Disclaimer: Star Citizen is still in alpha (version 3.17.4 as of writing this), so much of this information is subject to change. This is an early, simple primer on how ship-based stealth at it’s core operates in Star Citizen, however, so it should remain valid for some time.
If you’re a fan of this site, you’re probably familiar with most basic stealth gameplay concepts. Crouching, cover, tall grass, and special stealth abilities are all “the norm” for stealth gameplay.
Almost none of those can be applied to Star Citizen’s ship-based stealth systems, however, so I wanted to provide a basic primer on how ship-based stealth gameplay works in Star Citizen.
The core principle of stealth gameplay in Star Citizen: Detection range
In the case of Star Citizen, the factor you’re wanting to impact as far as stealth is concerned is detection range.
Ships come with radar, and that radar isn’t limited to a cone of vision right in front of the enemy: Instead, it’s essentially a radius around their ship, with certain degrees of effectiveness depending on the radar quality, distance, your own ship, and more.. Which means sneaking up behind someone and stabbing them in the back with a laser just isn’t going to work here. No critical hit bonus for you, my friend.
Tied into your enemy’s radar (which can have varying degrees of quality) is your own ships various emissions. This includes things like your ship’s cross-section (basically it’s silhouette), electronic “noise”, heat, and even the coating on the armor to some extent when the game’s stealth systems are fully fleshed out.
By reducing these various emissions, you make it harder for an enemy to detect you, which means you can get closer to them before they realize you’re there.. And this works for both PvE AND PvP!
So, in essence, the gameplay loop for stealthy ship combat becomes reducing emissions to the point that your detection range is low enough that you can get a jump on your target early, letting you strike the first blow.
This actually means bomber-based gameplay can be extremely effective for fans of stealthy approaches currently, although you will need to choose the right ordinance based on your target. Dropping a 1k torpedo on a small, nimble fighter is just going to waste a 1k torpedo and make said fighter aware of your presence.
Again, this is all a very basic primer focused on what is currently documented for Star Citizen as far a stealth mechanics go. This will be updated in the future assuming things change, and more detailed stealth guides will obviously come at some point once the systems are fully solidified in-game.