Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series is a fairly iconic franchise, sending players back in time to World War 2 to sneak around battlefields and war-torn cities picking off enemies with precision accuracy. The prospect of a virtual reality (VR) version was certainly an exciting one when the studio revealed development plans a few months ago. With the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2019 taking place this week Rebellion brought a very early, pre-alpha build along for attendees to demo, and VRFocus can confirm it’s already looking good.
Generally when a studio pre-warns that a build is very early – possibly too early for demonstration – VRFocus usually expects to find a bug filled experience that’s extremely rough around the edges. This just wasn’t the case when it came to Sniper Elite VR, actually surprising how comfortable and smooth the 10-minute demo in fact was.
Demoed using PlayStation VR, Sniper Elite VR fully utilises the PlayStation Aim controller and felt like a natural fit for the videogame. Rebellion has confirmed the title will also support PlayStation Move and DualShock 4 – as well as the relevant controllers on other headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – but for a first-person shooter (FPS) like Sniper Elite VR having a gun peripheral certainly helps that sense of immersion.
The brief demo featured a sequence involving a roadblock in an Italian town, with enemy forces tending to control most of the lower ground with a few sporadically place higher up. Naturally, as a sniper the gameplay involved being positioned on the top of walls or in the remains of attics, peering out through roof debris. Visually, the environment was suitably packed with details, crumbling houses, destroyed vehicles, bomb craters and more. This once peaceful, idyllic town was now a battlefield and impressively felt so.
Movement was completely free locomotion, offering wide-ranging options as to where to place yourself when firing off a few shots. Crouching behind walls or steel sheets, after one shot the enemy forces soon know your location, making subsequent shots all the more difficult.
If you’ve ever played any of the Sniper Elite series then the VR version will feel right at home, just even more realistic. Popping heads – where else are you going to aim for? – isn’t too difficult yet made all the easier thanks to a focus mode which zooms in that little bit further whilst painting a red diamond around the enemy’s head.
But this wouldn’t be Sniper Elite if there weren’t the X-Ray Kill Cam sequences. They are well and truly in there and are even more brutal (and satisfying than ever). Rebellion was keen to ensure these sequences weren’t jarring in any way, and seem to have effectively done so. The X-Ray Kill Cam actives randomly, pulling you out of the first-person character viewpoint and into a brief close up for a couple of seconds, all very smooth and suitably graphic.
From start to finish Sniper Elite VR certainly impressed, from the gun handling to the movement and visual design. It honestly didn’t feel as early in development as Rebellion was claiming it was, which certainly bodes well for the final product. Sniper Elite VR is definitely on VRFocus’ list for top VR titles of E3 2019.