It takes a special kind of person to be a top-class video game sniper. It takes a young person, reflexes undiluted by the ravages of age, preferably hopped up on caffeine and Adderall. It takes someone who isn’t embarrassed to use a goofy RGB-lightning-enabled gaming mouse if it makes the difference in reaction time. It takes the kind of person who’d click their best friend’s head if it meant winning the match for their team.
I’m not really that person (or am I…?), but I still had a good time hunting through a few missions in the Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 Beta. The latest in the long-running series from CI Games is due this April, and it looks like it might be the best yet.
Unlike previous games in the series, Ghost Warrior 3 embraces an open-world style. This means you’ve got a lot more freedom to approach missions on your own terms, making choices of armament and gear much more significant than in level-based shooters. I was only able to mess around with a small portion of the game world, but it seemed fairly representative of the kind of experience that CI Games wants to deliver.
As an example, one of the missions I went through involved infiltrating an area occupied by terrorist forces to bring down a bigwig. Said bigwig was paranoid and typically surrounded by an escort, so I’d have to either sneak in or clear the area out before making my move. I decided to go with the latter option; by loading up on ammo and modifying my rifle, I was able to act as an efficient killing machine.
First, I scouted the area using a portable aerial drone. From there, a few kills opened the way to an abandoned building; while this was occupied by the enemy, I’d also brought along an AK to take out any opposition inside, and once that was done I was the proud new owner of a plum sniping nest. This made it easy to clear out the entire area. At that point, the only remaining opposition was my target, who cowered inside another building and was easily eliminated with the AK. All in all, it was a nice, tight experience, with just enough sniper simulation aspects to make those headshots feel rewarding.
This is a beta, after all, and I saw quite a few technical issues that could use a little attention before the game comes out. Most notably, certain bodies of water would rapidly flicker and shimmer, which looked absolutely hideous and would be a strike against the game if it remained the case in the full launch. Enemy AI also wasn’t fantastic, as baddies generally did a poor job of getting their heads down while their buddies were getting sniped.
Finally, I could see performance being an issue; while my Titan X (Pascal) was able to crunch the game well enough, there were still some instances of lag when switching to my scope, and that kind of thing would only worsen on a GPU that wasn’t the top of the line. The jury’s still out on console versions, too.
Still, the basic action of sniping the bad guys felt pretty solid, and it’s hard to argue with being able to ascend an abandoned building, blasting terrorists along the way, to reach the perfect sniper perch on its rooftop. I’m not entirely convinced that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 will change the world when it launches in April, but if the rough edges can be smoothed out a little then I think there’s a lot of potential here.