Stealth, also known as Sneak, governs your ability to escape detection by others through reducing your visibility and noisiness. It is primarily useful for evading confrontation with enemies, and for executing surprise attacks that inflict critical damage.
In previous Elder Scrolls games, "Stealth" and "Sneak" are different concepts: stealth being a grouping of (more-or-less loosely) conceptually related skills, of which sneak was one. In ESO, there is not a distinct, developed skill line for this behavior, and any character can sneak. Similarly, being "stealthed" in ESO usually refers to a sneaking character who is hidden from enemies.
Toggling the sneak control causes the player to crouch or stand, indicating that you have entered or left sneak mode. Moving while sneaking will burn stamina; if the player stops moving, stamina regenerates normally.
While sneaking, the crosshair becomes a special "eye" reticle indicating the following statuses:
|A horizontal line indicates you are completely hidden, or "stealthed". This is accompanied by the text hidden, and your character gains a shadow over their location.|
|The "eye" begins to open as you get near to a potential witness, or if an NPC begins to search for you.|
|A solid oval means that somebody knows where you are or can see you. This is accompanied by the text detected. Note that you will also see this icon and text whenever interacting with objects even if there are no witnesses around to see you.|
You perform a sneak attack when you physically strike someone who is unaware of your presence. Sneak attacks do up to 3 times the amount of damage of a normal attack.
- The sneak multiplier is only applied to the physical damage done by a weapon, i.e. the damage shown for the weapon in your inventory.
- Sneak damage applies to all attack types, including dual-wield weapons, bows, and skills.
If a sneak attack does not kill an enemy, you will become detected -- by the enemy themselves and by any of their allies within detection range. This seems to be true even if it does not appear that the enemies "ought" to be able to know where the attack came from -- e.g., by an arrow fired from cover.
Also, when you attack from sneak, you immediately leave sneak. Leaving sneak automatically has the benefit of making you instantly able to attack/defend/run without being handicapped in your movement speed, but may factor into the fact that you become immediately visible.
Subsequently crouching to return to sneak, or using concealing skills such as the Nightblade's Shadow Cloak, will have whatever success in hiding you again that they would in any combat situation: mixed, depending on your circumstances. However, if you can regain sneak, you can immediately attack again and have the usual sneak multipliers apply.
Sometimes your ability to sneak is suppressed. There are various things that can cause this:
- An NPC guard with a lamp, found in places associated with the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, or Morrowind DLCs. While sneaking, you will see a shining circle on the ground around them. You cannot sneak within this circle, and possibly for a few seconds after leaving it. If you are in a restricted area or have a bounty on your head, the guard will generally try to arrest or attack you if you are spotted.
- Some traps in these same areas can temporarily inhibit your ability to sneak. Try to keep an eye out for any trip wires or leaky pots which can explode and deal damage in addition to suppressing your stealth.
- In PVP zones, other players may use a Potion or Poison with the Detection trait against you, preventing you from entering stealth unless you can purge the effect somehow.
- The Magelight and Revealing Flare abilities can also inhibit stealth in PVP areas. (You may also use these abilities to detect NPCs who are using stealth, though these are also much more common in PVP zones.)
Sneak is improved by buffs that decrease the distance at which you are likely to be detected, increase stealth damage, and reduce stamina cost.
|Stealthy (Bosmer)||25 / 35 / 50||Improved Stealth radius by 1/2/3 meters. Increases damage while Stealthed by 3/6/9%.|
|Stealthy (Khajiit)||10 / 20 / 40|
|Master Assassin (Assassination)||8 / 18||Increases Weapon and Spell Damage while invisible or stealthed by 5/10%.|
|Dark Stalker (Vampire)||9||Ignore the Movement Speed penalty while in Crouch.
Decreases the time it takes to Crouch by 50% during the night.
|Improved Sneak (Medium Armor)||14 / 34||Reduces the cost of Sneak by 4/7% per piece of Medium Armor equipped.
Reduces the size of your detection area while Sneaking by 3/5% per piece of Medium Armor equipped.
|Improved Hiding (Legerdemain)||1 / 6 / 11 / 16||Reduces the cost of Sneak by 10/20/30/40%.|
|Veil of Shadows (Thieves Guild)||10||Decreases detection range of Witnesses and Guards by 10%.|
|Concealed Weapon (Shadow)||1||While slotted, your Movement Speed while stealthed or invisible is increased by 22/23/24/25%.|
|Archer's Mind||5 of 5||Attacking from stealth increases Critical Damage by an additional 10%.|
|Night Mother's Embrace||5 of 5||Reduce the range you can be detected while hidden by 2 meters. Reduces Crouch cost by 25%.|
|Night Terror||3 of 5||Decrease detection radius by 2 meters. Reduce Sneak cost by 10-27%.|
|Night's Silence||5 of 5||Ignore Movement Speed penalty while Sneaking.|
|Shadow Dancer's Raiment||5 of 5||Ignore Movement Speed penalty while Sneaking.|
|Shadow Walker||5 of 5||Restore 25-2150 Health and Stamina every second while hidden and not moving.|
|Stygian||5 of 5||While Sneaking or Invisible, Spells do an additional 20% damage.|
|Vicecanon of Venom||5 of 5||Your Critical Hits from Crouch inject a leeching poison that deals 192-16880 Poison Damage
over 15 seconds and heals you for the damage done.