One of the surprises shown during E3 2015 was a new entry in the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series by developer CI Games. Through both a brief gameplay demonstration and hands-on experience, I was shown an open world that could breathe new life into the genre in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3.
Split into multiple chapters across the campaign, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 moves the action into an open world setting that for my brief demo was set up as an American special forces operative operating solo in Jordan. The multiple chapters and different characters shown on the marketing banners and posters lead me to believe that there would be multiple characters to play as (and in turn other locations to infiltrate) but I was not able to get a confirmation from the developer.
While the main character is a trained professional and sniper by trade, it’s only natural for him to get better at a given task. Some examples I was given was expertise with a specific style of rifle or defusing enemy traps. The developers promised no levels or experience bars to contend with but those modern conventions I find it hard to understand just what they meant beyond perhaps reduced sway while lining up a shot or shaving a few seconds off performing a specific skill.
Actually taking the shot is perhaps the smallest section of what players will actually do in Sniper:Ghost Warrior 3. From a mission menu where players select a target (subject to change during development), players are then dropped into a section of Jordan with little more than the loadout they choose and a waypoint hundreds of meters off to signify roughly where the target should be found.
Much of the legwork consists of traversing across the open environments which is never as simple as going from point A to point B. From even the beginning section, it opens with rappeling down a short cliffside and hiding just out of sight from a number of enemy patrols. Our beginning arsenal included a remote drone that could be piloted with controls that made it nearly impossible to hover around without seeming like a drunk soldier or bumping around into trees. While the drone was the most efficient way to tag enemies, I felt myself wrestling with the controls just to keep the drone level and stable long enough to tag the enemy soldiers before it crashed. Thankfully no enemies noticed the noise of a broken drone and alterted the base which was a godsend even if it didn’t contribute to the realism CI Games was shooting for.
Shortly out of the range of patrolling units was a natural cave that consisted of a home base where I could grab body armor (always handy in case I tripped an alarm and had to fight my way out), swap my loadout, and grab a mission that would give me a target to take out. These home bases also serve as fast travel stations that will certainly expedite getting to the target. CI Games showed off their day/night cycle with my fast travel ending with a section that was sometime at dusk with a light rainfall that would aide in obscuring my location.
A small encampment outside the cave was filled with a small retinue of enemy soldiers as well as civilian miners that I made sure to keep away from. Some of the single soldiers were easy to take out through a contextual melee attack but there was a sniper on an overlook that came close to spotting me on at least one occasion. A visual indicator on screen was able to give me a rough idea of where the sniper could see me from that grew the closer they came to actually identifying me.
I instantly knew that I wouldn’t be able to progress without taking care of them, so I opted to take a side road and try to get the drop on them. The gentleman that guided us in both the live demonstration and hands-on sections stressed that snipers typically work in pairs. Since I was not able to see a spotter nearby, it was a good indication that this enemy was working solo. As such, they were bound to have some sort of traps in wait.
Some boot prints on the ground were indentifiable just by crouching near them and using the examine button. My character’s military training gave some on-screen insight that the sniper was operating alone and was careful with their path up the hill which meant that they were probably laying traps and taking care not to trip them as they moved into position. I had to sneak up the hill but sure enough there were some form of motion-detecting mines that I made sure to disable. Disabling the traps was as simple as crouching just outside of their effective range and holding down the same button I used to examine the boot prints just a few moments ago. The developer assured me that this was a placeholder and they were planning on adding some sort of minigame or contextual event to make that segment of the game a little more active.
The bulk of my time withSniper:Ghost Warrior 3 was spent with this slow and meticulous process of slowly working up to the base where my target was. Through my rifle’s scope, it was quite simple to spot the target, a high-ranking member of the military’s army.
Whether it was my own haste or impatience, once I had the target in my sights, I waited until he was on his lonesome before taking my shot. Multiple factors went into lining up my shot: wind speed, distance and scope magnification, even humidity seemed to have an effect on my bullet’s trajectory. A simple gauge on top of the screen showed me a level of deviation on the bullet that I narrowed down to be as minimal as possible through some fairly simple button inputs. I’m sure that the dialing in the scope and such will easily become second nature for those that take on multiple contracts in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3.
After taking the shot, I made a quick retreat down the clifftop to get out of sight in case any alarms were raised in retaliation. Shortly after, a helicopter swung by to pick me up for a quick extraction. This was a feature added to the demo for ease of access but I was promised that it wouldn’t be so simple to leave the battlefield in the final version of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3.
While a small curated slice of Jordan and the world that CI Games has crafted for their upcoming sniper simulation, it was more than enough to impress me, typically a skeptic of the genre. The shooting was simplified enough that a newcomer like myself could take a shot with relative ease yet the exploration and preparation was realistic enough to keep veterans and purveyors of realism interested when Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 finally arrives sometime next year.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is currently slated for a Second Quarter, 2016 release for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.