5 best stealth video game franchises (and 5 that encourage you to go all out guns-blazing)
Video games come in many forms, with role-playing games, first-person shooters, top-down tactical games, etc. to name a few. Two opposing types of video games are the stealth genre and the fully action genre.
While one relies on quietly eliminating or subduing enemies only when absolutely necessary, the other seeks to give players the best action experience possible though guns-ablaze spectacular battles.
Both these genres have been quite successful, with many games having built a franchise out of these gameplay features. Let's take a look at some of the most well-known of these video game series from both genres.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.
5 best video game franchises that focus on stealth
Synonymous with the stealth genre, Hitman is a series of video games which lets players take on the role of Agent 47, a master assassin sent out on various assignments in the modern world. The first game in the series titled Hitman: Codename: 47, launched in 2000 for Windows PCs. IO Interactive has been the developer of this series throughout its run so far.
Set in the modern world, various missions take 47 to different locations where he has to infiltrate each map to find a way to the target(s), and eliminate them. Stealth is very important in these video games, as taking on the entire NPC count of a map in a gunfight might seem fun, but is eventually not the right way to proceed.
While an all-out battle is not a legitimate approach in the series, the video games do offer a variety of guns and ammunition to use, with a higher emphasis on silenced weapons. One of the most coveted achievements for each mission in every game of the series is the Silent Assassin rating, which many fans take pride in earning.
2) Assassin’s Creed
Another series of games that go hand in hand with stealth genre video games, Assassin’s Creed first launched in 2007, developed by Eidos Montreal for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Throughout the series, players primarily play as different members of the eponymous creed, with primary objectives centering around assassinating important targets.
As the game revolves around Assassins in various historical settings, stealth is an important aspect in these games, with one of the core aspects in the original games being hiding in crowds, and blending in social environments. The characters are also equipped with a hidden blade, which allows them to stealthily eliminate targets without drawing attention to themselves.
The more recent video games in the series have taken an RPG approach which gives the players more freedom to tackle the game world, although stealth still remains a viable and very useful option. Sneaking and hiding in cover and foliage is a new feature, while blending in with the crowds returned in the latest installment, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
Dishonored first landed on shelves in 2012, by developer Arkane Studios, for all platforms. The game received praise for its stealth gameplay and story, from both critics and players alike, leading to two more games being developed for the series, with Arkane earning a name for its stealth gameplay.
The games allow players to take control of different protagonists each time, with a total of three protagonists, across three games. With a focus on stealth-based gameplay, going loud is still an option, but players will be rewarded more if they are unseen and do not kill guards through the missions, and choose to subdue them instead.
In addition to traditional stealth mechanics, the game series also provide the player with many supernatural abilities, which complement their gameplay style depending on which powers they choose to upgrade.
Some of these include the now iconic 'Blink,' which allows players to teleport, 'Dark Vision,' which allows players to see enemies through walls, and 'Possession,' which allows players to temporarily possess NPCs.
4) Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojima’s most popular mark on video game culture, the Metal Gear series is a stealth game franchise. The series is published by Konami, with various developers taking the helm for different titles. With about nine mainline entries in this franchise along with a plethora of additional games, this series started all the way back in 1987.
While Solid Snake has been a steady protagonist for most of the games, there are a few times when the player does take control of a variant of Solid Snake or a different character altogether. Gameplay revolves around sneaking past enemies using the environment, silently subduing them, and progressing to further levels.
The last mainline entry, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, delivered some of the best gameplay of the entire series. Taking the open world approach, the game allows players to explore the map and take on each enemy outpost, as they want to. The game provides many tools and abilities which provide protagonist Big Boss with a large amount of freedom to silently take out each enemy.
5) Sniper Elite
Despite being a third-person shooter, Sniper Elite does not emphasise direct confrontation, and instead lets players take a silent approach to eliminating targets from a long range. Rebellion Developments are the minds behind this series, having released the first game on October 18, 2005, for PC, Xbox, and Playstation 2.
The series follows Karl Fairburne who is tasked with eliminating various targets throughout the different video games in the series. While the game allows players to use various different weapons throughout the game, sniping is the most encouraging option, as remaining unseen by the enemies is the key to staying alive and completing missions.
The original game featured a camouflage index that would indicate how much of the player was visible at one time. Also iconic, the X-ray kill animation was presented for the more glorious shots typically using a sniper rifle, which showed incredibly realistic damage done to the enemy.
It included a real-time X-ray rendition of the body as it would get pierced by the bullet. The latest game in the series, Sniper Elite 5, was released on May 26, 2022, for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
5 video game franchises that reward players for being chaotic
1) Saints Row
While open-world video games in modern settings do allow for the inclusion of many stealth elements in their games, Saints Row is a series that highly avoids this.
Developer Volition launched the first game on August 29, 2006, and have stayed throughout the series. The games feature a lighthearted and fun-filled take on the action-adventure genre.
Generally seen as a fun, less-serious alternative to the GTA games, Saints Row’s very DNA is composed of goofy chaos. Highlights of the games include over-the-top action, fighting with various melee as well as ranged weapons, chaotic dialogues, and set pieces that defy most laws of physics.
All the games in the series provide a litany of guns and other projectiles to cause mayhem within the open world. The more recent games have even included some very innovative weapons such as the Dub-Step gun and Unicorn Fart Shooter.
Saints Row IV even included actual superpowers for players to mess around with. A more grounded yet still chaos-filled reboot is set to release in August 2022.
While many first-person shooter video games include stealth elements in their story campaign, such as Call of Duty, the Halo series has never taken such an approach. Known exclusively for its fun gunplay, the first Halo game, Halo: Combat Evolved, released in November 2001 to much acclaim.
With this game innovating first-person shooters for the foreseeable future, Halo embraced its combat experience to the full extent. Relying on gameplay that focused solely on large scale gun fights and battles, these games encouraged players to literally go all out guns-blazing, both in story mode as well as multiplayer.
As the Master Chief, players were decked out with two primary weapons at the start of a mission, although the game featured the ability to pick up weapons dropped by enemies and use them when the primary weapons ran out of ammo. Each weapon felt and handled differently, with some alien tech working quite differently than normal ballistics.
When a game is synonymous with the words 'rip and tear,' players should not expect any sort of stealth gameplay. And Doom is just that game, and yet brings the levels of action and gunplay fun to another level. While the original Doom for the MS-DOS system did all of the above, the new video game released in 2016, did the same for current-gen platforms.
Featuring the playable character known as the Doom Slayer, players must put on the Praetor Suit, pick a gun, and go to town on the demons that currently inhabit Mars. Gameplay is a first-person shooter, as players shoot and punch their way through demon-infested levels while also doing cool finishers at times.
The experience provided by Doom was so impressive for a first-person shooter, with mostly an inconsequential story, that it managed to earn quite a lot of praise and did enough in sales to warrant a sequel.
Doom Eternal then launched in March 2020, and delivered more of the same with additional gameplay features. Developer id Software have said that they will continue to work on further Doom video games in the future.
Remedy has made a variety of video games in their time, with the Max Payne and Alan Wake series, Quantum Break, and most recently, Control. While most of these games were a third-person shooter experience, Control was the video game that went fully into a diverse gunplay experience. It was released in 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The gameplay in Control centred around two elements, one of which was the service weapon that protagonist Jesse Faden came across, which worked essentially as a gun, but with different modes.
The other element was the inclusion of Jesse’s own abilities throughout the game, which included telekinesis, levitation, dashing, shielding and possession. These could be upgraded using skill points, while the service weapon could be upgraded using in-game currency.
Utilizing both the gun as well as the various abilities in any encounter made Control's combat bring out some of the most action-filled sequences in recent video games. Gameplay was engaging and fast paced, and hardly ever relied on stealth, motivating players to use their weapon and powers to their fullest potential.
5) God of War
Kratos, the protagonist of the God of War series, is the exact opposite of the word stealth. These video games never included any stealth elements, including the most recent entry in 2018, which is not something that fans have any problems with. Seeing the man-mountain Kratos do any amount of stealth might just be a too funny sight to witness.
Since there weren’t any guns in ancient Greece, Kratos handled most situations with his blazing Blades of Chaos, or other variations. Boasting a resume of decimating literal gods and even a few titans, Kratos was eventually responsible for annihilating the entire Greek Pantheon from existence.
In the latest instalment, though, he seemed to have cooled down a little, reflected in him using a frost weapon for a change: the Leviathan Axe. However, he did eventually end up with the fiery Blades of Chaos once more and still channeled his inner Spartan through the Rage mode.
Kratos took to decimating all his foes in open combat and preferred to meet enemies head on as a result of his Spartan heritage.