Splinter Cell "Held Back" By Being Too Stealthy
Ubisoft Toronto head Jade Raymond has spoken out about Splinter Cell's legacy, suggesting that one of the reasons it has fallen slightly in cultural stock (or been "held back", as Raymond puts it) over the years has been that "it's still one of the more complex and difficult games to play".
So instead of the proliferation of hand-holding, it's apparently the opposite that's led Splinter Cell to fall somewhat from grace.
"One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it's still one of the more complex and difficult games to play," Raymond told Eurogamer.
"Even though we do have core fans who are like, 'Oh, I want to have more of this experience,' when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they're all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell.
"I guess Splinter Cell stayed with the most pure approach to that stealth experience."
This "holding back" is clearly a problem, and Raymond is of the opinion that Blacklist needs to have a "broader range of play" to be successful. The initial trailers an glimpses of the game last year showcased a new Sam Fisher blasting his way through the desert, much to the chagrin of a vocal proportion fanbase. Of course, Ubisoft have since then shown that there'll be stealthy options included as well, and that player choice is key to the Blacklist experience.
"In this game we do have a broader range of play styles possible than ever before," Raymond said.
"We brought back the purest hardcore version, which is, you want to ghost through the level and get through it without killing a single person. Every single thing you want to do you can do in a non-lethal way. That requires the most planning and being the most strategic.
"You can even play that in Perfectionist Mode, which means if you want you don't have any of the added things, such as Mark and Execute, that make it easier.
"That's for those who want to plan it out and feel really smart, and, 'I'm going to use the Sticky Cam with the Sleeping Gas and them I'm going to whistle and the guy's going to come,' and do the full set-up."
But Raymond also noted that there's often a huge discrepancy between the vocal groups mouthing off in online forums, and the large swathes of user data Ubisoft got back from previous games. Using Mark and Execute as an example, she said that the backlash against the auto-targeting feature was seen to be symptomatic of something deeper once wider data came in.
"You can jump to assumptions only reading what people post on forums. That can be very different from what you find from user analysis afterwards. And even with the user analysis, when you get the bigger data in, there's also a lot of room for misinterpretation."
"So even though there were some vocal fans who felt a certain way and we would go, 'Okay, right, we're never doing that again,' the broader data told us a different story. "The reality is, that was very appreciated, but there were also some things fans were missing. They didn't really dislike that new feature. The real grumbling, when you dig deep, was that there were a couple of other things they were missing, not that that wasn't appreciated."