So, when I played Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, back in the day, I enjoyed the contracts of that tactical shooter most. That meant tracking down a war criminal throughout the maps and taking them out, usually facing an army of vigilant bodyguards. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts (2019) expands and improves on that. Actually, the game picks the best out of SNIPER ELITE 4‘s playbook and does the best it can with it. Which is great!
There are seven missions in total that will bring you to an always new region throughout Siberia. You will be able to upgrade your loadout and equipment with the rewards you earn for completing your tasks and can also complete extra challenges to unlock special gadgets.
I played and finished the game on the lowest difficulty (Marksman) without ever upgrading or unlocking anything, but once I play it again on the Sniper-difficulty, I will definitely be doing that.
For this review – maybe I will be adding playthroughs for each mission later – I will have a look at story and characters, locations (maps), enemy classes, loadout and skills, as well as missions and challenges.
Fair warning, there will be SPOILERS!
The story and characters
Like with most shooters, neither the story nor the main character matter much. You play as the literally faceless mercenary “Seeker”, who is employed by a third party to bring order to a region rife with instabiliy.
Apart from that, there is no background to our hero, and the back-story is your usual one. You basically are deployed on missions in varying areas to sabotage and assassinate. Since I enjoy that kind of game, e.g. in the shape of the latest HITMAN-trilogy or the SNIPER ELITE-franchise, that works for me.
You will be visiting different sites throughout Siberia, from lush forests to icy islands. They are detailed and beautiful and you will have to be on the lookout for shortcuts from one target to another. Mine fields and vigilant guards will make it a challenge to navigate those maps, but you will have enough opportunities to put your sniping skills and your stealth abilities to the test. Also, be on the lookout for bounties. Those are special targets that carry a reward and imminent danger, since taking them out an collecting the bounty will alert a horde of enemies that you then need to escape to successfully complete that challenge. Which is a very nice touch.
When it comes to enemy classes, there is no big surprise. You have the regular grunts and heavies, snipers and spotters. Both snipers and spotters are very observant, so you better heed the audio warnings when they are about to make your position. Once the alarm is raised, enemies will come looking. As we all know, guards are better than you when it comes to hitting targets even at a distance, no matter the weapon type.
Heavies may be heavily armored and cannot be melee-killed. Yet on the Marksman-difficulty you can still score a one-shot-kill on them, even though they will shrug off a fuel barrel exploding pretty much right next to them most of the time.
Mechanical opponents are cameras, drones and turrets. The cameras can be deactivated by shooting them with a silenced rifle or pistol. Drones will not recognize an unmoving object. And turrets have a limited field of vision. All mechanical elements can be disabled with either EMP bullets or EMP grenades. Since I did not have any special bullets, I usually dealt with the turrets using frag or EMP grenades.
If you try to play it stealthy, you will sometimes need to take out guards in close quarter combat. If you can, hide the bodies, because when they are found, alarm will be raised and enemies will be searching.
Loadout And Skills
I used my sniper rifle and machine gun 50 : 50, I think, though I became more stealthy as the game progressed. Which is a given, since the levels’ difficulty will steadily increase. Even on the lowest difficulty you will not be able to breeze through those. Which is just how I like it.
Your standard loadout does encompass a sniper rifle, a machine gun and a silenced pistol, plus various gadgets. I played on the easiest difficulty and did not upgrade anything at all. Only once I had finished the game, did I explore the possibilities of upgrading your loadout and equipment, just for the sake of this post. Yet I assume that this will come in handy on higher difficulties. What I did notice was the missing compund bow, which was my favorite weapon in the last game, though I have yet to find out if you can unlock that somehow.
You can also use gadgets like different bullet classes that help you identify guards, allow you to shoot through walls or pose as a lure. There is a drone you can use, which I did not try out, and a sniper turret, which is basically a remote turret.
Sniping is difficult, as you need to calculate wind direction and bullet drop, yet the Seeker is equipped with a neat mask that functions as binoculars and sensor as well as hiding his face. And the rifle scope will allow you to take distance, wind direction and bullet drop into account. Once you know how to line up your targets, it’s easy.
Your original machine gun is pretty much all over the place thanks to the recoil, but there are possibly better SMG’s you can purchase in the shop. The silenced pistol is great for taking out guards stealthily.
As for the skills, there are three classes you can invest in:
Marksman (improving your sniper skills)
Infiltrator (honing your stealth abilities)
Soldier (for those of us who like to tank their way through these games).
There are seven maps, seven missions in total. You will usually have to kill two targets, uncover information and sabotage something. The objectves will be protected by a host of guards and you are only one man, so you best play it to your strengths. Patience is key.
The sixth mission is my favorite, I think. Set on an icy, snow-covered island, you have to sneak across the map to reach your various targets. Those are two scientists and one of them uses a body double. The smartest way to kill her, I have found, is infiltrating the bunker and triggering the alarm, which will have her and her double come right to you, which is pretty sweet. You will be alerting a ton of guards, of course, and getting out will not be easy, but I thought it was fun.
Since this is the penultimate mission targets are on alert as well as the guards and at one point you will have three snipers guarding against your approach, which means you will have to take those out first, or be very stealthy.
This is the satellite station, btw, and if you had difficulties taking out all three snipers in the beginning, as I did, you can sneak along the right side of the map, avoid the patrol, navigate your way through the mine field and hop into the tall grass when the turret is looking the other way to get inside the compound, then use the tall grass for your approach and carefully sneak past the sniper tower and the two guards on the ground to get to the back of the main building and inside, then up the stairs to complete your objective.
Apart from the main objectives, there is also always a host of optional challenges to each mission. So, another incentive to revisit those locations.
To be honest, I did not expect much but was pleasantly surprised. I loved the maps, the missions and the sniping plus stealth and will definitely be working on completing the seven levels and improving on stealth. Also, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is out since June 2021 and I would not mind playing that at all either. Especially, since my beloved compound bow features heavily in the launch trailer. Which is why that title is on my list of new games to play, probably during holiday season.
Until then, keep on playing!