Tag Archives: sneak

Don’t let this post about being stealthy in Skyrim sneak by you

I haven’t touched The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in a couple of weeks now, but I did put some solid hours into the beast right before Christmas hit. Hey, I had time off of work, and well, I didn’t really know what to do with myself so I just plopped down and teleported away for a bit. From that spree, I was able to finish off the Thieves Guild questline–not counting restoring it to its former glory, which is based around doing a thousand and five miscellaneous tasks for Vex and Delvin–went to jail and then escaped, and polished off a sidequest called The Man Who Cried Wolf, which had the Dovahkiin investigating a cave after rumors of disappearances and strange lights. Also, I got my first skill up to the cap of 100. See here:

Skill Master (40G): Get a skill to 100

Now I’m sure you’re all chomping at the bit to guess which skill I raised to one hundred first. Was it Smithing? Nope. How about Heavy Armor? Um, no. Two-handed Weapons? Unicorn Riding? General Economics? Get real, kids. It was…


Duuuuuuuh. This really should come as no surprsie to anyone that’s been following Grinding Down now and/or for some decent length of time. I love being stealthy in videogames (except when they punish me for going the stealth route ::ahem:: Deus Ex: Human Revolution ::cough::), and since I’ve never been great at swinging swords, blocking with shields, or casting crazy magic spells, I built my character around the battle-plan of creeping through dark dungeons and loosing arrows from afar, hiding in shadows when caught. This works out pretty well except for when I have to fight a dragon or get spotted and then have to deal with a draugr right up in my face.

From what I can gather, the sneak skill increases in a couple of ways. You boost it by literally sneaking around people unnoticed, whether out in the woods or in a cave or potentially inside the hall of some great jarl. The other way is to kill enemies (or animals in the wrong place at the wrong time) without being detected. With an enchanted bow and the perks to zoom in and slow down time, this becomes a piece of sweetroll. And thanks to finishing off the Thieves Guild quests, I now possess the special ability to turn invisible for a significant length of time, useable once per day. Nobody is ever going to see me coming.

There are some downsides to being a sneak master though. I previously mentioned that once you are spotted it can be pretty difficult to defend yourself, especially if there’s more than one foe coming at you. The best tactic I have is to skate backwards and hide in a corner in hopes of them giving up after a few minutes. Because I like to be quiet and not alert everybody to my presence, I can’t bring along companions. I had a companion once; her name was Lydia, and she was loud as all gets, and sadly, something killed her so that I didn’t have to, and missions where I have to team up with someone never work well as they constantly run forward into rooms to say hi to everyone. And lastly, because of my OCD to creep and inch my way forward, going through a single cave can sometimes take up to an hour or more, whereas a warrior-like character would just charge through, smash everything with a mace, scoff at traps, and loot all chests before the fifteen minute mark.

But yeah, I’ve topped Sneak. Haven’t bought the 100 level perk for it yet though, and I’m not sure if I need it exactly, but we’ll see. I kind of like saving my perk points. My next closest skill to 100 is Archery, and after that I need to work on Light Armor or Pick-pocketing. Then nothing will be out of Lohgahn’s reach. And at some point I’ll pick a side (Imperial or Stormcloaks), but if it hasn’t turned out to be a rush after 70 hours or gaming, it probably won’t ever be.

Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m a spoiled sneaker

I’ve been spoiled when it comes to sneaking. My latest sleuthing through future Detroit in Deus Ex: Human Revolution has definitely proved this. Mostly because I keep getting spotted by enemy units.

In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake had his Soliton radar at his disposal, right from the word hide. This showed enemy positions and vision cones, as well as outlines of boxes or trucks or barriers; it only became unusable during alert, evasion, and jamming phases, but otherwise, it was a great way to know who was where and how to get around them, either by crawling on the floor or making one’s way under a table.

In Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, we have a similar radar, now circular and in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, but serving the same purpose. Sometimes it can get cluttered with a hundred and five icon markers, but otherwise, it has enemies in red and shows them clearly coming after/looking for you. Oh look, a hiding spot there, there, and there. Sneaking made simple. Thanks, handy radar!

In Grinding Down fav The Saboteur, we have another circular radar, now in the lower left-hand corner, with red dots for Nazi soldiers. You couldn’t really assess their walking patterns, but you could see just how many threats were in a size-able area stretching several buildings and streets, and that was pretty vital when trying to breach an occupied location.

In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, if you kept crouched and remained in the shadows, you could totally skirt detection. There were also some handy items like Stealth Boys and armor like the Chinese stealth armor, also known as the Hēi Guǐ, which basically guaranteed safety through patrolled sections. Increasing your Perception skill and having ED-E by your side would help detect enemies at greater distances, making it all the more easy to avoid ’em to begin with, especially Deathclaws and Cazadors.

However, in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, if Adam Jensen really wants to know where his enemies are and how far they can see and where they are looking and what their walking patterns are…well, we have too purchase it through an augmentation upgrade, and even then, it takes a few Praxis points to get things back to what I’ve come to know and expect in a radar. See, totally spoiled. Right now, I just unlocked the “cones of vision” augmentation, which helps a wee bit, but not enough to make me a true futuristic ninja. I am constantly getting spotted. All I have is a radar of dots, a handful of specks that do not make sense to me. To better hide, I need to fully upgrade three augmentations:

  • Radar System: Track enemy and friendly troops, turrets, cameras, and robots.
  • Infolink: Communicate discretely on the battlefield.
  • Stealth Enhancer: Provides stealth-related information and allows Jensen to mark and track enemies.

Yeah, too bad I didn’t understand this from the get-go, and I spent some points elsewhere, slowing true ninja progression to a crawl. Naturally, I’m trying to go through all of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in a kind and caring way, not killing a single soul (though from what I’ve read, boss battles have to end in death, mine or theirs), and so sneaking through enemy-infested buildings is my main path, but it’s hard when one has run out of tranq darts and keeps getting spotted by a guy halfway across the room, a dot that did not even pop up yet on Jensen’s radar. Hopefully things get easier with upgrades, but who knows if the game’s even sneakable for much longer.

If only I hadn’t been so coddled over the years…

Pick-pocketing glitches from the pockets of Fallout: New Vegas

At this point, y’all should know how I like to roleplay in my big, open-world RPGs, especially in Fallout: New Vegas–stealthily. I love skirting conflict, sneaking around the building’s side, lockpicking my way in, tampering with the security computer to switch the turret’s targeting assignment from me to raider, and then creeping up on anyone left standing to pop em once–critical damage guaranteed–in the head. Then we loot and move on to hopefully do it all again.

That said, there’s one aspect that goes hand-in-hand with being sneaky that I just don’t like to do or take advantage of, and that’s picking someone’s pockets, whether it’s to grab a key they got or drop a live grenade into their trousers. I just don’t like doing it. It seems to me that, even with a high Sneak skill, you’re chances of getting caught are greater than not, and then I usually have to reload my game because I don’t like getting caught and having the entire New Vegas strip mad at me because I stole somebody’s fresh apple.

How then, you most certainly ask, did I unlock the following Achievement over the weekend?

Artful Pocketer (15G): Picked 50 pockets.

Here, let me tell you. I used a glitch. Yup, even with two (or is it three at this point?) patches for Fallout: New Vegas, there’s still a few glitches to lovingly grope. I mean…use with love. Because 50 pockets is a lot of pockets, and I know that I’d never actually get that many in a single playthrough especially since I hate doing it so much, but this glitch made it all too easy. First, let me explain how pick-pocketing in Fallout works: you crouch, you wait until it says hidden, you search their pockets, and you take an item. If done successfully, the item will disappear and  you’ll hear the sound cue for losing karma. If done unsuccessfully, the menu closes, and the victim turns into an enemy, ready to beat you down for your blatant thievery.

Okay, so on the New Vegas strip, there’s a hotel hangout place called Vault 21; it’s actually a true Vault-Tec vault that’s been transformed into a rich place for some R&R. It’s a little bizarre you’re first time through as it’ll feel a bit like returning home in Fallout 3. Anyways, all the residents of Vault 21 are glitched; the items in their pockets do not disappear when pick-pocketed, but the sound cue for losing karma still happens, and when you check the stats menu it clearly shows you were successful. This means you can sit there and just pick-pocket someone over and over and over. I did this to a woman snoozing with her eyes open. Took me less than 15 minutes to go from three pockets picked to 50. I did, however, have to save frequently as the woman did seem to catch me after the third or fourth try, but if that happens, you just reload and try again. Easy peasy. Sometimes glitches are good, time-savers. Sometimes they’re not, like in the case of the Achievement for recruiting every companion, which I’ve done, but which has not yet pinged. Grrr…

Thanks for listening, chiiiiiiildren!