Awwww yeah, Splinter Cell. I love Splinter Cell. I finally picked up Blacklist after a few months of waiting for a price drop, and now I'm playing through the single player campaign and experimenting a bit in multiplayer.
It's an excellent game, but your enjoyment of it can be enhanced somewhat if you know a few things going in. My overall goal for the game is 100% of the achievements, so with that in mind, let me share my tips.
Before You Begin
Grab the Spider Bot companion app for iOS or Android. There is a set of stuff that is unlocked via this app. At a minimum, log into your uPlay account using this app, which unlocks probably 80% of the stuff you can get from it. The rest isn't nearly as interesting.
If you want to grind for the other items anyhow, I suggest replaying the second level of Stealth Bot over and over again. The other modes you'll need to sink way more time into before you can get anywhere close to the amount of points you can get in roughly 30 seconds on that level. Just play it through without getting caught, using your cloak, or taking too long, and you're more or less guaranteed a ton of points for minimal effort. The app is buggy, though, and I had issues redeeming my points. The gear isn't essential, so don't waste too much time here.
Also, log into uPlay and redeem the rewards right off the bat if you've got uPlay points saved up. One of them unlocks a bonus armor set, and another gives you a chunk of change you can use to upgrade your Sam right from the get-go.
Notes for Single Player
By default, Sam's loadout is a little underpowered. The tips in the previous section will get you some somewhat-better-than-default gear, and you can get even more gear via DLC. Besides that, you're going to need lots and lots of cash.
Your score at the end of a level and your score multiplier determine how much cash you make from running a mission. Different styles earn different scores. Also, the speed at which you finish a mission can be a large factor in your overall score.
The multiplier is determined
Upgrades to Prioritize
Without upgrading your suit, you make noise when moving full speed, even when crouched. This is a good one to invest in early. Upgrading your armor down the stealth track also unlocks more slots for gadgets, and more clips for your secondary weapons (ie, crossbow/stun gun).
The crossbow is way overpowered. Unlock it early, and buy all the bolts ASAP.
Single Player Strategies
Don't worry too much about overusing your gadgets. At any difficulty except Perfectionist, there are ample restock points. The only time gadget ammo really matters is Non-Lethal/Ghost/Perfectionist. Thus, I don't suggest playing Non-Lethal/Ghost/Perfectionist as your first playthrough. On Perfectionist, you'll have far fewer charges per gadget, and you can't restock at all. However, with a fully-upgraded stealth suit, you'll still have enough lethal ammo to clear practically any mission.
There are a set of side missions for each of your three major "helpers." Early on, go after the Grim missions - she will unlock the maximum performance stealth armor.
Achievements and Styles
None of the achievements are missable or annoying if you miss something on the first pass. The game is open to being replayed easily and quickly.
There is an achievement for a non-lethal completion of the single player. You can replay missions, and it tracks non-lethal on a mission-by-mission basis. There are a few "you must kill" sequences in the game, but always check what you've been given to see if you can win non-lethally. Sometimes, even though they take your gear, they still give you a non-lethal option.
For each mission, there are three "styles" - Ghost, Panther, and Assault. There is an achievement for mastering each one of these 7 times. You can replay missions to master a different style. The achievement does not require mastering the style on every level. The side missions count towards this achievement.
For Ghost, I suggest that you evade enemies as much as possible, as that's worth more points than a single takedown. However, getting multiple takedowns (ie, mark and execute, or sleeping gas, or really fast takedowns in succession) grants bonus points per-takedown.
Plan on evading or comboing more than half the guards in a level to meet the Ghost style score goal.
In most situations, a careful survey of the surroundings will turn up alternate paths that avoid the guards or keep you out of the way or out of sight. Noisemaker bolts and the Sticky Noisemaker are your friend - they make great distractions and can clear your path without causing point loss.
You have several seconds before you lose your "stealth" if discovered. The detection bar has to fill completely, and then they will go into a state where they know you are there. Finally, the bar will turn red and they will shoot or call for help. If you take them down at any time before this point, you get credit for a stealth knockout.
Moving on to a new area despawns all the guards immediately. If you made it through without arousing suspicion (ie, body discovered, you were spotted but hid again, etc) then you'll get a heap of bonus points for every guard left oblivious.
Panther style is a bit easier to work with than Ghost style. The only thing you have to do is not kill during open combat. If you get fully detected, hide and run away until the music dies back down and the guards go back on patrol. Otherwise, your kills will count as "combat kills" towards assault style instead.
Bring a fully upgraded (laser sight, silencer, etc) pistol, and you can headshot normal goons for a one-hit kill. When the heavy infantry goes in to investigate, sneak around above or behind and take them down. If they detect you, run like hell and hide for a bit, then return to prowl again.
Panther on Perfectionist was easier than Ghost on Normal, to be honest.
Assault style is all about noise. Bring an assault rifle without a silencer, plus mines and grenades. Get detected, and fight it out.
The best upgrade for Assault is the extended mags. Reloading takes time, and sometimes you're going to be up against a big group of guys with no breaks. Pick the best unslienced AR you can, buy all the upgrades, and you should be good to go!
As far as gadgets go, take the proximity mines, incendiary grenades, and frags. Incendiary grenades are awesome against heavy infantry and groups. Killing a bunch of goons in a row earns bonuses, which you'll need to get the mastery score. Sam really hucks the proximity mines, so you can stay in a corner and mine the door against enemy intruders.
Assault style gives the fewest points, so mastering it earns you the least cash. However, you can move so damn fast through the levels that you will probably score very well anyhow.
The game starts throwing "heavy infantry" at you from the second or third mission onward. You can tell you're up against one of these guys by the way they breathe. If they sound like Darth Vader, it's a heavy infantry. These guys are immune to shock. They are immune to gas as long as their helmets are on. They can't be taken down from the front, which means it's tricky to lure them close to you for a hand-to-hand takedown.
You can take them down from above, or from behind if you sneak up on them. Just watch out for puddles or other loud flooring, and make sure your gear is upgraded for stealth.
There is a cheap method to get them, though. You can knock off their helmets with a headshot or mark and execute, although this makes them suspicious. A one-two punch delivered by a crossbow sleeping gas bolt is super effective! If you headshot or mark and execute a gasmask guy with a sleeping gas bolt, it's a one-hit knockout. It even takes out any nearby non-gasmask guards, even if you don't mark them!
Heavy Infantry wear helmets, but they're not the only ones who do. Enemies wearing night vision goggles and drone operators also wear helmets.
A helmet will deflect at least the first headshot. Sometimes on Perfectionist it has taken me 3 headshots total to down a helmeted enemy, though.
Mark and execute will always hit with a headshot, so it's ineffective against these guys. Except for the heavy infantry, these guys can be taken down with gas or a body shot from a shock weapon.
Achievement Hunting: Multiplayer
Yeah, this game has multiplayer achievements. However, they're doable. The only thing I've run into thus far is that server population is really low, and it's mostly pros.
There are achievements for:
- Winning one round in every game mode
- Completing one major objective (intel capture, uplink hack, etc) in every game type
- Getting to level 10 (of 50, doesn't take that long)
- Unlocking certain gear
- Getting 10 major objective assists (ie, be near the intel when it is captured, be in the zone for a hack, etc)
- Completing a weekly challenge - these reset every Sunday at midnight, so start on Monday and you'll have all week and the weekend.
Most of these can be achieved in a private match by yourself or with one other player. All the major objective ones, the win in every game mode, etc. On some platforms, you can do the "assist" ones with 2 people on the same console. You can even get to rank 10 in private matches. Weekly challenges count private matches as well.
If you actually want to play multiplayer, here is what I've learned.
I found it easiest to learn the ropes in either Team Deathmatch or SvM Classic.
You'll get money and unlock tokens to unlock class slots and gear. Unlock all the default classes first. It's expensive to make a custom class, and in the meantime you will want the premade default options available to you.
It's slow to earn cash in multiplayer, so consider playing single player to make money instead. Unlock tokens are only available from ranking up in multiplayer, however. You'll need one token per custom class slot, plus one token for each thing you want to unlock to go into that class. There are a lot of things to choose from...