I noticed when you are sneaking around, the words "Hidden", "Caution", and "Danger" have brackets around them that seem to jump sporadically. What purpose do they serve exactly?

  • 1
    How did I never notice this?? Nov 19, 2015 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


After reading the manual, apparently the brackets give you an indication of how successful your sneaking is.

The closer the brackets are to the word, the closer you are to being detected.

For example, when in the HIDDEN state, the closer the brackets are, the closer you are to being in a CAUTION state. When in a CAUTION state, the further apart the brackets are, the closer you are to returning to a HIDDEN state.

Hope this helps!

  • 2
    For those who played Skyrim or Oblivion: I think you can compare it with the closed/open eye mode. Nov 19, 2015 at 6:39
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    @DCShannon I use a sniper as main weapon, so I'm pretty much stealthed all the time. I can say, based on my modest 30 hours in Fallout 4 so far, that being completely hidden shows you the brackets all the way to the sides. If the brackets come closer, that means there are enemies nearby. I use this mechanic all the time to see if I'm alone or if there are enemies nearby.
    – Kevin
    Nov 19, 2015 at 8:05
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    This screenshot is definitely not from Fallout 4, but the information seems correct.
    – nhgrif
    Nov 19, 2015 at 13:16
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    @Kevin When hidden, brackets don't necessarily indicate the presence of enemies. They just indicate there's something nearby.
    – Iszi
    Nov 19, 2015 at 22:03
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    I tested this more rigorously last night, and you are completely correct. Even when you crouch down with absolutely no one around, the brackets are set wide around HIDDEN. This keeps messing with me, and seems backwards, especially after hundreds of hours sneaking around in previous fallout games. The wide brackets keep making me think I'm making a lot of noise.
    – DCShannon
    Nov 21, 2015 at 3:30

@Dom's answer is mostly right, but I think some clarification is in order.

The brackets actually indicate one of two things, depending on context:

  1. How close you are to being discovered by a non-companion NPC, monster, or turret, due to factors like range, cover, and line-of-sight.

  2. How aggressively enemies are seeking you.

When the brackets are farther apart, you're less likely to be discovered and/or you're closer to being "out of trouble". When they're closer together, you're closer to being discovered and to possibly being in trouble.

As for the terms within the brackets, here's a bit more clarification:

HIDDEN - Brackets will start at their most extreme separation. They will come together or separate to reflect your risk of discovery under current conditions, in relation to the thing that is most likely to notice you.

DETECTED - After the brackets have completely closed in from HIDDEN, you may be in a DETECTED state. This indicates that an NPC, monster, or turret has noticed you. This state most commonly indicates that the thing detecting you is friendly or neutral. However, it does sometimes appear when something hostile has just not yet chosen to engage in combat.

CAUTION - Something hostile is aware of your presence, and seeking you out for combat. In this mode, the separation of the brackets mostly indicates how aggressively they are looking for you. Close together, they're really sure you're there and are trying to hunt you down. Farther apart, they're starting to think you went away or "maybe it was just the wind". Once it reaches the furthest separation, you will transition back to HIDDEN.

DANGER - Fecal matter has impacted the rotating turbine. Hostile entities know you're out there, and more or less know exactly where you are. And they're trying to kill you. The brackets' distance may change according to the proximity or aggressiveness of the threat, but they mostly stay fully closed unless they're downgrading to CAUTION.

HIDDEN and DETECTED appear in the HUD's normal color, and they don't necessarily indicate the presence of hostiles. In mixed company, they also may not accurately reflect your stealth status with regards to hostiles.

CAUTION and DANGER appear red, and always relate to a hostile presence.

  • Furthermore: Enemies in 'CAUTION' mode can fire pot-shots in your general vicinity if they know which direction you are in, but are unsure of your exact location. I notice this a lot when Sniping if I don't change positions after 2-3 shots. Generally some of the enemies will also start heading your way to try and find you
    – Robotnik
    Dec 19, 2015 at 1:31
  • @Robotnik Good note there. I just noticed this the other night. I was sniping as well. And those Super Mutants definitely didn't go to the Stormtroopers Marksmanship Academy.
    – Iszi
    Dec 19, 2015 at 2:12

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