Why Stealth Games Have Faded

Do We Need More of Stealth Genre or Is Stealth Just A Feature Now?

Stealth Games Are Dying
Stealth Games Are Dying

Stealth Games have long been an influential part of the gaming industry. However, recent times have tested the strengths of this genre. Once a thriving genre of gaming, has now been simply absorbed in modern titles as a feature. This is also one of the reasons, I have lost interest in Stealth, as no modern game wants players to be stealthy.

Key Takeaways
  • Games like Metal Gear Solid offered unique tension through planning, navigating shadows, and executing silent takedowns.
  • Open-world games often offer shallow stealth as a secondary option.
  • The success of Hitman (2016) and the Metal Gear Solid Remake prove dedicated stealth experiences still have an audience.

In my opinion, Titles like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell were true testament to the stealth genre, but have almost disappeared. However, before we declare stealth games dead, let’s delve deeper and understand why they seem to be disappearing.

Are Stealth Games Boring?

Players often confuse stealth with boring and slow-paced gameplay. Players need to understand that stealth isn’t just slowly going around and killing one enemy at a time. True stealth games require players to meticulously plan the entire level, so they can get through it without alerting the enemy AI.

Hitman Blood Money Gameplay
Hitman Blood Money Gameplay

Classic stealth titles offered a unique thrill. Outsmarting cunning AI, navigating intricate environments while staying undetected, and the satisfaction of a perfectly executed non-lethal takedown.

I mean I had to almost spend half of my time planning how I was going to approach a level. These elements created a unique brand of engagement.

I remember playing games like Hitman: Blood Money. In Hitman, players were rewarded for planning out their kill, this can be your choice of disguise and even your choice of weapon. Splinter Cell offered a level of player choice, allowing players to choose gadgets and approaches that suited their play style.

Splinter Cell Gameplay
Splinter Cell Gameplay

I do understand why some people may find these games boring. Sometimes you just want to shut down your brain and shoot some bad guys. However, sometimes you want to sit down and carefully beat the enemy AI to experience the satisfaction of your genius.

Stealth Is Just A Feature

Baldurs Gate 3
Baldurs Gate 3

People often argue that one of the major reasons Stealth games are disappearing is that not many people want them. However, I do not think that is true. I do not consider myself a big turned-based games fan, but, I did enjoy playing through Baldur’s Gate 3. So you can’t blame it on demand, as a great execution will be praised by fans of any genre.

However, the main reason the genre may be dying is because Stealth has been downgraded from its genre to basically being a secondary feature. Open-world games, like Assassin’s Creed or Watch Dogs, offer stealth options alongside a robust combat system. While you always have the option of stealth, the system is never really thought out or clever.

It never really feels like being a mastermind when all you have for stealth is crouch walking from one corner to another. In most of my experiences, I just instantly get spotted by an enemy and I am back to fighting in the open. The vast open worlds, encourage players to confront enemies, making pure stealth feel less rewarding.

Assassin's Creed
Assassin’s Creed

Furthermore, the consequences of being detected are often not much. Checkpoints are abundant, and death rarely carries a significant penalty. This reduces the tension that was once a hallmark of stealth games. If I knew that I would get no repercussions for charging head-on, I may do that most of the time.

This hybrid approach isn’t inherently bad. It offers variety and caters to a broader audience. However, it comes at the cost of a dedicated stealth experience.

What Can We Expect In the Future?

Hitman 2016
Hitman 2016

There are reasons to believe that the future for dedicated stealth games might not be as bleak as it seems. Games like Baldurs’s Gate 3 and Hitman have seemingly found their audience within a large community. I understand BG3 is an RPG title, but players are given so much freedom in their gameplay, that you can get the full Stealth experience if you want.

The critical and commercial success of Hitman (2016) is a testament to the appeal of the genre. The episodic format, with its focus on intricate level design and replayability, resonated with fans. Hitman also created this community of fans dedicated to showcasing some of the most creative kills. It becomes sort of this competition of who can assassinate most extraordinarily.

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater Remake
Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater Remake

The subsequent releases, Hitman 2 and 3, garnered similar critical and commercial acclaim. This trilogy stands as a powerful testament to the enduring appeal of well-crafted, dedicated stealth experiences. Moreover, the upcoming remake of Metal Gear Solid proves there’s an audience hungry for the classic Stealth genre.

The End

The stealth genre may be evolving, offering elements within larger games. However, the core mechanics of strategic planning, outsmarting enemies, and navigating the shadows still hold immense potential.

Whether through innovative takes on classic franchises or entirely new experiences, the future of stealth games might be less about disappearing and more about adapting to the ever-changing gaming landscape. 

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