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IGN - Payday 3 Guide - Payday 3 Stealth Guide

The Payday series is a game that's always taken pride in it's in-depth stealth mechanics and systems. The ability to go in with the full force of of your crew and mow down hundreds of law enforcement can be fun, but there's a different feeling of accomplishment when you successfully get in and out, no alarms, completely clandestine. In Payday 3, they take their already successful stealth mechanics and make them even better and in this guide we'll cover the basics to get you started on how to be a successful covert heister.


Payday 3 Stealth Guide

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We'll try to cover everything you'll need to know to successfully pull off a covert operation in Payday 3. Need help with a specific section? Click on the links below...


      Payday 3 Stealth Basics

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      There's a lot to cover about stealth in Payday 3, from what to do before you even get into the heist, to what to do when you're in the heist in Casing Mode, to when you finally put on the mask, to making your escape. For fans familiar with the stealth mechanics from previous entries, you'll find it easy to get back into the saddle, but there are some new features you might want to be aware of.

      As with everything, the tutorial is a great place to start in order to start with just learning the feel of the game within the game itself.

      Fixing Your Loadout

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      The first place you'll want to start on mastering stealth is your loadout. The no-brainer options here are to make sure your weapons are silenced, as firing an unsilenced weapon is the easiest way to get caught. Usually, your sidearm being silenced is good enough, but making sure your primary is silenced can also be useful in a number of situations.

      The default pistol, the Signature 40, is readily available with a purchasable scope without any levels in the weapon. Some, if not all weapons, will require some level of investment in the weapon levels to be able to purchase a scope.

      For your tool, fans of the series might see the ECM Jammer which becomes available later in the game and think it should be the default option, but Payday 3 has introduced a few new useful tools for stealth heists.


      Gadget Description
      MicroCam This is a useful tool available to you by default that lets you place a small camera where ever you'd like so you can get access to information that you normally wouldn't be able to see. Although hacking cameras can achieve the same goal, if you're unable to access a camera where you are and are, for instance, behind a closed door, this tool can be useful to scope the place before you walk right into a guard.
      Infrasonic Mine This will cause stun your targets with audio only audible to them for a short time. You'll need to handle them when the stun wears off though, so only use as a last resort.
      ECM Jammer The famous ECM Jammer from Payday 2 makes it's return, but it's been slightly toned down. It needs to be activated after being placed, meaning you can time them much better than before and the duration is much shorter. It's still a fantastic tool when you and your team needs to make a swift getaway at the tail-end of a heist, buying you enough time to escape.
      Motion Sensor A fantastic item that's similar to the trip mine from Payday 2. Set this up somewhere with heavy traffic and you'll always know if you're in the clear when it marks approaching civilians and guards. Never turn a wrong corner again!

      As for throwables, you're likely not going to be using them while stealthed, so the best option here is the Throwing Knife, which won't make any noise when thrown and can be used for stealth kills from a far when your guns just aren't cutting it. You also won't accidentally throw a grenade when you meant to drop your bag you were carrying when using it.

      Finally for armor the best choice is the Standard Lining, which offers the highest movement speed of all the armors, which can be important when trying to quickly maneuver around guards. There's a high chance you won't want to be caught anyways, so prioritizing armor will likely interfere with your game plan, and getting caught while in a stealth build on a higher difficulty, like Overkill will certainly mean you're not equipped for combat either way.

      Choosing the Right Skills

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      Like in our Best Payday 3 Builds we covered how Stealth skillsets are usually rather homogenous, so we'll outline the same ideas here.

      • Hacker- This tree focuses extensively on the use of hacking and disruption. The only things you're able to hack are cameras, which allows you to make them ignore you or cause them to explode in Hard and below difficulties. This tree also lets you interact with Lures from a distance, which is very useful in conjunction with other skills.
      • Infiltrator - Although this tree's name feels like a no-brainer for stealth, there's only a few useful skills in here that actually provide some stealth benefits. The skills that improve your lockpicking, however, are invaluable.
      • Grifter - This one is all about improving your Casing Mode skills, but it also helps with several stealth mechanics anyways, as many stealth heists don't force you to be masked up to begin with, so this has strong benefits whenever you're able to remain in Casing Mode.
      • CQC Specialist - This skill tree, on the other hand, improves your stealth capabilities when masked up. Grifter and CQC are diametrically opposed, but there are some heists that may call for you to be masked up and some that may call for you to be in Casing Mode, so knowing when to choose is key!

      We recommend something like this for a generic stealth build:

      Infiltrator (Aced), Quick Fingers, Bagger, Grifter, Walk the Walk, Social Engineering, Open Mic, Slippery, Hacker (Aced), Secure Loop, Appliance Breach, Routed Ping, Signal Protocol, Signal Catch, Strategist (Aced), CQC Specialist, Groundskeeper, Pressure Points, Cover-Up

      Always be sure to change your skills when necessary. Points in Grifter might not be useful in certain heists.

      Stealth in the Heists

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      Now that you've got your loadout ready, you'll need to know the basics of stealths within the heists. We'll be covering these as if the difficulty was set to Normal, so higher difficulties may change certain expectations, but if you're able to tackle the higher difficulties, you've probably grown accustomed to the mechanics of Payday 3 anyways.


      Security Modifiers

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      Before the Heist begins, higher difficulties will have different security modifiers. Currently, there are only three different security modifiers in-game.

      Security Modifiers
      Modifier Description
      Titan Cameras All security cameras will be indestructible.
      Cerberus Core Hack runtimes on cameras will only last for 5 seconds.
      Lead Guard A lead guard with endless radios will spawn in.


      Be sure to account for the security modifiers in your stealth game plan.

      Casing Mode

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      This is the mode you'll start the heist in almost all the time. Also known as civilian mode or mask off, you'll get the chance to wander around the premise to case the place and draw out a game plan before actually executing. There are even situations where you may not even need to mask up to get the job done either!

      New to Payday 3, you'll have a number of different options available to you in Casing Mode that initially weren't available in previous titles. Being able to interact more with the game world and just draw suspicion rather than completely cause an alarm is also a new addition to the game.

      Here's a list of basics you'll need to know for Casing Mode.

      • If you're caught, you won't be immediately shot on sight, instead you'll be escorted out or detained (depending on the ).
      • You can lockpick and pickpocket key items in this mode, allowing you to still get some things done before having to fully commit.
      • You can loot and throw bags in this mode. Contrary to what might be considered normal, walking around with a duffel bag doesn't alarm the guards either, and they won't be suspicious when finding one on the ground either.
      • You can interact or sabotage basically any other interactable in the world, including .
      • You can hack cameras and radios using your Hacking skills, making it possible for you to assist your team or maybe just scope out the place for yourself.
      • You can crouch but you can't jump, so plan your platforming accordingly.
      • You can't take hostages, intimidate, or take human shields, so if the situation calls for you to use a human shield to scan biometrics, you'll need to put your mask on for that.

      Security Levels

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      New to Payday 3 are security levels. The security levels will be indicated at the top of the screen and each have different meanings and varying response level. Naturally, they only matter in Casing Mode, when you aren't walking around the place armed with a clown mask on.

      Security Levels
      Level Description
      Public Area Guards, employees, and cameras won't think any differently of you while you're in this area while in Casing Mode so long as you aren't doing anything illegal.
      Private Area If you're caught in a Private Area and you're not doing anything illegal, a guard will escort you out of the area to the nearest Public Area. If a camera, guard, or employee catches you in a Private Area doing something illegal, you'll be detained instead.
      Secure Area The highest level of security. If anyone catches you in one of these areas, you'll be immediately detained with no level of input available to you.

      When you're detained, you won't be left with many options. If you've got the Slippery skill you can lockpick your own cuffs to try and break free and continue in stealth. Your allies can also pick your cuffs to free you. However, you'll automatically mask up after this, so if you want to keep going quiet, you'll have to be a bit more cautious.


      If you're playing alone and need a member of your team to uncuff you, they'll automatically mask up as well and blow your cover, meaning it's basically game over for full stealth.

      Hostage Taking

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      If you've been caught somewhere you're not supposed to be by a civilian or employee, you'll have to mask up and intimidate the civilians to get them down on the ground. Thankfully, you have unlimited zip ties in Payday 3, so hostage control is no issue in this game. If a guard finds a hostage, they'll obviously call for reinforcements, as there's no easy explanation for a hostage.

      If you're forced to take a hostage, make sure you hide them in an area that won't be heavily patroled.

      Answering Pagers

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      Killing a guard is not the end of the heist by any means. Once you kill a guard, their pager will go off with a radio consultant checking on them. Simply answer their pager to buy you some time and then you'll be free to move their body wherever you find safe.


      You can answer 4 pagers on lower difficulties before an alarm is triggered and 2 on higher difficulties. If you fail to answer a pager, it'll only consume two to your pager limit rather than completely triggering an alarm as well.

      Guard Detection and Search Mode

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      Guards will detect broken cameras and sabotaged objects in Payday 3. Once they detect something suspicious, as long as you aren't caught red-handed, they'll instead go into Search Mode.


      Search Mode is a new mode where guard security and patrols are changed, meaning guards are more likely to leave their posts and patrol in a more proactive pattern. It's dangerous sometimes but sometimes can be used to your advantage.

      Guards who hear you sprinting or making other loud noises will also be alerted and investigate, but will not necessarily go right into Search Mode.

      If you're caught by a guard during a search, even if you're in a Private Area, you'll be immediately detained.


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      While Lures existed in Payday 2, they weren't an explicit mechanic that existed in all heists. Now, Lures exist within many of the Payday 3 heists specifically to draw away guards who are impossible to move without straight-up killing. Interacting with a lure will buy you some time to do any dirty work that needs to be done or get into an area unmonitored.

      Lures can be reused but have a small cooldown period.

      How to Perform Takedowns

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      Takedowns are new to Payday 3, allowing you to kill guards in a more advantageous position than before. To perform a takedown, you'll need to be masked on and then approach a guard from behind while being undetected. Then, you'll get the prompt to take them as a human shield.

      While in this position, you just need to hold the interact button in order to perform the takedown. You can carry the guard around during this time but you'll need to also answer their pager while you're doing this in stealth.

      Looting and Escaping

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      Once you've successfully done everything right up to this point, it's time to pick up your bags and escape. Looting is the same as it's always been, meaning you'll have to transfer bags across the map and successfully into your escape location.

      You can loot while in Casing Mode and only carry one bag at a time. However, you can now give bags to your AI companions if you're playing alone to alleviate some of the dirty work.

      Your escape point while in a stealth heist is usually different than a loud heist so it's always important to plan accordingly.

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