Some of the Xbox games announced at E3 this week are a fair ways off – whether they're due this fall like the Halo: Master Chief Collection, or coming in 2015 or beyond as with Crackdown 3. But other games we see on the show floor will be arriving much sooner; the awesomely retro platformer 1001 Spikes not only graced the show but actually launched this week. We also caught wind of an impressive game that's due out at the end of the month: Sniper Elite III from UK-based Rebellion and publisher 505 Games.
Sniper Elite III: Afrika is the latest in what many consider the best series of sniper-focused games on the market. The new game will feature the same combination of sniping and stealth gameplay that has been so addictive in previous titles, disturbingly realistic bullet impact animations and physics, co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, and a World War II setting – all the things we expect from Sniper Elite. Most excitingly, Sniper Elite III is coming to both Xbox One and Xbox 360 (in addition to PC and Playstation systems), which means our Xbox Ones are about to get their first taste of tactical sniping action.
Familiar War, new location
The Sniper Elite games have always taken place during World War II. Although that war is a bit played out videogame-wise, it makes sense because of how much the Sniper Elite games celebrate their sniping kills. When you make a successful shot, the camera zooms in and shows the bullet passing through your foe in gory detail, often with an X-ray view for added emphasis. Nazis are the perfect enemy for such brutal killification since we don't usually feel too much empathy for them.
The new campaign takes place in North Africa, which is actually a fresh setting for World War II-era games. Players will take on the role of series hero Karl Fairburne as he battles Germany's infamous Afrika Corps. Allied intelligence indicates that the Nazis are developing a super weapon that could turn the tide of the war, making it imperative for Karl and his allies to stop them.
Traversing the African environments and war-torn cities won't feel like just another FPS experience because Sniper Elite III mostly sticks to a third-person perspective. Players will need to remain stealthy and evade enemy forces as they forage for supplies and climb to opportune sniping positions. The actual sniping does of course switch to a first-person scoped view, with the option of holding your breath for increased steadiness.
Multiplayer sniping aplenty
In addition to full campaign co-op for two online players (sadly this series has never offered split-screen), Sniper Elite III will include several unique multiplayer modes. For fans of cooperative multiplayer like me, Overwatch and Survival should be exciting. Overwatch puts one player in the role of spotter while the other completes objectives and does most of the killing. Survival is like a horde mode, as your team tries to stay alive against an endless enemy onslaught.
Competitive gamers will find plenty to keep them busy as well. Five separate modes will cover both team and every-man-for-himself bases. In the Distance King challenges, players try to score kills from as far away as possible – something you wouldn't find in other shooter series. And several dedicated No-Cross maps force players to fight entirely by sniping, as they won't be able to traverse to the other side on foot. Whatever modes you play, you'll earn XP and gain levels for the kills you acquire, with bonuses for stylish kills.
Sniper Elite III is due out on June 27 in Europe and July 1 in North America. Preorder to receive an exclusive mission called "Hunt the Grey Wolf." The mission takes place during 1943 and allows players to snipe at one of history's worthiest targets: Hitler himself. Not historically accurate, but plenty of fun!