I am one of these people. I saw this thread and thought “time for me to find that Dia Lacina tweet,” but alas, this thread seems to have anticipated that. Though I think that axiom is maybe less about stealth mechanics as core tenets in a game’s design and more about how a lot of games choose to incorporate stealth mechanics as a kind of icing, where it’s not the only focus but just there because someone on the dev team (or maybe the marketing team) was like “we need some more spice.” One of the things that can almost immediately sour me on a game is a bad forced-stealth section — like I might be utterly loving something and after ten minutes of unexpected or forced stealth that feels shoehorned into a game that wasn’t built with it in mind I will be ready to toss it. That shrine quest in the Lost Woods was the only thing that ever made me want to stop playing Breath of the Wild. If a game is going to have stealth it’s got to be a well-integrated part of the game’s systems.
That said… @navster, I don’t think we disagree! Because Sekiro is by far my favorite stealth game. You can probably play through Sekiro without stealth but man, it would not be nearly as fun without it, which for me is the marker of really good stealth. It should be kinetic and fun; it should have reasonable allowances that maybe kill the realism a bit but make you feel like a ninja (coincidentally, Mark of the Ninja is maybe my second-favorite stealth game — and I think the reason both these work is that they’re less about like military-style Splinter Cell stealth and more stylized, comic-ish, ninja-adjacent stealth). Stealth is pure video game power fantasy, and the way Sekiro lets you chain kills and activate Ninjitsu skills that either augment the stealth further or open up new ways to approach big fights is just so satisfying.
That all aside (at the risk of writing way too much here), I want to shout out XCOM 2’s Concealment mechanic, because it allows for some incredible initiating moments. There’s very little I’ve ever found as satisfying in a game space as lining up an Overwatch trap knowing my soldiers will be revealed as soon as the aliens move, and also knowing that that entire pod is about to be annihilated by six guerrilla fighters all firing at once.
Also — Heat Signature! Heat Signature is all about infiltration, about being an interloper on massive enemy vessels, sneaking around and incapacitating crews that should (and do) easily overpower you if they manage to find you. It also lets you escape by shooting a window and jetting out into the vacuum of space, which I always do, no matter how easy it might be to just walk back to my ship. Moreover, the way it gives you time to fix things if you break stealth but can think quickly enough leads to some great organic problem-solving. Love love love that game, more people should play it.