes it possible to actually sneak past Beef Gates and towards other XP sources that aren't subject to Level Scaling. You just have to remember to dismiss the rest of the party, since they'll happily run into the very beef gate you're trying to stealth past.
  • Dragon Quest IX: Actually averted as the Vanish spell becomes very useful end-game. The game no longer uses Random Encounters, instead spawning monsters all over the field, some of which chase you if they see you. Being invisible lets you navigate the high-end grottoes a lot faster when you have control over your encounters, for the most part, since they can spawn on top of you.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has included a stealth system dating back to Daggerfall, with its usefulness heavily played with in different instances, often depending on the game in question and the specific "use" you have for stealth. To note:
    • Daggerfall has a Stealth skill that somehow governs whether enemies will react to your presence. Sometimes an enemy will wander around despite you; sometimes an enemy will not turn if you approached from behind; despite it, enemies are still more than likely to rush towards you. There are spells like Invisibility (constant invisibility until the time ran out) and Shadow (conceal yourself in shadows better), but any lesser concealment spell is useless in practice unless you stand still. The combat ability that makes Stealth worthwhile, Backstabbing, requires a Stealth check, but, despite doing more damage on the first stab, stronger enemies will then notice you and pummel you like normal. Other thief skills are based on separate skills, and the really powerful, bothersome enemies - the undead and the Daedra - can see an Invisible opponent.
    • In Morrowind, the Sneak skill, now set to a button, is tremendously useful. If proficient enough with the Skill, one can pickpocket (no longer a skill), and open and loot locked containers right in front of characters, though striking someone still brings their attention to you. Pickpocketing is now dependent on the Sneak skill, however, and backstabs are no longer given bonus damage. Finally, the Invisibility spell is deactivated as soon as you perform an action, but the Chameleon spell is not.
    • Oblivion turns a proficient stealth-based character into a Game-Breaker, averting this trope until it is suddenly demonstrating the trope again. While Invisibility and Chameleon work the same as in the predecessor game, stealth-based characters using the Sneak skill now have the chance of remaining undetected regardless of what they did in the game world. The only enemies this doesn't work on are animals (which makes sense, as they can most likely smell you no matter how well-hidden you are). This becomes incredibly apparent in the Arena, where the entire questline can be won legitimately without even moving from the battle starting area. This trope is usually applied when you're trying to stealthily kill enemies. If they're in a group, every other enemy will immediately know that you're there and where you're hiding no matter what you used to kill them. It's understandable if you stabbed them or used a spell, but not when you shot them with an arrow while hiding in a bush half a mile away.
    • Skyrim attempts to balance Oblivion's stealth system by adding levels of detection. Being closer to an enemy and/or in the light will make you more easily detected, while distance and shadows make you harder to detect. This stops you from being able to sit in front of enemies undetected and also helps you stealth-kill enemies without them all seeing you. A glaring oversight to the balancing is that if you killed one enemy with a bow from the shadows, his buddy still might not detect you and not even flinch at his friend falling over dead. In one particular Thieves' Guild mission, the player is joined by two mandatory companions, and the party must sneak or fight their way through more than one room full of Falmer. Falmer cannot see, so one would think the stealth option would be fairly easy to pull off, but almost inevitably one of your companions (who are supposedly very successful thieves) will make a noise or walk into one of the enemies, triggering a massive fight.
  • Fable features an early story mission where stealth is required. From then on out it has practically no use whatsoever. Sure, once you get a high enough level in Guile you'll be able to steal items from stores and pick locks, but the former is negated when you learn you have to remain unseen as you hold down a button to steal said item (hard to do when you have countless yokels following around remarking on how famous you are,) and the latter becomes a problem when you learn that most citizens of Albion stand in front of their doors all night.
    • Made worse given that (unless performing a Pacifist Run as part of a boast) it's easier to simply snipe the guards rather than sneak past them.
  • In an effort to make the game even more action oriented than previous games, Fallout 4 made a series of changes to the gameplay with Stealth making a major change. Up to Fallout: New Vegas, the Sneak skill was based on the amount of points you put into the skill with perks adding onto it and making it easier to to sneak around and make better sneak attacks. Fallout 4 however makes Sneak a Perk to be leveled up and only makes it 50% harder to be seen at level 23. To actually sneak you need high Agility, the Sneak bobblehead's effect, U.S. Covert Operations Manual magazines' Perk "Covert Operations", Muffled or Shadowed armor, the Ace Operator perk (Only available in the ''Nuka-World'' DLC), silenced guns, and stealth boys. Suffice to say you will not be sneaking in the early game (or later parts for that matter.)
    • However, once you do have all of these, sneaking becomes ridiculously overpowered. There's actually a Stealthboy upgrade for Powered Armor that makes you invisible while standing still, but even without it a stealth-specialized player can bump into enemies in the dark without them being able to draw a bead on them, or squat around in plain sight while enemies stare at them without noticing them. While wearing Power Armor. Attacks from stealth also have a higher crit chance, and sneak criticals with high-powered silenced weapons like the Gauss Rifle pack enough punch to instakill pretty much anything in the game without risking return fire.
  • Fantasy Life has a stealth mechanic that doesn't help much for several reasons:
    • Some sections are closed off until you kill a certain enemy.
    • It can't be used while holding bounties, that are objects that you're supposed to take to the nearest settlement to exchange against money and more or less rare items, and work like an Escort Mission of sorts.
    • The attack zone of most enemies is really small. That basically means that if the path isn't so narrow that the monster is blocking it entirely or almost so, you can just run in and out of its attack zone it the time it takes to notice you. And in larger areas, you can even avoid attack zones entirely if you keep an eye on the map showing enemy locations.
  • Golden Sun: The Cloak spell is used in exactly two locations (both optional dungeons), and even then it only serves to make you undetectable while in shadow.
  • Knights of the Old Republic suffers from all of these. Entering Stealth mode forces you to operate a character solo, and you also move at a snail's pace. Stealthily planting mines can make for a good strategy for a fragile character like Mission Vao, but most enemies that are susceptible to this tactic can also be engaged in direct combat. Ultimately, in this game, Stealth is primarily useful in a small handful of scenarios: for getting around the rancor in the Taris sewers, and when you've chosen to use Mission in the breakout from the Leviathan.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords greatly reduces the issues of Stealth in the first game. You have many more opportunities where the use of stealth can get you nifty rewards while bypassing a messy combat (such as safely retrieving mines without causing your teammates to run over them in the midst of combat), and in a few scenarios, stealthily spying on NPCs can get you information that advances side quests. You also have an alignment-exclusive Prestige Class built around using stealth to exploit sneak attack bonuses, and the Stealth Run feat remedies the "snail's pace" issue.
  • One of Live A Live's seven character quests falls into this, at least at first — Oboromaru can sneak past any enemy in the stage except its final boss, but doing so means you have to face the final boss with no or very little experience (since there are few enemies you can fight without breaking stealth), and your only reward for doing so is an Infinity +1 Sword that's not as helpful in the boss fight as having levels would be. However, if you get Oboromaru back in the game's final quest, you can level him up and have the sword... except that when you're that early in the game, you don't even know the final quest exists.
    • And besides, he can get a better Infinity +1 Sword in said final quest. And another in his chapter by beating an Optional Boss. Talk about Bragging Rights Reward.
    • However! The leveling limitation only applies to humans. There's a bit of grinding involved, but it's relatively easy to clear Oboromaru's chapter at lv. 16note . This is absolutely necessary to beat a couple of Optional Bosses in the chapter.
  • The infiltrator class in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 has a cloaking skill. It's useless for sneaking past enemies entirely because in most encounters you are required to kill every enemy before the next door unlocks, and you're usually accompanied by two squadmembers who don't have the ability anyway. However, the skill is useful for outflanking enemies, escaping close-range attackers, and lining up headshots without worrying about enemy fire. The later is particularly deadly, as higher levels of the ability also add a damage bonus to your attacks.
    • Mass Effect 2 invokes this in a devious way for the Arrival DLC. The story begins with an extended infiltration mission where Shepard mustn't be spotted, but any Infiltrator that does the logical thing and uses their cloak ability to sneak past the guards automatically forfeits the achievement for completing this section without raising an alarm.
    • Mass Effect 3 heavily averts this in the Final Battle of its Omega DLC where it's Shepard alone against an endlessly respawning Cerberus army, in a room with barely any useful cover. Four objectives must be taken care of in the room's corners, which is easily one of the most grueling tasks in the entire game except for the broken-as-ever Vanguards and, you guessed it, Infiltrators that can cloak right past the worst of the fighting. Cloaking in general is quite useful in any mission where Shepard must activate something that's behind a platoon of enemies, because this usually triggers a cutscene to the next mission segment regardless of how many enemies were left standing at this point.
    • It is somewhat more useful in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer since you can actually operate on your own. In particular, it can be used to interact with bonus objective objects without any enemy noticing. However, some enemies outright ignore stealth if all other teammates are down.
  • Downplayed in Might and Magic VII. The spell Invisibility makes enemies ignore you until you attack them, cast magic or collide with them. This makes many tasks much easier, especially if you're on the Path of Light and you have to trek into the Pit with Lichs and Necromancers for whatever reason. However, it requires Air Magic Mastery, so either you need to have a Sorcerer in your party or you won't be able to get it until the second promotion, which is quite late into the game, and for master level of Air Magic the spell doesn't last tong either. The spell itself is also not very helpful in crowded dungeons (Eeofol Tunnels) and last map you visit doesn't allow for spells to be casted, so there's no way to get to the final dungeon with it.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 falls squarely into this trope. Most of the enemies are simply cannon fodder that your party should have little trouble dealing with, and in the event you're up against a challenging one (i.e., a red dragon), stealth isn't an option anyways. It's egregious if you take the Shadow Thief line of quests; for one mission, for which you're encouraged to remain stealthy to break into a house, it makes zero difference if you just barge in waving your sword, and you might even get complimented more for doing so.
    • Unless you use Hide in Plain Sight, an ability that hide in front of enemies, and by hide in front of enemies, we mean "step back to disengage form combat, hide under the enemies nose". While hiding you can't be targeted, leaving you vulnerable only to area of effect attacks and letting you attack for sneak attack.
    • Stealth is doubly useless in Neverwinter Nights 2 due to the fact that the game pits you against a disproportionate number of undead opponents - which are immune to critical damage inflicted by sneak attacks made while in stealth mode.
    • It does, however, have one very useful application: If you play an evil assassin and join the King of Shadows at the end, you have to fight your entire party singlehanded. Hide in plain sight, Death Attack, lather, rinse, repeat.
    • Stealth is further undermined by the extremely generous rest system, which can be used almost anytime you are not in direct combat. Spellcasters are much, much more effective than normal because they are no longer required to conserve spells for more difficult encounters. Normally, you wouldn't use a ninth level spell to take out a couple Mooks, but use lower level spells and hold the ninth level spell until you found a more difficult foe. In NWN2, you can spam ninth level spells in almost every encounter by resting after each fight, which only takes a couple of seconds. The only major downside is that if you are buff heavy, you have to recast them after every fight.
  • Paper Mario 64 had sleeping enemies in one dungeon that would wake up if you walked past them at full speed. However, they are easy to avoid even awake, and depending on your timing, weren't even that much of a threat in combat anyway.
  • In Persona 3 and Persona 4, Shadows roaming the Eldritch Location du jour manifest as blobs that claw their way across the floor. Players are encouraged to approach them from behind and sneak-attack them in order to get a free round at the start of the battle (though Shadows can gain their own advantage by striking from behind as well.) Since the line of sight of map-roaming Shadows isn't that great, sneaking past them is relatively easy in order to avoid wasting resources on minor foes.
    • Persona 5 zigzags the trope: as Phantom Thieves, you have a variety of abilities that let you sneak past enemies, and when you're in cover, you are completely undetectable. But you're not supposed to sneak past enemies, you're supposed to ambush them to get an advantage in combat. In some cases, particularly powerful enemies spawn that are meant to be avoided entirely, however (though they can still be defeated with sufficient luck). Getting detected by enemies makes it increasingly more difficult to avoid being detected, and if you're detected too many times, your current dungeon run is halted for the remainder of the day.
  • In the Pokémon games that let you catch and raise Pokémon, there are trainers that will force you into a battle if they see you. You have the option of fighting them right away for money and experience or avoiding eye-contact and battling them at a later time. Make a habit of bypassing optional trainers, and your Pokémon tend to fall behind as the enemies get stronger, especially if you also run away from wild Pokémon, not to mention your purse will be much lighter than it could be.
  • Radiant Historia eventually gives you the ability to vanish and completely avoid enemies. Not only are you missing out on money and experience this way, you're going through MP faster than you would by fighting. Generally not worth using during the main story, but can speed things up greatly when backtracking through locations during sidequests, especially since how annoyingly persistent enemies tend to be in following you when they spot you.
  • The stealth section on St. Marguerite Island in Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a rather funny example of this. It's a Let's Split Up, Gang! for Blanca, who must sneak into the heart of the base to free the rest of the party; if caught by the guards, he fights them. But by this point it's almost a given that Blanca can take out any number of guards by himself (especially with the right Crests), so there's no point in hiding — and if you do use stealth, you miss several items that are only reachable if you kill certain guards.
  • Strong aversion in Siege of Avalon, where, if your stealth level is high enough, you can kill every enemy in a single hit, except for the final boss who goes down in two instead.
  • Interplay's Lord of the Rings allowed you to use the `sneak' skill to get into a lot of inaccessible places. You could walk around the wall of a haunted mansion, and a sneaking NPC could slide in from some unknown place offscreen and you were in. You could also get into the town of Bree at night, when they locked you out, just by walking along the wall away from the guards. Unfortunately, it was not so good for avoiding fights. Sneak into the mill without the One Ring, and the Orcs quickly slaughter your wimpy characters. Also, the sneak command didn't work against certain obstacles or guardians, since there wasn't any way to move offscreen and get a guy inside, or if the force of a character's personality was so great that the whole party had to stand directly in front of them and not go anywhere until they said "none shall pass!"
  • The RPG Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines averts this by the grace of several factors - one, XP is only awarded for fulfilling quests, not killing random enemies. Two, if a stealth route is available, it usually comes with bonus XP. And if all else fails, the game allows for one-hit stealth kills in the form of a brutal Neck Snap (or Back Stab, or having the enemy Impaled with Extreme Prejudice). This makes it quite fun to play as the Nosferatu, who rely on not being seen to prevent panic. On the other hand, the stealth ability Obfuscate IS pretty much useless in the Absurdly-Spacious Sewer level - the Tzimisce creations will instantly see through it if they look at you. Lastly, a player can't get by on just stealth and diplomacy and must spend some XP on combat, as there are several Action-Based Missions and boss fights scattered through the game (particularly at the end).
  • Final Fantasy XII lets the player become invisible using Vanish, but this wears off as soon as a player character targets something or bumps into an enemy. Furthermore, enemies can detect player characters through ways other than sight: they can hear footsteps (this at least can be solved by also casting Float), elementals can sense the casting of magic, undead can sense characters low on HP, and beasts can smell characters. There are some niche uses, but in general it's not needed.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • The Ilwrath Avenger in Star Control has a cloaking device as its secondary ability. Not terrible, but any competent player can figure out where it is because the screen automatically zooms in and out to keep both ships in the picture, and, well, the AI automatically knows. Without speed or weapon range, it's easy prey for almost anything.
    • A savvy player can also locate the Avenger by watching for it to eclipse the background stars. The cloaking device turns its sprite black rather than transparent! And what's more, the Ilwrath player is hampered by his own cloak just as much as the opposition.
    • The cloaking device has two other features which are far more useful than the visual invisibility: homing weapons fail against invisible targets; and attacking while cloaked automatically rotates the Avenger to face the enemy ship despite its normally mediocre turning radius. These effects just emphasize how useless the actual invisibility is due to the aforementioned screen-scaling issues.

  • War Thunder: while concealing and surprise attacks are almost always effective, arcade battles put an indicating marker above every player. Moreover each player gets a cross that tells you if your shot can penetrate what you are aiming at (red for nay, green for yay), and if your crosshair is centered on an enemy irs silhouette caan get evidenced too. Suddenly, your low-profile tank destroyer covered with bushes to hide your weakspots if not your entire shape isn't deadly anymore...
    • Zig-Zagged with stealth belts for aircraft. One one hand, the ability to fire without immediately alerting your enemy with tracers can give you a couple of seconds needed to land the killing blow, particularly in simulator air battles and realistic ground battles where there are not aircraft indicators. On the other hand, you need good marksmanship, otherwise you won't even get why all your shots are missing. Furthermore, your engine sound can still reveal your presence to unaware enemies, and in realistic air battles the enemy might still notice your approaching dot in the map and catch you by turning the camera. In air arcade battles you get a leading indicator that suggests you where to aim in order to hit an enemy, though, therefore it's way easier to land your stealth shots, and since arcade battles are a furball of aircraft packed together your noise and map-dot are just part of the collective mess, thus you can avoid suddenly alerting an enemy that is focused on someone else.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • In some sidequest missions in Assassin's Creed, it is necessary to assassinate people without being seen. If you have the stamina for it, you can often just slaughter your way through hordes and hordes of guards to get to your target without any stealth at all. However, this is also averted with some missions that fail you for detection. Also, quite a few of the plotline assassination targets cannot be assassinated without a confrontation that results in them making a break for it and Altaïr or Ezio having to chase them. Starting with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the devs try to avert this by making a Stealth Run of several missions necessary for 100% Completion.
    • Interestingly, in Brotherhood and Revelations you will only fail a Stealth Run if a guard actually catches sight of the player character. As long as that doesn't happen you can be as unsteathy as you like, for instance by shooting everyone or throwing grenades. In fact, one of the easiest ways to complete many of these is to have mercenaries or your fellow assassins enter open combat and slaughter any enemies that get in your way.
  • Death to Spies generally expects you to find a uniform to infiltrate the enemy bases. The initial uniform doesn't protect you against hypersensitive guards who see through disguises easily, which can easily block known passages you need to cross. This is corrected in the next installment, Moment of Truth, where soldiers aren't instantly suspicious just because you're a bit far away, and where those guards shout a warning first before chasing you out of the restricted area(s).
  • Averted with Mark of the Ninja where the lead designer described in an interview how the game originally had a much more indepth combat system, but it was removed because this signaled to the player that combat was more important than stealth and so they'd forgo sneaking in favor of direct combat. With combat trimmed down and as simplistic as possible, it conversely signalled to the player that stealth was the point of the game:
    Nels Anderson: People would try to sneak, they would fail, and then they'd just Rambo through the rest of the level. It's like: okay, we just need to pare this down, get rid of as much of it as possible, make it really simple. Once we just kept paring it down, the amount of presence it had in the design was about proportional to how important we thought it should be, that's when it sat about right.
  • A lot of areas in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty made stealth worthless, owing to the relatively small areas and the delayed alert phase mechanic. For an alert to actually happen, a guard had to not only see you, but also radio it in (in contrast to the previous game, where everyone would be instantly alerted even if you immediately silenced the one who saw you). If you just sprinted through cartwheel-kicking guards before they could get to their radio it didn't matter how many saw you: you'd more often than not make it to the next area before they got back onto their feet, and since going to the next area unloaded all the guards in the room you went through, the alert would never come. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater addressed this by having much larger areas, enabling guards to see you from much farther away, and making it so taking out the guard who spotted you before he got to his radio only delayed back-up.
  • Rise of the Kasai averts this for the most part; generally speaking you can just run into combat head first with decent odds of coming out alive, but stealth is the suggested method of advancement, both for an added challenge and the satisfyingly brutal stealth kills. The only time the game truly falls victim to this is when your AI partner decides its time to run headlong into danger, disrupting your attempts at stealth. Its predecessor, Mark of Kri, makes stealth a completely viable method in that your character always goes it solo.

    Survival Horror 
  • Alien: Isolation: trying to hide in a lateral vent from the xenomorph, until the room is clear? It will automatically go for you after a while, eventually finding you, so it is best to use side tunnels only to quickly sneak into another room and flee away before the alien starts patrolling your new position. Averted however with tunnels below the floor, since the xenomorph won't look for you there unless you make noise.
    • Locker cabinets are common hide spots, but the xenomorph will almost always check if you are inside, unless you never alerted it. The creature will still patrol the neighborhood, so you might end up anyway being forced into the same position. It is generally better to never stop in a place and always move away, putting distance between you and the alien.
  • Stealth is a must in The Last of Us and its sequel, given how limited your resources are, but there are a lot of moments in each game where you have take out enemies in order to proceed. Two reasons for this: One, some of the exits require repeating pressing/holding down a button in order to open them, making you entirely vulnerable during that time. And two, the exits also can be pretty noisy due to blockage surrounding them, potentially alerting nearby enemies. In addition, trying to avoid enemies entirely will prevent you from being able to loot the areas for resources or collectables. However, it's possible to use stealth to take down enemies quietly and spare yourself the trouble of actually engaging in a fight (though human enemies are trickier due to having better AI), so it's not entirely useless.
  • Outlast doesn't give you any method of fighting back, and therefore forces you into stealth. However, there are moments where stealth is the worst available option, because there's too many of the crazies around or they're too close behind you. In these situations, it's always, always better to run until you find a "transition" area (a ladder, squeeze-through area, or something similar) that they can't follow you through, waiting until they lose interest, and then going right back into the area to do whatever it is you need to do.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, where the dark world segments can be summed up as run your fool ass off or the invincible monsters will get you, also gives you the option to hide in lockers and the like from the creatures. In theory it means you can either buy some time for your health to regenerate or wait until the monsters disperse before moving on. In practice the monsters will find you very quickly and, if you were hiding to recover health, now you're surrounded by them and are practically guaranteed a Game Over. This may have been intentional given this series' habit of screwing with the player on the Meta levelnote ; Cheryl's warning makes no mention of hiding, after all.
    Cheryl: You have to run, Daddy. You can't fight them. Run!
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach zigzags this all over the place. The stealth is instantly introduced with Distraction, where you knock over an object to distract a Bot, as well as Crouching with specific colour icons when you are safe, in danger of being spotted, and when an enemy has found you. The Distraction objects are barely featured in the game, and do very little to help you in many cases as they are often featured in tight-cornered rooms, basically just alerting an enemy to where you are before you can get away. They ARE quite useful in Let There Be Light, as Moon's AI is locked into an animation of several seconds resetting them. Oh, and the Crouching mechanic mentioned earlier? The yellow outline is worthless, as the enemy WILL spot you anyway, and you have barely any time to react. Not that Crouching helps matters in the slightest. Almost all of the enemies in the game are S.T.A.F.F. Bots, which alert the actually lethal animatronics to your position when they catch you. They're extremely fast, and lock onto your direction after a small glimpse of you, so Crouching around them is ineffective. To top it off, their AI path is completely RNG, AND they aren't attracted to sounds you make! So running past them at fast speed is just as safe, not to matter much faster, than using stealth!

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Army of Two gives the option to put silencers on guns. This is kind of useless considering that the game is all loud fire-fights. The real point to them is to take advantage of the aggro system - low-aggro parts like the suppressor draw less attention from the enemy, allowing your partner to draw fire so you can flank the enemy.
  • In the first Mercenaries game, Jennifer Mui's special characteristic is enhanced stealth compared to the other two playable characters. Considering that the gameplay in the series is mostly based around Stuff Blowing Up, it's not clear why anyone would value this, and indeed it has no discernable effect on the game (the in-game effect is that enemy officers are slightly slower to recognize her when she's in a faction vehicle, but it's simply not enough of a difference to matter). The sequel scraps this in favor of making her the fastest sprinter of the three.
  • Available only in The Mercenaries minigame of Resident Evil 4 is a silencer for the handgun that Wesker starts out with that allows you to dispatch enemies without alerting the others to your presence. They become aware of you in about 10 seconds no matter how sneaky you are, and since it's a timed game that makes use of chained kills and score multipliers you'll get far worse results if you go for the quiet meticulous kills. Somewhat justified as the silencer was Dummied Out from the main game.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront 2: Bothan spies. It's extremely annoying when they pop out of nowhere and burn you, but since the AI is able to see them while stealthed (though they appear to be less inclined to shoot than they would normally be) they are rather useless to play as.
  • Warframe:
    • Update 7 introduced Back Stabs. However, there are enemies that are either outright Kung Fu Proof or otherwise have too much health to be One Hit Killed with them, which thus leads to the attackee in question setting off an alert. Until recently, there was no exp bonus for doing stealth kills or a full Stealth Run other than an occasional challenge. This was counterproductive to your leveling, since you would normally want more enemies to kill for more exp. Thankfully the exp part was patched, and consecutive stealth kills (be it with a Back Stab or a bow and arrow) create an exp multiplier, up to 500%.
    • Sgt. Nef Anyo is a rare case where this applies to an enemy. He can cloak, but the game still shows an indicator with his position, meaning that you can still use Herd-Hitting Attack or melee to harm him.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike introduced Stealth Fighters. They can devastate the battlefield while invisible, but burn a whopping 8 fuel per turn while cloaked as well as 1 fuel per square moved, and with only 60 units of fuel in stock they'll go down quickly if you don't resupply them constantly. Most players don't even use their stealth capability, and only build them because they are only one of two units that can attack any other unit.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Path of Radiance has Chapter 10: Prisoner Release, which one could ostensibly stealth through, given the advice "stay near the walls and don't get too close to anyone", without mentioning more useful advice like "only a specific type of enemy (soldier) can spot you". The reward for stealth is extra experience (more than you get for fighting and can be assigned to any character, even the Magikarp Power ones) and a rare (but almost useless) Master Seal item.
    • Fates has a similar chapter late into the Revelations path, wherein the player is told to stay out of sight amidst a bunch of patrolling soldiers. The problem is, they somehow made it even worse than Path of Radiance, since it's not enough just to stay out of range, you have to account for the soldiers moving and basically updating their range. With how tightly the player must maneuver knowing this, it's best to field very few units for this purpose. But it gets even worse: you have to open doors along the way, and you're told which door not to open, otherwise your units get damaged. Seems simple enough, but on the third door, the game straight up lies to you and if you do what you were told, you get punished for it. Behind the last door is the boss and a bunch of mooks, who can likely overwhelm your units if you low manned it. Because of this, as well as the erratic and at times unpredictable movement of the guards, it's easy to just not bother with stealth and go in guns blazing, except you lose out on that path's only pair of Boots that way, along with a Master Seal and some Gold.
  • Nintendo Wars: The submarine cannot be targeted once submerged, except by a unit whose only purpose is to kill subs. You cannot see a sub unless you are right next to it, and it blocks your path, wasting time. On the flip side, submersion costs a lot of fuel and the sub must return to base frequently to fuel up.
  • Zigzagged in XCOM 2. XCOM operatives usually start a mission in concealment, so enemies won't notice them as long as your forces stay outside of ADVENT's very visible detection radius. It's useful for setting up an ambush on one enemy squad, and only one. The moment your first soldier opens fire, their concealment is broken and every enemy on the map is aware of their presence, even if you manage to wipe out the whole squad before any of the hostiles can react. This way, stealth is not completely useless in a game where every attack the enemy doesn't launch can make the difference between victory and a Total Party Kill, but it's not as effective as it could be, either.
    • A high level ability for Rangers lets them stay in Concealment as long as they haven't fired, which doesn't sound very useful until it's paired with abilities that massively increase critical hit chance and accuracy when firing from Concealment, as well as an ability to drop back into Concealment once per mission. A well-spec'd and equipped Shadow Ranger can eliminate some of the strongest enemies in a single ambush shot, and then drop back into Concealment to do it again.
    • War of the Chosen adds Reapers to the mix, who specialize in stealth: they have abilities that they can only use while in concealment, have a chance to break concealment rather than a guarantee, move much, much faster while concealed, and get an ability like the Ranger that allows them to drop back into concealment. A single Reaper can successfully sprint to the jamming device on an Avenger Defense mission, blow it up, and then drop back into concealment and run away without engaging a single enemy.