Do We Want To Be Sneaky?

How many of you have played a game where if you make a wrong move at the wrong time, you get ganked?

*raises hand* – I know I have. Stealth fighting and stealth killing is one of those things that you either love or hate. People who like the ‘play in their face, kill them and let the gods sort them out’ types generally hate stealth type gameplay. It’s too slow, too demanding and far, far too hard for those types of gamers to usually enjoy. Not that some of them don’t get good at it, but they don’t generally enjoy it as much.

Then there is another kind of gaming person. The kind who will sit in a hole somewhere far from where the bunny hopping gank-fest is going down, until he finds his perfect shot and then BAM! He then moves a bit, or not, depending on the situation and does it again. I am not too proud to admit that I am one of those creepy game sniper types (so am I – Ed). You will never see me on the front ranks if I have any choice at all. If you do, I will likely run away. My reflexes are not good enough to hit reliably at close range, especially when people start circle strafing and bunny hopping.

Snipers get a very bad rep, and truth be told, much of it is deserved. They strike from ambush and disappear, sometimes leaving ‘presents’ for the enemy to find. I was notorious in Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 for setting up on a high point and sitting there for the entire game. I would hold victory points all by myself sometimes. An area denial asset, that was me. The only way they could get to me usually was with aircraft, or artillery. Every time they sent guys up after me, the poor slobs found the stairways mined. Good times… but the games that set me totally in my element are the Splinter Cell games by Ubisoft. Strike from hiding, and vanish. Hit and run away quickly. Not very sporting, but then again, I have never been a very sporting person. If it works, I will do it. If it will help me win, I will certainly do it.

But where does stealth fit into Star Wars? Aside from Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, Chewie and the droids sneaking onto the Death Star, or the Rebel strike team trying to sneak into the bunker on Endor, stealth does not play a major role in any movies. Disguises have, do they count? Luke and Han trying to infiltrate the detention bay on the Death Star, Princess Leia as Boushh and Lando as a guard in Return of the Jedi rocked. But in Star Wars combat, does sneaking up on an enemy to knife him in the back or shooting him in the head from half a kilometer away count as heroic? Not really. Not to mention it would be very difficult to do properly in an MMORPG.

Case in point, Tabula Rasa had one of the coolest ideas for snipers ever in a game. The powers that you could use either caused the target to suffer more damage, negated cover, or something else equally cool. My favorite was called Crit Wave, it doubled or trebled the critical hit chance for every member of your group. Talk about bringing the pain! But the game system suffered from several shortcomings. For one thing, the range of the sniper’s main weapon, the torqueshell rifle, was 80 and the maximum view distance, even with a high end machine, was about 65. So you could hit targets from a long ways away, and do a god awful amount of damage to them, but the other problem was that the stealth system never worked quite as designed. Once you fired, every bad guy in range saw you, and then proceeded to chase you, and stomp you flat when they caught you.

One of the interesting facets in Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, was the stealth system. You could sneak past bad guys, or lay ambushes for them. Combat range was pretty well set and all ranged weapons could do damage out to that range. Most enemies had both ranged and melee weapons so while you might get a swing or two in before the enemy could react, then they switched to a melee weapon and started going to town on you.

It looks like the combat system for The Old Republic, what we have seen of it so far, is very similar. If so, we can expect most battles to be fought at very close ranges. People like the Trooper are going to need many tricks and tactics to keep Sith warriors from jumping on them. We don’t know if there will be a stealth aspect of the game. From what has been shown so far, it is doubtful. As I said, it is not very heroic to run up behind someone and do over nine thousand points of damage to them with a single hit without giving them a chance to fight back.

The Player versus Player combat that was shown in the combat video looks really cool, and even if it doesn’t have a stealth aspect, I will likely play the heck out of the game anyway. The Imperial agent and smuggler likely have the most ‘stealthy’ type of gameplay anyway. Troopers are more in-your-face blast everything. And Jedi/Sith…? Well, we know what they do. It looks like the combat is going to be very close ranged, very fast paced and very ‘heroic’ as the devs call it. So there is probably no place for sneaking around.

Like I said, I will play it either way, but stealth for me is the way to play. I stink at twitch games. I want to do something that I can sit a ways back from the fight and… Ah, GOT YOU! *Bam!*

What do you think? Would you want a stealth aspect to the game? Would you want missions that would require you to be sneaky?