After an eight-year hiatus, Ubisoft has finally shed light on the next entry to one of the most popular stealth-shooters of all time: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Instead of a sequel, Ubisoft Toronto will spearhead development on a full-blown Splinter Cell remake.
Inspired by the pioneer of the stealth-shooter genre, Metal Gear Solid, 2003’s Splinter Cell made its mark thanks to its unique emphasis on stealth — using light and dark mechanics powered by the Unreal Engine 2. This time around, the game will be rebuilt from the ground up using Ubisoft’s very own Snowdrop engine, which is the same one being used for the upcoming Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
While the Splinter Cell remake is still in its early stages, lead developers have broken down what gamers can expect from Sam Fisher’s revamped adventure of espionage. Here’s everything we know so far about Ubisoft Toronto’s Splinter Cell remake, from the release date to its potential PC requirements.
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Splinter Cell Remake release
Finally, Splinter Cell is making a grand return to reintroduce fans to Sam Fisher. However, it isn’t clear when the Third Echelon operative will be making his comeback. As producer Matt West commented on December 15, 2021, “we're still in the very earliest stages of development.” Ubisoft Toronto is also in the process of hiring (opens in new tab) to develop the game, meaning it could be a long while before we get our hands on the remake.
That said, Ubisoft is reportedly planning a big showcase sometime in 2022, according to news site XFire and oft-reliable Tom Henderson. The report states there are around 20 upcoming games from Ubisoft that are expected to be announced, including the Splinter Cell Remake. We're not sure how much we'll see, but hopefully, we'll get a timeframe of when it will arrive.
It makes sense for Splinter Cell to make a fitting return in November 2022, as the series will be celebrating its 20th anniversary since the launch of 2002’s Splinter Cell. Ubisoft isn’t exactly known for its fast turnarounds when it comes to developing remakes, though. Back in September 2020, Ubisoft announced a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake that was initially set to release on January 21, 2021. Over a year later, we have yet to see the Prince in action.
Interestingly, Ubisoft Toronto already has experience with the stealth-shooter, as it developed the latest game in the series: 2013’s Blacklist. While it was received very well, it failed to meet Ubisoft’s sales expectations (via Eurogamer). Regardless, with Ubisoft Toronto knowing what makes a great Splinter Cell and having the foundation of the first game, this could speed up the development process. Of course, this is all speculation, as we have yet to hear an official release date.
Splinter Cell Remake story
According to the announcement (opens in new tab), the Splinter Cell remake won’t deviate from the original. As West put it, “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.”
What we can mainly expect is "new-generation visuals and gameplay, and the dynamic lighting and shadows the series is known for." With this in mind, along with being a remake, it’s safe to say the game will follow the same story as the original — with potentially new story elements.
The original follows covert ops veteran Sam Fisher as he joins the Splinter Cell program, part of the black ops sub-division in the National Security Agency (NSA) known as “Third Echelon.” Using high-tech stealth gadgets and weaponry, including the iconic trifocal night-vision goggles, Fisher is deployed to gather intelligence and eliminate terrorist threats.
Since the remake will be the first time many gamers experience Splinter Cell, we won’t spoil anything. Instead, here’s the official synopsis of the plot:
“The CIA contacted NSA officials regarding the loss of contact with Agent Alison Madison, a CIA operative monitoring widespread communication shortages plaguing the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. A second operative, Agent Blaustein, was inserted into the Georgian capital T'bilisi to locate Agent Madison, only to drop from contact seven days later. Fearing for the lives of American agents compromised at the hands of a suspected terrorist effort, Third Echelon has activated Splinter Cell operative Sam Fisher to locate the missing agents and evaluate the situation.”
Splinter Cell Remake gameplay
Splinter Cell’s bread and butter is stealth, with the light-and-dark gameplay mechanic being its standout feature. The game’s light meter determined how visible Fisher was to enemies, using night-vision and thermal vision to navigate through areas without being detected. Of course, Fisher was also equipped with suppressed firearms and spy equipment to take down enemies without alerting others — all to complete a level’s objective like a ghost.
According to the blog post, the original game’s “Stealth Action Redefined” tagline is still a major focus for the remake. In regards to the tagline, West states, “That is very much in keeping with us redefining what stealth action is going to feel like for a modern audience.” This indicates we may see new gameplay elements added to the remake, or an updated stealth experience that adds to the original’s main design.
“It’s important for us to preserve the sense of mastery by supporting players who observe the situations, make their plan, use their gadgets, and outsmart the enemy creatively to deal with the challenges they are presented with,” says creative director Chris Auty. “Ideally, they end up coming out on the other side with no one having realized you were even there.”
West continues: “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.” With the vision Ubisoft Toronto is going for, I imagine the remake will be in the same vein as Motive Studio’s Dead Space Remake; updating the foundation of the core gameplay mechanics while still being familiar to Splinter Cell veterans.
Splinter Cell Remake PC requirements
Ubisoft Toronto is in the early stages of development, meaning we’re far away from knowing precise PC spec requirements. However, we do know it will be powered by the Snowdrop engine, which will also be used to develop Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora as well as Ubisoft’s upcoming Star Wars game.
Since Splinter Cell follows more linear gameplay than the open-world experience Avatar will bring, it’s unfair to compare the two. However, it may follow in the footsteps of other remakes such as Resident Evil 2 and possibly the Dead Space Remake.
Resident Evil 2 requires you to have at least an Intel Core i5-4460 or AMD FX-6300 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x GPU. That said, we expect the Splinter Cell Remake to bump up these specs, seeing as it will focus on “new-generation visuals.”
Metal Gear Solid may be the de facto stealth-shooter, but Splinter Cell is a cult classic for good reason. It isn’t a fluke that the series spawned seven games, and reinvigorating the series with a remake is exactly what Splinter Cell needs. We also know Ubisoft Toronto wants to go beyond simply remaking the first game, as Auty states: “with this remake, we are building a solid base for the future of Splinter Cell.”
The stealth-shooter genre has grown massively since the first Splinter Cell launched, with games such as Deathloop leading the charge in 2021. The Splinter Cell Remake may bring back a cult classic, but it will have a lot of competition once it launches.