Sniper Elite 4 is on the way, but how has the game changed since Sniper Elite 3?

Rebellion recently put out a new trailer detailing what players can expect from their latest open world stealth game, which focuses heavily on sniping, patience, and gory fascist-killing action.

Here's what's new in Sniper Elite 4, gameplay impressions, everything you need to know!

What is Sniper Elite?

Sniper Elite is a popular stealth series developed by Rebellion, an independent UK studio with a rich history. Sniper Elite enjoys a strong cult following, but the game has generally fallen short of its big-budget cousins when it comes to "AAA" expectations. Sniper Elite always made up for it with exciting sniper gameplay, rewarding mechanics, and truly glorious x-ray kill cams, that drove bullet time slow-motion effects into an entirely new dimension.

Sniping in Sniper Elite requires the player to account for wind direction, gravity, noise, and other factors to make sure shots land both silently, and with maximum lethality. To facilitate its long-range sniping, Sniper Elite III took place across several large maps.

Crammed with opportunities to explore, Sniper Elite III gave players the ability to perform assassinations with an extensive degree of freedom. Vehicular sabotage, up-close and personal, and long-range headshots were usually viable options, all while avoiding roaming NPC sentries using familiar open-world stealth mechanics. Sniper Elite 4 is aiming to take the popular series to all-new heights, and here's how!

Sniper Elite 4 will launch on February 14th, 2017 for Xbox One and Windows.

What's new, and what's returning in Sniper Elite 4?

  • Campaign levels are far, far bigger than Sniper Elite III. Each map is at least three times the size of the biggest level in Sniper Elite III, aiming to grant the player a huge amount of open-world freedom.
  • New climbing mechanics. Maps are not only larger at a horizontal level, but they're also designed for verticality. Rebellion says it'll be much easier to traverse ledges, through windows, and climb buildings, in gameplay that more closely mimics the likes of Assassin's Creed.

  • Dozens of new weapons and items. Weapons have different types of ammunition, and every item on the weapon wheel now has at least two functions. Grenades can be changed to "sticky" mode, for example.
  • New ways to kill. Combining new weapons with new traversal and stealth mechanics results in dozens of new ways to dispatch enemies.
  • Boosted X-Ray kill cams for melee, explosions, and shooting! One of my favorite Sniper Elite features is returning in a big way. More detailed and dynamic X-Ray kills will now be awarded for brutal melee take downs, in addition explosions and sniper shots.

  • Story-focused campaign for 1-2 players. Sniper Elite 4 features double the dialogue of the previous game, with four times the amount of in-game text files that grant additional context to the story. There are also new safe zones where players can talk to NPCs to gain information between, and during missions.
  • Modes for competitive and co-operative multiplayer. Sniper Elite 4 will also have a competitive multiplayer mode, taking place across six tailor-made maps inspired by the campaign. Players will compete to out-snipe each other in a battle of wits, cunning, and patience. Sniper Elite 4 also has a Horde-like 4-player co-op mode, allowing teams to take on waves of increasingly difficult enemies in a battle for survival.

Gameplay Impressions: How good is it?

We'll be reviewing Sniper Elite 4 fully, but I've already played it quite extensively at both E3 and EGX in the UK. So far, it appears as though Rebellion could hit all of their targets to take the franchise to the next level.

The idea of an "AAA" game is becoming increasingly outdated, but that is the best way to describe how Sniper Elite 4 felt to me. The visuals were stunning and detailed, the lighting and other effects were impressive, and the mechanics felt tight and very well-presented. Even though it had solid core gameplay, Sniper Elite III always felt a little rough around the edges — this isn't the case in Sniper Elite 4.

Sniper Elite 4 already felt polished all the way back in June 2016. Rebellion delayed Sniper Elite 4 last summer to heap on even more polish for February 14th's final launch date, which sounds very promising indeed.

While Sniper Elite 4 is brimming with new features and what feels like next-level polish, it was very easy for me to pick up and play as a fan of the previous games. The mechanics felt very familiar, and although I didn't encounter any enemies that demanded some of the game's more advanced mechanics, taking down enemies with x-ray melee kills felt every bit as satisfying as hitting them from hundreds of meters away, camouflaged in foliage.

So far, I feel that the tale of Sniper Elite 4 is all about delivering big budget quality many players expect of their open-world adventure games, particularly as Sniper Elite 4 stands in the company of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, and the upcoming Ghost Recon Wildlands, both of which have at least superficially similar gameplay. Quite honestly, I think Rebellion could be well on their way to breaking into the big leagues here.

When does it launch?

Sniper Elite 4 will land on February 14th, 2017 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Those who pre-order will gain access to additional weapon skins, and the DLC campaign mission "Target: Führer!" which tasks players to infiltrate a German U-boat hosting a valuable target...

Sniper Elite 4 is looking very promising indeed, and we'll be putting together a comprehensive review very shortly. If you're a fan of the series, though, I honestly think it's a pretty safe pre-order bet already.

Are you a Sniper Elite fan? Let us know in the comments!