Recently, a Ubisoft playtester shared some rather interesting information online about a “currently cancelled” Splinter Cell battle royale game – one that would feature a class system, an extraction mechanic, and (of course) a battle pass. While none of these features are really that surprising given the current trends we see presented to players in battle royale games, the leaks shared online seem to suggest that this Splinter Cell battle royale game was going to heavily feature PvE combat alongside its PvP offering. While I can see why this would work, as Splinter Cell games of the past are primarily single-player experiences, I can’t help but feel quite strongly that a Splinter Cell battle royale should never entertain PvE.
When you take a moment to look at Ubisoft’s infamous attempt at a novel battle royale game, Hyper Scape, it’s hard to consider it as anything other than a failure.
When you think about why it failed, though, there are quite a few reasons. It didn’t take advantage of the unique mechanics it was trying to utilise, it was poorly balanced, and it wasn’t always as easy to get to grips with as it could be. While it did try something different, which should have helped it stand out, it ultimately fell short delivering the basics; it simply failed to draw players away from the titles dominating the genre.
However, that doesn’t mean Ubisoft shouldn’t give it another go – and Splinter Cell fans are near-ravenous for another game in the iconic stealth shooter series. So, why not marry the two? What could really go wrong?
Well, as you can imagine, it could all go wrong in quite a few different ways, and if this allegedly cancelled project ever sees the light of day, I’m certain that leaning on PvE features would be the number one cause of another Hyper Scape-scale BR flop.
While Splinter Cell is not a series known necessarily for it’s PvP action, its unique blend of slow stealth and fast-paced firefights is what would make a battle royale based on Splinter Cell stand out. That cautious approach to potential combat situations – sneaking and sticking to the shadows – before the quick flurry of fire between two opposing agents sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Well, I can’t help but feel as though flooding a map with NPCs and AI-controlled enemies would ruin that. The only way I could really see it working well would be if these NPCs were treated as distractions – something that would give away your position if you attacked one. Looking back at Ubisoft’s multiplayer modes for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag as an example, I can certainly see a battle royale game where players have to navigate busy buildings and crowded streets – not dissimilar to the gameplay we see in Hitman World of Assassination – while also hunting one another be a success.
Ultimately, though, we’ve seen well-enough in both Fortnite and Warzone 2 that you can’t sneak your way around NPCs when they’re active combatants. Sure, they might be two of the best battle royale games out there, but they’re not perfect. The PvE elements in these games are there to fill empty spaces, distract players looking to loot, or act as an obstacle blocking some prime gear. They work well enough in these cases, but the Splinter Cell series is something special – these games aren’t built around stealth in the same way.
Splinter Cell has dabbled with PvP multiplayer multiple times in the past – through Spies vs Mercs – and it works quite well. However, as the name suggests, this mode pits two opposing playstyles against one another: the agile stealth of the Spies against the slower strength of the Mercs. The dynamic pitting one against the other creates is enough to make this exciting but that’s just not going to translate well into a battle royale mode. Everyone starting on equal footing is what makes battle royale games exciting, and any Splinter Cell battle royale from Ubisoft would have to do the same.
Ultimately, though, when you think about how crowded the battle royale genre is right now, you have to imagine that Ubisoft would need to do something drastically different to make an impact and draw players away from these established titles that they have spent time (and, more often than not, money) investing in. So, rejuvenating the Splinter Cell series with a battle royale game and delivering an experience that leans on the suspense and surprise of purely PvP action wouldn’t be a bad way to do it – if it’s done right.
For now, though, why not read up on everything we know about the Splinter Cell remake release date. Sure, the original didn’t ship with any multiplayer action, but it could be considered one of the best games of all time, so, it’s worth keeping an eye on if you’re yearning for the return of Sam Fisher.