Submitted by: David K.
Tips for Faceless Man Difficulty:
Written by Leo K [Rogue]
Some useful tips for finishing Winter Ember on the Faceless Man difficulty,
the hardest difficulty mode in the game.
I just finished my third playthrough of Winter Ember, which was on Faceless
Man difficulty. Here are some useful things Ive 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 dont 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 theyre 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 dont 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. Dont always sell
-=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 youll 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 thats 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. Theyre also amazing against enemies that dont 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 Im detected by one or two guards, if I dont have the right resources
on me, Ill always run to a lamp-post.
Guards will usually not block attacks from you if theyre 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 youre 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.
Ive 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 wont have Sleep and Smoke arrows, and Blunt Arrows, while they
can Stun an enemy you shoot with one, are precious because theyre used for
distractions and interacting with Switches/Wooden Boards.
Fire Arrows are a great way to damage an isolated enemy who wont turn their
back to you. Fire causes enemies to be trapped in a “Im 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 theyre stuck in the “on fire” animation and cant do anything to
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 youve 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.
Theyre 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. Youll know what you should prioritize
and what is quickly clearable, and youll know what is slow to clear and burns
through your money, healing and arrows too intensely to be valuable early on
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.
Its possible good tactics will be reduced in power and maybe some new good
ones will be added or discovered.