In October, following several years of wondering whether or not we would get a new Splinter Cell game, it was revealed that one has been greenlit and has entered production. Today, Ubisoft officially revealed that the new game will be a Splinter Cell remake and it has begun production at Ubisoft Toronto. Ubisoft said, “led by Ubisoft Toronto, the game will be rebuilt from the ground up using Ubisoft’s own Snowdrop engine – the same engine being used to develop Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, as well as Ubisoft’s upcoming Star Wars game – to deliver new-generation visuals and gameplay, and the dynamic lighting and shadow the series is known for.”
— Ubisoft Toronto (@UbisoftToronto) December 15, 2021
In an interview with Creative Director Chris Auty, Producer Matt West, and Technical Producer Peter Handrinos, they revealed some tidbits on how the team at Ubisoft Toronto is approaching bringing back one of gaming’s icons in the stealth genre.
Regarding how this is a remake and not a remaster, Matt West said “To me, a remake takes what you’d do in a remaster and goes a little bit further with it. The original Splinter Cell has a lot that was amazing and revolutionary at the time it came out, 19 years ago. The gaming public now has an even more refined palate. So, I think it kind of has to be a remake as opposed to a remaster. Although we’re still in the very earliest stages of development, what we’re trying to do is make sure the spirit of the early games remains intact, in all of the ways that gave early Splinter Cell its identity. So, as we’re building it from the ground up, we’re going to update it visually, as well as some of the design elements to match player comfort and expectations, and we are going to keep it linear like the original games, not make it open world.” “From a tech perspective, if I had to boil it down to a couple of words in terms of the difference, what we’re doing is exploration and innovation here.” Handrinos said. “We’ve got a new engine and a new console lifecycle to take advantage of, so the tech is one area that we don’t want stuck in the past.” Matt West also said “The phrase “Stealth Action Redefined” from the original game has actually proven to be a really valuable North Star for us. We’re able to, for example, apply that to what Peter was just saying, as far as being able to prototype and innovate and test some stuff out. That is very much in keeping with us redefining what stealth action is going to feel like for a modern audience.”
Chris Auty talked about what the most important things are that need to be updated and what needs to be preserved. He says that the most important thing is to preserve the sense of mastery by supporting players who observe, plan, use their gadgets, and outsmart the enemy creatively. Matt West said that making sure that the density of the gameplay is still at the forefront. Every inch of a Splinter Cell map is part of a choice, or directly offers a choice, or has a direct ramification. “The gameplay experience we are targeting is directly tied to what we want players to feel, to capture the essence back when we were all playing the original games.” “We recognize a huge part of the appeal of Splinter Cell is the flawless planning, execution and satisfaction you feel when you go in and absolutely ace every encounter,” Auty said. “Seeing your mastery put on display at the end of things, especially when you go through with no alarms triggered – that’s a big part of the Splinter Cell experience, and we want to be sure we’re honoring that.”
Talking about working with the new Snowdrop engine, Phil Handrinos said “Snowdrop is a proven modern AAA engine. It empowers content creators and programmers alike to try things quickly, see what works, and ultimately find success. I think that’s one of its major advantages, allowing us to quickly find the modern equivalent of that core Splinter gameplay. Some other AAA engines out there do not afford this type of iteration speed, necessarily, and so this is really what gives Snowdrop an edge when bringing Splinter Cell up to speed on a modern engine.”
The last question was about what should readers take away from the announcement. Handrinos said “A lot of time has passed since the original Splinter Cell, and even since the last sequel – enough time to miss an entire console generation. So now we’re going to take the time to explore what this means for us, for light and shadow, for animation tech, for gameplay, AI, even audio. We’re going to ask ourselves, “where does it make sense for us to innovate? What not only fits with the legacy, but brings the game up to a level that will be expected of us, and where can we surprise our players?” We want to bring them something new, yet still connect them to that feeling that they had two decades ago, playing that masterpiece for the first time.” “I’ll throw this out there: You’ve got to have a tagline, and one of the things that we’re using currently as the tagline, from the very beginning, is the phrase “respect the goggles,” West said. “I love the goggles as a symbol for Sam. We are making a game that is going to be modern, but built on the foundation of the brand’s rich history. The game earned its stripes the right way, by being innovative and challenging, and a really different experience than what was in the marketplace at the time. “Respect the goggles” helps to remind us of the fact that we have to do it justice.”
Chris Auty said ” It’s safe to say a lot of us on the team are stealth purists, and we’re behind that level of seriousness when it comes to those kinds of mechanics, and those sorts of things that we want to see in this game. And we’re very, very aware of what makes classic Splinter Cell what it is. With this remake, we are building a solid base for the future of Splinter Cell.”