The Sniper Ghost Warrior games have been a favourite of mine for a while now. I don’t know what it is exactly but there’s just something about shooting enemies in the head from long range that gets me going. Initially I was bummed that 2019’s Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts was dropping the series’ storyline in exchange for a more simplified Hitman-inspired formula, but after playing Contracts it’s definitely a formula that fits the series well. CI Games seems to think so as well, because instead of developing Sniper Ghost Warrior 4, the Polish studio has been working on Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, which is set to hit consoles and PC on June 4.
Last week I was given a guided hands-on tour of Kuamar, the fictional Middle Eastern setting of SGWC2 where the tensions are high and the shots are long. Joining me from CI Games was Lead Level Designer Daniel Sławiński and Lead Creative Producer Kenton Fletcher.
In SGWC2 you play as Raven, a highly-skilled marksman who has been tasked with eliminating the threat that burdens Kuamar – the dictatorship of President Bibi Rashida. Previous SGW games have seen the player unable to shoot further than 500–600 metres. With SGWC2, CI Games has changed the game by introducing long-range sniping, with players now able to execute kills over 1000 metres away.
The game’s contracts are spread across Kuamar’s five regions. The region I had access to was the Zindah Province, which contains the game’s first contracts. Sławiński referred to this region as the “longshot map” and says that these maps have been designed around the new long-range shooting mechanic, meaning that on these maps you won’t be able to infiltrate the locations where the targets are based, instead you’ll need to take them out from distance. However, you’ll still need to watch your six, with enemy soldiers patrolling the areas between sniper posts.
My first target is Antwan Zarza, the leader of a notorious arms-dealing clan and Rashida’s favourite general. Equipped with my trusty rifle and other weaponry and gadgets, I make my way into the Kuamari desert.
Running on CryEngine, the first thing to note about SGWC2 is that it looks a damn treat – even with my aging GTX 1070. However, Kuamar’s terrain is dry and harsh, such that even Bear Grylls would struggle to survive out there.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contract 2’s visuals are a sight to behold
On my way to Zarza’s location I encounter enemy forces. With my rifle calibrated for long-range warfare, I am unable to silence it, meaning that engaging with the enemy is going to result in a shootout; nothing a skilled operator like myself can’t handle.
Eventually I arrive at the perfect place to set up camp. It’s about 1100–1200 metres away and overlooks the compound where Zarza is, giving me a great vantage point. Using my binoculars I can see that the compound is swarming with guards and enemy snipers, so I’ll need to be tactical in my approach. I tag as many enemies as possible and spot Zarza patrolling the compound, but taking him down while moving is nigh on impossible from this distance. It’s time to get creative. About 1000 metres away inside the compound is a shipping container hanging from a crane. Shoot it loose and Zarza’s curiosity will surely be piqued. Kenton Flecther of CI Games tells me that is just one of the ways that players can lure their target to get an easier shot.
Given the distance between my position and the compound, your gunfire won’t be heard. However, if you miss or someone spots a dead soldier, all eyes will begin searching for your position. Should they find you it’ll rain mortars and lead, and on some maps they’ll even send soldiers out to hunt you down.
Before taking down the big dog, I decide to pick off some soldiers whose death won’t be noticed. Sniping in SGWC2 is essentially identical to SGWC – you have to account for wind, distance and bullet drop. It’s simple enough from close range but from 1000+ metres it’s a different story, with bullets taking a few seconds to hit or miss their target.
I see you
Nervously I aim down the scope, find my target and pull the trigger – my first attempt at a long-range kill is a success, with the game’s bullet cam giving me a gory and glorious view of it as it unfolds. I then execute a double-kill and the devs are impressed. My confidence continues to rise, as does my swagger as I blow the head off another unsuspecting hostile. With Zarza still walking around unaware that I am taking down his soldiers, I decided to keep thinning out his muscle. Rookie move. I line up my next victim and fire but it misses, and now the entire base is searching for me and Zarza is escaping. Merde. I try and salvage the mission but Zarza escapes and Raven’s employers are less than impressed.
On my second take I played it safe. I took out the enemy snipers and did what I should have done the first time and shot down the shipping container. Zarza arrives at the scene and within seconds he’s eliminated – mission accomplished (is it just me or did you read that last part in Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove’s voice?).
Another mission saw me pull off a kill from a distance of over 1500 metres away and damn it felt good. However in the process I alerted the entire compound to my existence (not so good), and once again the target was attempting to escape. But not this time. I managed to perfectly time a shot into some ideally-placed explosive barrels by the side of the road which roasted my target as they drove past.
It highlights how CI Games has designed the game’s sandbox maps to give the player multiple ways to execute targets. Add in the myriad of challenges and unlocks available to players, and much like the Hitman games, the replayability is high.
Looks like someone’s lost their head
For those wondering, CI Games confirmed to me that there will be no multiplayer component for Contracts 2, with the team focusing on making the single-player experience the best it can. However, they did confirm that rival snipers and bounties will be returning with a couple of tweaks.
While my hands-on time was brief, it showcased how CI Games has continued to hone its craft and build on the success of SGWC. The introduction of long-range sniping definitely adds another string to the series’ bow, and long-range kills genuinely feel exhilarating to pull off. Sniping games are certainly an acquired taste, however fans of Hitman and tactical shooters should give SGWC2 a chance to win them over because there’s a lot to like here.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 launches on June 4 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X&S, Xbox One and PC.