In this guide you will find color-coded references to other guides and materials:
- Dark orange links to other guides
- Purple links to videos in pop-up viewboxes
- Blue links to images in pop-up viewboxes
Grey italic text with an orange border on the left are quotes by CuteBeaver, an expert Stalker and PlanetSide 2 veteran.
Stalker Infiltrators use Stalker Cloaking ability, which can recharge energy even when cloaked, as long as the user remains stationary, and at the cost of giving up the primary weapon slot.
Some people call Stalkers weak and underpowered to the point of being a joke. Other people consider the whole concept of permanent cloaking to be annoying and obnoxious, nearly in a broken state.
Both groups have reasons to their opinions. I think Stalkers are balanced in infantry combat, but unfortunately limited against vehicles, and almost entirely separated from the vehicle play, as vehicles can’t do anything about Stalkers either. But you still can impact the combined arms aspect by hacking turrets to attack enemy vehicles, and hacking terminals to pull vehicles of your own.
Playing Stalker Infiltrator can be both exhilarating and fun, and extremely frustrating. It’s certainly not for everyone. For best results, it requires:
- Experience and intelligence, in order to outsmart and outplay your opponents.
- Mechanical execution, such as quick reflexes and the ability to press a lot of buttons in correct order and short amount of time.
A competent Stalker player needs to be able to switch gears from careful planning and sneaking to adrenaline rushed execution in a heartbeat, and its the contrast that makes Stalker so enjoyable.
Lack of access to primary weapons limits Stalker’s options in face-to-face combat, but the rest of their kit is well suited to sabotage and diversion, and the firepower of secondary weapons is generally enough to pull off an ambush.
Hunter QCX Crossbow is a very strong option for Stalkers. Its sheer power and versatility cannot be overstated. The crossbow is especially great for EMP ambushes, as it’s the only sidearm capable of killing EMP’d enemies in just one body shot.
However, it is a unique weapon and can be difficult to use properly. The best weapon is always the weapon you are most effective with, and you should feel free to use any weapon you like.
Stalkers should be able to start an engagement on their terms, and that makes any sidearm viable, as long as you adjust your playstyle to its strengths and weaknesses.
Primary weapons typically have faster time to kill and larger magazines, which allows them to deal more damage before having to reload.
They can afford to miss, or spray everything that moves. You cannot. If they get caught in a reload, they can switch to their secondary. You cannot.
Since as a Stalker Infiltrator you are using a weaker secondary weapon, not only must you fire first, but you also want to stack extra advantages.
Your weapon is up to the task of killing enemies, but you need to have a good sense of timing and work harder for your kills.
Excelling with a secondary weapon is a requirement for Stalkers. Ideally, you should find a weapon that works best for you. This is going to come down to your own playstyle and personal skills.
I could recommend you to use the crossbow, but that may not be a good fit for you. Try out all sidearms in VR Training. Follow your instincts. If you fall in love with a weapon – do not put it down. Use the weapon that you enjoy the most.
Before unlocking the weapon, use the 30 minute trial button below the “unlock” button, and test the weapon against live enemies.
Keep in mind that you cannot trial attachments, specifically the reflex sights that would make it easier to get a Headshot Opener. Once you have a grasp on which weapon you like the most, look up facts about the weapon. Know its effective range, how many headshots it takes to drop a target.
Learn to push your weapons to its limits. Tailor your loadout to complement your weapon, and player skills. Do your best to make up for any shortcomings you discover.
When I started using my crossbow, everyone told me it was a garbage secondary weapon and that I should stop. However, if you are passionate about your weapon you are going to find ways to make it work. Fast forward years later… Having a crossbow (to me) feels more powerful than holding an SMG. It was a hell of a learning curve to get to this point, however.
Do not expect instant success, it will take time to develop confidence in your weapon. Never hesitate to try new combinations, and push the meta forward. Be open to other suggestions, but recognize that opinions of other people may not work for you specifically.
Failure and mistakes are just part of the learning process. Each death teaches you something new.
What makes infiltrators great is the depth and variation between playstyles. We don’t think or operate the same. You will never find two identical infiltrators.
Motion Spotters have great synergy with Stalkers, and they should be your default choice:
- As a stalker, you can cover limited distance before you have to stop and let cloak energy recharge, so in a sense you are tethered to a certain area of operations, and the Motion Spotter gives you intel on moving enemies in that area.
- Motion Spotters can be used as bait.
- Having real-time information on enemy movement and facing direction at close range can increase the success rate of your ambushes.
- Stalkers tend to take more time to accomplish things, and Motion Spotters have much longer overall uptime than Recon Darts.
Recon Device is not entirely without use. It can be great for Perching and in any ranged loadout in general. Recon Darts tend to attract enemy attention to a certain area without giving away your real position, giving you the opportunity to take out enemies with your ranged sidearm, when they come to investigate.
Ability: Stalker Cloaking
|Unlock Cost, certs||Free||100||200||500||1000|
|Cloak Duration, sec||12||13||14||15||16|
|Recharge while Cloaked and Stationary, sec||14||13||12||11||10|
|Recharge while Uncloaked, sec||10|
You’re granted the first rank of the ability for free, and it is enough to give Stalker a try, but for comfortable and effective play, it is strongly recommended to max out this ability, if you’re serious about playing Stalker. Upgrading significantly reduces the downtime when trying to get from point A to point B.
Stalker cloak is the stealthiest cloak in PlanetSide 2. It allows you to get into position and remain undetected until the perfect moment. This makes killing possible and viable even without a primary weapon, and provides invaluable tactical advantages in teamplay setting, helping to keep your squad alive and on point.
Cloaking sound is the single worst drawback when it comes to stealth play. Cloaking is so loud it can be heard roughly 300 meters away.
Other types of cloak cannot remain concealed for long periods of time. Only Stalker Cloak gives you control as to exactly when you wish cloak and uncloak. This allows for a better timing and pacing between decloak sounds, adding additional ambiguity to your last known position.
When sneaking up behind enemies from extended distance, other cloak types often force their user to choose between two bad options:
1) Cloak and decloak several times along the way, but that would make too much noise, which is generally not helpful when flanking.
2) Try to avoid making noise, and don’t use the cloak at all, but then risk being seen.
Stalker Cloaking doesn’t force the user to make that choice, and can keep you cloaked the whole way.
You cannot recharge your personal shields and benefit from healing affects while cloaked. As a Stalker you can mitigate this drawback by finding safe spots to hide and heal yourself.
Passive System: Hacking
Stalkers make the best Hackers due to their mobility and ambush potential.
Your Suit Slot choice will mostly depend on your playstyle and other equipment choice.
Adrenaline Pump has great synergy with Stalker Infiltrator, as it increases the distance you can cover while cloaked before you have to sit down and recharge. It is also very favorable for melee combat, so you can chase enemies better, and close the distance during melee combat.
Ammo Belt – in contrast, if you wish to keep your distance and kill enemies with your Sidearm, you’re likely to quickly run out of ammo, unless you’re using Inquisitor. NS sidearms, including the Crossbow, also tend to have plenty of reserve ammo.
Grenade Bandoleer – since you have to sacrifice your primary weapon slot, it does make sense to compensate and increase your total carried firepower with extra grenades or throwing knives.
You can use other suit slots if you wish, but these three are the most powerful, depending on what you want to focus on: melee kills, sidearm kills or overall impact. Honorable mention:
Nanoweave Armor can be useful for aggressive close quarters playstyles, though it is a crutch more than anything else, and you should learn to operate without it, once you’re more comfortable with the Stalker.
EMP grenade should be the default choice for Stalkers, especially when not using Bandoleer. In addition to its unrivaled utility of clearing off enemy Motion Spotters and other deployables, it can be a great equalizer for your weapons. Notably, Crossbow and melee weapons need only 1 hit on a fully EMP’d target to kill.
Frag Grenades are generally not worth using, with the exception of using Bandoleer in overpopulated fights, where you can flank a choke point packed with enemies, and bombard their position with Frags.
NSX Fujin throwing knife isn’t as versatile as EMPs, but its ability to OHK on a headshot shouldn’t be dismissed casually. It’s not easy to use, but gives you an extra tool for quick and silent kills.
Med Kits are a great choice for farming melee or sidearm kills, and sustaining you in the field if you choose not to run Regeneration Implant.
Due to instant healing, Med Kits can be great at helping you escape if you get caught. This property can be especially helpful when running a specialized short range weapon, like Mag-Scatter, so that if someone does spots you while moving to engage, you can eat Med Kits and escape. Since the Mag Scatter is a very specialized short range weapon, it doesn’t allow you to return fire in most cases, and running becomes the only option.
If movement and being killed on route is a problem for you, then do equip medkits until you become more comfortable with bases and know good pathways and hiding spots. Its a good crutch to use while learning layouts or even getting familiar with your weapon.
Anti-Personnel Mines will increase your potential impact. This is where faction choice will matter.
VS Proximity Mines and NC Bouncing Betties deal AOE damage around them, they often wound, but rarely kill a full health enemy, so they are great at finishing off fleeing enemies or against groups of players, if you can sneak up on them.
TR Claymores deal lethal damage in 90 degree cone in 2m in front of them. They don’t often get to do damage, but when they do – they usually kill. They can be useful in protecting your flanks and doorways.
Melee weapons are great for ambushing, because they:
- Bypass nanoweave and in most cases can kill faster than most sidearms.
- Frontload a lot of damage.
- More silent than firearms.
Stalkers often can safely close distance with the enemy, making them the premiere class for killing enemies with melee, with Light Assault being a distant second. Any enterprising Stalker should learn how to use melee weapons properly.
Standard Knife versus Power Knife
Standard knives are a good starting point, because they are faster and easier to hit things with.
However, ultimately, Power Knives are just better, especially after you get the hang of proper melee-ing. The ability to instantly kill any enemy, including a shielded Heavy Assault (on a headshot), cannot be overstated.
But they are noticeably harder to use:
- You need to manually activate it, which can be tough if you’re trying to: sprint up, decloak, equip the knife, activate it, strike – all at the same time.
- Longer delay between swings. You really need to hit that first swing, and it’s harder to do.
Despite the added difficulty, power knives are well worth using, and you should transition to a power knife when you have enough experience and certs.
Stalker Infiltrators have a plethora of amazingly strong implant choices, but most of them are rare and expensive to upgrade. If you don’t have access to them, it is perfectly fine to go with these two common implants:
Regeneration is great way to sustain yourself in the field, if you’re not using Med Kits.
Ammo Printer is perfect for Stalkers, as it allows to replenish Motion Spotters and Sidearm ammunition in the field. This is great for loadouts that rely on getting kills with sidearms, especially non-NS sidearms, as they usually have little reserve ammo.
Of course, Ammo Printer is only useful if you actually live long enough to need that extra ammunition. And now that you can restore ammunition from Ammo Packs while cloaked, including enemy Ammo Packs, the Ammo Printer is far from mandatory.
It is great for perching playstyle, and allows to not use Ammo Belt and still have lots of sidearm ammo.
Catlike is an amazing choice for Stalkers. It increases your crouch speed, which has many obvious benefits for a Stalker, and at maximum rank, it will also increase your jump height, significantly improving your parkour capabilities.
Sensor Shield reduces the detection range of enemy Motion Detection tools against you, making you more stealthy.
Deep Operative passively increases the effectiveness of your cloak.
Nightmare special cloaks you for 1-2 seconds after a wielded melee kill, or when killing an enemy at close range. In special cloak you can keep attacking, tearing through enemy lines. Or you can use special cloak as a safety margin to escape after a close range ambush.
Target Focus can help identify targets and focus on wounded enemies. Just be very careful about spotting enemies yourself, and remember that displayed health bar doesn’t take shields into account.
Sweeper HUD can be a useful slot filler to warn you about mines that enemies might have left to protect their flanks.
Safe Landing may be required to perform some of the crazier Parkour maneuvers, though CuteBeaver doesn’t use it.
Vampire looks attractive on the first glance, but it involves a lot of risk to benefit from, and it needs to be upgraded to the maximum rank, which can get expensive. For most stalkers, it is likely to be inferior to Regeneration, as you should try and be at full health before an ambush.
Allies don’t give a damn about you. While you are crouching in deep cloak, they will use you for cover, attract enemy attention and bullets to you. When you go in for a melee kill, they will shoot your target and you too. Don’t be mad at them – you can’t expect others to bend to your playstyle. Just keep a safe distance.
Use your allies as a distraction. An enemy is easier to kill while he’s busy shooting your ally. Or busy getting shot by your ally. Or busy cowering in cover after getting shot by your ally. You get the idea. Despite often being a liability, your allies are your best asset in getting good ambushes.
That’s why it can be so hard to ambush people in small battles – there’s not enough distraction going around.
90% of players have terrible awareness. Vast majority of players will ignore it when you decloak behind their back with a roaring power knife. They won’t care when you slice the throat of their nearby friend, unless it happens in their direct line of sight.
They will not notice you if you sprint cloak in their field of vision, unless you’re very close. They will ignore the minimap. Sometimes they will not even react when you decloak behind their back and stab them, and just keep going about their business like nothing happened.
You are never invisible. In contrast with previous point, the remaining ~10% of players will pay attention, and they will see you through cloak and react to minimap and sound cues. In some exceptional cases, producing even one cloaking sound, or even one minimap blip can give enough information to someone to go and hound you.
Check your surrounding before decloaking to engage. Just take a quick look around and make sure nobody is looking in your direction, especially from your back and sides. Stalkers in deep cloak are not immediately punished for bad positioning, and it is up to you to make sure you’re safe to engage.
Enemy awareness and reaction speed fades as distance to the front lines increases. The further behind enemy lines you go, the more relaxed enemies will be, but there will be fewer things to distract them as well.
Have a moral code. Have mercy on the experience of your fellow players – even if they play for a different faction. Ultimately, we’re all people here, and we all play to have fun. As a stalker, you are inherently a bit cheap and cheesy. There is no need to slump into pits of absolutely terrible gameplay, like camping or mining spawns and terminals.
You are not versatile. Some bases and some fights just don’t favor Stalker Infiltrator. If the fight is overcrowded, sneaking around and ambushing lone, weakened targets becomes increasingly difficult. Indar and Esamir in particular can be very frustrating. Be ready to adjust your loadout, switch classes, or even leave the fight altogether.
Stalker Infiltrators are all about balancing Risk versus Reward.
Low risk – low reward. Sitting in deep cloak away from combat is very safe, but you will never accomplish anything if that’s all you do.
High risk – high reward. Sprint cloaking into a pack of enemies with a Power Knife will get you killed most of the time, but there is a small chance you’d be able to cut them all down and survive.
Naturally, you want to minimize the risk and maximize the reward. The best part about Stalker Infiltrator is potentially infinite cloak energy, which means potentially infinite time.
Playing stalker is all about finding or creating moments of opportunity that let you minimize the risk and maximize the reward.
Before you proceed, make sure to go through the description of Cloaking and Concepts of Stealth.
The general goal of your movement is to put you in a position that:
Gives you an opportunity to attack enemies from a direction they don’t expect an attack from. In broad terms, this is any direction that is not “towards the front lines”.
Players often consider the direction to their spawn the safest. And indeed, attacking from the spawn direction is usually a bad idea, because you risk getting engaged in the back by approaching enemy reinforcements.
But if you keep your ambushes short, and have a good escape route, it can be a viable option.
Gives you an escape route to restealth. Preferably, several to choose from. You have limited firepower, you can’t stand your ground like a Heavy Assault could. You need to restealth between engagements and strike when the enemy is weak, at the moment of your choosing.
Distractions make movement easier and safer. Anything can be a distraction – explosions, your allies drawing fire – they all attract enemy attention to a specific direction.
In this video, I used the burning Sunderer to cover my attack, and then used a traffic accident to cross open space. Drivers were focused on getting untangled, and if other enemies glanced back – they would be focused on the accident and not me.
If the enemy doesn’t know about you, sitting in deep cloak makes you effectively invisible, unless the enemy is physically bumping into you.
But if the enemy knows for a fact that a cloaked infiltrator is in a certain area, it’s only a matter of time before you are found and killed. In some lighting and background conditions, you may be seen as far as ~10m away.
While you’re sitting still, your character will still make idle animations, like breathing and slightly waving his weapon around. To stay almost completely still you can Aim Down Sights.
Known bug: sometimes player’s head or weapon’s magazine has a different cloaking state than body. To prevent from being affected by this bug, do not sit still in Deep Cloak for too long, make tiny crouchwalking steps from time to time.
Crouch walking is almost always completely safe, unless an enemy is staring in your direction at close range. When in doubt – crouch walk. In general, crouchwalking is very underused. All infiltrators should crouchwalk more.
But even as a Stalker, nothing is stopping you from hauling ass when the time is right. You don’t need to move slowly all the time. Sometimes its preferable to move quickly and reposition and use cover for your escape, or seize the initiative and attack.
It is not time-efficient to slowly and patiently crouch walk on every enemy, and most enemies will not stay in one place for so long anyway. There is also an overall time limit on any given battle, and if you go too slowly, you risk never having a chance to accomplish anything before the battle is over.
So you will have to cut corners and sprint cloak, sometimes even through enemy’s field of vision – but only do that if they are clearly distracted by something else. There is no punishment for death in PlanetSide 2, so let the enemy teach you what is acceptable, and what isn’t.
Respect Motion Spotters, and try to clear them with EMP grenade or a weapon before sprinting through the area.
When moving to engage, be wary of your cloak energy. If it runs out shortly before you press the ability key to decloak, it may actually recloak you instead, fumbling your attack.
Sprint cloaking is less visible:
- In the darkness of the night.
- Against bright snow, sand and sky.
Be careful when approaching corners, there is always a risk of running into a face of a Heavy Assault, even if the area seems clear. A generous use of Motion Spotters is often enough to mitigate that risk.
Field of Vision
In real life, humans have about ~180 degree field of vision. But common gaming monitors are much smaller, and do not span the entire field of vision, so in game characters will not be able to see what happens at their sides.
It is possible to increase in-game Field of Vision past 74 degrees of Vertical FoV, but almost nobody does that. In vast majority of cases, you can expect enemies to not notice what happens to their sides.
Countering Darklight Flashlights
Keeping off the ground and out of predictable locations is often enough to keep you safe. Hiding at an elevated position, like on top of a rock or a shelf, will fool a lot of Darklight users, who are not going to go to super great lengths to find you.
Another method is to get outside. Its easy to search a tiny room, much harder to search a forest.
You can consider killing the Darklight user. However that isn’t always an option in crowded fights. It’s usually better to find a way to avoid the beam and re-position. Once enemies finish their sweep and think they are safe, it can be profitable to double back and take advantage of their relaxed attitudes. Do try and remember the player who pulled it out though. There is something incredibly rewarding about killing them after they cause you such trouble.
Darklight effect has a short range of ~11m, so if all else fails – just keep your distance.
Stalker Infiltrator heavily relies on flanking, but unlike the Light Assault, you don’t have any extra mobility, besides the ability to safely move in enemy field of view.
In this example, an experienced enemy Light Assault caught glimpse of me sprinting in cloak. Instead of engaging right away, he closed the distance first. I wasn’t quite sure if he actually seen me, or just decided to move in my direction, so I deep cloaked and ADSed to remain as still as possible, only to discover he was closing the distance for his shotgun and to see me more clearly before engaging.
Targets of Passing Opportunity
They are vulnerable for the moment, but you don’t have much time to decide whether you want to engage or not. Roughly ranked from safest to engage to most dangerous:
- An enemy that is running away and being shot by your allies. If you’re not greedy for the kill, and the enemy has nowhere to go, you may choose not to engage at all.
- An enemy that is standing on top of an explosive that you can detonate with bullets or EMP.
- An enemy that has lost his shields to enemy fire or EMP grenade.
- An enemy that was wounded a few seconds ego, and his shields have just started regenerating. You can tell by a shimmer pulse over his body.
- A cloaked infiltrator.
- An enemy that is occupied with reloading or using a tool.
- Heavy Assaults using Anti Air rocket launchers are usually less aware and wiggly than Anti Tank launcher users. – CuteBeaver
- An enemy that is tunnel visioning and ADS shooting at someone else.
- An enemy that is sitting in cover and getting ready to engage someone else.
- An enemy that is aware of you, and actively looking for you, but in the wrong place.
Engaging a target of opportunity almost guarantees success in killing that target, but you will have limited time to act, so you can’t be picky about engaging in perfect conditions.
For example, you may not be able to close the distance for your weapon, or ensure that you have a safe escape route, or even do a quick look around to make sure you’re safe to decloak and there is no random enemy behind your back.
Sprinting enemies deserve a special hierarchy:
- An enemy that is sprinting below you.
- An enemy that is sprinting away from you.
- An enemy that is sprinting perpendicular to you.
- An enemy that is sprinting towards you.
Sprinting puts at least a 0.3 second delay before the enemy can deal damage to you, and that can be enough for you to deal enough damage to make the engagement swing into your favor. Especially if you engage from behind or from above, that will significantly increase enemy’s reaction time.
Another honorable mention:
- An enemy is far away, and you have lots of space and cover to maneuver around.
This situation makes it highly unlikely that anyone will come looking for you, and even if they do – they will probably not find you, because you will have crouchwalked away and hidden in deep cloak in plain field.
So you can attempt engagement for days. However, you are unlikely to actually kill the enemy, unless he’s already very wounded or you’re using Hunter Crossbow or the Blackhand.
This example starts with me being critically wounded. I see a medic that intends to heal me, and I let him do his job. I intend to return to battle and go up the stairs, but I’m forced to engage a shielded HA face to face. Fortunately, I am able to push through with Repeater’s DPS. I move forward and meet another HA face to face. I decide not to tempt fate the second time, and disengage and go up another stairs.
I see and take out a Target of Passing Opportunity – a medic that has just started recharging shields and isn’t looking my way, and swiftly destroy enemy spawn beacon, and move away to restealth, as I’ve been targeted by a Spitfire.
Moving away and going through a building and a window should be enough to cover my tracks from most enemies that could have been chasing me. I take a moment to look around, and knife another Target of Passing Opportunity – a medic that is shooting in a direction away from me.
It should have been a good and easy engagement, despite me being out in the open, because after the engagement I could’ve taken a couple of steps to restealth through the building again. But the medic moved, and engagement went sloppy, and a Heavy Assault sees and engages me.
I escape through a window, and see that Heavy Assault as another Target of Passing Opportunity – he has just started regenerating his shields, and he’s looking for me in a wrong place. I use the sidearm to take him out, because I didn’t want to take an additional risk by going for melee.
In this example I go upstairs behind enemy lines. I take a moment to look around, and decide to give priority to enemy Spawn Beacon. I destroy it and quickly move away to restealth, but realize I cloak sprinted right into enemy’s face.
I decide to quickly kill that guy before he has a chance to do anything, and then use the nearby building to hide from enemy fire. I sprint through the building in hopes of shaking off the tail, but sprint into even more enemies, and decide to turn around and take my chances against whoever was following me.
Turns out it was just an engineer, and I am able to take him out face to face in a sloppy manner. While reloading, I take a look at the other doorway, to check who is coming to fight me. I get lucky, the first guy through the doorway gets killed by an unseen ally, and I am able to hide behind a shelf and use a Med Kit.
In my mind, another enemy could have been already coming through the doorway, so again, I decide to take my chances and try to clientside him. Turns out he was holding out back, and with the help of an unseen ally, I’m able to kill him with headshots.
I check out the back, and see no more aware enemies, for the moment. Soon, a Target of Passing Opportunity presents itself – a shieldless medic with a med tool in hands.
I move up to see what’s outside the fence, and there is another Target of Passing Opportunity – an engineer that’s sprinting towards me. Confident in my aim and in Repeater’s DPS, I take him out.
However, I didn’t take a moment to look around, and got shot from another direction. I quickly disengage, and in this case going behind a box was enough to give the enemy medic that shot me a higher priority action – he wanted to res the medic that I killed earlier.
I go in for a greedy knife kill, and find myself in front of half a squad of NC, with the predictable outcome.
This streak is the perfect demonstration that dumb luck eventually runs out.
This example starts with me sitting in deep cloak at 0:07. I see an approaching cloaked infiltrator and pull out the knife, getting ready for a melee ambush, but see another enemy and hold off, and let them pass.
I don’t chase right away, and make sure there are no more enemies where they came from.
As I move down, I see a Target of Passing Opportunity – an enemy infiltrator, engaging someone with Tomoe in the opposite direction. I go down to engage, and as I move down I see another infiltrator in cloak, and a Light Assault coming up.
I keep them in mind, as I stab the first infiltrator in the back. The momentum of my downhill slide pushes me in front the infiltrator, and I finish him off with another swing, and immediately jump out to engage the Light Assault, who has a cloaked Infiltrator behind him.
I swiftly shank the LA, and move behind the back of the Infiltrator, and kill him as well. During the course of this engagement, that cloaked infiltrator could have been potentially aware of me, and he could mess up my ambush, but I was lucky in this regard.
This is a good demonstration of what can be accomplished by melee, and unlikely to be accomplished by a sidearm – quietly and swiftly taking out 3 enemies in a row without even producing a faction-identifying sound – with the exception of the cloak, of course.
After engaging I recloak and move away from the area to shake off any potential tail. I look around to make sure nobody is out to get me, and look for more targets. Soon, a VS sniper shot sound gives me a direction to an enemy, and snipers are always good targets.
I move down to engage the cloaked infiltrator, and see another enemy – a medic that’s moving away. I keep him in mind, but for now I move to kill the infiltrator. He is moving in cloak, but I am able to see him. The medic got chased off or killed by my allies, and I am free to restealth.
This example starts with me approaching a capture point building. I am approaching from the direction of the enemy AMS Sunderer, so this direction should be deemed safe by the enemies, and gives me a good chance to flank the enemies that are currently flipping the capture point.
I see a Target of Passing Opportunity at range – an enemy that is tunnel vision ADSing perpendicular to me. I go for a headshot opener. A crossbow headshot isn’t enough to kill a full health enemy, but if he survived the shot or I missed, I had the option to disengage and restealth.
That enemy is killed by the headshot, and I move in. I see another Target of Passing Opportunity – a Light Assault with his back to me. I go for another headshot opener, but the target is moving, and I miss my remaining two shots. I say “screw this” and go for a wielded melee kill.
A bit unpredictably, he decides to camp near the doorway and turns towards me and shoots me. Fortunately, and probably due to the surprise effect, he misses his shots and gets killed.
If I knew he had an autoshotgun, I would probably still chase him, but that would be obviously unnecessarily dangerous.
Clearly there are still enemies around, and after unintentionally cancelling reload animation of the Crossbow, I drop a Motion Spotter to get more intel, and get ready to defend the capture point.
Sounds of combat bring my attention to the right, and I get a quick shot at the exposed back of the enemy Light Assault. I can see his health while he’s spotted, which means he has no shields, and he is guaranteed to die from a crossbow bolt, and so he does.
A hip fired bolt at that range isn’t guaranteed to hit, but I wasn’t sure if I had time to ADS.
The motion spotter gives me intel on approaching enemies, and I get ready to engage whoever comes through a doorway. Due to Internet Delay, it’s a bad idea to let enemies charge you, but I didn’t have time to prepare a counter breach, as the Motion Spotter switched to real time mode too late.
Unfortunately, the first enemy through the door is a Heavy Assault. I tried and failed to do a crossbow melee combo with a headshot opener – the bolt hit the body. By sheer dumb luck, I survived long enough to kill him with a second quick knife strike.
That wouldn’t be enough to kill a full health Resist Shield HA, or if he was using Nanoweave with NMG / Adrenaline, so I get lucky in that regard as well.
Other vulnerable targets include:
- Engineers behind turrets
- Hillside snipers
- Groups of medics near a choke point, they keep healing and reviving each other, but only a few of them are actually ready to defend themselves.
- You have to kill every single medic, or you hard work will be for naught.
- When going for a medic ball, it’s usually a great idea to cover them all with an EMP first.
It is often easier to sneak up on a group of enemies, because people feel safer in a group, and they often assume that others are watching their back, when in reality they all tunnel vision in the same direction. Others might not even react if you kill one of them, as long as they don’t see you.
Movement is also easier in general, since they don’t assume you’re nearby.
Sometimes, you can immediately identify an enemy as more dangerous by his behavior. A skilled, experienced player will almost never stand still. For example, a medic that is actively moving around while reviving is more likely to react to your ambush.
Rules of Engagement
Once again, you’ll be managing risk vs reward, and what type of kills you’re going for. But one rule will always remain: fire first or don’t fire at all.
Never engage from a direction that enemies already expect danger from. If the enemy is already looking your way with a weapon ready to shoot someone, decloaking in his field of view equals getting shot instantly.
Spotting and Voice Callouts
Stalkers and all stealthy players need to be very careful about spotting, because it gives away your position, and can and will attract enemy attention to your position. In case of spotting, better to be safe than sorry, and not to spot enemies unless you’re in the middle of a bunch of allies or the enemy already knows your position.
You can purposefully give away your position to an enemy by spotting, and then rapidly move away and ambush him if he comes to investigate.
You can manipulate enemies by using in-game voice callouts. Bait enemies out of turrets without hacking them. Entice a medic to come to your location and stab them silly. Ask for ammo from enemy engineers. Spotting can also work. Just be careful about how often you give away your position.
There are several ways you can use a knife as a stalker, and each way has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Crossbow Melee Combo
A combination of Crossbow body shot and a quick knife attack nearly instantly kills any enemy, even through full nanoweave, with the exception of shielded Heavy Assaults.
This was the main way of engaging in melee until the melee weapons were buffed some time ago.
When to use
Crossbow Combo is great in two cases:
- Against lone stationary enemies.
- Interception combo against oncoming enemies, when you can crouch still in deep cloak, let the enemy come to you, and decloak and melee combo as they run by you, or even through you. Flawless timing is required.
- Against targets that need to be killed quickly.
When done properly, crossbow combo is very quick, you spend very little time engaging the enemy. You pop out for a moment, kill, and then escape in cloak before anyone realizes what happened. It also denies the enemy a chance to do significant damage to you.
Crossbow combo is very bad against shielded Heavy Assaults, but if you catch an oblivious HA without active overshield, you can potentially kill them before they have a chance to activate the overshield.
Another example where kill speed is the key: a vehicle pilot, repairing his nearby vehicle. If you fail to kill him instantly, he will just enter his vehicle, making him unreachable, and putting you in jeopardy.
When going for a Crossbow Combo, you’re still holding a ranged weapon in your hands, and you can respond to different threats should they arise. When you’re EMP breaching a room, you can bolt one enemy, and quick knife another one with minimal delay, and the first enemy can be at range. Or you can bolt + knife a full health enemy that somehow avoided the EMP.
Clunky and Punishing
While crossbow combo is very lethal, it is also easy to mess up. Missing the crossbow shot or the knife swing is extremely punishing, as there will be a 0.95+ second delay before you can do another quick knife swing or ~1.5 seconds before your Crossbow is ready to fire again.
There is also a 0.3 second Sprint Recovery delay before you can shoot the crossbow out of sprint, so the crossbow combo isn’t very good for chasing, and due to long delay between combos, it’s not great for engaging multiple enemies at once.
Avoid trying to melee combo moving enemies, especially if they’re not moving in a straight line. There’s a very high chance you’ll mess up the combo and die.
Trying to melee combo skilled Heavy Assaults is also futile, unless they are wounded and distracted.
Melee Combo with another sidearm
Melee finishers after a few sidearm shots are great, because they conserve ammunition and reduce Time-to-Kill. However, in most cases, you shouldn’t intentionally go for a sidearm melee combo:
- If you can sneak up into melee range, wielding the knife is usually better.
- If you can’t sneak up close and forced to engage at range, it’s usually better to just shoot the guy to death.
Use sidearm melee combo when you are already engaging the enemy with a sidearm at close range, and you and the enemy close the distance, and you feel that enemy will die from a melee strike.
Once again, avoid trying to melee combo Heavy Assaults, because it’s very hard to predict when the knife strike will be lethal against them.
Besides farming melee kills, there are several legitimate reasons to use wielded melee as a stalker:
- Frontloads a lot of damage.
- Can be used out of sprint.
- Surprises the enemy – very few people use melee.
- Less noisy than a firearm
- Conserves ammunition and doesn’t run out of ammo itself. You can potentially cut more people that you would be able to kill with any sidearm.
- Can be surprisingly effective against shielded Heavy Assaults at close range, if you can hit headshot strikes.
- Looks cool and feels exhilarating.
This can be especially effective when you know there is an enemy behind cover, but you don’t have direct line of sight to kill him with a sidearm. Or when solo breaching small rooms with 1-2 enemies.
Engaging in melee is generally countered by simply moving around, so it’s preferable to engage enemies near a wall, perpendicular to that wall:
This way, you ensure that at least the first enemy you engage will not be able to kite you, and in general it limits enemy options.
Wielding a standard knife
Wielding a standard knife and spamming attacks at the enemy can often kill them before they have a chance to react properly. It’s a bad habit, but it works.
Wielded knife damage is consistent and lethal, as it goes through nanoweave and kills standard enemies in just two strikes. An exceptions: enemies with Auxiliary Shield – usually newbies – will require 3 body strikes.
To counter the potential Auxiliary Shield advantage, try to always score a headshot with the first strike. If the enemy is already wounded, you have a high chance of instantly killing them.
0.4 second TTK against most targets and the ability to perform melee attacks out of sprint make wielding standard knives really powerful.
You never run out of ammo, so running into a crowd and just knifing left and right can be surprisingly effective. If you can score a good EMP grenade hit, any enemy will be killed in one body strike.
Wielding a power knife
If you have picked up the bad habit of randomly spamming the wielded knife in general direction of the enemy when you were using the standard knife, you will have to relearn, because misses are especially punishing with the power knife, and you should need only one swing anyway.
Power knives are also great at chasing enemies, you can sprint slam yourself into them when they stop for a moment, and swing out of sprint, nearly guaranteeing a kill.
Interception melee charges can be effective – pull out the knife an advance and wait in deep cloak as the enemy approaches, then sprint at the enemy while decloaking and activating the knife and stab them in the face.
In contrast, trying to melee combo a running enemy, or trying to kill him with a wielded melee of a standard knife leads to completely unpredictable results.
A newbie might keep running like nothing happened, while a veteran may jump forward and do a 180 noscope instakill with a Commissioner, or just suddenly turn around. In that case, PS2 Movement Prediction is likely to screw with you, and it will look like enemy ran behind your back with far too much speed.
Power knives are louder and produce faction-specific noises, so you need to account for the attention you might draw from other aware enemies. You don’t have to activate the knife for every kill, though.
Disadvantages of Melee Engagements
Easier to fail. Cloak isn’t as effective up close, and for a melee engagement you have to close the distance each time. Enemy might turn around and see your approach. Or you may be noticed by someone else.
They make you tunnel vision as you approach the target, so you might miss other nearby enemies until it’s too late.
When they fail, they fail hard. Any engagement can sometimes go wrong. But a failed melee engagement leaves you very close to enemies without an effective way to engage.
Being close to enemies is dangerous. You may be hit by friendly fire that was intended for the enemy.
Even if you kill the enemy you were going for, you may suddenly realize there are more enemies than you expected, and now you have no way to break contact.
You can’t control actions of allies and enemies, so you can never guarantee a perfect melee engage, regardless of your skill and equipment. Melee engagements are often more risky than they’re worth, and just because you can go melee doesn’t mean you should.
In general, you want to engage the same Vulnerable targets or Targets of Passing Opportunity. Your sidearm and attachment choice will have a heavy influence on what and how you can engage.
Keep your sidearm’s strengths and weaknesses in mind, and adjust your playstyle accordingly.
Using a Suppressed sidearm or the Crossbow will make you more stealthy, and give you an option for a stealth engage: when you decloak from a deep cloak, but keep sitting still, and concentrate on shooting the enemy, while he is trying to figure out where he is getting shot from. Lack of a muzzle flash can make it challenging, and tracers don’t render very well at close range.
This engagement style is viable even with an unsuppressed sidearm, if you’re engaging from above or from behind, but naturally it will broadcast your position to nearby enemies, and you will have to rapidly move away and restealth after the kill.
Vanish Attack: At longer distances you will be unable to fire both crossbow bolts before a target can react to being hit, due to the low projectile speed. By the time the first bolt hits them and the second is airborne, the enemy will already have wiggled out of harms way.
Consider firing once, and then re-cloaking to fire your second shot later on. You can try predicting where the enemy will take cover. This happens a lot with heavies. Their shield goes up, they face the directional hit-markers… However since you cloaked they don’t see anything…. After a couple seconds they go about their business. Usually they drop their over-shield and that is your hint to fire the second shot.
Sniper Hunting: Stalker cloak is almost criminal for killing enemy snipers. You know where they will be, and they have to stand still while taking their shots. Aim for the juicy headshot instant kill.
EMP Combo: combined with EMPs, the Crossbow becomes exceptionally great at clearing rooms, as a single body shot will be lethal against any EMP’d enemy. You can potentially kill up to 4 people before having to reload, and it’s easier to do than with any other sidearm. As you need only one shot to kill, you can fire off a shot and immediately switch to another target, while any other sidearm would require you to focus on hitting several shots, and this could make you tunnel vision and lose awareness of other enemies and your surroundings.
Crossbow allows you to quickly switch gears and focus on killing the next enemy in a high stress situation. This allows more time for planning and less tunnel vision. It also means less exposure when popping in and out of cover.
EMP grenades can have different effects on enemies:
- Direct hit: drains ability energy of all classes, impairs vision, removes shields, deals a tiny amount of damage, enough to interrupt shield regeneration timer.
- Partial hit: drains ability energy, drains shields and jumpstarts their regeneration, even if the target was damaged recently. EMP itself does not deal damage.
- Hit behind cover: drains ability energy.
EMP grenades are really inconsistent when dealing with partial hits and enemies behind cover, and it’s hard to predict which will happen.
Be mindful that EMPs have a detonation delay of ~1 second.
Normally, the detonation delay is a nuisance, but when using the Crossbow, you can take advantage of it. With proper timing, it is possible to “OHK” the enemy by shooting him with the Crossbow the exact instant the EMP detonates.
Tactical EMPs: EMPs make enemies much more vulnerable, and ensure that they will die from one crossbow bolt or a quick melee strike.
When there is an enemy on your tail, you can round a corner, and throw an EMP behind you, prepping the enemy for an easy counterattack kill. You may even EMP yourself for this. Kinda sloppy but it can help to recover from a bad situation.
EMPs are also great at making enemy mines work against them. Often one EMP thrown into enemy controlled building can result in a few kills from enemy AP mines.
Cover Your Tail: Drop mines to cover your tail, if an enemy is chasing you. Even if the mine won’t kill, it can weaken the enemy or convince him to stop chasing.
Explosive Spotter: Use your Motion Spotter as a trap with mines. Corners work well for this, as they force enemies to move around the wall in order to get line of sight on the spotter. Most players will take corners quickly, without regard for any possible mines at their feet.
Explosive Corpses: You can try hiding a mine near enemy corpse. This is helpful when medics rush in to revive a group of enemies you have just killed. Or even a single enemy, if you know a medic is nearby.
Alternatively, you can just hide right next to the body and try and stab them. This can backfire if the medic is smart and pulls out a Darklight, which is why I have taken a liking to explosive corpses over standing around dead bodies. Less risk involved and you can still finish the medic from range with a sidearm if they are wearing flak.
Explosive Frisbees: Toss Bouncing Betties and Proximity Mines over walls and onto enemies’ heads. This is a great icebreaker for stalemates. If possible, follow up with an EMP. The activation time for the first mine happens right after the EMP detonates. The resulting explosion looks really pretty.
You can do this to prep enemies before you take a corner or ambush them. It’s basically a tactical EMP with more teeth, because it can kill instead of just weakening.
Claymores aren’t nearly as great in mentioned “pizza delivery” tactic, but they can be potentially more powerful when used as actual mines to protect your flanks and doorways.
Heavy Assaults are always popular, and their overshield makes ambushing them considerably harder. Learn to distinguish Heavy Assaults from other classes, because in most cases they need a different approach.
You must inflict as much damage as possible before the HA can react to your ambush. This doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to work with. In most cases, you’re looking at less than half a second worth of free damage. After that time expires, expect their shield to come up.
Just try and look at this like a challenge. Ultimately these HAs are teaching you to make better, cleaner ambushes.
Shield Recharging Fields
Shield Recharging Fields are deployed by medics. They allow enemies to recharge shields even while they are being damaged, so these fields can and will mess up your engagement with weapons that rely on dealing a very specific amount of damage.
For example, an enemy that would normally die to 2 standard knife swings will require 3 swings when under effects of the recharging field. Same goes for 2x shot Crossbow kill, or Crossbow melee combo.
Additional Tactics and Playstyles
This style focuses on cautiously following your targets, and attacking with your secondary weapon.
Shadowing is all about mitigating the risks by engaging on your terms, in circumstances that favor your weapon and give you a way to safely escape afterwards.
Shadowing relies on Headshot Openers (HSO) to cut down Time to Kill and make the attack more successful. Having good aim to score headshots before the target can react helps to avoid taking unnecessary damage and conserve ammunition. This style is risky and mobile, and requires you to be very creative, because enemies will often hunt you.
It is critical to learn how to counter or trick enemies who come looking for you. The more sneaky you are, the longer your life expectancy will be. Picking off distracted targets one at a time is ideal. Alternatively, having good threat assessment skills will allow you to pick off multiple targets during a single attack.
When chasing an enemy, make sure there is nobody behind you before you engage.
Ideally, you want to have a bit of distance between you and the enemy. Positioning next to an escape route or a cover object helps to stay alive after you have opened on an enemy.
A piece of cover that obscures a part of your body may help shield you from some of the returning fire. Once the enemy dies you can use the cover object to escape from anyone who witnessed your attack.
A wide variety of weapons can be used for Shadowing. Unless you have excellent aim, select faster firing weapons, like the Beamer, which will assist you when killing mobile targets.
Going for Headshot Opener is critical even for spammy weapons, because the faster you kill an enemy, the less damage you will take from return fire, and the less risk you face from enemies who witness the attack.
Shadowing allows for a choice between silenced weapons, and louder weapons, however, your movement and how you go about countering enemies will change based on your selection. The effective range of each pistol will dictate how far you can safely operate. If you are too far away, kills will be expensive and you will be exposed to enemy fire for dangerous lengths of time. Learning the balance of risk vs reward, in combination with headshots allows you to push the weapon to its fullest.
Medkits may also become more lucrative than Mines, as they free your implant slots for other options.
You will enjoy learning: Battle Flow, Map Awareness, Enemy Manipulation, Reading Enemies Intentions, a high focus on improving your Aim, Headshot Addictions, Threat Assessment, Valuing Hard Cover, Increasing Doubt, Countering Enemies, Trapping, Juking, Dancing, and the art of bailing.
Perching is taking a long range overwatch approach to stalking, using weapons like Blackhand or the Crossbow to take down targets at range.
This is the easiest playstyle to pick up as a new stalker. Having some distance between you and enemies increases survivability and gives you a higher chance of escaping when being shot at.
The extra distance also makes cloak concealment more effective and gives you additional space to disengage and hide from enemies if they come searching. Perching keeps you out of reach of Darklight Flashlight users.
Despite being easy to pick up, the skill ceiling for Perching is rather high and there is considerable depth to the playstyle.
You will enjoy learning: Parkour (Movement Mechanics), Precision air drops, Battle Flow, Map Awareness, Recon Dart Manipulation, Camouflage, Reading Enemy Intentions, and high a focus on Improving your Aim.
You will also have fun discovering spots to “snipe” enemies in the middle of crowded fights, where a Hunter Cloak Sniper would be unable to operate.
Your creativity is expressed in finding vantage points that are off limits to other classes, and you may find yourself purchasing camo to better blend into backgrounds. Those with deadly fashion sense should apply 🙂
It’s a common tactic to use an expendable Valkyrie or Ejection Seat ESF to strategically insert yourself in a specific position. Usually there is no need to run any additional upgrades on the jet, like Stealth.
Denying Vehicle Spawning
In coordinated teamplay setting, it is sometimes justified for a stalker to camp a Vehicle Terminal, and kill anyone who tries to pull a vehicle.
A certain Game Update made it possible to bypass the Vehicle Terminal, and spawn a vehicle directly from the Map. However, the base must be uncontested, and have a functioning Vehicle Terminal. So in order to fully deny vehicle spawning from a certain base, it is better to hack the terminal and flip a point than camp the terminal in person.
Step 1. Learn how to get good ambushes, how to move around without getting noticed. Learn to kill swiftly and efficiently, with minimal increase of enemy awareness to your presence.
Step 2. Learn how to survive and restealth after an ambush. Even a stalker newbie can get a good ambush on one enemy, simply by slowly crouchwalking up to him, and then unloading a sidearm into enemy’s back. Or running into a crowd of enemies and sprint slamming a power knife into someone.
What differs a good stalker from a bad one, is the ability to consistently get good ambushes, survive after the successful ambush or manage the fallout from a bad one.
Step 3. Know when to leave. Don’t stay in one area for too long. Stalkers are annoying. For some reason, people hate “invisible” players that can strike them in the back at any moment. If you stay in one area and repeatedly kill the same players over and over, somebody with Darklight Flashlight will eventually come looking for you. It also makes you predictable and easy to find even without a flashlight.
Helping your faction
Besides killing, you can help your faction by:
- Destroying Motion Spotters, Spawn Beacons, mines and other deployables.
- Hacking enemy turrets, even if you’re not going to use them to engage enemies yourself.
- Hacking enemy terminals.
- Specifically, you can hack an enemy vehicle terminal and pull an extra Sunderer. Things like that are often enough to turn the tide of battle, or at least solidify your faction’s grip on it.
- Providing intel on enemy position with a Motion Spotter. You can also Q Spot enemy spawns and relay information about their position with a /regionsay chat. Unlike other classes, you can afford to just sit back and type.
- Harassing MAXes and their support. Your potential damage against them is limited, but they are bulky, slow and easy targets, and you can harass and distract them, and maybe even force to run away. If a MAX is already getting gunned by your allies, you may join them to focus fire.
Helping your squad
Infiltrators increase awareness and protect the squad by communicating incoming threats. Those extra EMPs become critical in softening an enemy push, or destroying enemy Spawn Beacons to keep enemies off roofs, and limit their access to entry points the squad is set up to handle.
A stalker can also deploy and protect a Spawn Beacon during a squad wipe, allowing the squad to to return to the fight before the enemy can fully secure the location.
Between Motion Spotters and EMPs, a Stalker Infiltrator can prevent or mitigate surprise attacks against the squad, reducing the chances of the enemy being able to take advantage of a weakness.
Cloak allows the stalker to place himself outdoors to mitigate pushes and build-ups with Mines and EMPs, though usually leaving the building is not the best option.
Cloaked stalkers can hold a position that would be normally too exposed, and protect their squad from being flanked by a single mobile enemy that could do a lot of damage.
Enemies don’t have an initiative and clientside advantage on a cloaked stalker.
A cloaked stalker doesn’t have to be staring down the corridor, holding his angle, and is free to give more attention to the minimap, and notice buildups in enemy forces and flanking units.
Stalkers can also fly ahead in a Valk or ESF and begin capturing the next base down the lattice lane, this conserves time and prevents the enemy from back capping the facility you had just captured while you’re moving to the next one.
Stalkers can do many things, from hacking AA turrets and pestering enemy Liberators shelling an outdoor point, to overloading SCU Generators in Biolabs.
Sneaking somewhere and placing beacons so your squad can reach higher ground.
The list goes on and on, suffice it to say that infiltrators’ worth should not be strictly based on how many bodies they can pile up. Often playing in a coordinated squad is more about good timing, providing support and increasing awareness.
-[3GIS] Circuitry of Teamwork
Stalkers allow the squad to team to hold more advantageous locations, choking enemies throughout the battle.
Stalkers can babysit a point so the squad is free to hold key locations.
Stalkers don’t need to leave the squad like a sniper would, and they can salvage a bad situation better than an SMG user could.(Ex: Dropping a spawn beacon after your squad is wiped off point to get them back before connection ticks down to zero)
Closing Thoughts and Credits
We hope that this guide has armed you with necessary knowledge to have success as a Stalker Infiltrator. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions in the comment section below.
Huge thanks to /u/CuteBeaver for her continued support, invaluable help and expertise in developing this guide.