While I was at EGX I had the opportunity to play Sniper Elite 4 and talk to Ryan (I didn’t catch his last name) from game developer Rebellion. We had a lengthy conversation about the game, planning and concentration and satisfying testicle shots…
I’m here at EGX 2016 with Ryan from Rebellion and we’re going to talk about Sniper Elite 4. So tell me a bit about the game.
“Sniper Elite 4 is the continuation of Karl Fairburne’s adventures through World War II. This one is set in Italy during the Bernese movement of 1943 and you also play the Allied Invasion of that year. It’s very different from Sniper Elite 3 in the way it looks because of the difference of environments from Africa so it’s full of lush locales and very, very large maps.”
I’ve never played a Sniper Elite game before…
…This is the first one I’ve ever played and the first thing I noticed was how big the map is.
“That’s one of our bigger maps and you actually started halfway through. You could have turned around and gone backwards if you wanted. There are some great ranged shots you can make in that level.”
When it started I was on a ridge and there was a bridge across the way. I was thinking, how do I get across to the bridge? I turned, went around a corner and realised there was also an entire village.
“There’s ways to get anywhere in the game. From that starting point in the demo you could turn right and go to the village. If you go left there’s a depot area as well. There’s a lot of choice. If you had started from the very beginning there’s even more branches you can take. There’s a lot of other objectives as well as that main bridge.”
I noticed that when I was, shall we say, pinned down.
[laughs] “It happens a lot when you go loud.”
I didn’t go loud intentionally.
“It’s never intentional but it can happen easily.”
I think I noticed six objectives.
“There could be about that. I don’t have any definite numbers. But there’s quite a few extra things you can do. They’re optional a lot of the time. You don’t have to do them, but it’s satisfying if you do. It makes the main objective that little bit easier as well because you tend to clear areas.”
Or just end up like a rat through a maze.
[laughs] “Yes. And die many times as well, I’m assuming, up on that ridge.”
Once or twice. So how many levels are there in the final game?
“We’re not revealing numbers just now, but there will be enough to keep you entertained for a good length of time.”
Will they all be as big as the demo level?
“They’re all pretty big. They’re not all the same size as the one you played today. There’s variations in size and some of them are more condensed, but the smallest map is still roughly three times bigger than the biggest map in Sniper Elite 3, so there’s a lot more content in there. You’re never going to be short on places to go.”
It felt like every five minutes I was finding a new area.
“It’s definitely one where you have to plan ahead otherwise you can get lost if you’re not careful. But that’s part of Sniper Elite 4.If you’re not concentrating you suddenly start running away from the enemy and get lost in a bad situation.”
My demo was full of bad situations! The planning ahead was really interesting. As I mentioned I’ve never played a Sniper Elite game and the first thing the demo told me was to not try and run and gun, which is good advice. There is a lot of concentration and planning as part of the game.
“We see a lot of people, especially today, with a big variation in the way they’re playing. The ones that do tend to do the best are the ones that really plan well. They use their binoculars to mark out all of their targets and keep an eye on where they’re going. Before they take any shots at all they spend a good amount of time just planning what they’re going to do, the routes they’re going to take and where the enemies are patrolling. But you can still try the run and gun approach, just run and go for it. With a mixture of skill and luck you can get through but it’s pretty tough.”
The game looks really good as well.
“The environments look pretty and the level design is really good. The environmental artists have done a good job. There’s a lot of variation between the levels as well, they look very interesting and they’re a nice contrast to Sniper Elite 3.”
I had three different weapons in the demo. Obviously there was the sniper rifle, but I also had a silenced pistol and a submachine gun. Are there any other weapons in the final game?
“There are other weapons. We have variations of the rifles, there are other rifles from World War 2. There are machine guns. The pistol we had in there is one that is silent naturally. It’s very handy but it comes at a detriment of how much damage it does. It’s not the greatest weapon to have if you’re stuck in a corner fighting for your life. But then there are other pistols and weapons you can get that are useful if you’re in that situation, more defensive weapons for you to try out.”
In the demo the main objective was to destroy a bridge that had a massive cannon on it. Was it firing?
“Yes it is firing.”
Right, it was cloaking the sounds…
“If you plan it just right you can hear it reloading, there’ll be a big clunk as it reloads and then it’ll fire. So if you hear that reload and prepare to take a shot the sound will be masked, so you can make a shot and no-one else will know about it. They might know about it if they see their friend die but they won’t know where it came from. It’s a very good tactic to try and time shots with the cannon fire.”
It took me a few minutes to realise it was happening. Every now and again I heard a big bang and saw an indicator on the screen. Not that using it helped much [laughs]. So the other thing from the demo I wanted to ask you about – every time I got a headshot the camera followed the bullet…
“We’ve got a system where it follows the bullet. If you make what the game considers and interesting or impressive shot then it will follow the bullet and show you where it’s hit them, which is quite gruesome but it’s…worryingly satisfying if you see the headshots. There’s all sorts of things, a lot of interesting shots there and they are very gruesome. If it’s not your thing you can reduce them or turn them off completely if you want to, so you don’t have to have that part of the game. Or if you do really like them you can make them even more frequent. That’s always an option.”
The first time I got a headshot it showed me the skull…
“There’s different organs.”
…I will admit it was satisfying. There’s different organs did you say?
“There’s all sorts of organs. So if you use the rifle and you’re scoped up the head is obviously the natural one to go for. If you look down you can shoot them through the heart, which is a very tough one to get. If you’re particularly nasty you can always go for the testicle shots.”
Does that have a camera as well?
“It does have a camera as well. That one’s…not the nicest one to see. It makes you wrench quite a lot when you see that.”
I think I know the first thing I’m doing when I get the game. So last question, when is the game coming out and what platforms will it be available for?
“It’s coming out February 14th next year and it’ll be playable on PS4, Xbox One and PC.”