Skulking in the shadows, manifesting in a cloud of smoke, striking a crippling blow only to disappear as quickly as arrived, the thief is the master of stealth, shadows and surprise. Do you fancy yourself as a master of theft and subterfuge? If so, the thief may well be for you but take heed! Jumping into the boots of a thief may be enticing but ensuring your endeavors are successful is quite the challenge. Don’t worry if you’re unsure how to take advantage of the skills of the thief, that’s possibly why you’re here.

Big bag of tricks

Now, while a key point of the thief is to try to take advantage of the element of surprise, this does not mean you are restricted to a single dagger and once seen you must run away and hide. Medium armor ensures the thief can take at least some of a beating and still come out on top, but obviously try to avoid getting large fights where possible. The thief is capable of dealing out impressive amounts of damage with an abundance of weapons skills thanks to the adaptive-nature of the thief with differing weapons, offering a bundle of possibilities.

Capable of wielding one-handed weapons such as swords, daggers and pistols, the thief can also unsheathe an additional dagger or pistol in the off-hand, keeping close combat, ranged combat or a mixture of both as decent options. The thief may also wield a shortbow, dealing damage along with issuing conditional damage to those caught in the fire depending on the attack used. Understanding your current weapon configuration is essential to surviving as the thief as trading weapons in each hand can illuminate varying abilities that could either be perfect for your upcoming quest, or downright unwise. Remain cognizant of what your thief has equipped, taking advantage of the two weapon sets to switch between for when things around you are ever changing.

Dancing dagger has you throw a dagger at enemies before the dagger returns itself to you. Handy!

The attacks themselves, as mentioned about the differing weapon combinations are vast and intriguing and fit the thief ideally, as a dagger fits into its scabbard. For instance, having a dagger in the off hand allows the thief to throw a dagger to cripple nearby foes before it returns to the thief whereas in the main hand the thief may initiate a double strike, dealing great damage. The sword in the main hand features one of the most useful skills for the thief, the infiltrator’s strike. This instantly shadow steps the wielder to a targeted foe to dive in and deal damage, then using the attack again executes shadow return, instantly restoring the thief to their original position and curing a single condition. Step in, stab-stab-stab, step out, ideal for a thief whom wishes to stay alive.

Sneaking about your unsuspecting targets with dual daggers, pistols, or whatever else you’re packing as a thief means you want to run into your enemies quickly and dispatch them efficiently, ending combat as swiftly as possible. This can be achieved thanks to the thief’s initiative, which replaces cooldowns on weapon skills. This means that each skill uses up a certain amount of initiative points that regenerate over time. The more powerful your attack, the more initiative it will use. This means that the lesser attacks can be chained together in a seemingly never-ending crescendo of bullets and/or blades. Of course, keeping an eye on the initiative bar is an important part of combat as the last thing you want to happen is to finish off a weaker enemy with an excessively powerful attack, only for a veteran enemy to approach and find your initiative is spent. Observation of your surroundings, upcoming enemies and your available weapons are the difference between a skilled master of stealth and shadows, or some bumbling guy with a knife in his hand.

Can I have that? No? Well I’m taking it anyway

This may come as a surprise, but one aspect of being a thief is theft. Shocking, I know. As the thief’s unique mechanic it is something that you may overlook early on but can provide just what is needed in a fight. When using the steal ability, the thief shadow steps to the enemy targeted and steals an ability unique to that enemy to be used by the thief instead. An example is that upon using steal on a moa, you may steal an egg to be used as a healing item and once used, the steal ability is ready to use again providing enough time has passed for its cooldown.

Traps such as this are perfect for luring enemies into, only for you to evade and rain vengeance upon them

This is quite the gamble however, pick pocketing your enemies can reward a small number of different results depending on the enemy. You could use it on an opponent hoping to gain an ability to blind your foe and instead get a healing item. It should always be considered an option as since the only thing it costs to use is the cooldown of the ability itself, it’s better to risk something useful than gain nothing. If you upgrade certain traits as you progress in levels the ability can gain a number of bonuses through use such as restoring some initiative, dazing your target and even the option to deal damage upon use.

Now you see me. Now you don’t. Now I stab you in the face

Stealth is something that should come as no surprise for a thief, the ability to manoeuvre unseen being key to ensuring whatever you’re seeking to do is done right. Becoming undetectable is a boon that follows a few skills with their use and means enemies cannot target the thief for a brief amount of time, but remember that if you’re caught in an area of effect attack you can still take damage. Still, whether you’re using stealth to get close to an enemy or to extract yourself from a less-than-great fight, it’s something you should rely on if you’re looking for a stealth-focussed playstyle or even as a last resort.

Not only does using stealth abilities proving useful for any number of scenarios, but it looks pretty badass too

But let’s take a gander at these stealth skills, attacks you may use whilst in stealth. When in stealth your first weapon skill is adjusted according to your current main hand/two handed weapon. If you’re wielding a dagger for example, you are granted the backstab ability which if actually performed on the target from behind, strikes double damage. If a pistol is in your main hand, you perform a sneak attack that fires rapidly and instigates bleeding damage. It’s best to check out what the other weapons can do whilst in stealth to find the one which best suits your playstyle if you intend on using stealth a lot.

Other skills in the thief’s arsenal are shadow stepping, traps and venoms. Shadow stepping as mentioned earlier coincides with some skills allowing the thief to instantly relocate in a shadow gust of mist and smoke, excellent for surprise attacks or getting out of a situation that has quickly turned sour. Traps are as they sound really, used defensively are set by the thief on their location and are triggered once an enemy steps into the radius. These come in a variety of delightful flavors such as one that knocks enemies down and one that once triggered shadow steps you immediately to its position, perfect for ambushing! 

Finally, venoms are an array of skills that focus on conditional damage and damage over time, placing conditions such as poison, vulnerability and even turning your foes to stone with a set number of attacks following the execution of the desired venom skill. Focussing on one of these skills or trying to achieve a balance is down to how you wish to manipulate your thief and the fights in which you may find yourself. Just remember that playing defensively is key since the thief cannot take an excessive amount of damage. If things look grim, it’s wise to stealthily sleuth away and return once healed.

Thieves are supposed to blend in and hide but this one seems to not understand the word inconspicuous...

The thief is capable of dealing out immense damage over a quick period of time, but this makes thieves key targets. Attracting a lot of aggro and realising that enemies are swarming you, going into stealth and retreating to buy yourself some valuable time to heal, regain initiative or consider a change in tactics can become a not-so-rare occurrence. Again, this is not a profession for those whom simply wish to charge in spamming the number keys and walk away with shiny new loot and experience. Observe, plan, execute and if necessary retreat. This along with keeping your head wrapped around the weapon skills and what other abilities are available, you’ll be so stealthy you’ll be wiping out hordes of monsters before they even realise you’re there.