Listen, you need to try Deathloop.
Even if you typically shy away from shooters, I promise it’s worth the effort to experience this genre-breaking title, with best-in-class design, better than expected storytelling and acting performances. I’m here to help you get started. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Developer Arcane (creators of the Dishonored series and Prey) are well known for making intricate shooters that weave stealth and superpowers into a superb problem solving playground, where you can approach any situation in a near-infinite number of ways.
Here are some Deathloop gameplay tips and tricks to get you started.
Deathloop follows protagonist Colt, who is in charge of security at the island of Blackreef. Blackreef is home to a zany group of Visionaries and Eternalist who have figured out how to time-loop themselves into a day of raucous debauchery and hedonism. You are hunted every day by a rival assassin Juliana, who along with the inhabitants of Blackreef, find insatiable pleasure in your death every day. You must help Colt break the time loop by killing all of the 7 Visionaries in one “loop”. It’s a ridiculous video game and it is arguably Arcane’s best work yet.
1. Just play. Seriously.
The key to enjoying Deathloop, especially early on, is to just enjoy yourself a bit. Remember that you’re stuck in a time-loop and you will always come back. The beginning of the game is a good time to play around with different play strategies.
(Select Hackamajig by D-pad, and hack objects with L1 when in range)
Eventually, you will get special powers via “Slabs” which are carried by Juliana and the other Visionaries that will absolutely change the game and probably your play style. Get a sense of what you can do without these and you’ll feel more prepared to add on another layer to this already deep game.
2. Don’t worry about exploring too much.
It’s easy to get lost or in over your head-- both of which can be frustrating in your first couple hours in the game.
All of the areas can be meticulously combed over later, so you won’t be missing anything.
You’ll probably find it more helpful to just get through the main story beats, get your first good weapons and at least one power Slab. Then you can start exploring.
If you aren’t familiar with this weapon, it can feel cumbersome and useless. Trust me, it is a game changer.
You can silently take out an enemy in one shot, which is essential when playing stealthily.
How to Use the Nailgun
The key to using this weapon is you need a full charge (hold the trigger for a couple seconds) and you need to hit the target in the head.
Be aware of your surroundings.
You may have a clear shot on an enemy, but there’s still a chance to raise an alarm if any Eternalists are within sight of your target. If they see their friend go down, or stumble across their remains, you’ll be in trouble. Be patient, take enemies one at a time and consider using environmental distractions to single out your prey. This will go a long way in helping you assassinate your foes undetected.
Upgrading this weapon's accuracy over distance or the recoil with trinkets will make this weapon even more deadly over a longer distance. If you don’t have any upgrades, no sweat, just get as close as possible to ensure you don’t miss.
You have to plan out your shots and movement with a Nailgun, so it is tricky. But, with a little practice you’ll be a menace in the shadows.
The best place to find this weapon early on is in Colt’s apartment in Updaam (you’ll go there in the main story). Next to his computer there is a blue-tier nailgun, allowing for two trinket slots. Eventually, you can find a purple-tier nailgun with three slots and an added perk, like a sonar that tags all enemies in an area after you kill an Eternalist. This gun just gets better and better.
This one is harder to get, but is absolutely worth the trouble to nab early.
Luckily, once you unlock the quest, it isn’t terribly difficult.
Once you have the sniper, you don’t have to worry about running and gunning so much. Being able to take out enemies from a safe distance is an invaluable commodity (after you have cleared your immediate area of raving Eternalists with your nifty nailgun and stealth takedowns of course). It’s much easier to chip away at an area without getting overwhelmed. Especially with an invisibility slab, you can make a substantial dent in a group of enemies before anyone can figure out where you are.
Shotgun or Heavy Machine Gun or Submachine gun
The final weapon you need in your arsenal is truly whatever you feel most comfortable using to get out of a pinch when you find yourself surrounded.
With a nailgun and a sniper, you can safely take care of a majority of enemies up close and at a distance. But, when shit hits the fan, you’ll need something to help you with crowd control in a firefight. Shotguns, heavy machine guns and subs will all be effective in that you don’t have to be terribly accurate to take care of business.
Whatever weapon suits you will be fine, but I would lean towards a shotgun or submachine gun as they will both use different ammo types than your other two weapons.
However, even when using a heavy machine gun, (which also uses large caliber ammo like the sniper) I rarely found myself scraping for ammo. Just be conscious of picking up ammo whenever you spot it.
Okay, I’m not really proud of this one.
There is a chance that you can reset your segment of the timeloop after death if you quickly close the game before Colt croaks. I mean, you know when you’re gonna die most of the time so you can do this early if you know you’re in the weeds. Reload the game and you’ll restart the same portion of the loop.
I don’t necessarily recommend doing this often, if at all. Any information you gain even in death will continue on to the next loop, just your weapons, slabs and residiuum will be lost.
That being said, I did this quite by accident (after rage quitting the game after dying holding the aforementioned legendary sniper when Julianna rudely invaded my game) and resetting the loop sincerely helped my enjoyment of the game early on.
So, use this in a pinch if you want before they patch this sweet bug.
A key component to Deathloop gameplay is the use of diverse power Slabs.
Slabs are essentially super-powers that Colt can gain from Blackreefs Visionaries after killing them (including Juliana). They require residiuum infusion in order to be carried over into subsequent loops and you can use three different slabs at a time.
One slot is already taken by an essential Slab you automatically gain in the beginning of the game, which allows you to respawn twice upon death. That leaves two slots to fill.
After killing a visionary and swiping their Slab, you can opt to kill them again in a separate loop and instead gain an upgrade to their given slab, along with their special weapon, an assortment of trinket upgrades and residiuum. Going after these visionaries a couple of times will do wonders for your arsenal, and it’s a good idea to beat a visionary a few times to grind out an ability Slab, residiuum and upgrades.
Here are the best slabs for starters to focus on and upgrades you should be looking for:
Aether is by far the most useful for getting you out of trouble. With this ability, you will become temporarily invisible. You can safely assess potential threats by using your invisibility to scope out areas and tag enemies before engaging.
With enough patience and tactfulness, you can take out a group of enemies fairly easily without notice.
If you end up in a sticky situation from a firefight, the Aether slab is a great way to save your skin. High tail it out of trouble, turn invisible and find a place to hide until the Eternalists stop looking for you.
A word of caution, while you are invisible, you are absolutely still audible… meaning if you’re running around or firing a loud weapon, you’ll be pretty easily detected. Take things slow.
This one is a little weird, but oh-so fun when used right.
With this slab you can throw an orb of sorts at an enemy which highlights them with a ball of light around their head. If they are close enough to another enemy, the light will connect between them, which means that if you damage one of them, all connected enemies receive the same damage.
This allows you to take out multiple enemies at once with little effort. It’s a great way to thin a large group of enemies quickly if you're in trouble. Or if you’re going the stealthy route, you can more efficiently take out a few eternalists at a time. You’ll be less likely to alert other enemies and you’ll be able to clear areas much faster.
The Shift slab is great if you want peak mobility.
With this slab, Colt is able to teleport a short distance. This is incredibly helpful in that you will be temporarily invisible, so that you can transfer from places of cover safely past Eternalists, turrets and cameras. You can even safely pass through infared tripwires for alarms and mines.
You also will gain access to hard-to-reach areas. Traversing rooftops and tight spaces opens up the game so much more--you can gain a positional advantage over enemies, explore hidden areas and escape tough spots with this versatile slab.
Aside from the Aether slab, this is arguably the most useful.
Of all the Deathloop gameplay tips and tricks I can provide for you, this is arguably the most helpful.
Turn Online mode off for god's sake.
Humans are terrible and way too fucking good at this game. As someone who hasn’t seriously played competitive shooters since vanilla Destiny and Halo Reach, I haven’t in my life found myself so quickly eviscerated in a video game before. By turning Online mode off, Juliana becomes AI controlled, which is still a substantial threat, but much more consistent and manageable.
I can’t tell you how stressful it is to have Julianna come after you when you’re in the middle of an awesome run, with tons of slabs, upgrades and weapons on the line if you die. That is part of the risk-reward of this game. Julianna will definitely kill you in this game, just accept it.
That being said…
Especially early on, when you have less to lose, you will get a random slab, purple-tier weapon, purple-tier trinkets and a butt-load of residiuum. It’s immensely helpful and often will get you a slab that could arguably be easier to obtain than some of the Visionaries.
Julianna is also arguably the toughest enemy you’ll face on their own. So, it can be a good skill check to be a little aggressive and look for a fight. As long as there aren’t too many other enemies helping her out.
As the game fleshes out and you get more comfortable, take all of my advice with a nice big grain of salt. These Deathloop gameplay tips and tricks are more guide rails to help you have a good time sooner, while keeping you from rage quitting one of the best games of the year.
I think the more you divert into your own playstyle, the more fun you will ultimately have. Deathloop is about discovery. But, getting a little headstart for those unfamiliar with Arkane’s unique game style can be essential to a newcomer's enjoyment.
I used a couple of guides, along with hours of maddening trial and error that almost made me pull my hair out and throw my controller through a window. However, once I got into Deathloop, it hooked me in a way video games haven’t in a very long time.
Hopefully, something I learned helps you and makes your experience learning this game even more enjoyable than mine. It truly is worth it, because there’s a wonderful video game behind Deathloop’s high bar for entry.
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