Ubisoft has been teasing a new Splinter Cell for years in multiple different ways but today is the most concrete hint we’ve had yet. Ubisoft Spain tweeted a picture of Sam Fisher wearing his iconic green night vision goggles with the phrase, “You need to understand the darkness in order to face it” underneath it in Spanish. Seeing as though we’re almost assuredly getting a new Splinter Cell, there are certain things that should be in it. Here’s what we want to see in Sam Fisher’s next adventure.
New Splinter Cell Wish List | A dynamic (and not gigantic) open world like Metal Gear Solid 5
Ubisoft has a bad habit of forcing open worlds in its games and giving them all a samey feel of endless checklists and copy and paste mechanics. But it could actually benefit Splinter Cell if done correctly. And Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is the game that Ubisoft should look at for inspiration.
MGS5 didn’t jam its environments full of filler side missions and lame collectibles. Instead, it let the gameplay do the talking. The combination of unique enemy encampment setups, expansive armory of gadgets, cunning enemy A.I., dynamic events, and an array of different weather patterns made every infiltration feel unique. All of these various tools in the toolbox would combine in clever, unpredictable ways, meaning that something different was bound to happen each time.
These complementary systems feed off each other and let the game feel fresh and alive in a way that Ubisoft titles almost never do as they overly rely on repetitive animal attacks and turning the enemies against each other. Those mechanics have worn out their welcome and don’t actually ever feel like they are working with each other to create a new experience. It’s time for Ubisoft to move on and step it up for the next Splinter Cell and follow MGS5‘s lead in open-world design while making changes of its own.
New Splinter Cell Wish List | Missions without as many fail states like, well, Metal Gear Solid 5
Stealth games are at their best when they give the player a ton of freedom and Splinter Cell has usually been good at that. But the next step in giving players freedom lies in the missions themselves.
Objectives should not only offer players a ton of different routes but also branch depending on if they pass or fail. For example, if you’re supposed to get information out of someone and they die, then you just have to find that intel another way. Slapping players with a “Fission Mailed” screen if they fail to interrogate their suspect in time is punitive and doesn’t reflect the openness that good stealth games usually have.
As was the case with the open world, this is another place that Ubisoft should look at Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, given its open mission structure. Missions always had multiple paths and usually seamlessly changed depending on what you did, how you approached them, and if you succeeded or failed. The quality of MGS5 and the painful reality that we won’t get another entry like it means that Ubisoft should do its best to make the next Splinter Cell some sort of a spiritual successor to Kojima’s last Konami-published game. And not having fail states is yet another area where the French publisher could intelligently start where Kojima left off.
New Splinter Cell Wish List | Don’t make it all about loot
Loot shooters are more common than the gray-colored gear they dump on the player in the first few hours. And Ubisoft has more than its share of loot games. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Far Cry New Dawn, Trials Rising, The Crew 2, The Division, The Division 2, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint have all helped contribute to this larger sense of grindy loot fatigue. People love unlocking cosmetics and they’re good to have in there but there’s an obvious line to where it just becomes annoying busywork.
Splinter Cell can’t cross that line. Upgrades and unlocking new gear work well in a stealth game and is what made Blacklist so addictive, but it would feel contrived if it’s done like Ubisoft’s other games. You shouldn’t be able to snap a guard’s neck and then grab their level eight gloves. It’s one aspect that could easily rob Splinter Cell of its core identity if done haphazardly because it would likely add a meta level of tedious progression that it wouldn’t need. The stealth in the last two Assassin’s Creed games has gotten worse because of their loot systems so hopefully Ubisoft will realize that and keep Splinter Cell pure.
New Splinter Cell Wish List | Inventive co-op and more streamlined multiplayer
Ubisoft usually packs its games with every sort of mode and the publisher would be wise to continue that trend here, given how beloved co-op and competitive multiplayer are in Splinter Cell. Co-op should either look to Blacklist or Conviction, which means it should have a special cooperative side missions or a separate, shorter co-op-only campaign. Playing with a friend seems to naturally fit for the stealth genre since it usually requires the basic coordination that a good co-op game has.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, would be the best if it goes down a more simple path. Blacklist had a smooth competitive mode but the main playlist often devolved into using gadgets and powers to get ahead, which got away from the core of why Spies vs. Mercs was such a rush. It let players overly depend on drones and invisibility cloaks instead of trying to sneak around and use their eyes and ears to get the upper hand. Every Assassin’s Creed multiplayer experience after Brotherhood similarly lost its way as it relied more on loadouts in a misguided effort to add depth.
This new Splinter Cell should allow players only a small bit of loadout options with a ton of cosmetic unlocks. Earning new skins and characters would keep players invested but it wouldn’t come at the cost of the gameplay. There should be a few gameplay options like having different grenades or perks but those should be kept at a bare minimum. Stealthy competitive multiplayer games are already rare so there is no need to fill it full of weapons and perks found in other games. Ubisoft should focus on what Splinter Cell does differently and go from there.
New Splinter Cell Wish List | Wait for the next generation
The new Splinter Cell will likely come out on the next batch of consoles anyway and even has a strong chance of being a cross-generation title like Watch Dogs or Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. But hopefully that won’t hold it back too much as a game like Splinter Cell could greatly benefit from new tech. More impressive lighting could actually impact the gameplay in a stealth game whereas it would just be a pretty visual effect in other genres. And, if the hardware could allow for more complicated A.I. that a good stealth game needs, that would be an even better reason to wait. Splinter Cell is in a position to be a technical showpiece for the next generation in multiple ways and could also signal a fresh beginning for the series as well as another batch of consoles.