If you’ve not played any entry in the Sniper Elite franchise before, then for starters you’re missing out. If you enjoyed the Hitman series, with added brutal x-ray stylings of Mortal Kombat, then you’re in luck. Sniper Elite 5 is a third-person shooter where in each mission you’re required to either take out a key target or gather intel, while causing mayhem at the same time.
It’s been 17 years since the original Sniper Elite game, with each entry being better than the last – and Sniper Elite 5 is no exception. Set in 1944 France, you play as returning character Karl Fairburne, who’s tasked with uncovering Hitler’s secret Project Kraken. From here, you’ll be sneaking past patrols and gathering intel, but what will be best of all for many is performing fantastic long-distance shots at enemies.
Your main bread and butter in Sniper Elite 5 is, fairly obviously, your sniper rifle. Whether you’re wanting to play with hard wind resistance and having to judge for distance, or simply want to play for fun, Sniper Elite 5 can do things your way. Not only can you sit back and fire upon enemies, but you also need escape plans in case you get caught, or diversions to draw enemy patrols away from your location.
Being based in WWII, you don’t have access to modern sniper rifles or silencers, so you’ll have to make allowances for sound. Anytime you fire a weapon, you’ll want to pay attention to what’s around you and how far the sound your gun makes resonates. Firing your sniper rifle makes a lot of sound, which can alert enemies around you to your location. Thankfully though, there are environmental effects that can mask the sound of your rifle, so you need to time your shots accordingly. You can also change out what ammo you’re using in all of your weapons, from suppressed rounds to make your weapons a little quieter, to wooden bullets that’ll knock out enemies rather than… well, deal with them the traditional way.
Speaking of timing your shots, a great feature of Sniper Elite 5 (and the spin-off Zombie Army series) is the brutal x-ray cams. Anytime you pull off a fantastic shot, or a trick shot, the game’s camera will follow and track the bullet, up until it reaches its target. What you’ve hit dictates the x-ray mechanic. If you’ve hit an explosive barrel, you see enemies flung into the air and the impact of the explosion upon them (or potentially shrapnel piercing through their organs). Best of all though, targeting a patrol or taking out your main target – depending on where you hit them – you’ll be treated to an x-ray kill-cam that looks like it’s been pulled straight from Mortal Kombat. If you get a centre mass headshot, you’ll see the bullet go through the brain, while eyes, heart, kidneys and even genitals (though this shot is quite hard to pull off) also all get the treatment.
But what does Sniper Elite 5 add compared to previous entries in the series besides improved AI, increased x-ray gore kills, and better graphics? Well, Sniper Elite 5 has borrowed a page out of the Elden Ring book and players can invade your game and hunt you down, in a feature that can thankfully be toggled. There’s also a simple levelling up system. As you naturally progress through the nine lengthy missions, Karl will level up and unlock new skills and abilities, like being able to revive himself if possessing a medkit, or being able to collect ammo from temporary weapons that you pick up off the ground. Thankfully, Sniper Elite 5 has co-op and is crossplay, too.
“It’s been 17 years since the original Sniper Elite game, with each entry being better than the last – and Sniper Elite 5 is no exception.”
There are some things in Sniper Elite 5 that do show the series’ age, such as the level layout. There are some invisible walls still – although nothing as bad as, say, Dynasty Warriors – but, for example, there was a gentle slope that we thought we could use, but the game forced us to use a road instead. The second mission in the game has you gain intel from a beautiful castle, and the map gives you one of three options on how to approach. While it’s nice to have an open approach to missions, it still feels like going down one of three linear corridors.
Sniper Elite 5 doesn’t have to be played quietly. Yes, while it’s more immersive to fire your rifle when bombs are falling from the sky (so the sound of your rifle is masked), there are options to go loud. If you’re entering a building or bunker and want to take this loud alternative, you can sabotage enemy bodies or generators to explode if mishandled. Or, line up shots and use nearby explosive tanks or ammo caches as diversions, or to take out multiple enemies at once.
If you enjoyed the Hitman series, like the ability to replay missions multiple times from various different angles, on top of the x-ray kills that’ll have you flinching and reacting every time, then Sniper Elite 5 should be in your sights!