How CI Games Used Fan Feedback To Shape Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts

There’s no denying that November’s heavy hitters are Death Stranding and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but there’s another title that’s lurking at the backend of the month that is aiming to make an impact. Perhaps not in the same way as the aforementioned AAA blockbusters, but in a way that rights the wrongs of past missteps.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts from Polish outfit CI Games is the latest entry in their Sniper Ghost Warrior series and the follow up to 2017’s Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 – a game which had grand ambitions but misfired in its execution. Despite taking a financial hit as a consequence, CI Games was adamant that SGW would return in a smaller and sharper capacity, and Contracts is the result of CI Games tinkering with the SGW formula to find what works best for the series.

After going hands-on with a preview build of Contracts at PAX Australia recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Asim Tanvir, the Senior Communications Manager at CI Games, about how the company approached Contracts and what players can expect from the revamped gameplay experience.

WellPlayed: How did the Contracts concept come about?

Asim Tanvir: There were a few contributing factors, but the main one was fan feedback. After the launch of SGW3, we looked at what players were saying, realising perhaps we went too big, too soon. We’ve been open and honest about that. That said, the realistic sniping, intense action and cool, dynamic moments are all elements fans loved, so it was about finding a way we could deliver all that in a polished package. We feel like we’ve done that with SGWC. The Contracts system, the big sandbox maps and all the previously mentioned points are all there. It’s so much fun.

WP: What excites you the most about the shift in gameplay between SGW3 and Contracts?

AT: The cool, funny and “oh my god” moments that happen as you naturally play the game. While SGWC is not open world, each of the five maps are big. There are so many routes and so many different ways to tackle the Contracts located within them. I’m excited to see our fans and content creators play the game on Twitch, YouTube, Mixer and the like, just to see the situations they get themselves in and the inventive ways in which they complete Contracts.

WP: CI Games has stated that Contracts plays out on smaller-scaled open areas instead of one big open world. What is the benefit of this?

AT: The benefit is it allows for a more focused approach, with a bigger emphasis on the fun, varied gameplay shining through. We strongly believe it does. Also, it allows for a higher level of polish on the game overall. That said, I wouldn’t call any of the five maps small. They’re big and there’s a lot to do within them!

The new revamped sniping mechanics

We wanted SGWC to be fun, but we also didn’t want to stray too much away from what we’re known for and what our fans love: tactical and realistic sniping

WP: After going hands-on with the game at PAX AUS it feels more tactical and tense than previous entries, where going in guns blazing will almost always result in death. Was this a deliberate design choice?

AT: First and foremost, we wanted SGWC to be fun, but we also didn’t want to stray too much away from what we’re known for and what our fans love: tactical and realistic sniping. We feel this game very much strikes that balance. Yes, of course, taking a tactical approach in how you go about completing the Contracts within each map is a big part of the game, but that’s fun, right? Spending time planning your route, what weapon or gadgets to use and then nailing it all seamlessly feel great. Hugely satisfying. The guns-blazing approach? Sure, you can go down that route, but it’s also about picking and choosing when to do that. Be a smart Seeker, not a reckless one!

WP: The sniping mechanics have been revamped and feel a lot more intuitive to use. What was the reason for the change and was this done with the input of real snipers?

AT: With SGWC, our aim is to deliver the most realistic sniping experience and we feel this change in mechanic helps do that. The Dynamic Reticle System (as we call it) takes into account pretty much everything a real sniper would. Distance, height, wind and bullet drop; it’s all in our game. We took in feedback from our fans and people that have experience of sniping in real life. It’s all about balance though as it needs to be fun to use in the game and we feel like what we have in SGWC is exactly that.

WP: Can we customise our character at all or do we play as a pre-set character?

AT: You play as a character known as the Seeker. Customisation is not a huge thing when it comes to him, but what I will say (without spoiling too much) is there will be certain things you can upgrade. Think development tree! That said, customisation-wise, there’s lots on offer when it comes to the weapons.

WP: In the game’s trailer the main sniper is wearing a mask similar to the one from SGW3. What perks does the mask provide?

AT: In the the recent gameplay walkthrough of Kolchak Harbor we showed that the Seeker’s mask is actually an important part of the game. You can tag enemies, scan your surroundings, highlight areas of interest and more. It’s very cool!

WP: Does the story of Contracts tie in with the story of SGW3?

AT: No, SGWC is not narratively linked to SGW3.

WP: How many maps and contracts will the game launch with?

AT: The game will launch with 25 contracts spread across five big, unique maps. There’ll also be lots of challenges to complete as well. Lots to do!

WP: Is each map a different type of terrain (snow, jungle, etc.)?

AT: The setting of the game is Siberia, so expect some form of snow on almost every map but, yes, the terrain and settings will differ. For example, Altai Mountains is mostly rock-filled terrain set at night during heavy snow whereas Kolchak Harbor has a mixture of terrain, is set during the day and has little snow. To sum up, three snow-themed maps and two lush, forest-based ones.

WP: What’s the biggest lesson learned from the development of SGW3 that you’ve implemented in Contracts?

AT: As touched upon before, we’ve been open and honest about SGW3, especially our learnings from it. We’ve listened to our fans, gone with a more focused approach and feel like SWGC is a good example of that. Not long till it’s out and we can’t wait for everyone to play it.

WP: In Contracts an A.I. player can invade your game to try and take you out. Did you ever consider this feature as a multiplayer mode where other players could infiltrate your game?

AT: During development many things are considered. Some make the final cut and others don’t. That’s just how it is. The Rivals system you talk about is super cool and adds a layer of unpredictability to solo play. With SGWC, that’s pretty much always been the plan. Deliver a great value-for-money single-player game. What happens in the future? Let’s see.

There’s snow business like sniping business

WP: What resolutions and frame rates are you hoping to hit on PC and consoles?

AT: The game will run at 30 frames per second on consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4) and 60 frames per second on PC (1080p with recommended hardware specification).

WP: Can we expect any post-launch content, such as additional missions or maps?

AT: It’s certainly something that’s on our minds, for sure, but right now we’re focused on finishing off SGWC. For now, we can say weapons and skins, for sure. In terms of other content, stay tuned to our social media channels for all the latest.

WP: Will there be any microtransactions or loot boxes? Or will gear and weapons only be attainable through playing the game?

AT: No microtransactions or loot boxes. We’re all about offering value and reward by simply playing the game.

WP: Can we expect a fourth mainline title at some point?

AT: At this time, we can’t say anything, but let’s see what the future holds.

WP: Thank you, and best of luck with the game’s launch, we look forward to getting our hands on it.

AT: Thanks so much!

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts will release on November 22 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor of WellPlayed. Sometimes a musician, lover of bad video games and living proof that Australians drink Foster's. Coach of Supercoach powerhouse the BarnesStreet Bois. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan Get around him on Twitter @xackclaret