Nobody can say that 2017 is going to be a terrible gaming year. Even its first half is chock full of high profile and/or interesting releases. In February and in April two games sharing the same core theme are going to be released: Sniper Elite 4 and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. Both games, surprisingly, are going to focus on simulating (to a certain extent) a sniper going alone against, as usual, unsurmountable odds. How do they compare to one another? Are there any similarities going beyond the obvious? Let’s find out.
Game world construction
From what we know so far, both Sniper Elite 4 (SE4) and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 (SGW3) are going to feature huge maps full of detail and polish. This is, however largely where the similarities end.
Rebellion Developments’ SE4 is going to have massive maps, that’s true, but they are going to be largely dedicated to specific missions. Instead of providing a straightforward open world, Sniper Elite 4 design seems to follow in the footsteps of, for instance, Dishonored, where a map is crafted specifically to a given mission, with some potential for being reused later on.
This makes the Sniper Elite 4 gameplay much more focused and tailored to make completing an objective more interesting, with some unique complications and circumstances.
Ghost Warrior recon
On the other hand SGW3 is going to have a fully open world (although subdivided into several parts, not unlike the Witcher 3 world, probably), where you look for missions on your own. CI Games’ Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will expect you to do reconnaissance and complete intel-gathering missions. This makes sense, since while SE4’s Karl Fairburne is given assignments from his superiors, SGW3 protagonist Jonathan North is probably more or less on his own.
There are also going to be side missions (thematically called “war crimes”) to be discovered on the world map by an intrepid player. Overall the structure of SGW3 seems to resemble a Witcher 3 approach, and, to some degree, also the Ubisoft formula known for instance from the Assassin’s Creed series.
Both games are set during a war. Ok, that doesn’t clear anything at all, but it also isn’t untrue. Most specifics remain unknown, of course, but we have some general information about both games, so we can afford to make some summary of themes and backdrops we are going to be dealing with in either.
Resistance isn’t futile
Sniper Elite 4 is set immediately after the events of Sniper Elite 3, in 1943. In other words, Karl Fairburne is still sniping bad people during World War II. This time instead of the sun-burnt Africa we are going to roam the 1940s Italy, and a truly beautifully rendered one, if Sniper Elite 4 trailers and previews are to be believed. What we should expect are coastal villages, mountain passes and quaint rural architecture. Oh, and Nazis, Fascists, and finally a resistance we are supposed to be helping with our trusty rifle and controlled breathing.
A trip to Georgia
On the other hand Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is set in modern Georgia torn by civil war (among other things). As if it wasn’t enough, Jonathan North is going to have to face a person from his past, who apparently has a hand in the unfolding events. Setting the game in modern times at the same time makes sure that the technology is up to date as well, with modern rifles and gadgets to be used during gameplay.
Can North, himself a retired Marine, prevent a new cold war? It depends on you, it seems.
Neither game makes sniping the only way to go about completing the objectives, but the selection of tools and features (that we are aware of at the moment of writing this article) is a bit different, so let’s see what about gameplay differentiates Sniper Elite 4 from Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 and vice versa.
Sniper Elite 4 continues the franchise’s tradition of letting its players see exactly how they killed the enemy. In addition to X-ray killcams of deadly sniper shots now we also get to see all the mess made by stealthy stabbings, and shrapnel from the traps we set up.
Expanded takedowns and better traps will make it worth your time. To let you get where you need to be (for a great vantage point or a clever place for a trap) Fairburne now has an expanded moveset for easier navigation of his surroundings. It’s not Assassin’s Creed parkour, but it doesn’t need to be.
On the other hand, the CI Games’ production seems to offer three distinct playstyles, included neatly in its title. Sniper is self-explanatory, Warrior promotes a more gung-ho approach, while Ghost gets to play with gadgets and silent takedowns. In his skillset North also has parkour, as well as a Scout Mode, which highlights points of interest and potential threats. A crafting system for gear upgrades will also be available.
Depending on your approach, you will get points in relevant categories (Ghost, Warrior, Sniper), which will in turn lead to unlocking perks and talents corresponding to each path. Snipe a lot and your breath-holding ability will grow, as well as your accuracy.
SGW3 seems to take ballistics to heart slightly more, than SE4, although the full truth remains to be seen after both games are released and gameplay-supported comparisons can be made.
Sniper Elite 4 sniping seems to be more focused on rewarding the players for a carefully laid shot, and only lower difficulties are said to have a helpful dot showing where the bullet is going to land. And even then it’s going to be visible only when we make Karl hold his breath.
On the other hand SGW3 seems to really go to down with ballistics. While SE4 does take into account things like bullet drop etc, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 adds different types of ammo, numerous craftable attachments and upgrades and who knows what more is hiding in the final product. There are rumors, that there will be some interactions between various bullet types and the environment, but whether in set places or freely exploitable, we don’t know.
Isn’t that the question? As usual, the answer can’t ever be conclusive, because beyond the sniping theme, they are going to be different games.
Summary execution: Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 seems like a wild ride, despite the importance of prepwork. While it will be fully possible to apply only one approach to any mission, the game is probably going to truly shine when things go awry and a mix of the three is applied.
The open-world structure also risks a lot of backtracking and revisiting old places during new missions, and a slog of extra activities to complete. It can be good, the Witcher 3 is a great example of this being done right, and nothing stops CI Games from repeating this feat.
One way or another, it’s probably better to think of SGW3 as an action game with a sniping bent.
Summary execution: Sniper Elite 4
On the other side there is Rebellion’s Sniper Elite 4. A significantly more deliberate game, where a handy assault rifle probably won’t help you too much when you make a critical mistake. On the other hand, a careful player with a good plan will probably feel more rewarded thanks to anatomically correct X-ray killcams showing every way your bullets, knifes, fists or traps managed to kill your foes. Where SGW3 was an action game with a sniping bent, Sniper Elite is probably closer to a straightforward stealth game.
Ultimately any superiority can only be decided based on what kind of game you are looking for. Both games are going to have quite spectacular visuals, even if the sunny Italy is probably going to look a bit more friendly, despite all the Nazi presence. Both games have a healthy approach to sniping, and have their core gameplay well thought-out. A lot of information about Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is probably going to come our way in the coming months (the release is in April), while Sniper Elite 4 release comes halfway through February. There’s not much time left to decide whether or not you want to buy the latter to take a trip back in time to Italy.
Whatever your decision end up being, Karl Fairburne and Jonathan North are probably going to have their sights on you.
PS: in Sniper Elite 4 you get to kill Hitler. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 needs to up its game in this regard.