Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 (compared to its previous entries) is looking quite ambitious and many who saw the reveal trailer got excited on its new design premise. As opposed to before where it was mostly scripted and had focus on sniping and going guns blazing wasn't best recommended. Now, with the reveal of the third in the series, Sniper Ghost Warrior is taking its name literally and allowing you go play in three different styles. And if you haven't already guessed, they are Sniper, Ghost and Warrior. Oh, how clever of them.
With this new design set for the upcoming Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 I had the chance to play in the Koch booth at gamescom. After a presentation of the new features, the world you're in, it was my turn to jump in and complete some missions as I pleased. In Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, you're placed in the boots of Jonathan North in an open area of Georgia, not far from the border of Russia. Before traversing the area, you start off in your hideout. This is where you can access your laptop, select missions - available to me were an assassination or rescue mission. Once mission was marked on my map, I was ready to head out, but not before going through my gear. This is where it's entirely player choice. It's up to you to tackle the missions how you see fit.
Going traditional, you can choose the sniper rifle. You can customise your weapon with more firepower such as increased bullet damage - depending on the caliber you choose and bring along some gadget such as a drone to scope out the surrounding area and pinpoint your target. You can carry three weapons, your sniper rifle, an assault rifle/smg and a handgun.
The other two ways of handling missions can be by going in as a ghost. Use stealth and the environment to slowly take down enemies up close with a knife or put them down silently with a silenced weapon. You can combine this with a silenced sniper rifle and eliminate your target from afar for the true stealth experience. Of course, if you're not one for any this and you want to go guns blazing and take down the bad guys then by all means, be the warrior.
You're rewarded based on your utilisation of all three skills. Bonuses are rewarded for going total in one style of play. Things may go awry so combining all three equally rewards. In the missions I was playing I had to infiltrate an abandoned church and rescue some hostages. The map allowed for fast travel so I was able to drop my character into an area close by. I snuck up to the first guard to them down and proceeded to silent take down the rest. It didn't go down well and before I knew it I had alerted them all and they were after me. So I got out the big guns and took the remainder in a fury of bullets. Reinforcements soon made their way and I finished them off with ease on top of the church using my sniper rifle. It was a really cool experience and reminded me very much of Far Cry 3/4, in sense of how you can complete optional tasks in many different ways.
At the end of each mission you're rewarded and it shows you how much XP contributed to each of your skills. In my case as I used warrior the most that's where I gained the most XP, but I got some in Sniper and Ghost. As you progress further and carry out missions using different styles, your skills improve making you better in those areas. So the more you snipe, the better you'll become allowing you to hold your breath for longer and reduce the scope sway. As a ghost, the more stealthy you are the quieter your footsteps are allowing you move faster and more silently without being spotted and for Warrior you'll get a boost in accuracy and reduced recoil. Those some of the perks I noticed during my playtime.
When not on missions, you can explore the area of Georgia on foot or by car. In doing so you can find new objectives not found on your minimap as well as intel, which can be gathered to learn more about your mission and target.
Graphically, what I saw was impressive. The game certainly has a bigger budget than it's predecessors and the developers have taken full advantage and have built the game on the latest CryEngine 3. Usually, I'd criticise the engine due to how it's overly demanding and unoptimised it is, but even this pre-alpha build was running smoothly with very few hitches.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is building up to be an impressive AAA effort from CI Interactive. Their previous titles have always been seen as budget action shooters, but now they're really ramping things up and I was pleasantly surprised with my time with game. I'll certainly be keeping my eye on this one when it arrives next year.