CI Games are a studio whose previous works would place them at the precipice of mid-level gaming; their games were too big-budgeted to be considered an indie title, and they lacked that final polish to be placed among the AAA echelon. However, thanks to 2014’s well received Lords of the Fallen, CI Games’ star is well and truly on the rise. Some would deem CI Games’ rise as mere happenstance, however the blue-collar workers of the Polish development team would no doubt believe that this is just desserts for their on-going efforts to improve release after release. For us looking in from the outside, nothing emanates that notion more than the upcoming Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
Built from the ground up, SGW3 intends to deliver an authenticity never seen from a Sniper experience by utilising a new (to the series) open world and a myriad of new features such as the recon drone. I recently sat down with SGW3’s Senior Level Designer, Tomasz Pruski to get the low-down on how far the project has progressed since our last chat in July, 2015.
A sight to behold…
DYEGB: Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 takes the series in a new direction with an open world and featuring a brand new protagonist. Why did you decide to call it Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 instead of rebooting the series from a titular perspective?
TP: There are millions of people who enjoyed the first two games and we feel like we want to build on top of that instead of saying “Forget about the previous games, this is something completely new”. The game itself indeed has a ton of features and improvements that make it an experience of its own, but we’re not discarding the feedback and the lessons that we learned while making this franchise.
DYEGB: Can you tell us anything about SGW3’s protagonist, Jon North?
TP: Jon is so much more than a nameless protagonist with an arsenal of weapons and a host of enemies to dispose of. He has a past that will create interesting interactions with other characters in the story, and a set of skills that make him a versatile operator, and not just a sniper.
DYEGB: This is the first open-world game for the series. Did you get any inspiration from similar titles, à la Far Cry?
TP: Far Cry is a fair example of inspiration for our world-building. If I had to choose another game that inspired the stealth approach to an open world, I’d say Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain.
The threat of the night
DYEGB: What have you found to be the hardest part about developing an open-world game?
TP: The hardest part would definitely be creating a world which would support our three main approaches to gameplay – Sniper (long-range, precise shots), Ghost (stealth gameplay), and Warrior (run & gun). We create our locations with a balanced and diverse gameplay in mind, where one style is not favoured over the rest, and the environments let the players take advantage of unique opportunities that each of the play styles offers them.
DYEGB: Regarding the three different play styles: sniper, ghost and warrior, will a player’s chosen play style have any effect on the game? Such as if a player goes in gung-ho and slaughters an entire outpost, will there be an increased number of enemies at the next one?
TP: The enemies placed in the game will usually have countermeasures against all three styles, so they will not gain new abilities, but the players will always have to take into account different conditions before choosing an approach to a specific outpost. As an example: Snipers might have to watch out for mortars which will let enemies quickly engage distant targets, Ghosts would have to be mindful of searchlights or cameras, and Warriors will have to face additional reinforcements throwing more enemies into the fight.
DYEGB: How many hours (approximately) will it take for players to complete both the campaign and all of the side-missions?
TP: The single-player campaign and side missions will take approximately 30 hours of gameplay, but the open-world exploration and activites might take another 3-5 hours, so it will be a lot of content for an FPS game.
Not all battles are won from the shadows or rooftops
The game has grown quite considerably since our initial designs. The team has also been steadily growing, so we keep delivering new and interesting features that will keep the players entertained
DYEGB: Some fans are disappointed that there has been no mention of multiplayer for SGW3. Do you think that with the dominance of Call of Duty and Battlefield in the FPS MP market it’s important for CI Games to allocate all of their resources to making the best possible single-player experience instead of tacking on an arbitrary MP mode?
TP: We never officially stated that SGW 3 would not feature a multiplayer mode. I am pleased to be able to confirm that there will be a multiplayer component in SGW3. We are planning three modes, including Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, and one that is a sniper-centric variation on classic competitive multiplayer. We are planning to further expand the multiplayer component after the game’s release.
DYEGB: One of the members of the development team, Paul Robinson, is a former Marine. Given Paul’s military background, did all members of the development team get to go hands-on with a real sniper rifle? Were there any deadeye dicks (sharpshooters) amongst the dev team?
TP: There are passionate sharpshooters in the team that have provided a lot of information on ballistics, weapon handling, and body stances when shooting a sniper rifle. Some of the devs also had a chance to fire actual sniper rifles and get first hand experience in being a sniper.
DYEGB: You recently decided to delay the game from January 27, 2017 to April 4, 2017 for optimisation reasons. However, the game was initially tentatively scheduled for a 2016 release. Has the scope of the game evolved as the game’s development progressed, meaning the game needed a longer development cycle?
TP: The game has grown quite considerably since our initial designs. The team has also been steadily growing, so we keep delivering new and interesting features that will keep the players entertained.
You can be my wingman anytime
DYEGB: Despite rebuilding SGW from the ground up, you’ve chosen once again to use the CryEngine for SGW3. What benefits does using CryEngine have over other game engines?
TP: This is our third game in CryEngine, so the team has gathered a lot of experience in creating games that not only play well, but look amazing and push the limits of this engine.
DYEGB: CI Games’ CEO Marek Tyminski has stated previously that SGW3 is the biggest game to come from the studio. In comparison, how much bigger is the team and budget compared to SGW2?
TP: The budget has increased approximately sevenfold from the last Sniper game, and the team also grew considerably. There were also around 100 people working on the game in partnered studios outside of our core development team.
DYEGB: The pre-order DLC focuses on ‘Lydia’, a female sniper. Is she a character that we will come into contact with during the main campaign? And will we see more from Lydia in future DLC?
TP: Lydia is one of the main characters in the game’s story, and will feature prominently in the single-player campaign. Saying whether she will have appearances in future campaigns would be spoiling too much, so players will have to find that out for themselves.
DYEGB: Will SGW3 feature microtransactions or a season pass?
TP: We have no plans for featuring microtransactions or a season pass in the game.
Georgia comes to life thanks to CryEngine
To wrap up our interview we decided to ask Tomasz some more, light-hearted questions.
DYEGB: Recently a film was released titled Sniper: Ghost Shooter. Firstly, have you seen it and if so, is it any good? Lastly, the name is awfully similar to SGW. Were there any legal issues with this?
TP: We have heard about this film but we do not want to comment on it.
DYEGB: How many times has the dev team watched American Sniper?
DYEGB: If SGW3 were to get a movie adaptation, which Hollywood big shot would you like to see play John North?
TP: Tom Hardy, obviously.
DYEGB: Do you have a running battle with the Sniper Elite team to see who has the best sniper experience?
TP: We try to make our own project and not draw too much from the Elite series. We like to play good games and want as many of those on the market as possible.
DYEGB: Have you ever considered basing a SGW game in Australia? If so would it feature Michael Diamond (famous Australian Olympic trap shooter) as the lead protagonist?
TP: Could be. If he can shoot fast moving targets without a scope, imagine what he could do with an arsenal like that in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
DYEGB: Thank you for your time, we look forward to playing SGW3 when it releases in April. Good luck with the rest of the game’s development.
TP: You’re welcome.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is high up on our most anticipated radar here at DYEGB. We cannot wait to see how far the series has come when the game releases on April 4, 2017 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.