After biting off a little more than they could chew with 2017’s open-world Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, Polish developer and publisher CI Games went back to the drawing board and recalibrated what they wanted their popular sniping series to be. The result of that was Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts, a smaller-scale experience that focused on primarily on what the series did best: sniping. Utilising a contracts system, players would complete missions taking down notorious crime figures, which were essentially open-world style levels. It’s a formula that lent itself to replayability and one that worked well, with yours truly calling it ‘the best entry in the series’ in my review.
Thanks to the success of SGWC, CI Games announced Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 in June this year with an initial release date of late 2020. Recently we were able to sit down and chat with Lead Level Designer Daniel Sławiński about what players can expect from the follow-up title.
WellPlayed: CI Games has found success with the Contracts formula. What do you think it is that appeals to players?
Daniel Sławiński: Yes, we received a lot of positive feedback related to Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts from the players. They liked the general idea of the game, replayability – that they can finish contacts how they want (collect all rewards or not, stay undetected or make a lot of noise) and what they like most is of course the unique look at the sniping experience our title provides.
WP: In previous SGW games, players have not had the ability to execute long-range kills, whereas SGWC2 focuses on this. What is the longest kill players can make? And from a technical standpoint, how do you accomplish this?
DS: Yes, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 delivers precision long-range shooting campaign with targets over 1,000 meters away. To be able to achieve that we readjusted the approach to map and mission building. The effects of environment and gravity are much more noticeable and bullet travel time is considerably longer, which in turn influences required precision and planning. The long-range campaign will test even the most skilled players
WP: SGWC2 sees players take the role of Reaper. How is Reaper different from The Seeker in SGWC? Are they part of the same organisation?
DS: I can’t reveal that aspect of the story yet but at least I can say Reaper is a completely new character. SGW Contracts 1 was set a bit into the future however the story of SGW Contracts 2 is happening in the modern day, 2021, inside of the Middle East.
WP: Have you been able to expand on or include anything in SGWC2 that you weren’t able to in SGWC?
DS: Including long-range missions and shots in the SGWC franchise was not only a technical challenge but also design one, because we needed to approach many solutions we worked on in previous titles in a different way. We felt we achieved a good balance between sandbox play and precise long shots.
Another part we always try to improve is AI behaviour, which was always a challenging task, since our AI need to cover stealth, combat and long-range scenarios – in SGWC2, we upgraded our AI with new tools and behaviours to make them feel like they act more tactically, and provide them with new tools to engage the player with.
WP: Will the campaign structure be the same as SGWC?
DS: In SGW Contracts 2 we will deliver single-player campaign centered around the new gameplay experience which is taking really long-range shots, something that is in the centre of sniper fantasy. At the same time the game will also offer pretty big open world sandbox maps with a more classic approach known from previous Contracts game.
WP: How many contracts (missions) will SGWC2 have?
DS: There will be 20 contracts and a range of side operations across a few extensive maps in the different Middle East areas. Apart from contracts itself players will be presented with the variety of challenges and scenarios they can engage with, as well as exploration elements in form of Collectible items to find scattered throughout the maps.
WP: I’ve noticed on the game’s Xbox packaging lists Xbox Series X compatibility, will SGWC2 be available for the PS5? If so, will players who purchase the PS4 version be eligible to a free PS5 upgrade?
DS: This is too early to announce anything in relation to the new generation of consoles but we are working on that.
WP: Are there any enhancements or performance perks that players can expect on next-gen consoles?
DS: Again this is too early to say. But something that immediately caught our attention was new haptic feedback and adaptive triggers that DualSense provides.
Long-range sniping will be a key feature in SGWC2
WP: What benefits has the improved hardware in next-gen consoles provided CI Games? Has one been easier to develop for than the other?
DS: From the designer perspective tools don’t change with next-gen consoles, however we can now work with much more detailed environments, further draw distances, increased number of AI’s and so on. This makes it possible for us to deliver even more immersive sniper experience.
WP: SGWC was set in the snow-capped mountains of Siberia, what inspired the decision to head to the Middle East in SGWC2?
DS: We try to change location each time. Thanks to that, players are able to ‘visit’ different places and regions. We deeply analyse the region that we want to focus on and we take into account all its properties. After that we try to reflect on reality and enter those aspects into the game.
Sometimes players might be also surprised by region characteristics as some of the aspects are not obvious. Additionally, players can choose what they like most and try their hand in a different environment.
WP: With SGWC only releasing in November last year, developing a sequel in only one year must be challenging?
DS: Some of the works on SGWC2 started way before we even finished SGW Contracts 1. And in fact the new game will come out almost a year and a half after the last one. That gave the development team enough time to create a new compelling experience, a completely new single-player campaign with a massive focus on really long-range sniping. At the same time, we have a lot of solutions and mechanics in place from previous games; we are not trying to make tons of things at the same time but we rather focus on key components that the community is looking at when considering playing sniping tactical shooter.
WP: SGWC2 is scheduled to release late in 2020. Do you have reservations about releasing so close the launch of new consoles or big AAA titles?
DS: The game is coming out in Q1 2021.
There will still be a huge amount of old generation consoles on the market, and they are not gonna be replaced immediately, then there are PC players too. So we feel that we are in a good spot if it comes to that. Obviously as a designer you always want more time to work on a game, but there are many factors taken into consideration – but it’s not my part, so I can’t really shed much light on it.
SGWC2 takes the series to the modern day Middle East
WP: Can you give us a hint as to when the game might launch?
DS: Please stay tuned. We will announce the exact release date of the game in the next two months.
WP: The rivalry system in SGWC felt underutilised, have you improved on this at all?
DS: Initially we planned more for rivals, but as we tested it, we felt like it’s taking too much from the main experience we wanted to focus on, so we tuned the system down to be a side activity anyone can enjoy.
WP: Will SGWC2 include multiplayer of any kind?
DS: SGW Contracts 2 is focused on the single-player campaign. This is the learning from the last game seeing what mostly caused gamers to play the game. There is no plan for multiplayer at least as for today.
WP: As someone who enjoyed the series’ mainline entries, is it possible that we will see SGW4 at some point?
DS: I cannot say for now, time will tell. We see that players like the contract system, yet with next-gen comes new possibilities and we want to be sure we will think through every argument when planning the next instalment.
WP: Thank you for your time. Good luck with the rest of the game’s development.
DS: Thank you.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is scheduled to hit PS4, Xbox One and Series X/S (via backwards compatibility), and PC in Q1 2021. For more information you can visit the game’s official site.