Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 Beta Impressions [Video!!!]
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
Publisher & Developer: CI Games
Release Date: 04 April 2017
I put a short bit of time in on the Sniper: Ghost Warrior Elite 3 (coming from CI Games) Beta earlier this week. Let me first set the stage, as one could argue that some of these factors played into my takeaways from my time spent in the game. The night I was playing, I was exhausted. I guess from my perspective I had problems staying awake and that was the game’s fault. Another perspective is that the haze of my exhaustion gave me a skewed perspective of the game. Fair enough. Another thing to consider is that I have played neither the Ghost Warrior series games before, nor its mirror franchise, Sniper Elite. I say mirror solely because they are both focused on Snipers. I understand that based on many mechanics, game design, and time period, they are vastly different games. Point is, I did not have a framework in my head of what I should expect, and what specific nuances of the game’s design were sharpened to a razor sharp edge and which ones might not have been as up to snuff as might be in a different game.
My biggest gripe with the gameplay from the beta is that it was boring. That is driven mostly by a map that, to me, felt very large (not Skyrim large, but pretty big), incurring long travel times, on an island that was sparsely populated. Here’s where we Schroedinger’s Cat the thing. Was I bored because I was so tired, or was I so tired because the game made me feel so bored? For the size of the island, I just felt like there were very few enemy troops to engage, and, overall, very little to do. It was basically a walking game, with a handful of small skirmishes, often rendered unecessary by your sniper rifle, along the way.
I was also not crazy about the collision detection near cliffs. Twice (or more), I walked too close to a cliff, as I was trying to hide in bushes, mostly, and slid down the cliff-face. Didn’t fall. Didn’t dive. I clearly was in contact with the cliff face, but the game treated it like a fall, including a dignity-removing death and mission fail at the bottom. Conversely, those surfaces could not be climbed. I guess what bugs me mostly about this is the animation. I get it from a physics standpoint, and while I am not a huge fan of training wheels for things like this, this was an area that I felt warranted an invisible barrier to prevent the player from going over the edge. Mainly because the developer’s visual design and the angular difference between an incline treated like a cliff and an incline that was safely traversable is not very clear in-game.
On an island where the bad guys drive vehicles, I could apparently only access one truck. Good luck if you leave it behind somewhere and can’t remember where you left it. There were also some problems with collision detection when trying to open the door to my vehicle. The target area I had to be standing in to execute the mechanics had a very tight tolerance. 1mm out of position, and I was just wailing away on my keyboard to no avail.
The AI was really wonky. At one point, and this is probably my most dramatic event in the play-session, I was trying to sneak in past the gate to an enemy compound. As I slipped through the front entrance, I turned around and saw an enemy truck, a truck I had observed leaving the compound earlier and had hidden from, calmly waiting for me to clear the lane. Of course, I was startled, breathed in sharply, and got white knuckled, thinking that he was going to get out and unload a machine gun on me or at least sound an alarm. Nope. He just sat there. I guess it was the whole pedestrian right of way thing. But it was definitely disruptive and unnatural and totally took me out of the game.
Near the end, I also lost cover and stealth and was jumped by two or three guards. This is a standard stealth game design, where as long as you remain in the shadows, you have all kinds of advantages. Get exposed and you are immediate toast. There is no getting away, no evading; it is very much like the original Deus Ex. I personally prefer games that are more like Crysis 2 and Deux Ex: Mankind Divided, where you can cloak, sneak, hide in the shadows, but if the shizz goes down, you have the ability to man up and deal. I’m not saying that the way in which Ghost Warrior 3 deals with it is wrong. It’s just not my preferred style and design.
My final big quip is with the checkpoint save design. Failing a mission boots you back to one of your hideouts and starts the entire mission over. You might be near mission completion or just starting, doesn’t matter. Back to the hideout you go and you begin the whole thing again. I also did not pick up on any kind of character progression system, where at least being sent back to base might provide you an opportunity to use XP gained on the failure that could be applied to level up a stat that might make you more powerful on the second run. So you transit via the long distance from your hideout again; if your vehicle is missing, you walk. If there were sentry posts along the way, they are manned again and have to be dealt with all over. Because of that cliff-face design I mentioned earlier, many of the mission sites cannot be accessed via a direct route. With the comms base I was trying to get back to, I always had to walk the full length of the road to a switchback and then backtrack half the distance to get to where I wanted to go.
The good? I will say that I did feel powerful when I was actually sniping. There is not a lot of muss and fuss to pulling off really great kill shots. Wind and other factors that could have been brutally modeled to make long-range firing more realistic, but also very punishing, were not a problem. And I’m ok with that. So it’s not a sniper simulator; they do other things to level the playing field, I think. I’m not a fan of those things in some cases, but at least I did not feel like the game was overly tipped in my favor. I will also say that the game looks good graphically. Weapons modeling looked detailed, and vegetation, while not the most textured, looked solid.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Elite 3 is supposed to launch in just under seven weeks. I did not come away from this demo feeling like this game is ready. Granted, I did not witness any of the glaring graphics and performance problems that others reported early in the beta. By the time I played, a beta patch had been released that may have addressed the issues. Graphics performance was smooth and pretty much bug free. Right now, by design, I only see this game appealing to a specific kind of player who is interested in a lone wolf sniper simulator. And if that’s the case, I’m assuming that there will be more weapons sniping physics injected into the game or difficulty levels or something. This game is off my radar for now, unless I see or hear about bangin’ reviews. I wound up playing because I could not get into the Ghost Recon: Wildlands beta. I guess the good news is I did not hear great things about that beta from my friends who did get in, so maybe I did not miss out on anything at all.