The latest installment of Rebellion’s SNIPER ELITE-franchise – SNIPER ELITE 5 – was released on May 26th and I have spent the past two days working my way through the campaign – albeit not in the stealthiest, or most pacifistic, manner. Yes, pacifistic runs are now an option, which I greatly appreciate.
SNIPER ELITE 5 – New Features
Speaking of, here’s what’s new in SNIPER ELITE 5:
New difficulty: I played the campaign on Sharpshooter (Medium)-difficulty and only realised when starting my second playthrough on Sniper Elite (Hard) that there is a new difficulty, called Civilian (Very Easy). So there are now five in total: Civilian (Very Easy), Cadet (Easy), Sharpshooter (Medium), Sniper Elite (Hard) and Authentic. You can also customize your game and make, for example, sniping super easy, but combat hard.
More varied traversal system: SNIPER ELITE 4 already gave us would-be commandos the option of gaining the high ground, which was awesome, especially during Survival-missions. In SNIPER ELITE 5 we now get to use ziplines and vines, too. Especially the ziplines are great for when you need to relocate fast once the enemy has made your position. Remember: a sniper never stays in the same spot for long!
Axis invasion: If you enable invasion, other snipers can hunt you down during your missions. Which adds a certain thrill, but since this was my first playthrough I disabled that option again quickly after having been invaded and killed five times. Once I am better acquainted with the maps I shall try that again, that’s for sure. When invasion is enabled, you can use telephones strewn throughout the map to have the operator give you the Jäger’s position. Remember, Karl Fairburne was born in Berlin and speaks German (or at least he tries with a very thick accent). Once you’ve been invaded, not drawing attention to yourself is key. Once the enemy sniper spots and tags you, prepare for a fight.
Alarms be everywhere: In SNIPER ELITE 4 enemies could call down an artillery strike once they triangulated your position. This is no longer a thing, but alarms are. You can disable those from afar by shooting them, or sneak up and disable them by hand. As you can imagine, once alarm is raised, there will be a lot more enemies to deal with, so try to avoid that.
Much more interaction: SNIPER RELITE 5 offers more possibilities for getting around. Karl can now open windows, pick up keys to certain doors and safes or dismantle barricaded doorways. Which is very nice, actually.
New Skill Tree: The Skill Tree has changed very much. In SNIPER ELITE 4 skills were unlocked upon reaching certain ranks. Ranks were obtained by gaining XP. In SNIPER ELITE 5 you gain XP to unlock Ranks and Skill Points that you can then spend on skills in the Skill Tree. It now has three branches: Combat, Equipment and Body. Simply fill out all the slots and you are good to go. I actually focused on Body and Combat first, and just filled out Equipment when I had Skill Points to spare.
Non-lethal approach: Speaking of equipement. Apart from Regular, Armor-Piercing or Subsonic Ammo you can now equip non-lethal rounds that knock enemies out. There are even non-lethal mines you can equip. Also, you have the option to pacify enemies instead of stabbing them when you sneak up to them from behind. And I think you get extra points for every enemy left unconscious once you finish the mission. Since I am planning my next playthrough to be more pacifistic and stealthy than the first I am going to try these options out.
New mission rating system: After each mission you will get a Field Report of how you performed. There are four quadrants: Assault, Lethal, Stealth and Non-Lethal. My results during my first playthrough mostly fell into the Assault/Lethal or Lethal/Stealth quadrants.
SNIPER ELITE by Rebellion – A Brief Timeline
The first Sniper Elite-game was published in 2005, but Rebellion continued it in 2012 with SNIPER ELITE V2. Next was SNIPER ELITE III (2014), then SNIPER ELITE 4 (2017), with SNIPER ELITE 5 being the latest installment. The last three games all have the location in their logo, those being Africa, Italy and France. SNIPER ELITE V2 – so far – is the last game when it comes to chronology, since it is set in Berlin during the Soviet take-over of the city at the very end of WWII. SNIPER ELITE 5 also deals with the V2-program, which I thought a nice touch, as it feels like coming full circle.
So, if this game is the prequel to SNIPER RELITE V2, does this mean that SNIPER ELITE 5 is the last game of the franchise? Hardly. As Karl himself puts it “The war isn’t over yet.”
Fun fact: In SNIPER ELITE III expert sniper and SOE commando Karl Fairburne was given the nickname "Wüstengeist" (Desert Ghost) by the Germans. Once he moved on to Italy in SNIPER ELITE 4, he was known as "Der Schatten" (The Shadow). I mention this because in SNIPER ELITE 5 allies and enemies alike will very often call him by one name or the other. I really liked those - nostalgic - references to the earlier games.
As mentioned, I have played through the campaign once already but have yet to try out co-op, survival and multiplayer. I am very much looking forward to that! I will also do a more in-depth review of SNIPER ELITE 5, once I have played a little more.
Until then, keep on playing!