Generally speaking, the video game industry doesn’t feature so many titles that are 100% focusing on sniping. Sure, franchises like Call of Duty or Battlefield try to simulate that cold, detached feeling of killing someone from miles away – to some degree – but sometimes, that’s simply not enough.
Enter Sniper Elite, a third-person shooter franchise, set during the World War II, in which players take the role of OSS agent Karl Fairburne. After two successful entries, developer Rebellion is taking another shot (pun intended), this time in a way more exotic location.
Analog Addiction has caught up with Tim Jones, Head of Creative over at Rebellion, to find out more about Sniper Elite III. As such, below you’ll find more details on the game’s setting, structure, weapons, gameplay, and of course, it’s famous kill-cam. Let’s get started.
First of all, let’s talk about the new setting.
What made you change the war-torn streets of Berlin for the more exotic landscapes of Africa?
We wanted a theater of war that naturally supported the more organic, less linear, approach to level design we were striving for and the more remote outposts and environments of North Africa offer more of that. The North African campaign has also been covered in less detail than many of the more well-known fronts in WWII so it seemed an interesting avenue to explore.
Also, historically, the origins of the British SAS came out of the Long Range Desert Group’s undercover exploits in the area at that time – so it makes sense that an OSS agent like Karl Fairburne would also be undertaking pivotal missions for the allied forces there.
Is Sniper Elite III a direct sequel to Sniper Elite V2 in terms of time-frame and story?
Sniper Elite 3 is set in 1942 – so it’s actually technically a prequel to both Sniper Elite and Sniper Elite V2.
Let’s now turn our attention to the single-player part of the game.
Sniper Elite III promises us a more “open” approach to completing objectives. Does that mean that every level is practically a “sandbox?” Will gamers be able to tackle their objectives in any preferred order?
Tactical choice is core to our vision for Sniper Elite 3. Wherever possible, the approach to, and order of objectives is left entirely up to the player. This is made possible by the way we approached our level design, and the terrain and tools we give the player to avoid or enter conflict on their own terms. Having much larger maps helps too, of course.
How long will the campaign last?
The levels are many times the size of those in Sniper Elite V2, and there are many more optional secondary objectives available to players so we are anticipating the gameplay length for the campaign is significantly greater than last time around – even more so if tackling all the objectives on the most challenging settings.
Stealth plays an important role in these types of games, but unfortunately, the sniper rifles of World War II don’t feature silencers. How do balance that?
In WWII there was no such thing as a silenced sniper rifle – the main crack of the gun comes from the bullet breaking the sound barrier – and if you slow it enough to be “silenced” it will neither travel very far, nor have very much penetrating power. However, if you remain out of sight, your first shot is unlikely to give away your position. You also have use of the bolt action Welrod suppressed pistol for close range encounters and a number of booby traps to thin out the enemy.
It’s a well-known fact that a sniper can only take a few shots before he’s discovered; more so one who uses a non-silenced rifle. How will players deal with it? Will the game feature something to help them?
Relocation after taking sniper shots is essential for a sniper if they wish to remain undetected. The same is true in Sniper Elite 3. Being spotted in V2 often meant the end of a stealthy approach, but in Sniper Elite 3 you can de-escalate the situation if you use cover and slip away into the shadows fast enough. When the enemy have pinpointed your location players are shown a “ghost” image in the environment of where the AI thinks you are, and a distance to get away from there in order to “lose” them and attack again from another approach.
I understand that new to the series is the leveling system. Tell us more about that. Will gamers be rewarded for every action they take? What rewards can they expect?
XP is awarded for kills and other actions in the game – the more stealthy and accurate you are, the more XP you will earn. As you rank up, you gain access to more sniper rifles and customisation options for them so you can tailor your kit to be exactly the way you want it.
Are there other new mechanics that you’re designing for Sniper Elite III?
We’ve extended the “sound masking” mechanic from Sniper Elite V2 whereby the player could mask the sound of their rifle shots if they timed them to coincide with loud noises in the environment. We have added to ability for the player to create their own sound masking opportunities by sabotaging things like generators to get them to backfire and cover the sound of correctly timed gunfire.
The kill-cam – which is a signature for the Sniper Elite series – is making a comeback, right? What improvements have been made to it?
The kill-cam is definitely returning! We’ve added considerable extra detail to the anatomy rendering: muscle layers, circulatory systems, and much more dynamic fracturing of the skeleton that underpins it all. We’ve also extended the kill-cam to include vehicles too so we now track bullets right into engines and fuel tanks before the whole thing blows up!
Besides the usual sniper rifles, pistols and sub-machine guns, what other tools will gamers have at their disposals?
The player has a number of booby-traps they can use: trip mines, land mines, the Bouncing Betty, dynamite etc. You can throw rocks or start small fires to attract the attention of AI – even set timed fuses on explosives. The binoculars are actually one of the most important tools in your arsenal; you can use these to tag enemies so they show up through walls, highlight vulnerabilities on vehicles and other points of interest in the levels.
I understand that the campaign can be played cooperatively with another friend. Will the story change because of the new character, or will the levels play out like standalone missions?
The story remains the same in cooperative and gameplay has been set up to specifically give the best possible experience for two players working together.
Will Sniper Elite III feature an “elite” difficulty setting (a.k.a. one with full ballistics and without any kind of assist) for veterans of the franchise?
Yep, full ballistics are active in “Sniper Elite” difficulty mode and we have an “Authentic” difficulty level above that where all the on-screen helpers are deactivated too – it’s something for the hardcore player and it’s very immersive. I think gamers really expect choice these days and don’t want to be lumbered with arbitrary settings set by developers – so we allow the player to customise their difficulty mode and adjust the level of on-screen assistance and ballistics that they feel most comfortable with.
How many enemies can you kill with only one bullet? And we’re not talking about killing via explosions or anything else; just one bullet.
There is no technical limit to how many enemies you can kill with a single bullet. It is, however, limited by the physical ballistics like bullet drop and penetration. It is also very dependent on the enemies happening to line up perfectly in a straight line for your shot.
Let’s talk a bit about multi-player.
Will Sniper Elite III feature all the expected modes right out of the box (e.g. PvP, co-op)? What other modes will Elite III feature (e.g. stand-alone co-op missions, survival etc.)? Also, is split-screen in?
Sniper Elite 3 includes both adversarial multiplayer and cooperative play “out of the box.” The whole campaign can be played cooperatively online and there are also co-op “Overwatch” and “Survival” missions. PvP modes include Sniper Elite 3-flavoured versions of Free-for-all and Team Deathmatch, alongside returning favourites No Cross and Distance King.
Will there be a leveling system just like in the campaign?
The leveling system works across both single-player and multiplayer – so progress in one counts toward the other.
How have the new consoles been treating you? Is there any difference in developing between them?
Both the Xbox One and PS4 are remarkable hardware platforms and since we’ve always built our engine technology to be scalable and platform-independent, we’ve been able to make great use of the new level of processing power available to us.
There’s been a lot of media noise about which console is stronger but the reality is both Sony and Microsoft have work closely with developers to get the most out of the platforms. It’s early days yet and games will only get better and better. As it is we are thrilled to bring the Sniper Elite experience to both the new consoles – in full native 1080p.
It seems like when it comes to sniping in WWII, you’re the “go-to-guys.” Have you ever thought of placing Sniper Elite into a modern setting?
We’ve considered it however when you strip away the technological trappings of 21st century warfare, until you are left with one man and his gun, it feels more personal and more interesting to us. The Sniper Elite community has also been overwhelmingly consistent in asking us to stick with less contemporary settings, and who are we to disagree with Sniper Elite’s fans? They have great taste after all!
Thank you very much for taking your time to answer our questions. I am eagerly awaiting to visit North Africa, later this year.
That’s it, folks! Sniper Elite III is scheduled for duty sometime this year, on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. For everything on snipers and their camping spots, in addition to more news, previews, and of course, our review on Sniper Elite III, keep it locked to Analog Addiction.
In addition to being a PC editor, Vlad Pintea is also a chief of news and reviews here at Analog Addiction. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, on Skype (vlad94pintea), Steam, Facebook, and Twitter.