E3 2014: Sniper Elite 3 Is Right On Target

The bloody good sniper game series Sniper Elite has risen from obscurity to a slick and surprisingly interesting stealth series since the PS2 and Xbox days. It’s amazing how a game based almost entirely around sniping has become so creative, a cool new way to interpret wartime stealth. Sniper Elite 3 follows in the footsteps of the first two games in the series, but aims to conquer them both with fresh and varied abilities for the WWII-inspired stages. Taking place in North Africa, Sniper Elite 3 looks to be a more incremental improvement than a substantial one, but with next-gen systems entering the picture, you aren’t likely to find a game that makes headshots more satisfying.

The gritty visuals of Sniper Elite have become one of the series’ most iconic features, especially the gory, hyper-violence of the killcam shots, and not to worry: Rebellion haven’t tapered down the detail in the slightest with Sniper Elite 3. Shattered bones, collapsing muscles, and a fountain of good ol’ plasma keep the game’s visuals intense. The satisfaction of getting that pinpoint headshot is amped up considerably, especially with next-gen systems now in the mix. The visceral detail works wonders with the physics, offering realistic skeletons shattering in different directions depending on the shot’s trajectory and environmental conditions like wind and the enemy’s position. On the next-gen consoles of the PS4 and Xbox One, expect some incredible detail, with both consoles offering crisp 1080p resolution.

In addition to the shooting, Sniper Elite 3 also amps up the series’ stealth system with new items and techniques. As a stealth series at heart, Sniper Elite doesn’t just give the player the firearms. In addition to rifles and smaller arms, players can set traps and use environmental objects to distract or ensnare enemies. TNT can be used to detonate nearby vehicles (whether for distraction or execution). Generators can be sabotaged to throw off targets, while environmental elements like flying planes overhead can drown out the noise from traversal or even shooting with your character. The sound masking is even more complex for precise silent kills. The stealth elements are further enhanced with more open-ended stages, offering more than one way to take out a squad of enemies. Stages are said to be three times the size of Sniper Elite V2’s stages, so expect a healthy amount of replay value down the line. Players can earn more experience to spend on new skills and tools by using stealthy techniques instead of direct ones, so experimenting with the angles and tactics will offer ample reward.

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The game also introduces a number of multiplayer modes, cooperative and competitive. The campaign offers cooperative play, while Overwatch is a mode where snipers take on armed operatives. The game will also have a Horde-style multiplayer mode, featuring both human enemies to attack and non-human enemies to avoid. In addition, a DLC pack featuring the assassination of Hitler will be available at launch. The content, dubbed “Target Hitler: Hunt the Grey Wolf”, leaves the player to assassinate the Fuhrer himself, but also separating the real leader from his multiple stand-ins. The player will need to use both sharpshooting and problem solving to find the real Hitler amongst his doubles, as a single reveal can lead to all-out global warfare.

Sniper Elite 3 looks to change the series in small, but meaningful ways. A greater emphasis on variety is set to keep players from growing bored of the sniping, and some fresh new layouts for stages will keep different tactics on the board. The next-gen tech also makes the bloody executions even more detailed.

Sniper Elite 3 is set for a release on July 1, with releases on both next-gen (PS4, Xbox One) and current gen (360, PS3) systems, in addition to PC.