I will never tire of slow motion kills in Sniper Elite 5. Similar to slaying a Legend Boss in Elden Ring with a sliver of health remaining, or scoring a last-minute winner in FIFA 23 online, or head-shotting the pain-in-the-ass sniper who's been ruining all the fun in Fortnite – watching a subsonic round, fired at range from an M1A Carbine, entering the skull of a Nazi soldier and exploding their brain at half-speed is never not satisfying. No matter the setting or the objective, being able to execute moves in this style again and again is part of what makes Sniper Elite 5 smarter, grizzlier, and more fun than anything that's come before it.
I used those very words to describe Karl Fairburne's latest escapades in our Sniper Elite 5 review last year, but they regrettably don't apply to the tactical shooter's latest DLC offering. Not that the new Rough Landing premium add-on mission isn't fun – it's a gorgeous wander through the Fréteval Forest south of Paris, which, like last year's Landing Force mission pack, is a stealth player's dream – but it too often feels like an opportunity missed.
Set the bar high
The obvious negative offshoot of setting your own bar so high in the first instance, means that it's impossible not to make comparisons thereafter. 'Spy Academy', the Sniper Elite 5 base game's third mission, for example, is up there with the best Sniper Elite levels ever conceived. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that when we consider other game series that coexist in this space – from Sniper Ghost Warrior to Wolfenstein, Battlefield, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and even Metal Gear Solid – I can't think of a more well-rounded example of the murder sandbox formula; where old inspirations and new ideas come together so effortlessly in spectacular style.
With its long and exposed low-ground beach thoroughfare entry point, sprawling village-style network of narrow corridors and tight stairways, and castle-like climbs that lead you from bastion to belfry and back again with seamless composure, Spy Academy showcases Sniper Elite 5's full array of combat and play styles to great effect. Within minutes of touching down on the level's sandy shores, you're sniping enemies 500 meters away, before slitting the throat of another in close quarters, booby trapping a reinforcements alarm, and then engaging several Nazis in a bloody gunfight in the fortress' grounds moments later. Everything changes so quickly, to the point where when you've finally dropped 200+ bodies with three hours on the clock you really feel like you've earned a medal.
It'd be unfair to compare everything else in Sniper Elite 5 directly against its best level, but when its newest offering in Rough Landing so closely reflects another bygone SE mission – Sniper Elite 4's Regilino Viaduct – those wider contrasting observations seem fair. Like the Regilino Viaduct mission, Rough Landing has you searching a wooded clearing for pilots whose planes have been shot down. The level has you searching through wreckages, stealthing up and down watchtowers, grabbing key intel, planting mines for patrolling armored vehicles, and plotting a perilous course across an enemy-occupied bridge.
But where the intermittent boom of passing trains nearby offered a tight window for sound-masked shotgun blasts in Regilino, Rough Landing's forest trek lacks a similarly defining feature. It looks absolutely gorgeous, granted, but it can be beaten in around 90 minutes – and while I'd need to double check exactly how many bad guys it has patrolling its leafy confines, if you told me it was half of Spy Academy's enemy count, I'd suggest you were being generous.
Again, none of this is to say Sniper Elite 5's Rough Landing mission pack (opens in new tab) isn't entertaining – I had a great time in this premium add-on, and I reckon those of you who're simply pining for new stuff in Sniper Elite 5 will do too. Storming a lookout tower, offing a handful Nazis in full stealth mode before sniping another two at range from the roof, sliding down a zip wire into long grass and blowing up an armored tank with an RPG in the space of, what, 45 seconds is great fun. But even with all of that, I'm just not sure Rough Landing does enough to justify its £11.99/$14.99 price tag, even with two new weapons in the way of the much-sought after and oft-requested Mosin-Nagant rifle and Sjögren shotgun.
Similar to the game's Season One rollout, splashing for the Sniper Elite 5: Season Pass Two (opens in new tab) at £24.99/$29.99 is probably better value – which bags you the above, plus a further nine still-to-be-revealed weapon and character skins and packs, and one other as-yet unreleased campaign mission – but that's a call for you to make on your own.
In the meantime, I'd love to see Sniper Elite 5 lean heavier on the things that elevated its base game over previous titles with missions that cater to all playstyles. What makes Spy Academy so special isn't necessarily its size or its multiple pathways to completion, it's the fact that it can be approached in so many different ways. Here, Rebellion gives you the tools to succeed and lets you have at it, meaning you can replay the level several times and wind up with different results. That, to me, is key to Sniper Elite 5's mission pack add-ons being celebrated in the same way its base game was last year. Well, that and giving me more slow motion, brain-popping kills at every turn. I'll never tire of those.
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