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Deathloop beginner’s guide, tips, and tricks

How to master the time loop and defeat Visionary Leads in Arkane’s stealth masterpiece

Colt holding a gun in Deathloop Image: Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Our Deathloop beginner’s guide corrals our best advice for your first days in Arkane Studios’ stealthy, shooty murder mystery. Below, we’ll explain the time loop, detail you how to save your favorite items, make our best case against our lying brain, explain why stealth is the best option (until it isn’t), show why your left hand is so important, and more.

Learn the loop

Deathloop’s first 90 minutes or so contain a cleverly disguised series of tutorials that introduce the weird rules of Blackreef, its offbeat setting. Useful as they may be, it still took us a while to wrap our minds around the time loop. And since your success depends on understanding and manipulating those rules, here how the time loop works, written out:

  1. A day on Blackreef has four time periods (morning, noon, afternoon, and evening) and four regions (The Complex, Karl’s Bay, Updaam, and Fristad Rock).
  2. From your bunker, you pick a time and a place to explore. Time doesn’t pass while you’re exploring.
  3. When you return to your bunker, time advances, and you can Infuse items (after you complete the “Ubiquity” Visionary Lead).
  4. If you die (three times) before you make it back to the bunker, you lose anything you haven’t Infused, and you go back to morning.
  5. Colt’s bunker is the only way to travel between areas and times of day.
  6. At the end of the day. You’ll get one last chance to Infuse anything you have the Residuum for, the day resets, and you effectively die.

With four time periods and four locations, you’ve effectively got 16 destinations to choose from. Learning to navigate them will save you a lot of headache and confusion.

Infuse to save your favorites

Almost the entire world resets every day in Deathloop. Infusion is a way to add permanence to things that you like, so that they survive the reset.

What you Infuse often depends on how you play. If you like shooting more than stabbing, then stealth-focused items won’t be worth preserving. Follow your gut. There are no wrong answers. You should Infuse several things as soon as you can, including (magic power-granting) Slabs, which in any other game might be permanent but are as ephemeral as a rainbow Deathloop.

Infuse, or you’ll be sad. We know from experience.

Know your Visionary and Arsenal Leads

There are two broad buckets of quests or missions in Deathloop:

  • Arsenal Leads take Cole to people and places that upgrade his (wait for it) arsenal. Follow these for more weapons, more powerful weapons, and Slabs.
  • Visionary Leads take Cole along the critical path — the steps required to defeat Visionaries and break the loop.

This is not rocket science, but the earlier you internalize the difference, the smarter you’ll be about your priorities.

Slow down or die

If you’re anything like us, your brain is a liar. It’ll tell you, even if you know better, that you’ve got this — that the best course of action is to run full speed toward your next destination. Sure, you don’t know exactly what’s ahead of you, but the enemies aren’t so bad, right? And all you have to do is get to the bunker. You’ve been playing video games for years. This is not your first first-person shooter. You’ve got this.

Don’t believe your own hype. Slow down. Take your time. It’s better to return home safely and slowly than to redo your entire run after unwittingly donating your last life to a misplaced sense of urgency.

Stealth first, shoot second

Combat very dangerous in Deathloop, especially at the beginning when it feels like three hits will put you down, Call of Duty-style. We turned that into a lesson within our first few hours: Start with stealth, and fall back on shooting if when things go sideways.

Playing stealthily is more about staying alive than an ethos. Crouch down, sneak up, tag your enemies, and take them down before they ever even know you were there. When that fails, unload. Play like this, and you get the best of both worlds.

Eavesdropping comes before fighting

Deathloop is kind of a violent detective simulator — or at least that’s how we came to think of it. As Cole, you’re unraveling mysteries. Listening to the Eternalists who inhabit Blackreef is a fantastic way to move the plot forward.

It’ll unfold like this, just about every time:

  1. You enter an area and see a few Eternalists.
  2. You crouch and listen. (Turn on subtitles so you can hear what they’re saying from a distance.)
  3. They talk about something that almost certainly contains a clue.
  4. They end the conversation and start walking along preset patrol paths.
  5. You take them down one-by-one.

So you’re getting two payoffs when you listen: valuable information, and a tactical advantage. Don’t jump in like Rambo. Wait for it the conversation to play out before you act.

Explore everywhere and read everything

Similar to eavesdropping, there are notes and cassettes everywhere. Some of these are just for color, but a lot of them contain some clue either directly about a Lead or a new approach to completing a Lead. You’ll find things like door codes or schedules in notes, or clues about where to pick up fancy weapons.

Pick up every note, and you’ll keep your options open.

Be mindful of what’s in your left hand

In Deathloop, your right hand always has a gun in it — and the right trigger on your controller fires that gun. Your left hand, though, has a lot more going on.

Your left hand and left controller trigger is for Slab powers, aiming down sights, hacking turrets, throwing grenades, dual-wielding guns, and peeking around corners. It all depends on what you have equipped at the moment (controlled by the D-pad).

When you have a lot of options and you’re switching rapidly between them, it’s very, very, infuriatingly easy to forget what’s equipped. If you’re not careful, instead of hacking a turret, you’ll teleport right in front of it. Or you’ll fire a gun into a wall (and alert the nearby enemies) instead of peeking around the corner.

Keep an eye on what’s in your left hand, and save yourself from that mistake.

Julianna can invade at any time and ruin your best laid plans

We can’t say this is purposeful or even by design, but it sure feels like Julianna invades right when you need to be quietest.

You have to be adaptable (see our stealth first, shoot second advice above). You can spend all the time in the world sneaking and stealthily taking out Eternalists, only to be thwarted at the last minute when Juliana shows up with guns blazing.

There’s nothing to do but fight her. Most of Deathloop’s enemies have short attention spans and not-great hearing. Deal with Julianna, and then figure out a new way to continue.

Replay levels for loot

Experiment, have fun, and get creative. We’ve got walkthroughs that (mostly) safely get you to specific targets. These are a route through the levels, but they are by no means the only path.

Exploring and poking around will often reveal new and unexpected options. You won’t always (or even often) have all the knowledge you need to make use of them.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.