Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a first person shooter that features open world gameplay, marking a change of direction for the franchise. So, is it worth a shot? Check out our review below…
Loading up Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is a lot like slipping on your favorite pair of shoes. Predictable, but still entirely comfortable and capable of keeping you content. The third installment in the Sniper: Ghost Warrior franchise does make some changes, though, opting to shed its strict linear game play in exchange for a sprawling open world consisting of 3 different regions. The risk to go open world is an ambitious one for the series, and its one that actually pays off. Each region features a plethora of points of interests to discover that include fast travel points, secret locations stocked with loot, and side missions that actually compliment the story told in the campaign. The large open world is not without its drawbacks, however, as Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is plagued with unbelievably long loading times when launching the game or switching between the map’s 3 regions. The entirety of each region is available at the player’s whim once loading is done and there’s not a lot of reason to bounce back and forth between regions. Unless, of course, you’re playing the campaign missions in order, as some of those will require switching regions to progress.
CI Games manages to blend in elements of linear storytelling with the open world they’ve created very well. Our hero, Jon North, keeps a journal of his progress. When a mission is completed, the next becomes available in Jon’s journal and the player must click on it to trigger the mission’s events in the world. This allows for free roam play and exploration of the map to investigate the many point of interests or to track down collectibles and loot, or more linear progression through the campaign as the player sees fit. Unfortunately, this also opens up CI Games to their second misstep with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. Even though the campaigns missions are laid out and easily accessible, with a break down of all the primary and secondary objectives completed during the play through, players don’t have the ability to replay any of the missions following their initial completion. In my play through of the campaign I attempted to complete every objective given to me, and despite my conscious effort to hit them all I still missed two. After completing the campaign in its entirety, I went back to the journal and highlighted the mission where I had missed two objectives and pressed select, thinking the mission would restart and I could rectify my mistake. I was sorely disappointed. Its simply inexplicable for missions to be made unavailable in an open world environment.
While Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 makes a literal one man army out of Jon North, he is not without some trusty gadgets that make his journey a little more interesting. Most notably, Jon has a handy dandy drone in his pocket. Learning to properly use the drone can make or break the ability to complete some missions, as skating by undetected is required for progress . Jon’s drone allows for enemy tagging and locating secret entrances in some missions, so that you can better plan out your attack instead of running in blind. As players level up from clearing missions and points of interest, more drone modules become available. Players can unlock additional module slots, and then mix and match from modifications such as night or thermal vision, longer battery life, or the ability to hack into CCTV systems.
For all of the things that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 gets right, there’s just as many missteps. In its pre-release state, developers CI Games had originally announced that PS4 and PC players who pre-ordered would get the game’s $30 season pass as well as an additional DLC mission and extra vehicle for free. Initially, Xbox fans were left in the cold and were without access to the free pre-order bonuses, even though there was no exclusivity deals between Sony and the developers. CI Games was forced to reevaluate the decision in light of the controversy that followed, and ultimately allowed Xbox players to pick up the season pass at no extra cost, as well.
CI Games did not stop at the questionable decision making with the Season Pass snafu, however. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 launches with a full retail price tag, but only the single player campaign was ready upon release. The Multiplayer side of the game was unexpectedly and very notably absent upon the game’s release. The developers have said that multiplayer was removed at launch so as to not take away Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s single player experience and that players can expect multiplayer to come to the game as free DLC some time in the future. Unfortunately, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is not likely to be a game that is going to maintain an active player base until an undetermined date in the future waiting for multiplayer arrive. This may prove to be more damaging to the game in the long run as the multiplayer is sure to suffer from inactivity, regardless of how good it may or may not end up being. Given the number of delays, and the upgrade to a AAA production scale, it feels as if SGW:3’s lack of multiplayer may end up leaving a scar on the franchise.
The redirection of development resources from the delayed multiplayer mode also did not prove to be enough to prevent Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s campaign from suffering a plethora of graphical and mechanical glitches. While the visual hiccups are noticeable in the game’s early hours of play, they’re relatively minor and easy to look over or work around. In some instances enemies may be visible while using the drone, but if the player is trying to snipe them from too far of a distance the game will not draw them, making it impossible to take them down with the sniper unless you move closer to the mission area. Later in the game, unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse. In Act 4 there were moments where the mine indicator usually only visible with the drone and drawn on the ground began to flicker across the entire area, including on houses and even in the sky, as if there were mines literally everywhere. In other instances there would be large segments of pixels that would just disappear while Jon was swimming. These visual glitches were no where near as damning as the technical glitches that would crop up. These hang ups often manifested themselves in moments where the screen would freeze, but the audio would continue to play. Some of these freezes could be worked around by bringing up the pause menu and reloading the last checkpoint, but otherwise would require crashing the game to the dashboard and relaunching – effectively sacrificing all progress in the mission to that point.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s campaign story is sadly pretty predictable, but it serves its purpose and is just enough to keep players intrigued. Marine Captain Jon North and his younger brother, Robert, are sent on a mission on the Russian-Ukranian border that goes awry and ends up with Robert being captured. Jon, dedicated to relocating and rescuing his brother, finds himself assigned to war torn Georgia (the country, not the state) with instructions to destabilize the Seperatist movement. His secret agenda to save his brother leads to the uncovering of an international conspiracy, and all this culminates into one good excuse to camp out on hills and pull off some really impressive long shots. For all the hiccups, glitches, and cliches the game has to offer, where it really shines is the actual game play. Jon has an impressive arsenal of weaponry available to him, so long as players level up enough to unlock them and have enough money saved to then buy them.
Jon also has the ability to craft a variety of items using materials he loots from around the world or receives as rewards for completing missions and points of interests. One of the most notable items Jon can craft are his bullets. There are no resupply locations around the map, so players must keep track of the ammunition they have on their person between missions. This aspect had the potential to create some tension for players as there is a legitimate risk of running out of ammunition if players forget to craft it or can not find it by scavenging bodies of fallen enemies. That tension is lost, however, as Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 gives players the ability to stock up on ammunition by buying it as well as crafting it. Its almost too easy to buy a couple hundred rounds, and fast travel back to the safe house as necessary to restock.
Many of the issues that plague Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 could have been avoided with just a little more time and attention in development. What is ultimately a good game with some interesting ideas that is actually satisfactory to play and progress in gets lost in a sea glitches and questionable design decisions. With any luck, future updates can smooth out Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s rough edges and make it the worthy AAA title it is longing to be.