I got to spend a little time with a demo of Sniper Elite 4, from Rebellion Developments, at GDC this week. It was a PS4 build, and I didn’t actually get to play it personally but I watched as one of the developers gave me a tour and killed a whole bunch of Nazis with a sniper rifle, melee weapons, and explosives. Most of the demo took place on what was described as the smallest level of the game, though I should point out it was anything but small. I was told it was nearly three times the size of any of the levels in Sniper Elite 3, and the largest maps in Sniper Elite 4 are almost twice the size of the demo level we were looking at. You can check out some pre-alpha footage above. Just be warned: one soldier in the video is shot in the nuts and you get a good long look at his exploding testicles.
Beginning near some docks and moving into a Nazi-occupied fishing village, I got to see a number of weapons and tools available in the third-person World War 2 shooter. Using binoculars to spy on enemies will bring up information on their rank and what weapons they’re holding. Taking out any officers you spot first is a good idea: units will be more bold and aggressive in the presence of a superior officer, while without leadership they’re be far more cautious of advancing.
I saw a few close-quarter stealth kills. Enemies can be lured by noises such as whistling or by tossing stones, and then dispatched quietly with a knife. When spotted, you can scoot away behind cover and enemies will look for you at your last known location, allowing you to set traps like mines for them to stumble into. You can also move and hide dead bodies to avoid detection, or place them in the path of patrolling soldiers to draw them to a particular spot. You can booby-trap these corpses with mines: enemies spotting a downed fellow Nazi will creep over to check it out and get themselves blown up.
Sniper Elite’s signature slow-motion x-ray vision kills are back, and there are now more of them than ever. They don’t show up only when you snipe someone directly: if you shoot explosives that wind up killing someone nearby, you get a grisly look at their bones and organs being destroyed. At one point I saw a shot fired into a box of dynamite that was sitting near a toolbox. The dynamite detonated and the tools became shrapnel, crunching through the bodies of two nearby guards.
While I didn’t see a nutshot during my session, I saw what was an attempt at a nutshot that missed and merely injured an enemy’s leg. Another soldier picked up the injured one, slung him over his shoulder, and double-timed it behind cover to administer first-aid, which in my opinion is more interesting than watching someone’s testicles get blown out of their ass by a slow-motion bullet. Speaking of these x-ray shots, they can be turned off for the squeamish or if you simply don’t enjoy them. I’m sort of in the latter camp myself: I’m not bothered by the carnage, and it is technically impressive, but after seeing a few slow-motion deaths I don’t feel like it adds much to the experience.
As this was a pre-alpha demo, characters did not have facial or hair animations yet, so it did look like a bunch of deadpan mannequins committing unspeakable acts of war on each other. Otherwise, Sniper Elite 4 looks to me like a potentially fun stealth shooter with satisfying gunplay, and I’m eager to play it. We took a flythrough of another level, a massive one with woods and cliffs and a bridge built over a massive chasm that looked like it would provide a lot of different routes through the Nazi-killing playground. No release date has been announced: Rebellion only said it would arrive in the second half of 2016.