You want to send bullets through skulls, lungs and testicles and you want it now. Understood, soldier but there’s a few things you should know that will make Sniper Elite 4 a little easier before you jump into your first mission on San Celini Island.
This is the biggest Sniper Elite game so far, meaning slews of collectibles across each open world level and far more varied mission types. It also means it’s far easier to send the entire map in your direction with a single bullet fire so here’s the things we wish we’d known before we started playing. Advice for testi-kills not included. You’ll just have to work them out on your own.
Your binoculars are your best friend
Karl Fairburne probably isn’t very good at relationships - what with the constant threat of death and all those bits of bush in his hair - but the one love of his life, his good old binoculars, don’t care about all that. Whenever you reach a new area, bring up your trusty friends and scope everything out before you even lift your rifle. You can tag soldiers, explosives, vehicles and environmental shootables to drop onto unsuspecting foes, giving yourself as much information as possible to plan your next move. Not only that but you’ll get a little factoid about the soldier in your sights too. Specialises in headshots? Not for much longer, pal.
There are also far more environmental kill options than you might think. Petrol cans are scattered around and there are collections of barrels that make everything around go boom. Nothing’s more satisfying than watching a cluster of enemies dissolve in slo mo after a suppressed bullet finds its way into some flammable liquid. Also, to work out the best ways to take down armoured vehicles, take a look through your binoculars and tag up the red areas. This makes it much easier when you bring up your rifle and you can snipe out the different parts. There’s even a tiny gap that’ll let you shoot the driver, letting you take down the rest without any risk of retaliation. If you’re very lucky, you’ll start a chain reaction - some men just want to watch the world burn after all.
Clean up after yourself
It might sound like an irritating chore but if you take out an enemy in an area where their corpse is likely to get spotted on the patrol route of others, pick up the body if you can and move it out of sight to avoid detection. You can hoist them over your shoulder and drop them wherever you like but if you want a speedy way to dispatch enemies without the clean up afterwards, try the next tip.
Be an Assassin
It’s time to be at one with nature and jump into the foliage for some ghost takedowns. Lurk in a bush and then switch from the rock to the whistle distraction in your weapon wheel by following the appropriate prompt. When an enemy passes, whistle and they’ll come on over. Melee them dead and you’ll instantly hide them in the bush. Nice work, Assassino. You can take a similar approach while hanging from a ledge if an enemy is above - whistle to lure them in your direction then a swift melee kill will dispatch them over the edge. Ezio Auditore would be proud.
Use suppressed ammo
So here’s the thing, it turns out that full volume gunshots will get you killed as a sniper. Suppressed ammunition on the other hand means you can kill with ease. While enemies will notice if a friend drops dead next to them, your position won’t be given away. When you find suppressed ammunition, bring up the weapon wheel then select alternative ammo to load it into your rifle. This means you don't have to wait for other sounds to mask your firing. Remember though that silenced ammunition can still make a noise on impact, so if you headshot an enemy with a sniper rifle or a silenced handgun up close and they're wearing a helmet, the noise will get the attention of nearby foes. You can avoid this by going for body shot kills. Shot to the heart and all that.
Soundmasks are brilliant
Speaking of suppressed ammo, if you don’t have any but still want to shoot everyone in the noggin, you can either make the most of the soundmask in some levels - indicated helpfully by a noise meter at the top of the screen - or just make your own noisy distraction. If you find a generator near a prime sniping position, you can sabotage it to continually make noise and mask the sound of your shots, giving you free rein to fire without detection. Make sure you've cleared the surrounding area first though, so that enemies are not drawn to your location to investigate.
If there’s not stacks of enemies to take down at long range, you can rig the generator to explode when someone investigates it. If there’s just one enemy patrolling, it’s worth sending him questing to find out why that pesky thing’s stopped....
Don’t just wander on past the bodies of downed enemies. If you can get away with lingering a little longer, you can keep your ammo etc topped up if you search the body. If there’s something there, it’ll be indicated with a hand icon floating above the body. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for downed officers who’ll often be holding onto the Duty Roster for an area of the level. This means all of his soldiers are immediately tagged for your sniping pleasure.
Importantly, this is one of the places that the codes to vital mission safes are hiding. If you don’t know the code for these, you’ll have to use a satchel charge to get the (literally) blasted things open and that’ll send everyone scurrying in your direction. Find the code and you’ll be laughing all the way to the precious intel and often a collection of suppressed ammunition.
Keep your eyes peeled for documents
Who knew that snipers would care this much about paperwork? There are documents scattered everywhere across the levels. In desks, in tents, and on bodies, these include letters to and from home, and the poignant last letters of soldiers. You can see at the end of each mission how many of the collectibles you’ve got and of course, there are trophies on offer for those with the biggest haul of collectable bits.
Check out weapon stats
Whenever an enemy dies, he’ll probably give up his gun. While plenty of games will give you no information as to whether it would be a bad or good thing to upgrade, Sniper Elite shows you the complete stats for the gun in question. Hover over dropped guns and you’ll see all the info for the weapon on the ground with clear red and green bars letting you know if switching out your trusty rifle is actually something you want to do. There are some great pistols lying around so keep an eye out.
Use the loadout screen
It might seem like a silly tip but use your loadout screen. Karl can actually start a level with a double batch of suppressed ammo which comes in seriously handy while you’re settling in. You’ll have to have earned at least $4 for each batch but it gives you a major advantage if you start in each area with a silent option. Remember that you also have suppressed pistol ammo as well as rifle. Use the alternative ammo prompt from the weapon wheel to load to these muted bullets, just the same as with the rifle. Sadly there’s no quiet SMG options...
While on the subject of your loadout, check out your gun upgrade options and skins. Select your weapon and you can see the different ways you can unlock upgrades for your death device of choice. Some will come naturally and others you’ll need to go out of your way for - 20 heart kills anyone?
Keep eagle eyed
As you might have gathered, there’s more than a few collectibles hiding in each level. On top of the documents, there’s a number of stone eagles hiding in each map. If you spot these Deadeye Targets through your scope, shoot them to tick them off your list but remember to use suppressed ammo or wait for an environmental noise to mask your shot. You don’t want a measly collectible giving the game away.
Know your radar
Keep an eye on the colour of your radar. The circle around the map will show your status. If the bar is yellow and enemies have become yellow dots, this means they are suspicious and searching but don’t know your location. However if the map is red and enemies are converging, they know exactly where you are and it’s time to get the hell out of dodge. A triangle will appear if you've been heard or spotted and will indicate your last known location, so quickly move to a different position and you could perhaps toss a grenade as enemies investigate your last known spot. Plus, if you’ve got time, try and rig enemy bodies with mines so that if you’re leaving behind a corpse, soldiers checking for any signs of life might just lose their own in the process.
Got any more tips for prospective snipers? Let everyone know about them in the comments below.