During this year’s E3 I met up with CI games to see some behind the scenes footage that showed off Sniper Ghost Warrior 3’s mechanics, story, depth, and customization. Afterwards, I got to try out the game for myself. Advertised as a tactical shooter rather than a first person shooter, fans of the series will know that the Sniper games are infamous for realism and difficulty. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 does not deviate from that infamy. In fact, it even seems to have upped the ante.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 takes places in the country of Georgia. A cold war has broken out between Russia and the United States, and it is your job to quietly remove some of the war’s most staunch supporters. There is no running around guns blazing in SGW 3. You can try it if you want to, but it won’t be a very long lived experience. Enemies are smarter and react faster than ever before. They can spot you from deceivingly long distances, and can easily hear you sneaking up on them if you’re not careful, even while crouched. Enemies in the game also do not follow predetermined paths, and will never intentionally leave themselves open or exposed to an attack. Not only are the enemies more dangerous, but even the world of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 can be lethal if you aren’t careful.
At the beginning of the playable demo, I began moving towards the top edge of a small waterfall that gave way to a drop of around 10 feet. But instead of walking towards it, as one normally would in real life, I decided to sprint towards it, as I’ve done in many shooters before. About five feet out from the edge of the waterfall, my character’s feet flew out from under him as soon as he stepped into the water. This slip in the water was then followed by a 15 to 20 second scripted animation of the character being violently thrown over the edge of the waterfall, landing solidly on his back, groggily regaining his senses, and picking up his handgun that had been thrown off his person and into the water during the fall. I don’t remember another game that made me immediately come to respect the environment as another threat to my existence.
Each area in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is vast, completely open, and distinct. The region that I played in was named Mining Town, which is shown in the picture above. I was also told that some of the areas not shown in the world include a major city, an airport, and a wealth of farmland.
With such large and varied environments for your enemies to patrol and hide in, tracking is an extremely important part of mission success and survival. Going into Scout Mode is what allows you to identify climbable walls, paths walked by enemy patrols, the locations of enemy snipers, or booby traps. The use of portable flying drones is another way to learn about what is waiting for you.
Not only can they discover enemies from the sky, drones can also be used to hack into server banks in enemy camps to gain access to local security cameras. Attempting to fly a drone in close to the servers of an enemy encampment can be extremely risky, but doing so can help you figure out where your targets are located, and how to best approach the situation. Overhearing conversations is also possible while spying on enemies through security cameras, and it’s those kind of dialogue sequences that are the primary tool used to advance the storyline. Personally, I found that to be quite a refreshing approach to storytelling to see in a game.
Once you’ve found your target and seen what stands between you and them, it’s time to engage the enemy. This can be done in primarily two different ways. First is by obvious means, your sniper rifle. With the ability to craft weapons at safe houses, you can make a rifle optimized for your own sniping style. You can even change the caliber and type of bullets you use to increase your odds of success. Regardless of what build tickles your fancy, using your rifle is mechanically the same. When looking through the scope, you are shown four different readouts; Range, Temperature, Wind, and Humidity. All four affect the trajectory of your shot and all must be taken into account before pulling the trigger, lest you risk exposing your position or sound an alarm.
The second way to eliminate your target is done with a more personal touch. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 supposedly has the most comprehensive close-quarters-combat in the franchise’s history. Unfortunately, during the video demonstration or my time with the game, I wasn’t able to see or explore the new combat system and – other than sneaking up behind a couple of enemies and performing stealth kills with a knife – I am unable to say whether or not that it rings true. If you don’t feel like killing by rifle melee is a fitting end for your target, there are other ways to kill your target. Setting up booby traps or calling in a drone strike are just two other possibilities.
Overall, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 seems to have stayed true to past iterations of the franchise while reaching even farther into the realm of creating a realistic sniping simulator with highly intelligent enemies, unforgiving environments, deep weapon customization, and a plethora of ways to accomplish missions. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will resonate with the hardcore audience with its level of detail, depth, and challenge. Newcomers to the franchise will find it to be surprisingly approachable and user friendly if appreciated for what it is; a tactical shooter. My time with it may have been brief, but it left me interested to see more and is one of many games from this year’s E3 that I will be keeping my eyes on.
Are you a fan of the series? Are you excited for Sniper Ghost Warrior 3? Have questions about what we saw? Sound off in the comments below!
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has an expected 2Q, 2016 release window, and will be coming out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.