With Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 having laid the foundations for its sequel, and with the scope of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 having increased significantly since the game was first announced in December 2014, I got to speak to Thomas Pruski (Senior Level Designer for CI Games) at Gamescom this year and asked him as to what sort of improvements fans can look forward to before the open world first-person tactical shooter launches on 27 January 2017. Enjoy!
There happens to be another notable sniper series in the market called Sniper Elite. What do you think distinguishes Sniper Ghost Warrior from Sniper Elite as a series?
I think the comparisons are not as obvious as one might think. The Sniper Elite games have “sniper” in the title, but they’re fairly different games. Those guys (Rebellion Developments) are making a game set in World War Two if I’m not mistaken. Ours is more of a modern shooter, plus we are a first-person game. They’re making a third-person game. So we’re kind of both doing our own things, and trying not to get in each others way.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has got three different play styles, which I think is a first for the series. You’re trying to incorporate the “Sniper”, the “Ghost”, and the “Warrior” style. What difficulties have you had in incorporating these three different types of play styles as part of the same game?
We are trying to make them all fairly on the same level. We don’t want to have a game where one style is clearly better than the other, because gamers will probably then just play this one style, and we want to have them experimenting with all three of them. So I guess the Warrior path is a bit more difficult than what you might be used to after playing a lot of shooters. You have to watch your health. You have to watch your ammo when taking on an entire outpost of enemies head-on. It’s quite difficult. So it’s not going to be inaccessible. Rather, it’s still going to be a bit more tactical. You have to think of an exit strategy, craft some healing items, craft some explosives, grenades… stuff like that to succeed.
Going back to the three gameplay styles, I assume you’re trying to capture three different types of audiences as part of the same game. For example, if you were to consider the Sniper aspect, you’d probably consider the more methodical games like Hitman. If you look at the Ghost aspect, you’d probably consider games like Splinter Cell as being a more direct comparison when it comes to target audiences. And the Warrior mode obviously applies to Call of Duty fans. The problem with trying to incorporate different play styles, and trying to appease different audiences, is that you essentially end up perfecting none of the styles and therefore end up appeasing none of your audiences. You’ve touched upon this before where you don’t want to focus on one play style, but what steps are you taking to ensure that the play styles are perfected, and that they work within a mission? At the same time, how will the different audiences all be satisfied by the “one title fits all” kind of approach that you are going for?
First of all, with regards to the audiences that you are talking about… we didn’t want to make a niche game. In Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, if you are more of a hard-core niche gamer, you can still finish most of the missions by sniping only, by ghost only, or by just running in and shooting things up. But we’re not punishing you for following your own path. If you liked the previous Sniper Ghost Warrior games, you can play as a hard-core sniper by just stealthing around. We just don’t want to throw that upon you. We don’t want to force this on you. We want you to choose how you would like to play.
You did mention as to how you’re not trying to go for niche audiences. Those purists out there – the previous Sniper Ghost Warrior aficionados – they are the niche target audience. They are the core audience. I know that due to market pressures you have to create a mainstream product, but could it not be argued that you’re probably alienating the core Sniper Ghost Warrior fans who have stuck with the franchise from its very beginning?
Actually, the core audience should like this new game a lot as they obviously like sniping. And we love them for it. And you can play as a sniper as well as you did in the previous games. But in the previous games, if you missed a cue or missed a shot, it usually ended up with the mission being failed, and you going back to the beginning. In here, you can try and adapt your play style. We don’t want it to be frustrating where, if you miss one shot, you have to restart the game because it’s game over. That’s so punishing. So I think those guys will find Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 to actually be a lot better than the previous games.
The game’s still in alpha right now and is releasing in January. How long has the game been in development for?
About two years now.
What sort of enhancements can audiences look forward to from previous games?
Apart from these three play styles like you mentioned, we also have better graphics as it’s a generation gap. Also, you’re going to have the drone, which is a huge improvement over the previous series. That’s a really good recon tool that you can use. And we’re going to have crafting, skill trees, shops, and really a lot of additional stuff. We really don’t want to compare it to the previous games because this is unlike anything we’ve ever done. Plus, and probably the most important aspect, is the open-world gameplay because you have really big maps. You’re not following one path in the missions. You can choose your own path. The maps are really open. And you can get in from any side you want.
This is a question that is probably geared more towards features… You mentioned that the difference between Sniper 2 and Sniper 3 is obviously the hardware generation gap. With the Neo and Scorpio machines being so close to release, especially when you consider that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an open-world game which has massive maps, are there any plans in place to maybe enhance the sniping or the gameplay experiences by taking advantage of the Neo and the Scorpio hardware when they come out?
Once we as developers know more about the hardware itself, we’re definitely going to be looking into ways we can improve gameplay for fans. So we’re going to have to stay tuned for that.
Last question: any plans for a Nintendo NX release?
NX is probably even harder to say because we don’t know what the hardware is going to be like. We don’t have dev-kits. If we do, we will definitely start looking into it. But right now, it’s uncertain.
Thank you very much.