Why Is Stealth Archer Such A Popular Skyrim Build? | Video Game Design

June 29, 2020

Today I’ll be taking a look at one of the arguably most popular builds in Skyrim: The Stealth Archer. Regardless if it’s a build you enjoy, I think we can both agree that it’s a popular pick, especially among newer players….but why is that? What mechanics and game aspects direct these newcomers to picking archery and stealth?….well I’ll be answering that exact question today!

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All Comments

  • I just use it since all other combat is trash

    Timothy jensen June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • I just really liked the archery in Skyrim. It feels good compared to any other RPG I've played besides maybe TERA because you have to actually aim and account for the projectile trajectory.

    Straight Six June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • A build know one seems to do is a spider scrolls build

    JOKER • 40 years ago • Updated June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Normally for me I always start with stealth archer and end with being an assassin that abuses the AI's stupidity with stealth

    Justas Negreckis June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Warning – VERY long comment / analysis (u could just make a new video based just on this)

    I've watched a dozen videos on this topic and read several dozens of comments below them. The number-one reason why people pick stealth archer over anything else is because it's the least risky (read: easiest). We're all sensible human beings, we all know that every force in this world follows the path of least resistance, so honestly such an answer shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. But let's elaborate a bit…

    – Is stealth archer the highest-DPS build in the game? No, dual-wielding is.
    – Does stealth archer do the highest initial damage? No, sneak attacks with daggers do.
    – Is stealth archer strong across all levels of the game? Yes, but so are all other physical-damage builds.

    So we are left with just one argument:
    – Is stealth archer the safest build in the game, resulting in the least deaths? Yes, by a long shot.

    Why? Because 1) absurdly, your skill in archery has nothing to do with your ability to land a shot, and 2) the AI is incredibly stupid and all you need to do to reset them is to take 5 steps away from where you took the shot. What these 2 factors result in is that 1) you will always be 100% effective with a bow, right from the start, and 2) you will never even take a hit back.

    Just think about it for a minute. Heavy armor builds are centered around heavy armor because they take damage by running up close to a target. Then they're also forced to keep magic resistance enchantments on their gear because otherwise they just die vs mages. In other builds, you may invest in the Block tree so you take less damage. You may invest in Alteration so you take less damage. You may invest in Restoration so you heal that damage back. You may invest in Conjuration so something else takes the damage instead of you. Heavy armor builds die vs mages. Mages die vs archers and two-handed warriors that get close. Stealth archer doesn't care about any of these because 90% of the time you're simply not taking any damage back. Stealth archer doesn't die vs warriors because it just resets the fight all the time. It doesn't die vs mages because it one-shots them. It doesn't die vs other archers as well because 1) they do not sneak-attack you, and 2) you can side-step arrows easily.

    There is another reason why people eventually resort to stealth archer, even if they started as a warrior, and that is that there is no reason not to use a ranged sneak attack at least as your opener. If you can take out 1/3 of your enemy's HP right from the start without even being detected (even if you have 15 sneak and 15 archery), why wouldn't you? It feels bad running up to an enemy and losing half of your HP in the process (warrior). It feels bad getting 2-shot by a Draugr Overlord with an Ebony bow (mage). It feels bad being outnumbered and surrounded and generally not being able to do anything about it (both warrior and mage). Stealth archer only feels bad if you get caught, which just doesn't happen due to how strong sneak is and how stupid the AI is. Even if you get caught, invisibility potions are as easy as mixing vampire dust and chaurus eggs – two extremely common ingredients – so you don't even need Illusion.

    In conclusion, the main reason why stealth archer is so good in Skyrim is because the game is made in such a (bad) way that it strongly favors and incentivises exactly that build. Thank you for reading all of this.

    Rosen Kostov June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • You hit some really good points here. Great video!

    Palmer Toews June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • …….

    Hail Sithis

    Cursed Khien June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Pure stealth, bow and dagger, all you need.

    Ben Mercer June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Played stealth archer like 30 times can’t stand it anymore it’s too easy there is no challenge in Combat most of the time now after playing Skyrim for years I think
    It’s also a cowardly style to play

    CareraDrift June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Pure mage is ridiculous too once you get enough magica and the impact perk, with both the enemy can’t touch you.

    Lewis 1242221 June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • “Because it’s easy…does a lot of daaamaaaage.” —Invisible Forest Guy

    Content Blocked June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • This game is a perfect example of how laziness holds great games back, I mean what if they put some more love into the combat, like creating set attacks that enemies can do, can you imagine a more difficult hybrid combat like from the Batman Arkham games, that would be great!

    zetta _ June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • The biggest reason why stealth archery is so popular is because other combat mechanics in skyrim suck. With melee weapons every fight turns into clicking on enemy until he's dead. And magic is too weak (especially early in the game)

    Push The Tempo June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • I played steth archer two times in all my playthroughs and it was really boring it's all just crouch behend something, fire youre bow, wait and repeat.

    young radrat June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Me- Picks Argonian
    Wants to play with One Handed
    Finds good two handed
    Plays with it
    Finds Glass Bow
    Becomes a stealth archer seeking the daedric bow

    Tipul Pistolar ツ #țiară June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • On one of my characters I was a stealth Archer who used illusion and alteration

    manda louella June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Well, I guess two-handed build is pretty much the same thing, just the opposite.

    Barristan Selmy June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Bandit: gets leg blown off by arrow travelling at 200mph

    Also bandit: “must’ve been nothing”

    TheAnxoiusHero 21 June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • I really don’t understand how people end up always being a sneaky archer. On my first couple playthroughs, I found it the easiest to be a two handed tank. You get the weapons and armor from quests.

    MogeOfficialTV June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Answer: Because the combat in Eldee Scrolls games is braindead, badly designed garbage and stealth archery is the fastest way to get it over with.

    Gawain June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Because it's edgy and we feel like Legolas

    Violette Summer June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Stealth archers should be as deadly as they are. Their dedication to stealth and archery leaves them with pretty much no other offensive or defensive abilities for open combat, thus they're very vulnerable. The real problem in Skyrim is that the NPC's don't respond accordingly to stealth. They stay in the same place, move in predictable patterns and you can easily avoid them even if they start searching for you. In the next Elder Scrolls, whenever enemies find a friend dead with an arrow to their head they should immediately take cover and start using stealth themselves to try to surprise the player. Imagine how intense it would be if enemies archers tried to hide themselves and shoot you when you're not looking at them. Once enemies notice you, they would employ defensive mechanisms such as traps, closing doors, loose their hounds to sniff you or even call reinforcements. Vampires, werewolf and most predator animals would have the ability to sense body heat, so it would be very difficult to sneak on them. All of that could make this style much more fair and challenging.

    lalalabizola June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • never should have come here

    Tokay of Labrynna June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • because the melee combat in skyrim is literally the worst in the fps genre?

    jUppers June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Because its funny murrdering a bandit then all his friends cant find you so they are just like "must have been the wind" XD
    Edit: (i perfer enchanted magic warrior builds because i like to be a powerfull nord warrior that all bandits fear by useing a fear enchantment and destruction ice magic with dragon scale armour with two handed dragon sword questing to be the hero of tamrell and i pretend no one knows who i am because i keep my identity secret with the mask of clavicus ville while in towns.) And thats me in skyrim

    Hunter Scates June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Because its op af

    Big Boss June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • i personally think the reason why people use stealth archer is because IT FEELS SO GOD DAMN GOOD

    Bread June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Because why use melee when u can kill everyone from afar , why use magic when u are able to do it more efficiently around archery . I think the dragonborn is just destined to be a stealth archer

    Nix June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • 7:28 is the answer

    Frost Troll June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • i promised myself i'd try other builds. i relapse everytime

    htf5555 June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • As someone who has not played Skyrim yet and will play soon, I find this video kinda funny because I was planning to play as an archer. Not a stealth archer, though. Just archer. A combat archer. I have a thing for playing physical damage ranged characters. Too much time spent on FPS and too much love for guns during these years is what it does to me. I fell compelled to always get a crossbow or a bow because it's the closest thing I will ever get to a gun in medieval fantasy games, lol. I like to feel like a skilled shooter and a ranged weapons specialist.

    Felipe Correia Borges June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Melee combat doesnt feel fun and generally requires some smithing and enchanting or even alchemy
    Spells get boring pretty quickly especially because they are all cast the same ways and destruction magic feels limited
    (Illusion is my favorite) and magic in general requires a lot of time and work w alchemy and enchanting
    Archery just needs light armor and any good bow
    Easy af

    Oliver Phoenix June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • Its popular because after a while, it gets way too easy.
    Almost like a sneak sniper in fallout 4 – gets too easy.

    Not being critical of anyone who likes it – after all, the game is hard for melee characters, and of course defeating foes before they can get to you is a good idea.
    However, that does not make up for the fact that sneak+archer it OP compared to melee, and with out the realistic limitations of actually having to carry a bow or a realistic quantity of arrows, there are no drawbacks (a long bow is not small, and a pain to carry everywhere, especially sneaking in tight places …and carrying as many arrows as a character does would me you look like a porcupine).

    davethepak June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply
  • everytime I play Skyrim I've always tried to do different builds spellsword as an example but in the end I always end up reveting back to stealth Archer, and it's all because the stealth is utterly broken in the players faver. just a question how many hours in is it before you realize you suddenly switch back to stealth Archer.

    Robomerc June 29, 2020 5:42 pm Reply

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