Sniper Elite 4 preview: it's the only sniper game where you can punch a small intestine to death

March 22, 2016 by Laura Michet

We saw a pre-alpha version of this dude-shattering, WW2-winning sniper game.

In the next Sniper Elite game, Sniper Elite 4, you will be able to punch a man so hard in the guts that you can see his liver break.

I mean, the main thing I noticed was the big dark purple liver-thing, but I think what’s actually breaking are his ribs, in slow motion, extremely painfully. I was under the impression that most of what you do in Sniper Elite games-- most of what I’ve done in past Sniper Elite games-- is snipe people, hopefully in the head. In SE4 however you will be x-ray kill-camming a bunch of Nazis in their Nazi bowels, also.

In Italy, specifically. The map I saw was a sprawling Italian port town crammed with so many roaming Nazis that it was kind of hard to process. The smallest levels in Sniper Elite 4 will be three times the size of the largest in Sniper Elite 3-- the second map I saw opened with a view of a bridge half a kilometer away. The developers assured me that I would be able to shoot the dudes off of it, if I wanted to.

The bridge in question. The bridge in question.

Right now most of the dudes you can shoot in the game are exact clones of Rebellion’s outsourcing manager, Matt, but in the future you will be able to put a bullet through quite a large number of different faces, from as far away as you can manage. (Many of these faces will actually belong to developers. Rebellion has a photogrammetry studio in-house.)

A new feature related to the binoculars means that for some reason, the protagonist is able to get biographical summaries off the men he tags with his scope. One of the Matt-clones in my demo was apparently in the Nazi army to escape his bullying father. He died anyway, though, dropped off the top of a tower by a well-placed bullet in the rotting wooden support beneath his perch.

In general, the enemies are more complicated than in previous SE games. There are now also leaders whose deaths affect the morale of their troops. They also carry duty rosters which, if retrieved, allow players to figure out where all the Nazis under his command are hiding out. This will be extremely useful for telling you where to put your bullets.

And it’s not just bullets anymore: SE4 has shrapnel explosions. In these slow-mo x-ray kill-cams you will be able to see exactly where all the jagged little bits of metal go into the Nazis and shred them up on the inside. In the live demo I saw, one shrapnel kill involved a piece of metal about as long as an adult man’s middle finger going into a Nazi’s neck in such a way that his neck veins stood out against it.

Look: the guts of these dead guys are so complicated that you can see whether or not your shrapnel explosions cut their carotid arteries or not.

I enjoy over-the-top bone-cracking x-ray-vision as much as the next person (I mean: I enjoy it in videogames) but shrapnel explosions aside, it seems to me that the most interesting feature in Sniper Elite 4 is not the extreme detail of its dude-smashing but the extreme detail of its environments. The Italian port-town featured a variety of buildings to sneak into and out of, sniper nests to track down and empty, secret underground passageways, and a bunch of different routes to get anywhere you might want to go. And there are no scripted events in the game: just a bunch of people roaming around these ultra-complicated maps. And the player has several new abilities designed to help them counter this complexity-- the ability to whistle and attract a guard’s attention, for example, and the ability to booby-trap corpses with mines.

So if you want an extremely dense playground full of x-ray men who will hunt you rather cleverly and break into many detailed pieces when you shoot them, Sniper Elite 4 is probably going to be intriguing to you. I can vouch: it has a lot more people breaking into a lot more complicated pieces than the last game.

The version of Sniper Elite 4 I saw was in pre-Alpha, and some of these things will likely change before release. The game will release sometime in 2016.