Daily Archives: February 12, 2007

Modelling Stealth

Since I have been playing rogue classes in both EverQuest II and World of Warcraft I have been able to compare, at least from a noob’s point of view, how the mechanics of the classes stack up.

I am doubly a noob in this regard, as not only am I just me, but rogues are generally not my preferred class.

This is complicated even further as, in EQ2, there are several classes under the scout/rogue heading.

Still, there is enough in common between Blintz, my EQ2 swashbuckler, and Blintz, my WoW rogue, that I can make some comparisons on how rogues work in the two games.

Right now I am level 38 in EQ2 and level 41 in WoW, so I am about on par with play time and experience.  When solo’ing, both of them operate about the same.  I either pull a mob with a thrown dagger or I go into stealth, sneak up behind a mob, and use a special back stab attack.

Which brings me to my first comparison, which is how they model stealth in EQ2 and WoW.

In some ways, stealth in both games operate in similar fashion.  There is a skill… a button really… that you click to begin to sneak in stealth mode.  When in that mode, you move more slowly than normal.  When you leave stealth, there is a cool down before you can reapply it.

And then there is detection.  This is the key difference in the two games. 

In EverQuest II, when you are sneaking, mobs that cannot detect stealth will never see you.  Never.  You can creep along through masses of mobs, walking past them, bumping into them, and none of them will react to you in any way.  However, if a mob can detect you, that mob will always detect you.  There is nothing you can do to prevent detection, except stay out of that mobs aggro radius.  Of course, when you are trying to infiltrate some hostile camp, there are always some stealth detecting mobs around.  Often it seems like every group of three mobs just happens to have one guy who will see you an defeat your plans for getting past or launching a back stabbing attack. 

Stealth is a rather simple state of affairs in EverQuest II.  To a given mob, you are either detectable or not and you can do nothing to influence this.

In World of Warcraft, stealth is somewhat more complex.  From my experience, there are only a few mobs that always see stealth, usually bosses.  So you have a chance of getting past most mobs as you sneak.

But there is also a chance that any given mob will detect you while you are stealthed.  You get a little warning that you might be detected.  When you are creeping past a mob, that mob may suddenly stop what it is doing and turn to face you, as though it heard something.  At that point, if you hold still, you will usually go undetected.  It can be quite nerve wracking to sneak through a series of mobs.  You have to stay alert, watching for one of them suddenly turning to face in your direction.  The closer you get to a mob, the more likely you are to be detected.  And if you bump into a mob, or that mob walks into or over you, you will been detected, and then the fun begins.

I would say, in terms of sophistication as well as in-game immersion, World of Warcraft has clearly modelled stealth better. 

Since I have tended to steer clear of rogues in other games, I do not know how these two methods stack up against other MMOs. 

I heard on Massively Onilne Gamer last week that, in Vanguard, rogue stealth is a skill that initially needs to be increased before it becomes effective.  That hearkens back to my days on Toril MUD, where hiding, and then moving while hidden both required that a player practice to increase the effectiveness of the skills.

I would be interested to know how stealth is handled in other MMOs.