Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior Review: A Chilly Reception

Two years ago Rebellion brought its Sniper Elite franchise to VR for the first time. Dropping players into 1940s Italy, it was a decent instalment – although not the best in the series – with all the X-Ray Kill Cam goodness you’d expect. Now Meta Quest fans have been treated to a sequel Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior, but as we find in our review its not quite the sequel you’d expect.

As the name suggests, Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior occurs in the colder, northern Italian territories. While there are no gorgeous sunkissed beaches the frigid locations have their own beauty and atmosphere. I’d even go so far as to say that this feels far more like WWII movies, such as Stalingrad and Where Eagles Dare. This time around you’re infiltrating Nazi bases in a bid to stop their ‘wonder-weapons’.

Sniper Elite VR Winter Warrior Screenshot 05

A cold day in Italy

With your trusty sniper rifle in hand, the campaign rolls out like before, narrated by ‘The Partisan’ resistance soldier you take the role of. You’re given the freedom to wander the levels and complete tasks however you wish. On the other hand, there’s always that sense of linearity. You have the illusion of choice but in the end, it’s surviving a straight A to B run without getting killed.

Sniper Elite games have always been about stealth. Getting to nice vantage points to take down enemy soldiers before moving on. Whilst that does occur here, Winter Warrior feels far more action-led, that the guns holstered to your body should all be used. When in fact, I’d love to use the sniper all the way through. Certain levels do encourage you to hide in the shadows but your lack of manoeuvrability means that you can’t climb a waist-high wall, or jump a box. So you’re stuck with shuffling around behind stuff rather than nipping between cover like the elite soldier you are.

Even so, the gunplay in Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior is excellent. All the guns feature manual reloading mechanics yet, as you’d expect, it’s the rifle which is the most satisfying. They’re all bolt action so each shot must be perfectly timed and placed. There are some lovely sequences where you can take your time and line up that pin-point accurate shot. Hit a prime location and you’ll be rewarded with an X-Ray Kill Cam.

Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior Screenshot 01

More of the X-Ray same

The X-Ray Kill Cam’s are one of the highlight features of Sniper Elite and their addition in VR always seems more brutal. I never seem to fail at going “ouch” or “nooo” when a bullet rips through an enemy’s vital organ. And that crunching sound when it hits bone sends a shudder through me every time.

It’s an enjoyable romp through the campaign yet it does feel somewhat short. Thankfully developer Just Add Water, has included a couple of new modes: ‘Sniper Hunt’ and ‘Last Stand’. ‘Sniper Hunt’ is definitely my favourite, where you have to kill five enemies to draw out a rival sniper. If you love Enemy at the Gates then you’ll love this. ‘Last Stand’ is more like your general horde mode, fighting off waves of enemies. It is less nuanced but it is fun nonetheless.

Yet Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior has as many good points as it does bad. I noticed constant glitches, guns getting caught in walls, the unintelligent AI dumbling around and worst of all, my Quest controllers appearing. This meant having to restart from a checkpoint – which is annoyingly manual so don’t miss them – or else they’d stay in view for the entire level, blocking my view and causing a distraction.

The other problem with Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior is that it doesn’t do anything different whilst keeping some of Sniper Elite VR’s issues. These include being unable to double-hold pistols and seeing the same locations get reused.

Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior Review Summary

If you enjoyed the first game – or like the series in general – then Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior comes across as a weak edition. It’s great in parts, getting settled into a watch tower to pick enemies off with your rifle is superbly satisfying in VR. Yet this doesn’t feel like a brand-new game, more the air of a decent DLC expansion to the original. To be fair, it is half the price so maybe that’s why. It isn’t an essential purchase but Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior can still be entertaining.