Some useful tips for finishing Winter Ember on the Faceless Man difficulty, the hardest difficulty mode in the game.
- Faceless Man Difficulty Tips
- Play on Medium/Hard First
- Drop Items on the Ground for Later
- Descending Blade Lv3 Is a Lifesaver
- Weave Knives Into Sword-Attacks
- In Combat, Corners and Lamp-Posts Are Your Friend
- Craft [Effect/Smoke] Arrows and Shoot Them Into Walls
- Engage Unaware Enemies Facing You with Fire
- Every Skill Point Is Critical, But Some Are Less Critical Than Others
- Closing Statements
Faceless Man Difficulty Tips
I just finished my third playthrough of Winter Ember, which was on Faceless Man difficulty. Here are some useful things I’ve discovered over the course of my playthrough which should help out, since they helped me.
Play on Medium/Hard First
This seems underwhelming for a first tip but like a lot of other stealth games, Winter Ember is very knowledge-based. Knowing where different routes are, knowing which enemies spawn where and when, what triggers certain events to happen, where the surprises are, and which doors you have to lockpick along with which ones you can just unlock from the other side after a slick loop-around through some windows, all of these things will help you a lot.
When you don’t know a lot of these, Winter Ember will often feel frustrating even on Medium, so to have the most fun on Faceless Man, I really advise you play it on Medium or Hard at least once.
Knowing the game as much as possible will help alleviate the frustration of the more challenging moments when they arrive. Faceless Man is basically pushing the game to its limit and strong understanding of mechanics is the difference between getting clowned on and basically crushing some sections like they’re a joke.
Drop Items on the Ground for Later
This game has no Storage Box that you can put items in, but dropped items like Arrows, Valuables, Potions and Bandages should remain wherever you dropped them for the rest of that save file.
This persists even if you go to other maps, after a long playtime, after closing and reopening the game, and through deaths. This means that on a constrained, smaller Inventory, which you will have if you want to save skill points for things that are more important, feel free to just drop items that you don’t want now but will want later somewhere convenient, like next to a manhole you use often or near your favorite shop.
This is particularly useful for Arrows since they both take up more space than anything else, and are more proactively useful than anything else. Valuables are only used for selling, and Healing items are a reactive tool used to recover from mistakes. Arrows are how you reach out and touch the world, so being able to come back for them later is ideal. Don’t always sell your surplus.
Descending Blade Lv3 Is a Lifesaver
On Faceless Man, enemies will finish detecting you very quickly, even with LV3/3 Haunting (reduce detection-rates). They both hear and see you from farther away than you’ll be used to from lower difficulties.
Oftentimes, even a single enemy can be a problem, and Descending Blade LV3 lets you guarantee an instant kill on an enemy that’s just detected you when you throw a knife at them. This even lets you get an advantage in scripted fights by immediately taking out a single enemy, or start bosses with a bit of damage on them. Certain quests or quest steps can essentially be “skipped” entirely by opening with a throwing knife when a fight breaks out.
Weave Knives Into Sword-Attacks
Fighting even a single enemy can be troublesome, and aside from whiff-punishing them — walk backwards so they miss a swing, then walk forward and attack them during their recovery, this is safer than Blocking first — it supplements your damage a lot to ‘chain’ a knife throw after your sword-attack hits their body without being blocked.
Knives come out basically instantly, and add a lot of damage potential to your fighting. They’re also amazing against enemies that don’t block, like Infected, Dogs, and the first boss.
With the dagger cooldown skill, this becomes even better.
In Combat, Corners and Lamp-Posts Are Your Friend
When I’m detected by one or two guards, if I don’t have the right resources on me, I’ll always run to a lamp-post.
Guards will usually not block attacks from you if they’re currently walking. Putting some kind of corner of a crate, or a lamp-post / thin tree (this is ideal) between the two of you can make them try to path toward you more often, making them block less often as a result.
Use this to quickly get rid of 1v1s and some 1v2s. It goes without saying that this will save your health a lot, since whiff-punishing guards is also easier without them being able to constantly and easily walk toward you.
Craft [Effect/Smoke] Arrows and Shoot Them Into Walls
When guarding, enemies will block arrows that you fire at them, and this even cancels their effect, wasting that arrow and all of its components entirely without even residual benefits of having used it.
However, shooting arrows into walls or furniture nearby causes the effect to always go off no matter what, so if enemies are mobbing you or you’re in the middle of a boss fight, sprint away to lure the foes toward you and shoot a Smoke + Effect combination arrow into a nearby wall or world object. The cloud will erupt and the enemy will walk into it so you can get some free sword swings in.
I’ve been loving Fire + Smoke, for strong damage over time combined with a stun.
This works against all enemies that want to be in melee range with you, which is essentially all of them except for one late-game archetype.
Engage Unaware Enemies Facing You with Fire
Early game you won’t have Sleep and Smoke arrows, and Blunt Arrows, while they can Stun an enemy you shoot with one, are precious because they’re used for distractions and interacting with Switches/Wooden Boards.
Fire Arrows are a great way to damage an isolated enemy who won’t turn their back to you. Fire causes enemies to be trapped in a “I’m burning” animation. Stun them for a pretty long duration by shooting a fire arrow from just out of detection range, then sprint up to them to start hitting them with your sword as they’re stuck in the “on fire” animation and can’t do anything to respond.
Typically, this will be enough time to completely kill a single enemy, but be wary of trying this against groups unless you use a fire-cloud to apply the stun to everyone.
Every Skill Point Is Critical, But Some Are Less Critical Than Others
You need all the skill tokens you can get on Faceless Man, because a lot of really great skills become almost necessary on that difficulty if you’ve never finished it before, and even those only truly shine when LV 3/3.
That said, some Skill Points come from side quests that expose you to incredible danger and resource-loss than you might be willing to withstand on this difficulty. For myself as some examples, I always ignore the Graveyard Keeper, Hospital and Mad Scientist side quests on Faceless Man.
They’re just too time-consuming and taxing on resources to feel worth it to me, but you might be just fine with them. This is also why playing on lower difficulties at least once is recommended. You’ll know what you should prioritize and what is quickly clearable, and you’ll know what is slow to clear and burns through your money, healing and arrows too intensely to be valuable early on (or ever).
I hope this helped someone, but I know this game is going to be subject to change since some amount of patching will start to happen one of these days. It’s possible good tactics will be reduced in power and maybe some new good ones will be added or discovered.