Rebellion Senior Producer Steve Archer recently gave DualShockers some insight into the development of Sniper Elite V2 Remastered.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered has hit shelves, and after sitting down with the game’s Senior Producer Steve Archer, we learned a bit more about the development and thinking behind the title and what goes into remastering an old fan favorite. The game is a fully-fledged remaster of the 2012 classic Sniper Elite V2 – the title which propelled the Sniper Elite series higher than ever and still remains one of the favorites along fans of the series.
V2 was the first Sniper Elite game I ever played when it first came out in 2012, and I loved the originality of the slow-mo camera which showed your enemies dying brutally. Set during World War 2, and with missions that even involved shooting Hitler’s ball(s) off, it was a blast to play back then and it’s fantastic to see it returning now onto more modern hardware with graphical updates.
Rebellion’s Steve Archer describes the development behind the remaster as going surprisingly smoothly, saying that “this was a great project to work on. Development’s been smooth and it’s a joy to bring back an older game looking like it’s brand new.” I don’t blame them – the graphical comparisons between the original 2012 game and the new 2019 remaster are quite impressive.
What exactly prompted Rebellion to bring back this game? Archer says that the team “knew the fans wanted it – over 6 million people played Sniper Elite V2 and a lot of them have been asking for something like this.”
In the past, Rebellion has relied on publishers in order to fund their titles and market them – but with the success of Sniper Elite and other products, the company has moved onto fully-funding their projects independently without the need of a third-party publisher. Sniper Elite 4, which released in 2017, was the studio’s first fully-funded and fully self-published game. “Now that we’re self-publishing, we’re far more equipped to undertake projects like [Sniper Elite V2 Remastered.] To be honest we really like the idea of having [V2, 3 and 4] all together on Xbox One and PS4 in particular.” notes Archer.
Early work on V2 Remastered began at the end of 2017. “The team behind [Rogue Trooper Redux], TickTock Games, have become Rebellion North since joining our family, and it’s Rebellion North who have been handling Sniper Elite V2 Remastered as well.” When work began, the team had some initial goals for the end product. Archer specifies that they wanted to “make sure we made a remaster that was the standard befitting the Sniper Elite series. Obviously a lot of work went into the visuals, ensuring that we could do things like offer 4K and HDR support, optional 60fps gameplay, and the vast amount of effort that went into remastering assets, textures, lighting, effects and so on.”
However, the greatest thing about remastering an old title is that you can go back and add things that were not even possible or widely used when it first came out. “That’s where things like the expanded number of players in multiplayer and the photo mode come in…We really wanted to make sure we did right by what is a fan favorite game of ours.”
There is a major issue that comes with remastering old titles, though, as adding new mechanics and content into the game can also take away from the experience it gave originally. You can destroy the feel of the original which is not a good idea, especially when wanting to remaster it. Archer touches upon those challenges:
“While we wanted to preserve the original’s gameplay as much as possible, we looked at everything and pinpointed areas we could improve, and that’s resulted in a number of optimizations and fixes. Change is a tricky area to deal with, some changes don’t always work out to be a good change. We had to be mindful of the decisions made by the original team. If you change too much then you risk upsetting fans, but there are some things like the controller that needed updating to reflect modern button layouts. We also updated the menu flow so that it was more streamlined and more logical; this was especially the case for the online menus, even more so for Switch.”
One of the remaster’s best selling points is that the title is now available for portable use on Nintendo Switch, and the plan was there from the start to bring the game to that platform. “We learned a lot from developing Rogue Trooper Redux on the Switch in a very short period and knew we could do a lot more with the hardware so Switch was planned for at day 0. We knew we could create a feature-complete version on Switch and that’s what we’ve delivered, as well as adding some new stuff we haven’t done before like gyro controls and HD rumble,” Archer said.
Bringing the game to newer platforms is one goal, but the development process of actually bringing older software and code to newer, updated engines is always a roll of the dice. It depends on how old the code is, usually. In the case of V2, “porting the old code base onto the new hardware wasn’t too difficult and actually getting the game up and running on all of the new platforms went relatively smoothly.”
The studio had to add new engine code and update older tools so that the art department could “achieve the visual targets that we set out in the planning stage.” It wasn’t all a breeze, though – as “the knowledge and knowhow that the original game team has and the new team doesn’t…proved to be the biggest challenge. Things like gameplay decisions made by the original team and fixing old bugs.”
Luckily, some of the developers that worked on the original title do indeed still work at the company and gave their “advice and hands on help.” Rebellion took wanting that help a step further, even going as far as to contact one of the original environment artists that left the company and commissioning her to work on the remaster full time. “Having to say no because we couldn’t do something due to time constraints, team makeup or because the original game wasn’t created in a way that would allow us to do it – that was difficult.
“We had to be calculated on what we could achieve and what we couldn’t. Biting off more than we could chew is always a potential issue with a project like this – once you get stuck in you want to do everything, but it’s just not viable,” Archer went on to tell DualShockers. A lot of people may be wondering why Rebellion didn’t go for a full-on remake rather than just a remaster, and Archer mentions that “we never say never”, but with V2, the studio had a “clear mandate”.
“Ultimately we’re an independent studio and we’re working on multiple projects, so a remaster made sense at this time. But as we’ve seen with the Final Fantasy VII Remake, anything can happen in this industry eventually.” So, a remake is never off of the table for, but this remaster made more sense in the eyes of the studio in regards to resources and stability. In doing so, we’ve received a great remaster for a fan favorite classic which is on shelves right now.
We reviewed Sniper Elite V2 Remastered on Nintendo Switch, and you can check out what we thought here!