Can you believe it’s been almost five years since Splinter Cell: Blacklist came out? This generation had yet to be graced by Sam Fisher until Ghost Recon: Wildlands added a mission with the long-lost assassin. That, coupled with some rumors and leaks, strongly points to a new Splinter Cell game being announced at E3 2018.
As a huge fan of the franchise, I think this is not only the perfect time to bring the series back but to also adapt and modernize it. After all, it’s not like we’re getting another real Metal Gear Solid anytime soon. Here are the top 5 things we want to see from a new Splinter Cell game.
1. Larger Scale Stealth
Metal Gear Solid V proved open world games and stealth games can be one in the same and I think Ubisoft would be foolish to not lean into that angle. However, exploring the deserts of Afghanistan or the like isn’t where I think Splinter Cell should go. Instead, several large hubs should be used based upon popular cities. Imagine several square blocks of New York, Tokyo, or Paris where every building is climbable, explorable, and filled with stealth opportunities. This makes the game much more akin to the Dishonored franchise albeit without the linearity. And this is likely to happen given how almost every single Ubisoft game has an open world now.
Sneaking around civilians adds its own challenges as most wouldn’t be hostile but you also wouldn’t want to kill or be seen by them. Getting the local police force called into an area because of poor stealth during a key mission would add to the tension and be a lot of fun to overcome.
It’s been enough time that most people have lost the plot of Splinter Cell. Third Echelon? Fourth Echelon? Is his daughter alive or dead? Didn’t he go to jail? Let’s completely destroy cannon with this new entry. Keep the current cast but redefine and reestablish everything; similar to different comic runs of the same hero. This allows them to have a lot of freedom and not be bogged down by the previous convolution. Plus, it lets the open world nature lead players around and meet characters on the field, save them, double-cross them, and more.
3. Spies vs. Mercs. vs Terrorists
This series staple is a shoo-in to return but now’s the perfect time to expand upon the idea. The original mode pit two spies trying to hack various terminals against two mercenaries hunting them down in first person. This mode preceded the asymmetric multiplayer game craze and it only makes sense they should take it even further. Combining the larger play spaces of the main game with modern multiplayer advances, let’s see this become an expanded conflict.
This new Spies vs. Mercs can possibly be a three-sided battle. Metal Gear Online featured a mode where one player played as Snake while two teams fought each other. Spies vs. Mercs vs. Terrorists could be just that. A small team of spies is tasked with hacking a terminal on each side of the map. The mercenaries and terrorists each belong to a base where a terminal is located and are battling to control all points in the area. In order for the spies to win, they must hack both terminals and exfiltrate with the stolen information before one of the other sides wins and destroys the loser’s base and the information terminal with it. But the other teams can succeed in one of two ways: either by controlling the map and destroying the other team’s base or by killing the spies a set amount of times. Players would have to balance map control as well as hunting spies. Additionally, spies might want to help out a losing team so they can have more time to hack the terminals.
4. Revamped Skill Trees, Experience, and Loot
I don’t think Sam Fisher should be leveling up his pistol skills by getting headshots in the new Splinter Cell, but certain RPG mechanics can be adapted for the game. Skill trees could offer various abilities from faster reloading to hacking speed and proficiency. Blacklist separated gameplay into three categories: ghost (stealth, no killing), Panther (stealth with silent headshots), and assault (let the bodies hit the floor). However, there were no immediate rewards or penalties for doing well or poorly in any of the categories, and that should change.
Experience would be earned for completing mission side objectives, rescuing prisoners, and completing milestones. These points would be used to purchase new moves as well as new weapons and equipment.
I wouldn’t want the game to become too bogged down with inventory management or rare purple gear, but unique items would be nice rewards for exploration. Upgrading these special items would mean something more simply because they wouldn’t be ‘random pistol 970,’ but ‘the cool silencer I stole from the French police headquarters.’
5. True Mobility
Sam, for being so athletic, why can’t you crawl under vehicles? The rigidity of where you can go and what you can do really dates the Splinter Cell games and this new entry needs to embrace change. I want to be able to go under and over all vehicles, and climb up all walls, roofs, and similar obstacles. Even if the game is a return to the linear level-based structure it is known for, let’s not keep the non-interactivity of its world, and see a much agiler Sam Fisher.
What do you think Ubisoft has in store for Sam Fisher’s new adventure when a new Splinter Cell is (hopefully) revealed at E3 2018? I for one am just excited it could be happening at all.