Sniper Elite 4 Takes Players to Beautiful Italy for a Sniping Vacation

Rebellion is back with the Sniper Elite franchise. After a stint in Germany in Sniper Elite and Sniper Elite V2, and Northern Africa in Sniper Elite III, Sniper Elite 4 takes snipers to beautiful Italy. It’s a change of pace from the open plains of Africa, but does it offer up the same sniping thrills? After taking a look at the game at GDC 2016, I can safely say that fans of Sniper Elite will be pleased with the latest entry.

Sniper Elite 4 takes place following the events of Sniper Elite III. The war has yet to engulf Italy, but the country is prepping for it. You play as Karl Fairburne, a covert agent and elite marksman sent into the country to aid the Italian Resistance. Your goal is to defeat a new threat that threatens to halt the Allied country’s plans to retake Europe from the Axis.

The demo shown to me took place in a Mediterranean coastal town, where it was made immediately clear to me just how beautiful the game is. Sniper Elite 4 is the first game in the franchise built from the ground-up for the current-gen consoles and PC, and it shows. The map was absolutely huge with plenty of little details that made it feel alive. Sunlight cuts through buildings, creating dynamic shadows and even sparkles off the ocean.

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This town was absolutely huge. Rebellion took me on a quick fly-by of the map, showing off the different environments within the map. The developer told me that the map is the same size as some of the biggest maps in Sniper Elite III and that this map was one of the smallest in Sniper Elite 4. Players can expect to wander about some gigantic maps in Sniper Elite 4. From coastal towns to Nazi megastructures to forests and monasteries, Sniper Elite 4 comes packed to the brim with diverse locations.

The demo began with Rebellion showing off many of the game’s new features. The numerous sniping mechanics from Sniper Elite III return, but it’s the new additions that make Sniper Elite 4 so exciting to try. My demo began with some Uncharted-esque action as the developer scaled a wall and monkey-crawled across the ledge. An enemy was standing nearby, but not close enough for our hero to grab. The developer used the new whistle mechanic to gain the enemies attention. It worked like a charm, allowing Karl to grab the enemy and throw them off the ledge.

After taking care of that nasty business, Karl climbed to the ground to grab the body, which he then strategically positioned in front of a doorway. Here, Rebellion showcased some of the improv techniques players can employ throughout the game. They bobby-trapped the body, causing enemies attempting to enter the door to meet instant death. After successfully setting the trap, Rebellion took up a sniping position to show me some of Sniper Elite’s famous sniping gameplay. Like with previous games, sniping is absolutely brutal, tearing apart those unfortunate to be hit by a bullet. X-ray moves make their bloody return with visceral detail. Watching bones splinter and muscle shred is disturbing, yet oddly awe-inspiring due to their intense attention to detail. It quickly became difficult to say whether Mortal Kombat X or Sniper Elite 4 has more brutal X-ray moves.

Of course, your sniper is good for more than just turning enemy organs to liquid and bones to dust. Rebellion showcased how players can use the environment to their advantage. An enemy was standing on a scaffold, which Karl was able to destroy with a well-placed shot. The enemy landed on top of another, causing both to die. Of course, there are other ways to use the environment, such as shooting exploding barrels, or huddling near loud machines to muffle the sound of your sniper.

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Obviously, this isn’t the modern era and scientists have yet to develop silencers for snipers. As such, players will need to be careful as sound will attract the enemy. It’s always best to set up a sniper roost in an area that you can either A) defend or B) quickly escape from. Rebellion chose the latter. Performing some more ‘Uncharted’ actions, Karl scampered through a window and monkey-crawled back towards the door with the booby-trapped body. He watched as three enemies attempted to enter the door, and were blown to smithereens. Karl then pulled himself up and took the other enemy from behind with an execution.

Rebellion did point out that players can abstain from killing soldiers. The developer guiding the demo made a point of this by sneaking past the next section, weaving in and out of cover to avoid detection. Though players can abstain from killing soldiers, it is not possible to go through the entire game without killing any enemies. There will be key targets that will need to die.

My demo ended here though Rebellion did answer a few remaining questions. The expansive campaign can be played solo or with a friend via co-op. Multiplayer will be returning though information is being kept under-wraps for the time being. Finally, it is possible to play Sniper Elite 4 like a traditional third-person shooter, as Karl can pick up assault rifles and sub-machine guns. However, he’s going to die pretty fast. Sniper Elite has always been about playing smart, and a lot of times attacking enemies head-on isn’t that smart.

Sniper Elite 4 is shaping up to be another solid entry in the franchise. With gorgeous graphics, plenty of gameplay options and diverse settings, Sniper Elite 4 should be everything sniping enthusiasts could ever want. Sniper Elite 4 is set for release sometime in 2016 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.