We think it’s time Karl Fairburne asked for a raise, because his remit firmly falls outside of simply being a sniper now.
Building on the more open structure of Sniper Elite 4, this latest entry in the prominent sniping series offers up maps that are more open than ever. And, being set in France, they’re wonderfully picturesque. But an increased focus on stealth may leave some hell-bent on busting Nazi skulls at range a little disappointed.
Keeping with the World War 2 setting, the story of Sniper Elite 5 feels like it treads old ground. You know the score by now: Hitler and his henchmen have a dastardly plan up their sleeves, and it’s up to you to find out what it is and put a stop to it. Cue a campaign where you travel across scenic France to gather intel and assassinate key targets.
At the start of each mission you’re plopped onto a map with a main objective to compete, which often demands you to travel to numerous locations. And while it’s ultimately up to you how you approach your task, stealth is generally required. That is to say, you can go out all-guns-blazing if you wish, but you’re likely to be overrun pretty quickly. You could also try to advance while sniping any Nazi that makes themselves known, but the noise caused by your weapon is likely to attract unwanted attention unless it’s masked.
Despite Karl Fairburne being a skilled sniper, then, the use of his rifle needs to be measured. Some missions do thankfully let you get a good position to pop some skulls, but for the most part, you’re going to be so close to your enemies that you can virtually smell them. Then, whether you sneak past them or murder/incapacitate them is up to you.
Still, while you might not be doing quite as much sniping as you’d expect in Sniper Elite 5, it still remains an engaging and enjoyable experience. It helps that alongside each main objective, missions also have side objectives to be discovered, as well as kill list challenges. There are rewards for completing them, too, including weapons and parts to customise them. And an experience system rewards all of your actions with skill points that can be used to develop your abilities.
Related: The Best Stealth Games on PS4
Also to consider is that fact that there’s much more to Sniper Elite 5 than simply a campaign, which can also be played in co-op. There’s a wave-based survival mode, for example, which is a fun way to waste hours with friends. And there’s also a suite of competitive multiplayer modes. Will they have legs? Probably not. But they’ll entertain a core group of ardent sniping fans for a while.
It’s the introduction of a new invasion mechanic that’s perhaps the most exciting. Like in games such as Dark Souls and Deathloop, you can now jump into a player’s campaign as a Nazi, with the aim of hunting them down and putting an end to their exploits. It’s devilishly rewarding to do so, too, though we imagine many players will turn off the invasion mechanic once they’ve had their progress thwarted a time or two.
We’ve played the PS5 version of Sniper Elite 5 for review, and it certainly has a bit of a next-gen feel. While character models and animations don’t particularly impress, the environments are wonderfully designed and look photo-realistic. Loading times are fairly brisk as well, but it’s the DualSense implementation that stands out the most.
Aside from various immersive rumbles such as when planes pass overhead, providing great sniping cover, excellent use has been made of the adaptive triggers. Pull the left trigger halfway, for instance, and you aim in third person, while a full pull will let you aim down the sights. The right trigger, meanwhile, offers some resistance, making the act of shooting more realistic and eventful.
While Sniper Elite 5‘s campaign feels a little familiar, and largely more focused on sneaking than sniping, we can’t help but be impressed by the overall package. With co-op, competitive multiplayer modes and a new invasion mechanic, Sniper Elite 5 has something for everybody. And a range of difficulty settings make it suitable for all skill levels. So, unless you go into it expecting to snipe everything that moves, chances are you won’t be disappointed.
Sniper Elite 5 Review: GameSpew’s Score