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E3 2016 – Sniper Elite 4 Hands-On Preview – Sniper Haven (PS4)

The last time we saw Sniper Elite III, it didn’t review so hotly. However, Rebellion Developments is doing a current-gen-only release this time around. So, without having to contend with the old consoles’ limitations, can it finally be as enjoyable to be a sniper as we can imagine? We spent some hands-on time with the demo of Sniper Elite 4 while at E3 2016, and have our preview below.

Karl Reporting for Duty

Sniper Elite 4 has you play as series staple Karl Fairburne, in Italy circa 1943. The events of the previous game have just transpired, and of course your work is not done. We were able to play midway through an early level of the game, and given free reign over how to finish the mission.

Rebellion Developments insists that Sniper Elite 4 has better AI than previous entries. Unfortunately, our time with the demo was too brief to determine if this is true, but it does appear that enemies will sweep an area if you make too much noise. For my playthrough, I attempted to clear a bridge that I needed to get on top of before really moving from my starting location. This took a lot longer than I expected, because I would have to wait until the bridge’s massive artillery gun fired in order to use the sound to cover my rifle’s discharge and alerting the enemies to my presence.

The game was on a relatively easy difficulty mode, in terms of firing long-range shots. Zooming in with the scope was performed via L2, and emptying out my lungs, thus steadying my aim, was performed by holding down R1. This action also displayed a reticle, indicating where my shot would land due to gravity, turning red and small after holding R1 for a while.

X-Ray Specs

Sniper Elite 4’s signature X-ray kill cam is here as usual, and can provide for some visceral kills. The Rebellion Developments representative who was guiding us through the demo tasked us with performing a distance heart shot. Each kill indicates which body part you shot through, with some shots harder to obtain than others. I did eventually perform a heart shot, much to the amusement of the representative. Obtaining all possible kills in Sniper Elite 4 will likely take a lot of skill and patience, especially on the game’s higher difficulty settings.

With each downed enemy, the other soldiers became more alert, and began to pace and look out towards my general direction. I took out the bridge’s only sniper first, because I did not want to be picked off if I stood up. There also just so happened to be a generator behind me. I sabotaged it, but not before first placing a tripwire bomb. Once a curious enemy came looking at the noisy generator, they triggered my booby trap, which unexpectedly drew the attention of another nearby soldier. Once this additional enemy lost interest in the area, I simply waited until he left to proceed.

Plan for the Unexpected

Walking along a path leading towards a base, I suddenly heard a vehicle approaching. It appeared to be a troop transport vehicle, but a decently-sized and relatively fast one. I had nowhere to go; clearly my cover would be blown. But this was not the case. Thinking quickly, I took cover behind a small structure, and rotated around the structure as the vehicle passed by. Placing a pressure mine where the vehicle just rolled over, I continued along my way. While I didn’t make it much further in my demo than just before the bridge objective, I could see that there were still dozens of enemies left on a very large map.

It appears that Sniper Elite 4 is utilizing all the extra processing power, and perhaps more importantly, RAM, of the current generation consoles. View distance is practically the entire map at once, and performance seems adequate. While we’ll have to wait for the full release to see if things such as the AI and story have improved, it seems that this may be the entry that creates a haven for sniper fans to have fun with lining up a perfect shot. Sniper Elite 4 is currently scheduled for launch on Valentine’s Day, 2017.