Phantom Doctrine is a complex game, and a lot of new players are struggling with the stealth mechanics. There’s a lot of confusion about how sneaking works in this spy-versus-spy Cold War tactics game. It’s actually very simple, and I’m going to explain everything you need to know if you want to stealth your way through those early missions.
Sneaking really is the best way to go. Combat can get ugly fast if you don’t know where your enemies are located, and often your opponents won’t roam the battlefield searching for you. They want to live, and if they’re holed up in a room on the third floor of a building on the map, they’ll stay there until reinforcements arrive. This isn’t like XCOM, where enemies will spawn semi-randomly — the entire map is populated by enemies. If you want to win, you’ll need to use stealth. It’s shockingly easy once you get the hang of it.
#1: Stealth Is Your Best Friend
Most missions, you’ll begin in “Infiltration” mode — that means you can move around the map without setting off your enemies. They don’t know you’re there. As long as you don’t do anything suspicious in public areas, nobody will attack you. If you’re seen on camera in public areas, you won’t raise an alarm either. The only exception is if you’re spotted by a Beholder Agent — even if you’re disguised. But there are ways around that, too.
Everything changes when you enter a Restricted Area. If you enter an enemy or civilian’s vision, you’ll immediately trigger “Combat” mode, and all enemies in the area will be on alert. Disguises can make infiltration much easier — and you can avoid raising the alarm with silenced weapons. A silenced weapon, if it kills your target instantly, will not raise an alarm.
Stealth is incredibly useful — you can use it to scout an enemy compound, find weaknesses, knock out agents, and capture enemies. You need to stay in stealth, and should always avoid combat as much as possible in Phantom Doctrine.
#2: Knocking Out Enemies And Disposing Bodies
Every agent is equipped with two abilities that are incredibly important for stealth — Takedown, and Disposal. Takedown expends some Focus and a Fire point to instantly knock out agents / enemies that have lower health than the attacking character. After using a Takedown, the body will drop — standard enemies / civilians cannot be moved. Instead, you need to use the Disposal ability.
Left-click or select the body and you’ll be able to use Disposal, which instantly makes the body disappear. To get the most out of these abilities, send your infiltration units in two-person teams. One character can knock out a patrolling enemy, then the second character can dispose of the body.
The only wrinkle comes in the form of Beholder Agents. Enemy agents, like your allies, aren’t defeated with a takedown. Instead, you need to pick them up and manually move the body to a hiding place — just like you would an ally.
#3: Understanding Line-Of-Sight
There are two different LoS modes — Infiltration and Combat are totally different, and you need to understand how they work. During Infiltration, you won’t be seen if the vision cone of an enemy / civilian / camera is blocked by high cover. Not so in Combat.
In Combat, you can be seen (and shot) if you’re in a shooting position. As in, if you can see an enemy, then they can see you. It might look like your character is hiding behind cover or around a high wall, but really they’re in a “firing stance” — the cover provides extra protection, but does not conceal them. If you want to conceal yourself in combat, move to a location where you can’t see enemies. If no enemy targets appear on your HUD, then you’re hidden and can’t be shot — as long as the enemy doesn’t move somewhere they can see you.
Infiltration works in a more understandable way. As long as you aren’t in the vision cone, or big-red-squares that extend from an enemy, you will not be seen. Don’t try to hide behind low cover in infiltration mode. That just doesn’t work.
#4: Buy More Infirmary Slots ASAP
Speaking of combat — combat works a lot differently than in XCOM. There are no lucky misses in Phantom Doctrine. Every weapon as a damage threshold, you’ll see the maximum and minimum damage before you make an attack. Basically, if you get into a gunfight, you’re guaranteed to take a little damage.
That’s why Infirmary Slots are so important. I recommend picking up two extra infirmary beds right away so your agents can recover faster. Thankfully, recovery doesn’t take nearly as long as in XCOM, and your injured agents can still be useful. They can forge cash, investigate documents, or craft items in the workshop safely.
#5: Get The Forger Facility To Unlock Disguises
One of the best early facilities you can purchase is the Forget Facility. You can use this facility to customize your agents, give them new IDs (for a price) to lower their heat, and unlock one of the best infiltration tools — the disguise.
At the base level, you can equip two agents with disguises when you send them on missions. Disguised characters can enter restricted areas without raising an alarm if they’re spotted — as long as they’re not seen doing anything suspicious like taking enemies down or using guns. Beholder Agents can see through disguises — unless you have a special ability unlocked. Some characters can get an ability that makes disguises unbreakable, even by Beholder Agents.
#6: Enemy Agents Have Valuable Info, Try To Capture Them
Every mission has a load of extra rewards for you to steal. You can claim extra classified intel by snapping photos on the map, or unlock safes / weapon lockers to get free gear for your soldiers. It’s the best way to get body armor early-on in the campaign. You can also capture Beholder Agents instead of killing them when they’re scouting the location of your base.
Capturing a Beholder Agent gives you lots of benefits — you’ll get bonus rewards at the end of the mission, and you might even reveal the identity of another Beholder Agent in the field. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn the location of a Beholder Cell. These deadly locations will siphon money from your operation, and captured allies will be taken there. Getting as much information as possible is ideal when you’re fighting a global conspiracy.
#7: Too Much Heat? Get New IDs, Or Move Into A New Base
There’s one meter you might not understand in Phantom Doctrine — the heat meter. Every agent in your roster will gain heat. The more you send them on missions, the more their heat meter will rise. Eventually, it goes from green to red — red means their ID has been compromised.
The higher your heat, the slower you travel. It also lowers your effectiveness as a spy. Higher heat also draws in Beholder Agents, and they’re more likely to attempt to capture or assassinate your agent.
Along with heat, there’s also a Danger meter for your base. Beholder Cells will slowly increase Danger, and Beholder Agents will attempt to locate your HQ. If you scout a problem area on the map and see a pair of red binoculars, you’ll need to take care of it fast.
To fix heat and danger levels, you have a few options. You can give your agents new identities to completely remove all heat from an agent. Use the Forger facility, it costs $500 at the base level. You can also swap agents so nobody gains heat too quickly. To deal with danger, you’ll need to perform counter-operations constantly. If the danger meter is too high, your base is in danger of an assault. To avoid that, select an area on your map with a document icon — you can move your base to these locations for a hefty fee.
And that’s basically everything you need to know about Phantom Doctrine. It’s an incredible game, but the new mechanics can be punishing for players just starting out. Keep these tips in mind, and you should be sneaking like a spymaster.