Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 official artwork and logo

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a bit of a curious game. It doesn't do anything special with its gameplay or story, and its open world content is some of the most generic I've seen in quite a while, yet despite all of this I found myself having a surprising amount of fun. As it turns out, being a super sneaky sniper is a strong enough premise on its own to not require anything truly revolutionary to make it enjoyable.

So if you're a fan of stealth/sniper games and you're wondering if Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is something you might enjoy, allow me to give you my thoughts on the gameplay and story after a rather lengthy playthrough and you can hopefully decide from there.

Video version of this review (12 minutes)

The "Sniper Ghost Warrior" part of the title is not there just because it looks cool, it actually perfectly describes the gameplay. You will spend a lot of time prone on hillsides redecorating rooms with a high caliber sniper rifle, sneaking and stabbing your way through enemy encampments in search of information and shiny loot, and naturally, blowing everything up to smithereens when you eventually mess up and get caught. Neither option is better than the others, and its going to be purely up to you to decide what sort of mix you'll decimate your enemies with. Personally I found sniping to be the most enjoyable as its by far the most complex and skill-focused of the three playstyles, but having multiple options available to you at all times is definitely a good thing.

As you do actions that represent a certain playstyle, things such stealth takedowns or sniper headshots, you will gain experience in that talent tree. Once you get enough experience points you can convert them into rather useful talents that range from simple things like extra health to the insanely powerful noise reduction. There are only nine talents in each of the three trees, and with some of them being obviously better than the rest there really isn't much of a choice when it comes to progression. However, I must admit it does feel particularly nice to see your abilities become stronger the more you use them as it gives a real sense of character growth. I just wish there was a greater number of talents to choose from as that would be an excellent incentive for multiple playthroughs.

The only real issue with the whole system arises when Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 decides to take your sniper rifle away, or force you down an incredibly cramped area where long range fire simply isn't an option. Much like the forced stealth sections of the previous generation of FPS games these missions quickly get irritating because of how limited your options are. You can't give someone complete freedom and then just randomly take it away!

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 talent tree

The talents are a good idea, but there needs to be more of them

None of this would matter if the mechanics weren't up to par, which is why I'm very glad to say that the sniping in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is as good as it should be given the name. Its not overly realistic or even revolutionary, but there is enough going for it to make it fairly interesting. You have to adjust for wind speed, bullet drop, and the target's movement all at the same time, and while this might sound simple things gets quite tricky when you're trying to splatter someone a kilometer away. You're probably going to miss everything beyond a hundred meters until you get used to how the environment affects your bullets, but once you finally figure it out and snipe someone square in the head from the next town over its going to feel downright amazing! Just make sure to disable the aim assist which is turned on by default for some reason. It completely kills any sort of enjoyment you might get out of sniping your enemies since it literally tells you where your bullet will land, so instead of a sniping game you're just playing a point & click one instead.

As for the actual guns (and oddly enough bow), they are exactly as you would expect from any modern FPS. The rifles and pistols aren't particularly amazing or enticing to use, and you definitely won't base your entire playthrough around them, but they will do just fine when you need to shoot some bad guys in the face. The one outstanding thing I can say about them is that they are appropriately lethal. If you shoot an enemy in the face, chances are they will die instantly unless they were wearing some heavy duty armor. As such, even though the rifles aren't anything exciting they do feel quite powerful and reliable, which is a good thing indeed given how many times you'll need to chain multiple kills in a row in order to remain undetected. That said, there are some enemies later in the game that are so bullet-spongy that it borders on ridiculous. And I'm not exactly sure why they even exist given that they aren't particularly hard to beat, just kind of annoying.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 long range sniper shot

Landing these types of shots is incredibly satisfying

Since weapons don't work on magical fairy dust you will need to pack quite a lot of ammo for each of your missions, which is where Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has a really good idea. Instead of having random packs of ammo scattered every ten meters to keep you supplied, you have to rely on the ammo you brought with you. And best of all, there are multiple ammo types with plenty of uses for each one! So in theory you have to spend a lot of resources either buying or crafting ammo in preparation for each of your missions, which as an idea I absolutely adore, but the problem is that you have so much money and resources that you don't have to make any difficult decisions throughout your playthrough. In my preview I speculated that this would happen somewhere around the middle point, but when I got my hands on the full version I quickly realized that this is an issue from the very start! A real shame since I was genuinely looking forward to planning out my equipment and ammo budget for some of the tougher missions, because that's kinda what being a stealth operative is all about - doing the best you can with the minuscule resources you have on hand. 

This little issue on its own wouldn't be too big of a nuisance, but it directly ties into the open world content. Much like how it works in the vast majority of games today the open world in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 feels like needless padding with very little interesting stuff to do. There are some great side-missions and a couple of interesting locations to visit, but in general the points of interest are either host to a couple of enemies, a couple of boxes, or a combination of both. Shooting enemies is always fun, but since crafting materials are so overabundant there really isn't much of a reason for you to explore any of these random locations when you can do the same thing in the much better designed missions. Once I realized this I ended up completely ignoring the open world content and played Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 like a semi-linear game with a giant hub-world, and to be perfectly honest it works much better that way.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 screenshot of the open world map

There's a lot of places to visit, but not much to do in them

The previously mentioned missions, along with the sniping gameplay, are definitely the highlight of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. The vast majority of them offer multiple routes to your objective, plenty of vantage points so you can properly plan your attack, and more than enough cover to make any sort of playstyle viable. Add to this a few side-objectives such as retrieving fallen drones or getting through with no civilian casualties and you've got missions that are both fun to plan out, and fun to actually solve.

The only thing that somewhat hampers that enjoyment is the braindead enemy AI. The enemies are simply not equipped to deal with the tricks and ambushes you can set up for them. For example, you can raise an alarm, hide in a random shack with one entrance, and then mow down thousands of enemies without losing a single bit of health. Instead of smoking you out with a constant barrage of grenades, or really anything at all, most of them will just slowly walk towards you in single file, only to get immediately mowed down and replaced with the next guy in the line.

Thankfully, if you stick to stealth and sniping the AI is mostly inoffensive, though it does have one annoying feature - you can't just get spotted by one enemy. In other words, if you are seen the entire enemy camp will know exactly where you are! As such its incredibly punishing to even attempt stealth takedowns over simply using your sniper rifle. Why risk having an entire enemy base bear down upon you if you can just laze around on a hill and shoot them all in the face one by one?

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 antenna array mission

You are free to approach the mission in any way you like

I've heard numerous complaints about Sniper Ghost Warrior 3's framerate and general bugginess, but unless I'm the luckiest man alive most of these issues appear to have been patched. I've had very little FPS drops throughout my entire playthrough, and the only bugs I noticed were located in the boring open world content, so those can be easily ignored. As for the visuals, they are pretty standard for this day and age. The only thing that stands out are the facial animations which are unfortunately not up to par with the rest, but since you will only see them infrequently it isn't that egregious of a problem. Most importantly, the levels all look pretty damn good and have a nice atmosphere about them, so even though the visual fidelity isn't on The Witcher 3 level I don't see any reason to complain about the graphics.

The story on the other hand I have plenty of reasons to complain about, but its really not worth the time. Its fairly predictable, the main character is unlikable as he often acts like an asshole to people that are only trying to help him, and overall the whole thing exists mostly to connect the dots between each mission rather than as a cohesive narrative. This is then further exemplified by the open world content being completely removed from the story itself, so even if you help out the local population they will continue to be emotionless drones milling about. Similarly, if you take a jeep and run ten people over like an absolute madman there will be absolutely no consequences for your actions. Even nearby NPCs who witness the senseless slaughter will not be bothered to do anything about it, they will just continue being useless props. So if you decide to skip the entire story and focus only on the fun missions, worry not as you won't really be missing out on anything of substance.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 sneaking around with a pistol

Closing Thoughts

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is the very definition of an average game, but that doesn't mean its bad. It doesn't do anything revolutionary and its open world is about as generic as it gets, yet despite all of these flaws I found myself having fun throughout the entirety of my playthrough. I'm probably never going to play Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 ever again, but if you can find it at a decent price and you enjoy sniping/stealth games I think I can safely say you'll have a bit of fun with it as well. Just make sure you're getting into it for the "sniper" part of the title as that is by far the strongest and most developed one.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 stealth gameplay

This is why they say smoking kills