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Attention, Ubisoft: features that next-gen Splinter Cell must absolutely have

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Earlier this year Ubisoft revealed that a new Splinter Cell game is in the works for the PS4 and the Xbox One. Naturally we expect it to look stunning, but we also want it to act the part of a next-gen title. If that is too much to ask, we at least want to see the franchise's flaws erased for good. Innovation is always welcome, but the next Splinter Cell doesn't necessarily have to break new grounds. It simply must deliver a polished experience that eliminates every rough edge that has plagued the series throughout the years.

NO FIRST PERSON GAMEPLAY. At least not in the campaign. Every review agreed that the brief section in Blacklist's campaign that happens from a first person perspective was out of place and a complete failure. I have no doubt that Ubisoft was testing the waters to see if they could get away with a lazy first person view that doesn't require nearly the amount of programming and attention to detail as the 3rd person view. Ubisoft, please cut the BS. We want Sam Fisher in all his 3rd person glory, with all his wondrous polygons and complex animations.

EXPANDED HAND TO HAND COMBAT. Perhaps the last piece missing in Fisher's arsenal, he needs to be able to rely on some good old fashioned fisticuffs if need be. I'm not talking about turning Splinter Cell turning into a brawler or adopting the free-flow combat from the Batman Arkham games, but implementing a melee system similar to The Last of Us. Melee confrontations were depicted as desperate, life and death battles. They were cinematic, brutal and brief. This kind of action will make Sam Fisher a more complete and believable character. It will also make Splinter Cell a lot more fun.

NO FORCED STEALTH OR ACTION. Stealth purists complained that Blacklist put them in a few situations that begged the player to engage in full on firefights. Thankfully, with some patience and creativity they could still slink their way through these chaotic moments and operate quietly. Unfortunately, action fans who purchased Blacklist hoping to blast their way through the campaign with the "assault" style, were slapped with a couple of mandatory stealth segments that resulted in instant failure if Fisher got detected or laid a finger on an enemy. Ubisoft must simply let the players approach the game however they please, whether they want to play like Gandhi or Rambo.

NO MORE DOGS. The dog AI in the campaign was annoying and understandably so. In the 4E missions, particularly Charlie's, the dogs turn into a nightmare of cheapness, almost magically converging on your position in large packs whenever you got spotted. It was imbalanced and frustrating. Ubisoft could've saved us the trouble by just giving us a "game over" screen when Sam got detected rather than prolonging the frustration by having supernatural, omniscient dogs tear Fisher apart. The dogs completely ruined the Charlie missions, which otherwise were very fun and engaging.

NO MORE ARMORED BRUTES. There are other ways to inspire tactical creativity than forcing players to shoot off helmets in order to score a headshot on Terminator-like mercs that could take a shotgun blast to the face when his helmet is on. They're also immune to frag grenades and could not be taken down by a hundred bullets to the chest (they're wearing body armor, after all). Killing these brutes feel formulaic and contrived. They don't belong in the next Splinter Cell game.

DENIABLE OPS 2.0. This mode added limitless replayability to Splinter Cell Conviction due to the randomized enemy placements and large, multi-staged maps that were open to all game modes. In comparison, Blacklist's 4E missions feel limited mainly because the maps were locked to specific mission types. For the next Splinter Cell, Ubisoft needs to go the extra mile by bringing back a revamped Deniable Ops, fully customizable in every aspect, from choosing the map, assigning the number of enemies, win conditions, weapon types, etc.

NEW GAME/ NEW GAME PLUS. One of the most annoying aspects of Blacklist was there was no way to start the campaign over from the beginning. You could replay individual missions but you'd have to pick them in the right order if you want to re-experience the whole story. That wouldn't have been so bad had Ubisoft only assigned chapters to each mission so you'd know the proper sequence, but apparently it was too hard for the developers to add Roman numerals to the mission names. For the next game, a standard new game/new game plus feature are a must.


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