From the game's main menu, the fourth choice down is Challenge Mode. There is only one achievement associated with challenge mode--Modesty Denied--for scoring 5,000,000 on a challenge map. The number of challenge maps available depends on whether or not you have obtained any through DLCs. We will be doing the House of Blossoms challenge map because it is included in the base game. Each challenge map, House of Blossoms included, can be played selecting one of three modes--Chain & Gain, Chain & Gain Limited, and Special Loot Hunt. We will be doing Chain & Gain because it has the least complex set of rules.
Tip: The ideal time to do the House of Blossoms challenge map is during chapter 3. Gas everyone in the brothel by hacking the control panel and pulling the lever. Explore according to the tour guide in page 6 of this guide. When you feel that you have internalized the layout, you will be ideally prepared to pick up a lot of loot with 12 guards in the facility.
In chain and gain your objective is to collect as much loot as possible while maintaining the 'chain.' You maintain the chain by picking up sequential items of loot before a 60 second timer counts down. Pockets picked, for the purpose of the chain and for value, count as loot as well. There is an additional bonus for picking up sequential items within ten seconds from one another called a quick chain bonus. The speed with which you pick up items also affects a score multiplier shown as a dial or gauge in the top left hand corner. When you pick up loot quickly, the multiplier increases to a maximum value of ten. Whenever, you are not picking up loot, the dial slowly decreases. To ensure a high score, you want to pick up most of the items while the multiplier is at 9 or 10 and try your best not to let the multiplier decrease below 8.
Scoring is very complex. However, assuming that you are keeping the multiplier elevated, there are only three major components you have to worry about:
- The chain count bonus: There is an ever-increasing bonus as long as you do not lose the chain. It is so substantial that, if you are able to chain around 140 items or so, regardless of what else occurs, you should be able to score enough to earn the achievement.
- Loot collected: Assuming you maintain the multiplier, loot collected will be your second major component of score after the chain count bonus.
- Quick chain bonus: If you are able to obtain the quick chain bonus frequently, this can be a major addition to score. Sometimes, loot is in such close proximity you cannot help but obtain the bonus. Other times, a locked door will prevent you from obtaining a quick chain bonus between items.
Note that these are all interconnected. If you pick up quickly without ever breaking the chain (which is not hard), you will get great scores for the chain count bonus and loot collected and will, through the natural course of play, get a significant quick chain bonus. In contrast, if you do not pick up items quickly and especially if you break the chain, all three of these major components of scoring will suffer.
There are four thieving challenges:
- Lift all loot - Bonus 250,000
- Remain undetected - Bonus 100,000
- Take no damage - Bonus 50,000
- Reach the exit - time dependent bonus
The guide will describe how to get all four thieving challenges. However, you do not have to get any in order to get the achievement. The bonuses are all at least an order of magnitude less than the three major components of score listed above. So, although they may help you to meet the goal if you are close to the margin, if you are very slow and break the chain, you most likely will not meet the achievement's threshold even if you get all four challenges.
There are additional bonuses for picking pockets, picking locks, not using focus, and risks taken. A risk taken is a numerical counter that increases when you are close to an enemy and moving but taking no action. If you move close to the enemy, the counter starts. If you take an action like tossing a throwable or picking a pocket, the counter disappears. If you stop moving, the counter will stop but will require a period of inactivity before it resets. It is a very minor bonus. I tend to shadow the enemies to avoid detection so the counter is frequently active. In spite of that, my risk taken bonus was less than 7,000.
There is a penalty for stunning enemies and a penalty for killing enemies. Stunning the first enemy is a 5,000 point penalty. Each enemy, thereafter, increases the penalty by 5,000. So, if you stun all enemies, you will incur a 390,000 point penalty. Killing the first enemy is a 20,000 point penalty. Each enemy killed, thereafter, increases the penalty by 20,000. If you kill all enemies, the penalty is 1,560,000 points. The penalties for stunning and killing are separate. If you stun 11 enemies, the penalty for the 11th enemy is 55,000 points. If you then kill the 12th enemy, the penalty is only 20,000 because it is your first kill. With that in mind, if you want to incapacitate all 12 enemies, stunning 10 and killing 2 enemies would result in the smallest penalty--335,000 points.
Incapacitating all enemies is a valid strategy. If you clear out all the enemies, you can then collect all loot without opposition. What you lose in penalties, you gain in time. You should, especially, be able to pick up most of the loot with the quick chain bonus. Moreover, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Just two or three guards not incapacitated will save you considerably on the penalty because of the cumulative progression.
As a personal preference, though, I prefer a stealth approach. I use the same rules we used in the Master Custom Difficulty playthrough--no kills or knockouts, no focus, no detections. Although this guide describes a stealth approach, feel free to knock out or kill guards, use focus, and be detected. To repeat what I said earlier, if you can amass a chain of about 140 items, you can meet the 5,000,000 points required for the achievement regardless of other factors. Even if you are killed before you reach the exit, you should have enough points with the 140 item chain.
House of Blossoms Map Challenge - Chain & Gain
Head right pick up loot from top right drawer and a throwable from the top of the table. I leave a coin on the top left hand side of the table. I play very risk averse to avoid breaking the chain and want to have one item of loot for easy taking when I leave the room. I swoop across the room and pick up a coin on the couch. A guard is patrolling the room in a clockwise direction. This puts me right behind the guard. When he moves, I pick up a pen he was stepping on. Then, follow him picking one purse and moving to his left when he stops picking a second purse. He will turn to his right and will not see me on his left. I pick up an item from the small table then follow the guard picking up an item behind him when he stops. When he starts moving I pick his third purse and an item from a small table as soon as he passes it.
I turn around and swoop in the direction I came and to my left to pick a vase from a small table and continue into an alcove where there are two coins. Leaving the alcove hugging the wall to my right, I pick up a pen and a coin from a ledge. I pop into the area behind the start point & get an item from a small table to the right of the door. I swoop to the door, hug it while it opens, picking up a coin from the floor. I continue to the right hand wall and pick up a mirror. I open my inventory equipping the throwable while also assigning it to . I turn left, going to pick up an item from the right hand corner of the room. I turn left and go to a coin on the floor but do not pick it up. I toss the throwable to the wall on my right which is in front of a stationary guard. As the guard moves to investigate, I pick up the coin, go to pick both his purses, and grab an item from the north wall and then swoop out the door. Had I picked up the coin before tossing the throwable, because the guard takes time to react, I would have lost the quick chain bonus.
Once out of the room and the area in front of it, mindful of the patrolling guard, I turn right and go towards the north exit picking up the coin on the table that I had passed on earlier. At this point, I have gotten the quick chain bonus for all but the first of 24 items including purses picked.
The north door is closed. If you cannot see the guard, or he is paused at the railing, walking towards you, or stopped in front of they keyhole, wait till he is walking away from you. I was lucky. When I looked through the keyhole, the guard was already walking away from me. I opened the door, closed it, and grabbed an item of loot to my right and leaving a pair of scissors on the right hand ledge as a just in case. I took an item on a crate to my left before swooping behind the guard and picking a purse. I waited for him to start walking. As he turned the corner, I turned around, snuffed the candles, and picked the three tumbler lock on the door opposite the candles. Inside, I got an item of loot from the right hand drawer and a throwable from the top of the table leaving an item on the top of the table.
I dropped down and turned left into the passage picking up one coin, leaving another, swooping to a third picking up one to my left before swooping all the way to the back. I picked up the back-most coin and three more working back the way I came. Then I swooped to the coin I left earlier climbed up to the small room and picked up the item on the table that I'd left earlier. Doing it this way, I was able to get the quick time bonus on all but the first of the ten items of loot in the small room and the lower passage.
I waited to the left of the open door for the guard to come back. After he turned around and started walking, I picked his pocket and crouched in the corner using the cabinet to conceal me. As soon as the guard came back, I slipped by him, picked up the scissors I'd left on the ledge and hugged the right side of the stairs going down, mindful of the guard below. When I could, I slipped behind him in the dark southeast corner as he went towards a table in the northeast corner.
Note: There is a climbable spot where you can scramble up to the pipes above the kitchen area. I did not feel comfortable using them because climbing and dropping results in moments of vulnerability during the animation. I preferred to remain in control crouching on the ground but it is an option if it appeals to you.
As soon as he turned around, I slipped behind him, snuffed the candles on the table, got an item from the top left drawer and another one from the top of the table on the right. I swooped back to the dark southeast corner and slipped by the guard as he went to the northeast table. I snuffed out some candles on the southwest table & picked up an item from the far end of the same table. I turned right picked up an item from the next table and a purse from the floor crouching in the dark. When the guard came over I picked both his pockets and slipped behind him into a recess between the two stairs. There, I picked up two coins, turned around and swooped up the staircase to my left.
At this point, I had 49 items of loot including the eleven pockets I'd picked. The below map is a visual representation of the activity so far. The numbers in yellow refer to loot and the numbers in pink refer to the number of purses a guard carries. So, each pink number refers to a guard who may be patrolling or stationary.
At the top of the stairs, I looked through the keyhole. When the guard passed by, I opened the door, picked up an item to my right and slowly moved south to a column and picked up another item on the far (south) side of the column. I turned left and got an item from the drawer of a small table and picked up a purse from the ground. Then, I climbed on top of the partition pressed to equip a throwable and waited for the patrolling guard to pass.
Note: From the top of the partition, you can see the patrolling guard in the first section you plundered so be mindful that he does not see you.
I dropped down behind the guard. When he started to walk south, I picked up three items from the northeast corner, swooped south down the east side of the partition picking up an item before swooping up halfway up the stairway. I waited on the dark staircase for the guard to pass and walk north. I swooped west, snuffed the candles, picked up two items from the table and one from the couch opposite it. I waited in the dark near the cabinet for the guard to approach. He appears to look right at you shading his eyes but he cannot see in the dark. When he turned to walk north, I carefully picked up a item from the small table near the stationary guard careful not to snuff the candles and alert the guard. I climbed up on the partition and waited for the patrolling guard to come by.
Note: I took longer than I needed to here because I am risk averse. I could have distracted the guard while atop the partition. Instead, I played it safe, waiting for the guard to make an additional round.
When the guard came by, I dropped behind him and followed him stopping shortly before he came to the stationary guard. As soon as he started going behind the partition (east side), I tossed the throwable all the way to the cabinet I'd been hiding behind earlier careful that it reached past the door on the right. When the guard was startled and before he started moving, I picked his only pocket. As he walked to investigate, I grabbed the last two items of loot in this section and hid in the south side shadow of the column near the door. The guard coming back could not see me in the dark.
At this point, I had 67 items including 14 pockets picked. The last section--the west part of the lower level--is the trickiest. There are two guards patrolling. One guard patrols the central section in a clockwise manner making short detours and stops to the north and south ends of the partition dividing the west section from the central section. There are doors at each of those positions including the door I planned to enter.
The other guard patrols the four bedrooms also in a clockwise direction making occasional pauses. Noting where the guards were, I left an item of loot just to the left of the door and picked up an item from a small table to the right of the door as I entered. I swooped into the southeast bedroom and turned off the light. Only turn off lights if the guard is out of the room and not close to it. I picked up two items of loot from the southeast bedroom snuffed a candle and swooped to the southwest bedroom where I picked up one item of loot and turned out the light. I then exited the southwest bedroom through the north door went left and hid in the dark next to a small table. I had to wait a while for the guards to get where I wanted them to be. When the chain counter reached five, I picked up an item from the small table to refresh it.
When the guards moved to where I wanted them, I followed the guard patrolling the central area while the other guard was out of sight. I went behind him as he went to the north side of the partition dividing the big room. I picked up an item from the top of the table to my right and another from the bottom drawer of the table to my left. I was not sure what loot was available so I ended up also opening three empty drawers. I swooped into the northwest bedroom, turning off the light, and hiding in the dark northwest corner near an item. I waited for the guard to pass, picked up the item and two more and followed the guard into the northeast bedroom. When the guard exited the northeast bedroom, I waited for him to take a couple of steps and turned off the light. I went and picked the lock on the safe and got a rope arrow. I closed the safe.
Note: There are safes in each of the bedrooms but they only contain arrows. There is only one rope arrow in the northeast bedroom. There are bonus points for opening locked safes but I don't believe they are worth the trouble since a stealthy playthrough will not use the arrows they contain. I picked up the four items in the room and waited for the guard to come back and picked his three pockets in the dark. After he exited, I waited a little while for the other guard to move where I needed him, picked up an item on the table next to the eastern partition where I'd picked up another one previously. Then, I picked the guards two pockets. I hid on the east side of the partition dividing the big room while the bedroom guard moved into the northwest bedroom and the central guard moved to the north side of the partition I was using for cover. I then picked up a mirror on a small table to my right (north) and a fork and scissors from drawers to my left. I then left the way I came picking up the item of loot to the right of the door on exit--the one I had intentionally left as an insurance item.
I then went all the way up the steps I had hidden up before and shot a rope arrow across the way to a rope anchor. I went down to the first landing and picked up three items then back to the second landing and picked up another 3. I now had a total of 97 items including 19 picked pockets:
I went back upstairs. I left an item at the top of the stairs, picked the lock on the door in the hall to the right but did not open it. I picked up six items from the hall, looked through the keyhole, and opened the door when it was safe to do so. I stayed in the south half of the room and picked the guards pockets when he came close. When he went to the north side, I snuffed the candles, picked up six items of loot, and turned out the light. The guard was in the northwest corner too far to notice. I left the room and went back staying in the dark close to the top of the stairs. I waited till the patrolling guard was heading towards the farthest point of his patrol (northwest point), picked up the insurance item I'd left at the top of the stairs and turned off the lights in the two southern bedrooms. With the lights out, I could take my time following the guard to get the nine items in the southeast bedroom, the seven items from the southwest bedroom, and two of the four items in the hall where the guard patrolled. Counting the guards two pockets, there were a total of 22 items where this guard patrolled. The two items I left were near the west exit where I hid prior to attacking the northwest sector.
The two northern bedrooms, unlike the southern ones, have no connecting door. So, I waited for the guard to go into the northeast bedroom and went into the northwest bedroom turning off the light. Later, I followed the guard to the northeast bedroom and turned of the light there after he left. With both lights out, I picked the lock on the safes in one room and picked up the loot it contained. When the guard went into the northwest bedroom, I grabbed the rope I had shot earlier. Making sure the light gem was dark, I waited for the eastern guard to approach and then start walking away. Grabbing some loot to keep the chain going, I quickly picked the three tumbler lock of the door and swooped back to the rope. See note.
Note: This might be the trickiest part of the challenge. You must have darkened the room first. Even so, time is of the essence. You have very little time from the instant he passes the locked door, walks south, stops at the balcony, and starts to walk back north. If you cannot pick the lock cleanly on the first go, back out. Make a mental note where the trigger points are and head back to the rope grabbing one of the items of loot here to keep the chain going. Hang on the rope, making sure that the light gem is dark. Then go back and forearmed with the knowledge of some or all of the trigger points pick the lock and, without opening the door, go back to the rope getting some loot to keep the chain going. I did not succeed the first time. It took me a while to find the second trigger point. So, just to be safe, I backed out and succeeded cleanly the second time around.
After you have picked the lock, return to the rope. This time, use the keyhole and, when you can enter safely, do so. The guard patrols clockwise around the room. The key item is a safe. There is plenty of time because there are seven items of loot in the room besides the ashtray in the safe and the guard has two purses to pick. I was more cautious than I needed to be and carefully learned the trigger points before finally picking it cleanly on the third attempt. Once I'd collected all ten items this room has to offer including the guards two purses, I left. There are a total of seven items in the northern part of the other room. I had picked up two of them so I picked up the remaining five and hid on the dark spot of the rope until I could safely cross over.
At this point it was smooth sailing. I cleaned up the remaining items in the northwest sector. There are 8 items in each of the two northern bedrooms and six in the hall including a couple in the piece of furniture near the rope. Additionally, the guard has two purses. I picked up the two insurance items I'd left in the hall near the west exit, exited, went down the stairs and picked up the final item of loot just before the final exit to the House of Blossoms. That was the 176th and final item of loot counting the 27 picked pockets:
I took a long time to do the challenge--over 27 minutes. This was, in part, because I paused the game frequently to take notes. However, mainly, it is because I played very cautiously. Most of the challenge just requires patience. The only time when real precision is needed is in the room with the locked door and a patrolling guard.
The rope arrow is very handy. However, if you miss, it is not a deal breaker. If you do miss, it might be better to do the west side with the bedrooms before tackling the east side. Additionally, if you feel the locked door makes you too nervous, don't mess with it. It is better to exit safely and leave the ten items of loot in the locked room than it is to get killed by the two guards in a failed attempt to pick the lock.
Here, we get over 9.5M points. So, there is a lot of stuff you can leave on the table or you can go berserk and kill off guards. Don't be concerned if you are detected. Use focus if you need help finding stuff. As long as you keep a good chain going, you will be fine. Losing bonuses and incurring penalties is minor compared to the millions of points that you will get from the chain count bonus, the loot collected, and the quick chain bonus.
Finishing any map challenge, not necessarily this one, for the first time with a score over 5,000,000 unlocks:
Score an epic 5,000,000 or more in a Challenge Map
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