When the Sniper Elite series first appeared some 17 years ago, few could have predicted the upward trajectory the series would take. Remasters, zombie-themed spin-offs, a VR experience, and now five mainline entries – what started as a relatively linear series that relied heavily on its brutal x-ray kill cams has blossomed into something entirely more substantial.
While Sniper Elite 5 doesn’t feel as impactful as some of its predecessors in terms of providing a drastic jump forward for the series, it still manages to be the best entry in the series yet due to its focus on meaningfully refining and building upon the already solid foundations of Sniper Elite 4.
Sniper Elite 5’s new ‘Axis Invasion’ mode is not only an excellent addition to Rebellion’s latest tactical shooter installment but an excellent feature for expanding the tried and tested formula. Like how invasions work in Elden Ring and Dark Souls, players can now randomly drop into other people’s single or two-player co-op campaigns as the Sniper, as mentioned above, Jager, an elite German marksman whose sole purpose is to execute protagonist Karl Fairburne in cold blood. When filling the shoes of the former, you yield a fixed, advanced skill set that’s always active – with perks including additional health and the ability to catch and return live grenades. When filling the shoes of Fairburne, you will invariably soil your undergarments.
War a fright
I speak from experience, of course. Like its predecessors, Sniper Elite 5 is a solid and reliable tactical shooter that forces you to navigate contained sandboxes (nine, this time) with mostly linear results. Kill this target. Locate this information. Destroy this enemy weapon or means of communication. Delight in massacring dozens of Nazi soldiers by blowing off their heads, limbs, and private parts, meticulously illustrated by the series’ signature slow-motion death cam scenarios. It is the classic Sniper Elite. Axis invasions, however, are a subtle tweak to the blueprint that can completely alter campaign missions.
Because while the AI in Sniper Elite 5 is the most intelligent, it has ever been, enemy behavior patterns, routines, and patrols are, for the most part, pretty predictable. Throwing a volatile, trigger-happy player into the mix can turn everything on its head. In the above scenario, I was on the cusp of stealthily infiltrating an enemy stronghold in a bid to uncover information about a secret Nazi war plan. Instead, I was alerted to another player’s presence in my game and given little else to work with. Wall-mounted telephones, each suddenly indicated on my map via corresponding icons, let me trace the Sniper Jager’s last known location. Still, these were merely estimates, given that the stalker was constantly on the move, edging ever closer to the spot where I was holed up. I started second-guessing.
Release The Kraken
It’s 1944, and we find ourselves once again lacing up Karl Fairburn’s boots, just as World War II begins to slip through the fingers of the Axis forces. With an Allied advance into mainland Europe imminent, it’s up to Karl to push behind enemy lines and weaken the Axis defenses before the Allied assault. Things eventually go awry, and Karl finds himself stranded in France, which is still under Nazi occupation, and it is there that he learns about Operation Kraken. Operation Kraken is a top-secret Nazi operation that could see them once again turn the tide of the war in his favor. So it’s up to Karl to advance further into France, learn more about Operation Kraken, and hopefully put an end to the Nazis’ latest attempt at domination.
I’ll be honest: there’s no denying that Sniper Elite 5’s narrative setup treads on very familiar ground. It’s true that it’s well-written, and Karl, as well as the supporting cast, are compelling characters, but I’d be lying if I said the plot didn’t quickly become background noise, given how recycled all the tropes feel. It’s ground we’ve covered in numerous games across numerous franchises, and unfortunately, Sniper Elite 5’s narrative beats can’t help but suffer because of it.
Blood Soaked Sandboxes
As formulaic as the story can feel, this series has become known for its visceral stealth combat and its ruthlessly satisfying sniping action. Thankfully, Sniper Elite 5 provides the most robust and immersive Nazi busting action in the series.
As I alluded to at the top, Sniper Elite 5 is more of a refinement than a reinvention. Players are again dropped into massive, sprawling levels, handed the main objective, and given very little else in terms of direction. As you explore a story, side objectives will become available, as will members of Karl’s kill list, high ranking Nazis who can be taken out but are entirely optional. As with the main objectives, the minimal direction is given in how you approach the side objectives. You’ll be told what you need to do, but how you reach and achieve your goals is often entirely up to the player.
How you will stumble across different goals feels incredibly organic. One mission saw me tasked with taking out a radar tower as part of the critical story path. Deciding to skirt the coast of the island to the main objective, I stumbled across a cluster of enemy-occupied bunkers that I was advised should be taken out. Later, while exploring a small coastal village at the bottom of a mountain, I inadvertently ran into a high-value target from Karl’s kill list that sat out front of a heavily fortified church in an armored vehicle. It makes the levels feel like living, breathing worlds, designed to reward curiosity and those willing to venture off the beaten path.
The organic feel of Sniper Elite 5’s levels is only enhanced further by the flexibility with which you can approach your targets. Taking the kill list targets as an example, like Hitman’s mission stories, you’re given a suggested way to take out your foe. That doesn’t mean for one minute, though, that you’re locked into that method. You can get as creative as you like, with Sniper Elite 5 quickly becoming a sandbox within which the player can create their own memorable stories and set pieces.
One of the unfortunate souls on my hit list happened to be surrounded by a small army, all stationed at different locations in the surrounding village I was in. Had I just gone for the kill and taken out the primary target, the commotion would have been immense and made escaping a bit of a nightmare. With that in mind, I proceeded to take cover in a nearby graveyard overlooking the target’s vehicle and pinged one solitary shot off the side of said vehicle. With the attention of Nazis now solely focused on the noise I created, they circled the car and my target, allowing me to loop around to an alleyway from which I was then able to roll a grenade under the vehicle detonating it, my target and the surrounding enemies.
It’s incredibly satisfying to see your master plan come together, and the malleable nature of how you approach your objectives extends to the main story missions. Multiple approach points exist for most purposes, as do various options for completing them. It’s a game constantly asking you to survey your environment and weigh up the pros and cons of the multiple choices on offer, with the ripple effect of said choice often having ramifications for how the rest of the mission plays out.
One-Shot, One Kill
Of course, most of what you’ll be doing in Sniper Elite 5 is underpinned by the incredibly gratifying sniping action. Sniper Elite 5’s gunplay will feel familiar to series veterans, mainly relying on the same mechanics already established in prior installments. Elements such as heart rate, wind speed, noise cover to mask gunshots, and bullet-drop all function the same way they did previously. Lowering the difficulty can remove some of the challenges from the sniping as it nullifies the impact of those factors mentioned, but doing so entirely misses the point of Sniper Elite 5 and turns it into a pretty standard shooter.
Enjoyed on the more severe difficulties, however, it retains that butt-clenching tension that has given the series its identity over the years. There are still very few moments in gaming that can rival the relief of seeing your bullet move towards a target’s vital organs in slow motion. It is safe that you assessed the situation correctly and landed the perfect shot.
Of course, your trusty sniper rifle isn’t the only firearm at your disposal, with a decent range of sidearms and automatic weapons also becoming available as you progress through the levels. In a welcome change, pulling in the left trigger enables these weapons to be fired in first-person mode, rather than being restricted to third-person, as was the case with the previous entries. It’s a welcome change, if only because it makes using these weapons more tolerable and reliable than how lackluster they feel to fire in the third person.
There is now a pretty robust weapon customization system available in another change. Each level holds three workbenches, and upon interacting with one for the first time, you’ll unlock a bevy of attachments that Karl can then use to alter things like the damage, range, and reload speed of his weapons. I didn’t tinker with my loadout all that much. I did swap out a few pieces here and there to increase reload speed, and perhaps if I wanted to play in a bit more of a gung-ho fashion, I would have paid more attention to the options available. But, as a player who takes my time to stalk my foes and line up perfect headshots for one-hit kills, I rarely felt like I needed to assess my loadout critically.
Besides the substantial single-player offering, Sniper Elite 5 continues the series tradition of providing a variety of multiplayer modes, should you want to stick around once credits have rolled.
Your standard deathmatches and co-op survival modes are all present. However, I couldn’t connect to a game during the review period, presumably due to the lack of activity on the servers. I was able to join a few rounds of Invasion, a mode that sees you inserted into the campaign playthrough of another player who has opted into being invaded. It plays out like a mix of Dark Souls PvP and the recent PvP component of Deathloop, as tense games of cat and mouse play out until one player meets their demise. Invasion comes with its progression systems as well, complimenting the already moreish nature of the game mode, and it’s certainly something I see myself dumping hours into once the servers become more populated.
Hunted vs Hunter
When you’re not worried about its brilliantly brutal online invasions (which can be turned on and off at the player’s behest), Sniper Elite 5 offers everything we’ve come to expect from the shooter series. Story-wise, protagonist Karl Fairburne sided with the French Resistance against the Nazis at the start of World War II, and, having been captured using photogrammetry techniques, the game’s real-world locations are every bit as impressive as they come. forever. Sniper Elite 4 received a free PS5 upgrade last year, but Sniper Elite 5 marks the proper first step towards next-gen hardware and it shows. A familiar array of customization options extends to weapons, load-outs, character models, abilities, and difficulty settings; while the same organic hazards affect successful aiming, most notably wind speed, gravity, and Karl’s escalating heart rate.
The maps are bigger here than anything we’ve seen in previous Sniper Elite games, and the scope of variety in how you approach each mission is also greater than ever. In its most conspicuous moments, this might mean using zip lines to get to lower platforms or making quick escapes, but, in my experience, utilizing the game’s less obvious traversal opportunities, like jumping course mansion walls via vines. well placed or climbing internal structures through exposed sheetrock is often the most rewarding. Particularly when it leads you to take down unsuspecting enemies or uncover a cache of weapons and first aid supplies when you need it most.
Navigating each campaign map in full two-player co-op will inevitably make tense situations easier, with friends even able to join forces against the elusive Sniper Jager, should they rear their ugly head. Playing a pre-release review copy of Sniper Elite 5, I couldn’t reliably test everything it has to offer on the multiplayer front, admittedly, but across four modes: Free-for-All, Team Match, Squad Match, and No Cross (in which two teams battle at a distance, separated by an impassable barrier) – There seems to be a lot of fun away from the game’s campaign mode.
Sniper Elite 5 opts for refinement over reinvention, and that’s fine when the building blocks of its predecessor were already stellar. Its tense sniper action and massive open spaces are best-in-class for the series, allowing for player creativity and agency in a way that very few action games do. Suppose you can get past a narrative that suffers from fatigue due to its theme and the somewhat clumsy way Karl interacts with his environment. In that case, Sniper Elite 5 and its open-ended approach to gameplay provide an impressive experimental sandbox that you’ll probably love. Will like you to find yourself coming back again and again?
Sniper Elite 5 system requirements
Here are the Sniper Elite 5 system requirements:
|Windows 10 64-bit
|Windows 10 64-bit
|Intel Core i3 8100
|Intel Core i5 8400
|DirectX 12 compatible 4GB VRAM
|DirectX 12 compatible 4GB VRAM
How many GB is Sniper Elite 5?
Sniper elite 5 total space is 85 GB.
How many players is Sniper Elite 5?
The second co-op mode is Survival, where up to four players work together to defend a specific area from waves of enemy troops. Ammo and special items can all be shared around the squad as you try and hold on for as long as possible.