Sniper Elite 5 sees Rebellion bring Karl Fairburne’s Nazi-slaying exploits to France, as well as to new-gen platforms. I was looking for a greatly upgraded and revamped new edition that would take Sniper Elite to new heights, given this was the fifth mainline chapter in the series, coming a full five years after Sniper Elite 4, and having the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S to work with.
I anticipated noticing some significant improvements after not playing a Sniper Elite game since SE4 premiered in 2017. A new invasion feature to bring a Deathloop-style PvP element to your campaign, new traversal capabilities for navigating the enormous levels, changeable loadouts with a proper attachment system, and an overhauled UI are just a few of the new additions Rebellion has attempted.
However, not all of the new features and enhancements are well-received, and while there are a few notable changes, the game overall feels like ‘simply another Sniper Elite.’ That could be a great thing to hear depending on who you ask, but I couldn’t help but feel unimpressed.
I found myself periodically dragging through a campaign that, narratively speaking, is stunningly uninteresting while playing on the Xbox Series S in preparation for the game’s day-one addition to Xbox Game Pass. Even the lousy story twist I predicted failed to materialize. While I won’t give any spoilers, the ending was likewise horribly anticlimactic and straightforward. I understand that you don’t necessarily play a Sniper Elite game for the plot, but there was nothing to be excited about in that department.
To its credit, Rebellion has worked hard to develop larger and more immersive levels for Sniper Elite 5, which are replete with many paths to goals, hidden features, and souvenirs and intel. The third mission, which takes place on a fortified island clearly inspired by Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France, is particularly memorable, and navigating around it was arguably the most enjoyable portion of my whole playthrough.
There are a few side objectives and assassination targets on each area, as well as the aforementioned treasures, to keep you creeping around long after the main story objective has been completed. Overall, there’s a good quantity of stuff — certainly enough to keep you entertained for 20-30 hours.
However, almost all of the big new additions and upgrades did little to improve the Sniper Elite experience.
The new invader mode, in which another player enters your campaign objective as an opposing Axis sniper, attempting to take you down and impede your progress through the level, is the most disappointing.
On paper, this sounds fantastic, and it’s just what Sniper Elite needs. The execution, on the other hand, is lacking. Having been both the hunter and the prey, I can say that the Axis sniper has a significant edge, being able to tag AI soldiers to become scouts that mark the location of the Allied sniper.
The Allied sniper’s one saving grace is that they can locate phones on the map and interact with them, revealing the Axis sniper’s location. However, instead of a continually updating tracker, you only get a marker that shows the Axis sniper’s last known location, and after a few minutes, the Axis sniper can utilize these phones as well. Furthermore, the dispersion of these phones is highly erratic (at least on the maps I’ve played so far where an invasion occurred), phones may be booby-trapped or tented, and when too many phones are utilized, your own location is marked.
Furthermore, there is no mention of who murdered you. You can challenge this invader to a rematch, but you have no way of knowing who he or she is. There’s no mention of a gamer tag or even the enemy sniper’s level. While this may have been done to reduce toxicity, you can easily disable your game’s invasion mode in the options if that is a concern.
Karl may now climb up vines and shimmy along ledges thanks to the addition of traversal. While I had thought that this might lend itself to some fresh verticality, it appears to be underutilized. Climbing mechanics similar to those found in Assassin’s Creed games, where the majority of surfaces may be scaled, would have provided the necessary advancement. During my playthrough, Karl became trapped dangling on a ledge, unable to drop down or hoist himself back up, forcing me to return to the previous save point.
That wasn’t the only stumbling block. Due to objectives bugging out twice, I had to completely repeat missions. The tutorial area loaded in without any enemies for whatever reason, which wasn’t the most heinous thing ever. However, after completing the first level, the last objective requiring you to exfiltrate just did not materialize for me, and reloading to previous save locations did not help.
There are a few technical problems with Sniper Elite 5’s performance as well. I was using the Series S, which was less powerful, yet staring down really high magnification scopes caused frame dropouts and stuttering.
Also, on the Series S, the graphical quality of this game isn’t excellent. Graphics are always a contentious matter, and they can typically be overlooked if the gameplay is crisp and engaging, as it is in Sniper Elite 5, but it was difficult for me to overlook during my playtime. Cutscenes and gory kill cams were occasionally amusing because of how abrupt they looked, even though you don’t notice it as much when moving around in third-person. I can confirm that Sniper Elite 5 looks better on the Series X than it does on the Series S’ big brother, but it’s still not up to the standards you’d expect from a game in its fifth core edition.
While Sniper Elite 5 has done a good job of currying my favor with a number of great new features, such as kill cams for sidearm and melee kills in addition to sniper kills, the ones that could have really spiced up the Sniper Elite recipe have hit like a korma rather than a vindaloo.
That isn’t to argue that the game isn’t enjoyable. While I haven’t played many co-ops or multiplayer action, Sniper Elite titles are always a fun giggle to play with others, and if you’re a Game Pass user, you’ll be able to do so for free.
Fans of the franchise will almost certainly return to play and likely enjoy, this game if Rebellion sticks to its guns with its entertaining and moderately rewarding gameplay loop, WWII scenario, and primary protagonist.
However, in order for the series to transcend its status as a cult classic, some major changes are required. Sniper Elite 5 makes a try at this, but the execution isn’t quite up to par.
Each mission in Sniper Elite 5 takes place on a single, self-contained but extensive area that includes anything from French beach towns to majestic chateaus. Each of these serves as a superb setting for Sniper Elite’s main attraction: its gunplay.
As in previous games, stealth and long-range warfare are encouraged, and players must make use of the varied terrain to their advantage to ensure blind spots are covered and foes are unable to track them.
Fairburne’s position can be swiftly determined by enemy forces who are able to closing up on him with each cannon shot ringing out. It’s critical to move fast and behind cover for navigation, as it’s all too easy to get caught out on open territory and surrounded by the enemy.
The environment offers its own set of benefits. Backfiring cars or anti-aircraft weapons can successfully hide your gunshots, and experimenting with different weaponry can help you better your guerilla tactics against tough opponents.
However, enemy intelligence varies depending on the scenario. They are usually vigilant, and even a single footsoldier can be enough to blow your cover and push a full battalion onto your position. They may also struggle to climb a waist-high wall or run in circles when confronted with uneven terrain.
But it’s at a safe distance that Sniper Elite’s gameplay thrives. Several sites of interest, which can be found on each level, provide ideal vantage points for eliminating and disorienting foes, as well as setting off chain reactions. Close-quarter confrontations are required to fulfill goals around the battlefield, which makes up the majority of Sniper Elite 5’s gameplay.
Fairburne’s mobility is considerably improved over prior games, allowing him to scale walls, hang from ledges, and uncover covert entrance points in the manner of the Hitman series. This adds another dimension to the game’s already incredibly detailed surroundings, and level replayability is fairly high thanks to unlockable entry locations.
Weapon loadouts also allow players to customize their weapons and explicitly describe their advantages and disadvantages in plain English. This makes adapting to various playstyles much easier, whether you want to go for a pacifist stealth run or go in guns blazing.
In online multiplayer, choosing a custom loadout can also assist individuals play to their strengths while collaborating with others.
There are no constraints on how each task can be completed in Sniper Elite 5’s cooperative mode. While players can band together to resurrect and communicate, they can also split out around the area and work on various objectives at their own speed. Hearing the subsequent commotion from afar from a brother in arms can be thrilling in its own right, as can attracting the ire of an occupying force in a nearby village to your advantage.
Invasion mode is in the same boat. Players can instantly jump into your mission as an Axis sniper who can freely travel across the area while implanted among the NPC soldiers, just like in prior games like Elden Ring or Deathloop.
One of the highlights of Sniper Elite 5 is this. Trying to carry out a covert operation while being alerted that another player has entered your game adds to the tension as you strive to identify their location before they can do the same to you.
Invading someone else’s game also allows players to freely wander the map in search of the perfect view point without worrying about upsetting roving patrols. If that sounds like too much trouble, it can be turned off, but it is a crucial element of the experience, just like Deathloop.
My Point Of View
Sniper Elite 5 is a WWII game that does something fresh with the fight, which is becoming increasingly rare. Its open-ended missions make for a devilishly delightful stealth action game, even if its tale has nothing new to say and its adherence to history might be a hindrance to its creative possibilities. Even the most experienced gamers may find the game’s extreme brutality difficult to stomach, but you can’t have a guilty pleasure without a heaping dose of self-indulgence.
Is There A Better Alternative?
On the immersive sim front, the brilliant Hitman 3 is the closest parallel. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus features just as much blood as its predecessors, but more engaging narrative hooks.
How Long Will It Last?
The campaign takes about 12 hours to complete casually, although it can take a few hours longer if you complete all of the objectives. There’s also a lot of multiplayer to play around with.
Should You Purchase It?
Yes. The open-ended missions in Sniper Elite 5 assist to make it one of the most exciting WWII games I’ve seen in a long time.