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This is a guide tailored to the Predator playstyle (or for the Opportunist who is not above killing a few guards in order to boost the bottom line) – particularly for those determined to involve themselves in direct combat with the guards.
The first thing that you should know is that combat in Thief is hard – and not in an adjust-the-difficulty-slider kind of way. Whether it was a conscious dev decision to impress upon you the importance of stealth or not, it is impossible to go into battle as Garrett like you would with an Assassin or a Dovahkiin.
Still, if you are determined to exact great and terrible justice on your enemies, there are ways to do it. These are some of the things you will need to know.
1. Keep track of playstyle requirements for that Chapter.
Each Chapter has different thieving challenge requirements for each of the playstyles. You should have a good idea what they are in order to help you conserve you resources (see: Arrows and Other Consumables) and formulate a plan of attack once you have met the requirements.
- Prologue: None
- Chapter 1: Headshot 4 threats
- Chapter 2: 10 combat takedowns
- Chapter 3: 5 aerial takedowns
- Chapter 4: 10 kills or knockouts
- Chapter 5: 12 kills or knockouts
- Chapter 6: 10 kills or knockouts
- Chapter 7: 15 kills or knockouts
- Chapter 8: 14 kills or knockouts
2. Use stealth takedowns or kills wherever possible.
Garrett’s strengths lie primarily in stealth, so you should highly consider taking this into consideration while doing battle in order to thin the herd and divide your attackers. On average, the number of enemies Garrett should be facing directly are 1-2 guards, and perhaps 3-4 on the outside once you have managed to acquire a few upgrades and trinkets.
Particularly when you are starting out, your money is best spent towards acquiring your tools (see: Shady Merchant Tools) which will help you acquire more loot, and access areas with hidden collectibles.
In these stages, arrows are expensive and you are not allowed to use Sawtooth arrows yet (unless you purchased the Predator Bundle DLC) so they will not pierce armor helmets for “sweet spot” stealth kill headshots.
Stealth kills/takedowns will:
- Decrease your chances of being hit (lowering food consumption)
- The number of arrows you will need to use (alerted guards take less damage)
- Lower the number of enemies to a manageable amount for direct combat
3. Watch for guard animals.
You see an example of these right away in the Prologue when Garrett finds himself in a roomful of caged birds. These animals will raise the alarm if their awareness bars fill to the brim as you pass by them.
Caged dogs will also sound the alarm, alerting either guards or, in later Chapters, Freaks (those who have been affected by the Gloom and have had experiments performed on them).
Many of the civilians you meet on the streets (particularly at the beginning of the story when the city watch is not as desperate for your head on a pike) will be able to look at you on the street and continue on with their lives, ignoring your existence. Don’t let this make you complacent! Civilians are capable of raising the alarm and calling out for guards.
Note: None of these threats can hurt you, and if you are playing in Master Thief difficulty, killing civilians will result in an automatic failure.
4. Use your consumables.
Most of the consumables available in Thief are actually the most handy for Predators.
When you are alerted by the guards, you have the choice of fight or flight. If you choose to fight, you can still use your bow, although in order for it to be fully effective, you need to have a full draw. This can take a long time unless you have purchased upgrades (see: Shady Merchant Upgrades) like Bow Balancing and Bow Shot Strength
Don’t be afraid to use Choke Arrows and Flashbangs to help you control the crowd. Other non-lethal arrows shot into guards faces will usually stun them rather than kill them.
5. Know your combat options.
If you are engaged in direct combat, several more ways of fighting open up for you. The easiest way to succeed in melee combat is first to dodge their oncoming attacks (easiest with a single opponent armed with a sword) and then to counter with a melee attack.
Garrett’s Blackjack can knock out someone while they are unaware, but in direct combat it will take quite a few more hits to defeat an enemy.
Please note that you do not necessarily need to kill your opponents in order to get the Predator playstyle. In the middle of melee combat, if you deal enough damage you can critically wound your enemy leaving them on their knees and stunned on the ground. If you close in and perform a combat takedown, it will knock them out (rather than kill them) otherwise they will recover and resume attacking.
6. Be aware of what the guards are wearing/holding.
The most predominant enemy you will encounter in Thief are the guards patrolling the streets and facilities you are trying to infiltrate. They come dressed in various types of armor and carry different weapons:
- Leather armor
- Chainmail armor
- Plate mail
- Leather Armor
- Torches or lanterns
Those dressed in leather armor are defeated much more easily in melee combat compared to those dressed in chainmail (which absorb a great deal of damage from the Blackjack). They are easy to confront in melee combat regardless of whether or not they are holding sword or crossbow (the crossbow is neutralized when you are close to the guard).
Guards in chainmail should be taken out with stealth takedowns or range kills. Guards holding crossbows typically do not wear helmets, and are easily killed with headshots.
When you kill or knock out a guard with a torch, it will go out immediately, but you cannot douse them with water arrows.
If you are still having trouble staying alive in combat, consider picking up some trinkets (see: Shady Merchant Trinkets) like the Moss Quiver which will allow you to perform stealth kills silently, and others that provide more health/health benefits, and reduces the chance of being hit by projectiles.
For more walkthroughs, FAQs, bug fixes, and other tips for Thief, please check out the Master List.