I had the chance to hook up with Rebellion and to try out their newest entry in to the long running Sniper Elite series. Sniper Elite 4 will be releasing Feb 14th 2017, but Brokenjoysticks was part of a select few who were able to try the game in its alpha state today. The demo was about 30 minutes long and featured a wide open Italian country side setting, with a primary mission being to blow up a viaduct by placing a satchel charge and then shooting it to blow it up.
Loading in to the game the first thing I noticed was we were not in Germany anymore. For anyone else that has played Sniper Elite game, the usual setting is a blown out western front city, with bomb craters and grey mats all over the place. Italy by contrast is vibrant and green. The developer who was assisting us on the demo mentioned that the was in Italy in 1943 and although it was not an “open world” but it is an open philosophy for the game. The maps are quite large described as being at least 100 square meters, with no real boundaries and plenty of secondary objectives to explore.
Since we only had 30 minutes I mostly concentrated on the main objective of the game which was to blow up that bridge. Players familiar with the series will be happy to hear that combat is still very sniper rifle centric, targets are marked with binoculars, and depending on the type of target an icon will appear over their heads and allow you track them as they move across the map. Since I have already played the Sniper Elite line, the first thing I did was drop prone and use my binoculars to scan the area around me for enemies. I found quite a few and in particular one sniper. Just like pervious sniper elite games, these snipers have a rage that’s so long it actually goes out of your radar range (increased in this game to 70m) so its very important to mark and hit these guys as early as you can to avoid any problems that might come from them spotting you later on.
I was playing on a PS4 controller which is much different than my normal Xbox one controller so I took some time to get used to the controls, most of the things from the previous series are here, you have to carefully monitor heart rate, which allows you to use slow time and focus so that you can easily hit your targets. Equipment is still very important, with health packs, grenades, stones for distractions and a variety of traps making an appearance.
I was playing with the intention of being stealthy, but just like previous titles, occasionally I just had to whip out my Thompson and mow down a few enemies. The developers promised that there were over 100 enemies on the large map we were playing on, I only managed to kill 30, but in a 25 minute demo I think that’s pretty good. I also was the only one of our testing group (and only the 5th of E3!, to complete the level in the allowed 30 minute time slot.) Stealth is still very important, and its still very important to crouch and use cover.
From the moment I started the game, I painted my objective, and the enemies near it, and they stayed as icons on the screen guiding me over to my eventual victory. As with all of the other Sniper Elite games, bullet drop is in the game, and I assume that just like other games you will be able to select a mode with out the ever present in this demo red diamond that tells you where the bullet will hit. In Sniper Elite 3 you were able to play a mode with out the assist, and I am eager to see if this game also features it. Also returning is searching bodies, I was surprised to find that one of the bodies had on it a duty roster. This roster highlighted several enemies I hadn’t spotted through the binoculars, making my journey a bit easier.
Many items are returning favorites, traps and the like are back in game. Flare gun, trip mines, S Mine, Stick Grenade, TNT, and the Silenced Pistol all make returns. Players of course can also strip off any items or weapons the find on bodies around the map.
Though it was still subject to change there was also a progression system in place as I played that gave me ribbons and little appointments when i did something that took more effort or work than a simple kill shot. Cover is classed in to separate systems, with wood being able to be penetrated and rock and other harder surfaces impermeable.
enemy AI seems to have been improved considerably, at one point I was forced to play a sort of ring around the rosie with an enemy who was dodging me around the back of a train, I ended up laying a mine down to kill him, and just running off to the next objective.
The standard alert system is back an arrow will appear when there is danger, yellow for when its getting close, and red for when you are noticed. I was noticed twice during the demo, and both times found it fairly easy to slip away from the people whom had noticed me with just a few minutes of clever hiding and shooting.
Fan favorite X-Ray shots return, with a serious vengeance, now everything from melee kills to the sickest sniper shots will trigger the signature mode which shows exploding bone, organs and flesh. I really enjoyed the feeling of nailing that one single shot that got me away from being noticed, or using a well placed burst from the Thompson to take down an enemy.
I Was able to finish the provided demo level, and according to the developer who was assisting with the demo that was better than most. My time was bout 25 minutes, but I did manage not to die at all. Though i did not do it, the game offers a variety of weapons to try, I stuck with the old reliable Springfield, knowing what it was capable of and how it could do damage. But, if you want to be experimental, you can always pick up weapons off of dead bodies and try then out instead of your trusty Springfield and Thompson.
Overall I really enjoyed the demo, I am by no means a skilled player of games such as this, but I found myself able to adapt fairly easily, I really liked the X-Ray feature, as well as what appeared to be very much improved AI in the enemies. I can not wait for the arrival of this game on Valentines day of this year.