Spectre Hands-On Preview: Splinter Cell Multiplayer’s Spiritual Successor?

While there are several popular multiplayer archetypes in 2022, one notably missing is Spies versus Mercenaries. The game type was originally introduced in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and became a huge hit with fans as well as a large part of Splinter Cell’s identity going forward. But with Splinter Cell without a new release in nearly a decade, Spies vs. Mercs has been almost forgotten.

Developer Symbiosis plans to change that with Spectre, a new title that takes direct inspiration from classic multiplayer. The build I played definitely felt like an ever-growing work-in-progress, but I saw a lot of potential for those who have been waiting to scratch that itch. With a variety of gadgets in your arsenal, as well as several different options to get closer to your target, I think Specter could finally give us what Ubisoft won’t.

Spectre, if you’re not familiar with Spies vs. Mercs, is a team-based objective multiplayer game in which each side has a different objective. Played from a third-person perspective, Specters are stealth operatives whose goal is to hack every terminal on the map. Reapers, on the other hand, are played from a first-person perspective with a simple objective; kill the Specters.

If you sneak up from behind, you can grab them, strangle them, and snap their necks.

Both sides are equipped with different gear and abilities on their team. Since Wraiths are more passive in completing their objective, most of their tools consist of ways to escape combat or stay hidden, so they have gear like a flashbang or cape. Because they want to be as cunning as possible, the Specters are not equipped with a lethal weapon. His stun gun can temporarily disable an enemy Reaper, but it can also disable cameras, elevators, and laser detection grids. You can even run and dive through lasers undetected if you time it right. However, just like the game it’s inspired by, there is a way to kill a Reaper. If you sneak up from behind, you can grab them, choke them, and break their necks, but this takes some time, so if an enemy teammate spots you, it could end badly for you.

Reapers, on the other hand, are more offensive in nature; they are strapped in with an assault rifle, grenades, and a flashlight to spot enemies while hidden in the dark. That said, you can sacrifice your light at the flick of a switch, giving you the ability to see movement, allowing you to see Wraith even if they’re cloaked. Meanwhile, the elevators are free for Reapers to use, but must be repaired if hacked by a Wraith, while Reapers can also freely pass through the travel lasers.

Reapers, on the other hand, are more offensive in nature; they are strapped with an assault rifle, grenades and a flashlight.

Playing as a Specter is the highlight here, as there is more freedom to attack your target and movement. You can be direct and go straight to the target or have as much patience as you want to wait for the right moment to neutralize the enemy team. Being able to sneak while cloaked adds an extra level of fun, especially for people who like stealth games, but may not be the best at them. You can climb to higher platforms to take advantage of the map and hide in places like ventilation tunnels.

With that in mind, though, part of what makes playing the Specter so much fun is what also makes playing the Reaper so rewarding. You have fewer resources, but also fewer potential risks to take, so when you take down a Wraith that is hiding with the motive to assassinate you; it feels great. Symbiosis has really managed to strike the right balance of fun no matter which side you’re playing on.

While I’ve enjoyed my time with Spectre, it still feels like a work in progress that needs a little more time to develop. However, it promises a lot. The sheer variety in how you want to approach your targets, whether it’s a Wraith or a Reaper, makes each round of play feel distinct from one another, even if you’re playing on the same map. The other big question for Specter is about the modern era launching next year. There is a lot more competition in the multiplayer space these days. Will players still want to play Spies vs. merch? Time will tell, but we hope developer Symbiosis Games will answer that with an irresistible “yes.”

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