Arkane Studio’s latest game is its biggest yet, with esoteric puzzles, cutthroat combat, and an entire loot system all wrapped around a repeating time loop. And with it now arriving on Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, a lot more people are likely to be leaping in. If you’re one of them and Deathloop seems overwhelming to you at first, well, that’s because it is.
There’s no shortage of tutorials and hints thrown at you along the way, but it’s done in such a hectic fashion that I didn’t find them to be a ton of help in the moment. Hopefully this guide will help you find your footing on the island of Blackreef a little faster than I did. Here’s how to survive Deathloop and get the most out of it.
Deathloop repeats the same day over and over. Time progresses from morning to noon to afternoon to evening, only advancing when you leave a level. But only you and one other character—Julianna—remember each loop, so don’t worry about messing anything up. Each day is essentially a new “run,” and if you die or run out of day, you just start over again. From scratch. Any weapons, upgrades, or powers you found? At first, they’re all gone. The only thing that stays with you are the clues you find, which will over the course of the game eventually lead you to the final “perfect” run.
Until you discover the Infuse ability, that is. This allows you to collect Residuum from glowy objects and dead Visionaries, and spend it on infusing weapons, powers, and upgrades you want to keep around for subsequent loops. Infusing means an item is permanently with you, and is the key to building out your arsenal in Deathloop. It’s where the game really starts. As soon as you can you’ll want to take on the “Ubiquity” mission under the Arsenal Leads tab of your menu, and kill all 10 Dr. Wenjie Evans clones at The Complex in the afternoon. (The game’s tutorials will lead you toward this.)
Protagonist Colt Vahn has three lives, a total which resets every time you leave a level, so you’ve effectively got 12 lives each loop to collect as many clues and Infuse as much gear as possible. Often it’s best to prioritize one or the other, grinding for loot one loop before trying to meaningfully progress in the story the next. You can also fast-forward to later parts of the day, so don’t feel like you need to play an entire four levels before completing each loop.
Here is a general ranking of which loot you should prioritize infusing with your limited Residuum, based on how helpful the thing is and how hard it is to get:
- Gold guns
- Slab upgrades
- Character trinkets
- Purple guns
- Weapon trinkets
You’ll start every day with this upgrade no matter what once you have it. That means you can sacrifice it from your Infuse menu to get some extra Residuum if there’s something else you really need it for.
Deathloop is Arkane’s most aggro stealth game yet. Yes you can (and should!) try to get to your objective and targets without waking the whole neighborhood, but there’s no consequence for killing people. If things go sideways, there’s no shame in whipping out your machine gun and bringing the whole house down. Sometimes you might even end up killing everyone on a single level and that’s fine.
Since Deathloop doesn’t progress real time you can take advantage of the quiet to explore at your own pace. But if you do go full Scarface, just make sure to take out the gold-plated enemies with radios on their heads first. If they catch you they’ll try to call for backup, and then things can get really messy.
Deathloop’s shooting is very strong, but so are its other verbs. Colt’s machete doesn’t look flashy but two swipes will kill just about anyone. Need to reload? Don’t! Stab, stab, stab. Colt can also kick, which in addition to stunning enemies, can send them flying off rooftops and into the cold, subarctic waters below.
And then there’s the slide, which will take you pretty far when done with sprinting, and is great for discombobulating the AI until you’re able to get in close enough for the melee kill. I have survived multiple encounters with a sliver of health by sliding to dodge bullets, closing the distance at the last, nail-biting second. Bonus points: all of these things just feel really good to do, too.
The Visionaries are a bit like Mega Man bosses. Each has different powers and weaknesses, and some are easier to take down than others. Charlie Montague is one of the harder ones thanks to how fortified his Updaam LARP funhouse is, but killing him will also net you the Shift Slab, which lets you teleport short distances in any direction.
It’s incredibly powerful and super-versatile. Once you get it you’ll probably never unequip it. But to do that you first need to take out Charlie in Updaam at noon. You can try to sneak up to the third floor and take him out stealthily, but I suggest slowly and methodically killing everyone from the outside in. Otherwise it’s too easy for his funhouse to become a death trap.
Facing a long hallway of laser activated mines? You can Shift through those. Locked out of a room lined with windows? You can shift inside there. Blue lasers in the way? Still no problem. Shift can also be used to gain altitude. Your power meter starts with enough juice for three rapid-fire uses, which combined with your double jump can help you safely scale the outside of most buildings.
The game will naturally nudge you toward taking on Harriet early on because she’s located at Karl’s Bay first thing in the morning, but you should really do it after getting Shift. Her airhangar slowly fills up with toxic gas, which makes getting to her control room the normal way a bit hard. Fortunately you can fire into the gas pit to blow it up and keep the fumes low, and use Shift to teleport from the airplane hanging in the center directly into her control room on the left.
She has the Nexus Slab, which chains enemies in a small area so that when one of them dies they all do. More importantly, she also has a very unique Fourpounder hand cannon, whose bullets spit out clouds of toxic gas. The toxic gas not only damages enemies over time, it will also explode if hit by another bullet. I call this the “Toxicsplosion” meta. It’s perfect for piling up corpses at choke points and will get you through just about any firefight in the game.
Blackreef is full of turrets. Some shoot bullets. Others fire missiles. A few create dampening fields which restrict your powers. Fortunately, you can use your Hackamajig to control all of them. They also fold up into neat little briefcases you can carry around when they’re turned off. Instead of sneaking by them, you should always keep one handy. They can clear out mobs quickly, especially when strategically placed at choke points, or even just behind you to stop enemies from surrounding you.
You have to be in range and looking at a turret to hack it, but once the hacking starts you can slip back behind cover as long as you’re still in range. This will give you just enough extra time to finish the hacking without getting shot to shreds. It’s counter intuitive but it works.
Some of Deathloop’s most tedious puzzles involve batteries to power things. They’ll always be at least one nearby in these scenarios, but fuck that. Every turret comes with its own battery, and levels are full of those. If you’re ever in need of some quick electricity, just hack a turret and take it with you.
Speaking of repurposing turret batteries, my personal choice for best gun in the game—Strelak Verso—is extremely easy to get if you go looking in the right place. This Arsenal Lead takes you to The Complex at noon. The gun is locked in a room that requires four batteries to open. Luckily, Egore’s science station is nearby and has plenty of briefcases full of them. You’ll have to carry them one at a time, and it helps if you’ve killed everyone in the area first, but it’s a whole lot easier than messing with the trap-laden alternative.
Why is Strelak Verso so good? In addition to a perk that slows enemies when they’re damaged (perfect for taking on other Visionaries and especially Julianna), the dual-wielding automatic guns can also be pieced together into an SMG that has fantastic handling, aim, and range. Plus it’s hot pink and shiny. What’s not to love?
Frank’s Club is one of the harder locations to get through in Deathloop. To get inside the conventional way you need to take one of his ClassPasses at the terminal right outside. This will prevent you from using all of your powers, including Reprise, meaning when you die that’s it—no second chances. You can muddle through this way, making use of the generous number of turrets inside the club, or you can bypass it altogether by sneaking in another way.
All you have to do is head to the caverns in the center of Fristad Rock and follow them down until you get to a shallow puddle area. Just ahead is a tunnel that you can follow to get to a hole in Frank’s Club. It’s quick and easy. Here’s a video showing you exactly how to do it.
There are base versions of lots of weapons in Deathloop, except for the sniper rifle. These only have unique Gold versions, and they’re a bit off the beaten path, but super useful once you get one. All you have to do is go to Updaam in the afternoon and follow the rightward outskirts of the map until you get to the Dorsey Mansion gates.
There will be a big present there with a lever. Instead of pulling it, head inside the bakery building directly across from it, sneak up to the floor overlooking the square, and kill the Eternalists inside. One of them will have the Sepulchra Breteira, which has a generous scope and great aim-assist. It will kill anyone with one headshot and will make you feel extra assassin-y.
One of Deathloop’s big innovations is that other players can invade your game as Julliana. If you’ve ever wondered why the game is constantly searching for servers in-between levels, it’s for this. Being hunted is thrilling, and can even be fun, unless you’re in the middle of something important and out of extra lives.
When Julianna invades she will spawn by a beacon that shuts down your escape route until you disable it. This gives her the upperhand, but it also means you know where she’ll be since an objective marker for the bacon will immediately spawn as well. I suggest bum rushing her as soon as possible before the person you’re playing against can get their bearings, strategize, and get to a good vantage point. Unlike you, Julianna only has one life, and it won’t last long against a fully loaded Strelak Verso.
The Karnesis Slab is also extremely helpful, since Julianna will likely be on a roof and it will let you force push her right off to her death. If you can’t get to the beacon quickly and you really don’t want to die, I suggest holing up somewhere with your back to the wall and your long range weapon drawn. Sometimes players will get bored and come out of hiding. Occasionally they’ll even kill themselves by accident trying to platform through a level. And when all else fails use the machete. It doesn’t miss.
Deathloop defaults to multiplayer mode, but you can swap back to offline single-player at any time. Julainna will still invade, but she will be AI-controlled, and the Deathloop AI is, well, not great. She will immediately try to find you, throwing caution and stealth to the wind, and is pretty easy to kill. The AI-Juliannas are also a great way to farm extra loot at low risk since she always drops lots of upgrades and 10,000 Residuum.
Deathloop is still fundamentally an immersive sim, and there’s nothing less immersive than sheepishly following an ever-shifting on-screen icon for two dozen hours. Because there’s no way to mess up Deathloop’s overarching story, you can always just drop into a random level at a random time of day and explore freely, stumbling into leads and Visionaries in a more organic way.
The game will take a lot, lot longer this way, but it’s also a much more natural approach to learning about Blackreef and discovering the myriad clues, secrets, and clever environmental storytelling littered throughout the world. You can always turn them back on if you get stuck, but once you’re at the end of the game ready to kill every Visionary in one day, tackling the day with no extra help is a fun way to try and test your knowledge of the loop to its fullest.