Veterans of the Escapists prison yard shouldn’t have many problems adapting to The Escapists 2, but if you’re in Mouldy Toof’s jails for the first time you may want a bit of guidance. This is not going to be a step-by-step walkthrough of each individual level. Firstly, because I haven’t actually achieved that yet, and, secondly, because there are a whole lot of ways to escape in this game.
Instead, this piece will give beginners a solid foundation of knowledge from which to plan their own acts of escapology. The Escapists 2 can be pretty open-ended, so it’s useful to get an idea of how the game is structured and how its mechanics work. This article is focused on single player, but the information within can be pretty universally applied to co-op mode too.
Follow The Routine … But Not Too Closely
Prison life follows a routine set by the guards and warden. The daily routine includes multiple roll-calls, lunch periods, time set aside for prison jobs, working out, and (all too infrequent) free periods. Early on, stick to where you need to be and learn the prison layout.
It’s worth knowing that for all these activities, the guards just need to see your face. You can show up for, say, dinner and leave almost straight away if you like (assuming you don’t need the stamina boost from the food). A green check mark next to the activity confirms that you’ve done it. This can give you a pretty decent head-start on doing something else. If your absence is causing a problem, nearby guards will make it clear; and your ‘Heat’ meter (the one below Health and Stamina) will increase.
Missing an activity entirely will have repercussions, depending on how crucial the activity is. Don’t skip Roll Call unless you absolutely have to (ie; you’re literally about to escape). It’ll trigger an immediate five star lock-down.
Any period of time in The Escapists 2 where you don’t have to be following the routine is time you can spend getting up to mischief and planning your escape.
Popular Prison Pastimes
You probably won’t be getting anywhere if you’re too feeble and dumb. A main priority on all levels should be raising your stats to more acceptable levels. You’ll need Strength if you plan on fighting and guards (or prisoners), Fitness if you want to keep Stamina levels up when doing things like digging, and Intellect in order to craft more complex items. Prison jobs also have different stat requirements. The prison has designated exercise times, but you can accelerate your learning by training in your free time as well.
Remember that if you get tired while exercising (or reading – that’s tiring too), sitting down, resting in a bed, or showering will make your Stamina return faster than just standing around. Eating stuff also replenishes your Stamina (so carry some snacks if you’re planning a lengthy session).
Stat prowess in The Escapists 2 will only get you so far, though. Ultimately you’re going to need equipment of some sort in order to escape; be that weapons, tools for wire cutting, disguises, or all of the above. Your best source for all of these things is the desks belonging to other prisoners. Search them thoroughly and often, taking anything handy. Precisely what you might need will vary, but Duct Tape is always, always useful. Take Duct Tape on sight.
If guards see you raiding a desk they’ll get annoyed, so keep an eye on their patrols on the mini-map (guards can always see through cell bars unless you put up a bunch of bed sheets – handy to hide activities in your own cell as well). The prisoner who owns the desk will be miffed if they catch you too.
Rooting around in desks is all very well, but sometimes you just want a specific item. In those cases, it can sometimes be better to just pay one of the shopkeeper prisoners (they have a coin over their head) if the item turns up in their stash. Desk and shop items do change over time, so checking on different days can yield new results.
Money can also be used in the prison pay-phone in exchange for tip-offs. These are either unique crafting recipes (often weapons) or advice about special ways to escape. In Center Perks 2.0 (the first proper prison), for example, you’ll be told that joining the documentary crew is one route to freedom. The exact steps for these escapes aren’t spelled out, but the phone tip at least gives you an idea.
To earn the cash, you have two options. Work in the prison, or do tasks for fellow prisoners (or, hey, supplement your income by doing both). The Escapists 2 will explain the jobs system as you play, but basically you can apply for work at the prison employment office using the notice board outside. Each job will have stat requirements, and needs to actually be available before you can take it. If you’re unemployed, simply showing up at the employment office each day will pay out a small stipend of 10 currency.
If you have a specific job in mind but the role is already taken, then you’ll have to ‘disrupt’ that prisoner’s work routine enough that they’ll get fired. You need to beat them up, pretty much. Use some Duct Tape to keep them stuck to the ground if you can. This will stop the Medics whisking them away and back to health so quickly.
As well as a steady wage, jobs can have side benefits. If you’re doing laundry, for instance, you suddenly have access to an awful lot of outfits and uniforms. Outfits that could potentially be turned into, say, a guard disguise.
Prisoners who have tasks for you in The Escapists 2 will have an exclamation mark above their heads. Some tasks are a lot easier than others, so try to gauge how awkward or dangerous the mission might be before you go ahead and accept it. Favours like putting an item in somebody’s desk or delivering things, are usually pretty easy.
Access All Areas
If your escape plan requires passage through locked off areas, you’re going to need a key. A good way to get those is generally to equip the best weapon you own (plus a padded outfit if you have one) and rough up a guard. Not all guards carry all key types so try to observe which ones have access to certain places.
You’ll also have to try to determine a place where you can strike rapidly, and unobserved by other guards. Remember that you can block as well. Hit and run melee attacks seem to work quite well (darting in and out).
Snatching a key from a guard’s body, then crafting a key mould, and then putting it back on the body can be time-consuming (especially as medics in The Escapists 2 seem super fast). Luckily, there is an easily missed shortcut. If you have the necessary mould/cloning equipment (wad of putty/circuit board and wire) in your pockets, and the intellect required for the crafting, you can just right-click (or equivalent) on the key in the dazed guard’s inventory when you search him. This should produce the goods without you having to faff about.
Needless to say, if you attract too much attention with contraband goods on your person and receive a beat-down (either from guards or prisoners), it gets confiscated. If guards search your cell and you have unhidden contraband in your desk, that gets confiscated too. If guards find your handiwork (holes in walls, cut wire fences and so on), the prison will go into lockdown and your work will be undone.
Wherever possible in The Escapists 2, hide what you’re doing.
The desk can hide six contraband items, so make use of that. At present, it doesn’t seem like the player gets called out for a desk search at Roll Call very often (maybe never? if so that’s a bug that’s likely to be fixed), so you can get away with stashing contraband in the ‘normal’ part quite a lot.
Escape-work-in-progress usually has attendant crafting items to help hide what’s going on. These are things like fake walls, fake vent covers, posters to cover holes, and other similar items. Use them, or risk discovery.
Other crafted items like the contraband pocket can sneak items through detectors, but be aware that they degrade very quickly. Have a specific purpose in mind before you use them.
Likewise, don’t stroll around with your pockets full of goods that you worked very hard to craft unless you have to. It’s painful to make one false step, get beaten by the guards, and lose a lot of stolen and purchased items. Unless you’re making the all-out escape run, carry only what you need and what you can afford to lose.
If you break line of sight with pursuing guards and hide in a locker, you might be able to shake them off your trail.
If you’re going for a perimeter escape, remember that at night (11.00pm onwards) there will be searchlights combing the outdoor areas, and in the day there will be deadly snipers. The snipers will shoot prisoners on sight (or as soon as you try something dodgy).
For night trips, always have a bed dummy (two pillows, one bed sheet) ready to fool any guards patrolling near your (now empty) cell. Skip out after the last roll call and set yourself up somewhere until Lights Out. If you’re planning to cut through an electrified fence, be sure to have a plan to reach and turn off the generator as well.
Sometimes, though, there is no standard perimeter. The Escapists 2 has a few special ‘transport’ prison missions, where cutting or digging through to the edge of the map will just lead you to the sea. Or off a moving train.
In these missions, the usual prison routine is abandoned. Instead, you have a (fairly generous) time limit to get yourself (and maybe a friend) off the transport and away to freedom. These levels are more stealth and combat focused. On Cougar Creek Railroad, for example, you can find the items needed to craft a fake carrot (orange and green pens, handkerchief), then lure a nearby horse to carry you away. Or, you can beat the crap out of three guards in the train cab and steal it. Avoiding guards is a matter of watching patrol routes, keeping out of their line of sight, and hiding in lockers when required.
For these missions there’s also a little trial and error. If you reach an area that flashes up an ‘Escape’ prompt without the needed items, your character will blurt out a hint. On Cougar Creek, if you reach the roof of the carriage and try to leap without the grappling hook, you’ll be told that’s what you need. Then you can work on getting the crafting items together. You don’t do any stat boosting on these levels; you start off with whatever stats the game deems adequate for the level.
Godspeed, prisoner. May your desks always overflow with Duct Tape.