Here's a detailed description of Domination mechanics, from The Long Guide by Frankelstner. The information was analyzed from the extracted game files.
Some terms used:
"Cool" refers to the state of person or camera during stealth when he/it has no exclamation mark.
Once the person or camera has an exclamation mark or alarm goes off, there is no going back: The subject can never become cool again. I refer to this state as "uncool". Dead or broken subjects are not included.
"Gangsters" usually includes Russian mobsters and bikers. They all have the same stats and AI anyway.
The game calculates the chance for enemies to resist, which is then raised to the power of 1.25 if Dominator is aced and 3 with the Mastermind tier 6 bonus (having both skills thus gives you an exponent of 3.75). There are 4 reasons for enemies to consider surrendering, acting as multipliers to the resist chance (which is initialized to 1), so if one reason yields a multiplier of 0, the resist chance becomes 0 and the enemy is guaranteed to surrender:
Health. The resist multiplier depends on the fraction of health that the enemy has left. It decreases linearly between the two points specified:
- Easy enemies (security guards): 0.8 resist multiplier at 100% health, 0 resist multiplier at 30% health and below.
- Normal enemies (cops and unarmored FBI): 1 resist multiplier at 100% health, 0.5 resist multiplier at 50% health and below.
- Hard enemies (everyone else): 1 resist multiplier at 100% health, 0.65 resist multiplier at 50% health and below.
Enemies at 100% health do not consider this reason at all. Therefore, the 0.8 resist multiplier of easy enemies is misleading. You still need to hurt them a bit or they simply ignore this reason.
Weapon-down (if reloading, experiencing moderate or heavy hurt, or in ntl state, which I believe to be the cool state during stealth and thus never applies as you cannot dominate cool enemies in the first place; either way, these three are mutually exclusive states, so the multiplier can only be applied once):
- Easy enemies: 0.2 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0.5 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: 0.8 resist multiplier
If the weapon is empty, apply the same multiplier once more (and this usually coincides with reloading, so apply the multiplier twice in that case).
Isolated (spawned as part of a group, but nobody else of that group is in a 8.5 m sphere; this does not apply to lone guards as they are not part of a group in the first place):
- Easy enemies: 0.9 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0.92 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: Does not apply here. Hard enemies don't regard this is a reason, but merely as a factor later on. Consider it as a 1 resist multiplier.
Pants-down (shout at the enemy less than 1.5 seconds after he became uncool):
- Easy enemies: 0 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: 0.2 resist multiplier
After evaluating these reasons, there's a threshold that the resist chance must go below. Otherwise the calculations stop and the enemy simply resists.
- Easy enemies: Less than 0.9 resist chance required.
- Normal enemies: Less than 0.8 resist chance required.
- Hard enemies: Less than 0.75 resist chance required.
Once we get past this threshold, there is already a good chance the enemy will surrender. The game now applies additional factors which further decrease the resist chance.
The enemy is flanked (distance to player greater than 2.5 meters; angle between enemy head orientation and the line between the enemy and criminal must exceed 120°; i.e. you must stand behind the enemy):
- Easy enemies: 0.93 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0.95 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: 0.96 resist multiplier
The player is close (applies if the distance between enemy and player is 10 meters or less). Similar to the health reason, the resist multiplier is a linear function:
- Easy enemies: 0.98 resist multiplier at 10 m, 0.85 resist multiplier at 3 m and below.
- Normal and hard enemies: 1 resist multiplier at 10 m, 0.9 resist multiplier at 3 m and below.
Enemy weapons are cold (this does not refer to any enemy in particular, but is a state of the game. It appears to refer to the stealth phase before alarm goes off. Once there is alarm, whether there is an assault or not, this factor never applies anymore):
- Easy enemies: 0.85 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0.89 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: 0.95 resist multiplier
The enemy is unaware of the player (during stealth only; this applies if the enemy has spotted you less than one second ago; you can turn enemies unaware again after they have seen you by moving 7 meters from the last place they saw you):
- Easy enemies: 0.92 resist multiplier
- Normal enemies: 0.9 resist multiplier
- Hard enemies: 0.9 resist multiplier
Finally, hard enemies have a 0.9 resist multiplier for being isolated as a factor (not as a reason).
If an enemy has withstood a domination attempt, he gets a few more variables, called surrender window. You have 5-9 seconds (the specific time is randomly determined) during which he is even more susceptible to being dominated. After the first failed domination attempt, there is an additional resist multiplier of (1 - 0.05). For the second failed domination attempt after that, subtract not 0.05, but 0.05^0.93. Technically, on the Nth failed domination attempt, the multiplier becomes (1 - 0.05^(0.93^(N-1)) ). Either way, just keep shouting repeatedly to increase your odds. After the surrender window expires, there is an expiration window of 5-10 seconds, during which the enemy never surrenders. What's more, any further attempt made during this expiration window shifts it further in time. If someone entered the expiration window, you can keep shouting at him for minutes and he will never surrender. To avoid being locked in the expiration window, do not shout at the enemy for 10 seconds.
If you start suppressing an enemy by shooting close to him or damaging him, there is a violence timeout. The resist chance instantly becomes 100% and then linearly goes down to its original value after 2 seconds. Damaging an enemy thus both increases your chance by decreasing the health and having a chance that he enters weapon-down state, yet simultaneously decreases it (for a moment at least). Full suppression is not required: A single shot that builds up suppression by any amount causes this timeout.
Once these calculations are done, take the resist chance and use the Mastermind tier 6 bonus and Dominator aced skill as the exponent to obtain the final resist chance.
A player wants to dominate a hard enemy at 50% health. The player is just 3 meters away from the enemy. The health reason alone pushes the resist chance to 65%, so it passes the threshold. The resist chance including the distance factor becomes (0.65*0.9) = 59%. If the player has the tier 6 bonus and Dominator aced, the resist chance becomes (0.65*0.9)^3.75 = 13%.
The weapons and armor you carry have no influence on domination.
You cannot dominate special enemies or gangsters.
Enemies diving into cover due to being fired at are not in the weapon-down state. Suppressing them without hitting them has no positive effect. It only works against you due to the violence timeout.
You must have the Dominator skill or the enemy always resists. You can shout at them, but will never succeed. You still create surrender and expiration windows for the enemy, possibly getting stuck in the expiration window making it impossible for anyone else in the team to dominate that enemy. Then again, if someone else in the team is trying to dominate an enemy (and not locked in the expiration window), you can slightly increase the odds of your teammate by shouting at the same enemy.
If the maximum number of enemies is dominated, no surrender and expiration windows are created.
If an enemy surrenders during a hurt animation, he will finish the animation before raising his hands or handcuffing himself. During stealth, Bain will mention your hostage while the hurt animation still plays.
Almost every enemy is a hard enemy. There are no guards once alarm goes off. Cops and unarmored FBI agents only appear in very limited number, usually when there is no assault.
On the first failed domination attempt, the game determines the duration of the surrender and expiration windows. Let's say that they are 7 and 8 seconds respectively. Now, assuming that the first domination attempt was made at 0:00 (i.e. 0 seconds into the game), you have 7 seconds to dominate the enemy before the expiration window starts (with the cooldown being 1.5 seconds, this means 4 attempts). If you don't do anything, the expiration window will disappear at 0:15. If you shout at the enemy at 0:12 however. the expiration window will be shifted, lasting until 0:20. If you keep shouting at the enemy, he will never surrender, regardless of the reasons and factors. He may have 1% health left, be out of ammo, isolated and flanked by four Masterminds who keep shouting at him: He will not surrender during the expiration window.
During stealth, enemies handcuff themselves if domination succeeds. Otherwise, enemies merely raise their hands, making it necessary to shout at them two more times to handcuff them. If you take too long to handcuff them, they will grab their weapons again (this time is rather long though, it is at least 6 seconds for any enemy and can be up to 30 seconds for the weakest ones). The enemy will also go back to his normal state right away if he is not within the intimidation range of at least a single player (no Dominator required) turned no more than 102° away from him with a clear line of sight. Any player regardless of skills can successfully perform the two shouts to handcuff an enemy.
The reasons make up the biggest obstacle to successfully dominating someone. The chance to surrender only plays a somewhat minor role once you get past the threshold. Even if you just barely get past the threshold of a hard enemy, he has a 25% chance to surrender, which increases with subsequent domination attempts during the surrender window. With both skills this 25% chance becomes 66%, which makes it hard to fail domination if only you get past the threshold.
During stealth, the pants-down modifier does all the work. Shout at an enemy right after he has spotted you (or become uncool in any other way) and you will succeed. Do not shout before he has become uncool or you will merely mark him, and the 1.5 seconds cooldown will make you miss the time window unless you keep spamming the interaction key. Note that Murkywater soldiers are hard enemies and thus retain a 20% chance to resist. As you are in stealth, you get an additional 0.95 weapons cold modifier. If you shout less than one second after being spotted (which you want to do for the pants-down modifier anyway), you gain the additional unaware factor of 0.9. The resist chance thus becomes 17.1%, which turns into a mere 0.13% chance against a fully specced Mastermind.
You can ignore isolation as a reason. It does not apply to hard enemies and is never enough on its own to get past the threshold. Weapon-down gets easy and normal enemies past the threshold without requiring any other reason, so the only time isolation could help is when used in combination with the health reason. Even then however, it does not help against easy enemies at all, as they instantly gain a 0.8 multiplier upon taking any damage whatsoever, which already makes them pass the threshold (making the isolation reason redundant). The only time isolation does indeed help is against normal enemies with their health between 80% and 87%, where it may get you past the threshold. This health region cannot be reached against cops (51 hitpoints on Deathwish, else 30) and non-Deathwish FBI (50 hitpoints), as there is no weapon dealing just 10 damage (an extremely lucky grenade being the exception). Therefore, the one and only case where isolation helps with the threshold is against Deathwish FBI agents (85 hitpoints), hurt once with a weapon dealing between 12 and 17 damage. That's it.
If the pants-down modifier is not an option, there are only 2 reasons for an enemy to consider surrendering:
- He is damaged (and potentially hurt).
- He is reloading (due to being out of ammo).
Conversely, an enemy will never surrender if he is at full health and not reloading. Basically, this is the gist of the entire section.
It is rather odd that there are even easy and normal categories, as they still require you to either hurt the enemies or have weapon-down to get past the threshold if you missed the pants-down time window. Waiting for someone to completely empty his gun does not seem viable when trying to stealth, and if you can hurt them, you might as well kill them (given their low hitpoints). If you miss the pants-down time window, an enemy will never surrender unless he has other reasons (which always involve gunfire or melee and are inherently risky during stealth), so you might as well just kill him.
There are three somewhat easily controllable multipliers. Low health has the greatest impact and is the easiest way to pass the threshold. Getting closer than 3 m from the enemy gives you another 0.9 multiplier, which helps your odds if you don't have the tier bonus. Finally, waiting for an enemy to reload before shouting further increases your chance, but is usually not necessary.
If you really do want to dominate an enemy at 100% health outside of stealth, it is mandatory that you wait until he has emptied his gun and is reloading. Attempting to dominate at any other point in time will never succeed. Keep the surrender and expiration windows in mind: You must first wait until you see him reloading and only then start shouting to avoid being locked in the expiration window.
Domination attempts when the enemy has low health rarely fail and do not even require any other reasons or factors to succeed. Ignoring all other reasons and factors, a hard enemy at 50% health or less has a resist chance of 0.65, which becomes a mere 0.65^3.75 = 20% resist chance against a fully specced Mastermind. Still, make sure that you do not get locked in the expiration window. Hurting the enemy first and then shouting maximizes the number of times you can shout at him (and actually get past the threshold) before reaching the expiration window and thus increases your odds. If you have the tier 6 bonus and are hard pressed for time, you can be a bit more daring and already start shouting before hurting him, knowing that the first shout will fail, but grant a small bonus for the next attempts. This way you have less attempts before you reach the expiration window, but the odds will be in your favor anyway and you will be slightly quicker.