The Sniper: Ghost Warrior franchise has seen better days, especially following the failure of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s open world approach. To that end, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts promises a return to form, offering a variety of targets to kill in highly replayable scenarios. It’s out on November 22nd for Xbox One, PS4 and PC so let’s take a look at 15 things you need to know before buying.
The game is about, shock of shocks, contracts. Players will take on different contracts, assassinating targets to earn money and upgrades. The campaign is composed of 25 contracts in total. Though there is a loose “story” governing the pace and background information on each main target, your main purpose is to fulfill these contracts and get paid. It’s a lot like IO Interactive’s recent Hitman games but with more realistic sniping.
Of course, it’s not as cut and dry as simply assassinating a target. During a contract, you’ll have specific side-objectives to fulfill. Think of them as additional objectives which can be completed for an improved payout. CI Games also noted that there would be bounty contracts which aren’t required to progress through the campaign but provide additional challenges to master.
No Open World
The overall scale of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, coupled with its optimization, led to numerous gameplay issues and long loading times. By emphasizing assassinations with clear parameters in focused zones, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts returns to what matters most – sniping. It also doesn’t hurt that loading times are better and visuals have been improved with this scaled down approach.
Five Sandbox Areas
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts is set entirely in Siberia with five large sandboxes each containing five main contracts to complete. Complete contracting from a previous region will unlock the next so there is a set path of progression in the campaign. Each sandbox has its share of unique areas for contracts and despite confined to only one province, there are a variety of sights to see like dense forests, industrial areas and lakes.
Dynamic Reticle System
Unlike many games, the sniping here is pretty realistic. You need to measure bullet distance, wind direction and other conditions to successfully kill foes. Fortunately, there’s the Dynamic Reticle System which provides a clearer outline for your shots (including the exact travel path of your bullets). Setting up and measuring shots carefully is imperative to success.
To better navigate the sandbox, players will have an Augmented Reality or AR Mask. This includes thermal vision, the ability to scan geometry and even functions as a pair of binoculars. Is it a fancier term for a HUD that also supports marking foes and zooming into distant objects? From the outset, sure, but as you unlock upgrades, going into “Mask Mode” will enable a variety of fun tactics like revealing weak spots for vehicles and fuse boxes to destroy them.
Slow Mo Bullet Cam
It wouldn’t be a sniping game without some kind of slow mo bullet cam to trace the path of shots to a target. There’s no X-Ray mode like Sniper Elite 4 so you won’t see bones and muscles ripping apart with each shot landed. But there is a nice cinematic flair added to kill, which can hopefully be skipped when we don’t want to see it every time.
While sniping is pretty much your main means of killing, you don’t have to play that way. You can get up close and personal with a silenced pistol and eliminate enemies one by one. Want to run around with a knife, chaining kills? How about running and gunning with a shotgun or just killing targets with grenades? It’s all possible but the louder the approach, the tougher it’ll be to complete the contract. That’s because you need to evacuate after an assassination so even when sniping, being silent is imperative for a smooth escape. The contract won’t be completed without a successful evac.
One element which hasn’t been detailed much are the Rivals that can crop up during missions. These are essentially AI snipers competing for the same contracts as you. Either take out a target before they do or eliminate them altogether to secure the contract. Will different Rivals have different play-styles? Will there be different incentive for taking down Rivals? The developer has yet to provide more details, sadly.
Mask and Suit Upgrades
There a number of upgrade trees in-game, ranging from the AR Mask’s Scouting, Utility and Awareness categories to customizing one’s suit. Suit unlocks start out fairly straightforward, increasing your overall health and stamina. Later perks confer benefits like no noise generation while walking or sprinting, reduced fall damage and additional armor. As for the AR Mask, one upgrade will let you see the cone of vision for enemies while another enables you to see all traps and mines laid within a five meter range when in Mask Mode.
Support Items and Gadgets
Support Items include the sniper turret and scout drone. The sniper turret is particularly intriguing since you can customize it for semi-auto fire or equip a silencer and increase its number of targets. Likewise, the scout drone can also be customized to have thermal vision, emit an EMP and also tag all enemies in a 10 meter range. Other gadgets include mines, throwing knives, smoke grenades and much more to make life difficult for your foes. There also special ammo types like D.A.R.P.A Bullets which ignore weather and elevation, Armor Piercing Bullets to hit enemies through walls and EMP Bullets to disable electronics.
If you’re used to fine-tuning your weapons, don’t worry – Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts features a robust weapon customization system. You can change the scope, magazine, barrel, underbarrel, camo and much more to suit your preferences. Along with a primary sniper rifle – with options like the Tactical XCR 700, Sturm – Precision and Model Ron B82 – there are secondary weapons like the AKA-47 and AMA Ace-7 assault rifles and Giovanni M4 shotgun. You can also have sidearms like the Fort P99, Falcom IRM and Spring 686.
Stealth on its own is a major component – the more sneaky you are while sniping, the less attention drawn to you and the easier it is to evacuate. However, this applies when infiltrating a base on foot as you can sneak behind enemies and silently take them down. You can also interrogate enemies to gain access to locations for enemies and supplies. Interrogating officers may provide critical information for your mission.
Another area where CI Games has been strangely quiet is multiplayer. The developer had previously confirmed that there would be multiplayer options but hasn’t offered more information on the same. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 did have a multiplayer mode which included different maps, modes and weapons but this arrived a full nine months after the base game’s launch. Whether this will be the same approach for Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts remains to be seen.
Xbox One X/PS4 Pro Support
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts will support the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro along with “newer” PC hardware. However, again, there isn’t any information on the resolution, frame rate, possible visual enhancements, different modes etc. So if you’re playing on either console and expect 4K resolution support of some kind, best to temper expectations until CI Games offers more details.