It’s been over five years since the last Sniper Elite was released, though I’ll say it’s been worth the wait. Sniper Elite 5 is a richer and fuller experience that truly iterates on the series, which Rebellion excels at. Every level is bigger and more expansive than anything that came before, and the methods at which you can exterminate Nazis are bountiful. The bullet cam and series-defining x-ray view that follows never ceases to disappoint. I can’t recommend Sniper Elite 5 enough, it’s an essential purchase for new and returning players.
Sniper Elite 5 is centered in 1944 France, just before and after D-Day in an effort to learn about and stop Operation Kraken. Our long-standing protagonist, Karl Fairburne is a bit older and wiser, and most definitely deadlier since we first saw him in Sniper Elite V2 or even Sniper Elite V2 Remastered. Germany knows not enough about Karl to be dangerous, but he and his sniper skills have made a name for themselves over the years, disrupting every attempt they’ve tried to make. Karl is a man of few words, and of many deaths. The campaign doesn’t offer too many surprises, but it is satisfying and engaging throughout. The entire campaign can be played in 2-player coop which has been the standard for years, remains untouched. There’s a lot to love about this entry, and there’s so many great moments to share that it will have lasting effects.
I clocked in around 18 hours for my playthrough, going for stealth with lethal kills. That is about the length of my time with Sniper Elite III and Sniper Elite 4 combined. If you’re the type that likes to play stealth with non-lethal kills, that’s also available to you. That said, it does mean it’ll take longer to reach the end credits, which is not bad at all, as your time spent here is always worth it. There’s eight levels and an epilogue to play through, each one taking about an hour to complete. Patient and non-lethal players could spend upwards of two to three hours in each level. This game could easily be 25 hours if you let it. It’s clear Rebellion went for more open maps, focusing on rural areas and islands. It has a nice mix of these open areas with tighter spaces like with factories, bunkers, or even a castle. War Factory is a level you get to just before the mid-point of the game, and is a standout just from a visual standpoint, but also your first night level. The dynamics change as more motorized patrols and searchlights are used to seek you out. Even the level that follows, Festung Guernsey is also memorable. The complexity of each mission tends to inflate, as by the sixth mission I had a playtime just shy of two hours alone. The penultimate level is probably my favorite as it really keeps you on your toes and you have to think about your next steps. It’s also seemingly the largest level that unfurls the deeper you go. There is a 10th level to play, for those with pre-orders for the standard “Kill Hitler” DLC that’s been in every game so far. Wolf Mountain is an exciting adventure that lets you do the titular thing for yet another satisfying time. Never in my time with the game did I think it was getting tiresome, it was just so exciting from start to finish.
Playing this game in full stealth is definitely hard mode, but it’s a rewarding one. You can shoot out lights, create noise cover, or distract with throwing a bottle. There are various enemy states like being in combat (red), searching or investigating (yellow), and all clear (white). There’s experience points awarded for each action you do, but whether you run around being a human noisemaker or quiet like a deadly field mouse, that’s up to you. The game doesn’t put importance on how you play. And that letting players have that freedom just makes it easy to go through each level as there’s no specific path to follow.
If you go for the stealth approach to missions, the quick save and quick load buttons will be used more than you’ll be reloading a gun. Not sure the thing you’re about to do will have the intended effect? Now can try experimenting with different approaches to see which outcome you like the best. You can also create hard saves as well, and given how long these missions can go, is another added convenience that doesn’t take away from the core experience.
As with each entry, the shooting is really good. Especially so with your secondary weapon and pistols. You’ll be using your sniper rifle a lot, and depending on the difficulty, you may have to consider factors like wind, velocity, distance, and even the bullet you’re using when lining up your shots. There’s no a small addition in that the secondary and tertiary weapons can be fired in a first-person mode by pressing ‘C’. It’s a little touch, but goes a long way for not only immersion, but accuracy of your shots as the third-person view doesn’t quite cut it. But this isn’t what you’re really here for. The kills are gory, accentuated by the bullet cam and x-ray view that follows. You now have the option to slow down the camera during the x-ray so that you can see bone fragment, blood spurt, and enemies recoil in totally unique ways. Rebellion made this system totally procedural, so no two kills are the same and it adds a lot of flavor to the experience.
While Sniper Elite 5 doesn’t go completely HITMAN with completing an objective a myriad of ways, but it does borrow some elements. Each objective has a silent or loud method that can be used to complete the list, and that’s a choice left up to you. You could sabotage a radio tower by either snapping the cables that tether it upright and let it fall, or work harder to destroy the radio itself so no sound could be broadcast. There’s nothing to prevent you from doing both of those things to be extra sure you got it covered. The game will drop you into a mission with a single, primary objective to complete. As you make your way to your target or location, new objectives will appear on the map that will deviate you from your original goal. I always completed every objective, primary and secondary, just because they are so fun and interesting. Each level also has a kill target, and there’s a special way to dispatch them that will earn you extra experience for doing so. Completing the mission by successfully reaching your exfil will reward you with a star rating, doing all of the objectives will earn you a 3-star rating. And it’s so satisfying to see. In addition, Rebellion went all-out with a medals and ribbons system in the service record that tracks every kind of kill and mechanic you could employ throughout your time in the game, and well, okay they did go completely HITMAN with this.
Sniper Elite 5 also introduces tools. Like the aforementioned objectives like snapping the cables of a radio tower, you’ll need bolt cutters to do it. But first you’ll have to find them. Once you’ve found them, you can use them multiple times on objects that require it. Or you’ll come across a crate that needs a crowbar to open, find it and you’ve got a massive restock of ammo and explosives. Returning are binoculars, in which you can permanently tag enemies you spot. It can make the screen clutter, but it does remove the fog of war of enemy position on your minimap. Alternatively, if you use your scope to spot an enemy, it only does it temporarily. Taking the time to use your binoculars is more advantageous. Alarms are stationed on every map and military outpost, disabling them is a great backup in case things go sideways for you. New this time around, Karl can use ziplines to navigate to certain areas quickly, and will do so without getting you seen. There’s just a lot of smart inclusions that really hone in on exploration, and forcing the player to learn their surroundings and not rush things. It does it in such a subtle way that it keeps me invested in discovering what’s around each corner.
As you explore any given level, there are workbenches you’re likely to come across. There are three in each level, and interacting with them will unlock a weapon part that can be used to customize your current weapon or another in your armory. New weapons will be unlocked by simply playing the game, but there are other requirements that may need to be met before you can use them. Karl can pick up enemy weapons, sometimes specialized with suppressors. Once these weapons run out of ammo, Karl drops them and goes back to the loadout he brought in. Finding these workbenches means you’ll unlock suppressors for your weapons as well as subsonic ammo, which makes you a ghost when going for long-range stealth kills.
If you played last year’s DEATHLOOP or any FromSoftware game like this year’s ELDEN RING, you’re familiar with the concept of invasions. Well Sniper Elite 5 has them now, too, and it’s incredibly tense. During the review period, I got invaded while I was fighting off a bunker full of Nazis. It was an unfortunate situation for me as I had made a few mistakes trying to stealth my way through, a German made it out and hit the alarm. This was the moment my invader had all the information needed to take me out, and of course did. To no surprise, they blended in with the influx of soldiers rushing towards the bunker to kill me. I had no inclination he was already there, and quickly put me down which sent me back to my last save and the invader had a win as they returned to the menu.
If you choose to invade, you will be a counter sniper from the Axis, sent in to kill Karl or die trying. You have some uniform choices to make to blend in with the rest of the enemies, but that choice depending on the map could actually make you the obvious invader. You have a fully unlocked set of skills to use at your disposal to help find Karl somewhere on the map. While I certainly made it easy for my invader to find me, it’s a massive cat and mouse game as the player will either press on with their objectives, or try to hunt you first. This random event adds so much to the game experience, and the fact that it occurs with the pressure of it being a real person is honestly the best part.
If you’ve played a mode like this somewhere else, or by Rebellion, you know what’s going on here. It’s a pretty standard mode where you and three other players can stand off over four stages with three waves of assaults as you prepare defenses. These twelve waves are rigorous and exhausting, but fun nonetheless. Doing it solo is not impossible, but doesn’t feel like the recommended way to play. Grab some friends for this, and you’ll no doubt have a blast across each of the maps, which are repurposed from the campaign.
I was unable to test the multiplayer over the review period, because it seemed everyone was more focused on the campaign or invading. There’s a Free-For-All mode that pits eight snipers against each other. Team Match sends two teams of eight to fight each other with some really chaotic moments. Squad Match takes a team of four against four other teams for the best communication and coordination. And probably the most exciting, and authentic mode to the multiplayer suite is No Cross. Two teams will duke it out for sniping supremacy as an invisible barrier separates the teams from cross the midpoint.
I did run into a few bugs where Karl would clip through a doorway, or a specific event wouldn’t trigger so that I could drop something on a kill target for the added bonus. It was relatively bug-free, but had its annoyances for sure.
What I didn’t have, was performance issues. This game runs like a dream, often 110-130fps based on what’s rendered at the time. There is no NVIDIA DLSS available currently, but AMD’s FSR technology is. I didn’t use it, as I’ve had issues with image cleanliness in the past, and given the performance I was getting, there was no need for it. The game is denser, crisper, and more detailed, yet has incredible performance. The 76GB file size backs this up, but it is justified with the sheer size that some of these levels are.
My PC Specs:
– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 9900K @ 5Ghz (Turbo)
– Corsair H115i RGB PLATINUM 97 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
– Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
– EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 12GB GDDR6X FTW3 ULTRA
– Seagate FireCuda SSD (500GB)
– Seagate BarraCuda SSD (1TB + 2TB)
– OWC Aura P12 NVMe SSD (2TB)
Rebellion really put a lot into Sniper Elite 5, and it shows due to the well-thought out modes and mechanics. With over twenty hours of singleplayer to do here, and that’s only scratching the surface until you replay them for better scores or tackle the objectives differently. The robust campaign features an unraveling list of objectives that are engaging and rewarding. Invasion mode is a highlight, and a perfect fit for the series for some true cat and mouse action. Sure, there’s a few bugs, and some parts of this that may not wow or excite everyone, but it really offers an enthralling experience that is unrivaled. Sniper Elite 5 is one of the best stealth action games to exist, and is a must-play.
A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes