Ubisoft has confirmed that it’s developing a remake of 2002's Splinter Cell, with Far Cry 6 studio, Ubisoft Toronto, at the helm.
The news comes from an official blog post on the Ubisoft website, which confirms that the publisher has ”greenlit the development of a Splinter Cell remake that will draw from the rich canvas of the brand.”
According to the post the game will be “rebuilt from the ground up” using Ubisoft’s own Snowdrop engine (that’s the one being used for the in-development Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora) with the aim of delivering “new-generation visuals and gameplay, and the dynamic lighting and shadows the series is known for.”
In the reveal post, Ubisoft is keen to emphasize that this will be a “from the ground up” remake rather than a remaster but that it’ll still retain the spirit of the original.
According to producer Matt West, the team is “still in the very earliest stages of development” but he adds, “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.”
Building on West’s comment, Creative Director Chris Auty goes on to say, “Splinter Cell was a breakthrough in stealth – as Matt mentioned, it was ‘stealth redefined’ with a huge focus on getting that core gameplay right above all, and delivering on an ideal: be a ghost. 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. Ideally, they end up coming out on the other side with no one having realized you were even there. That’s the essence of Splinter Cell.”
With West pointing out that the project is still in early development and the studio building up its team, we think it’s safe to say that it’ll be a little while before the game’s release—there’s no whisper of a release window in this post. However, after endless rumblings about a series revival, it’s something of a relief to finally have confirmation.
Analysis: Finally some word
It feels like there have been rumors and reports around a revival of the Splinter Cell series for years now and finally we’ve got confirmation of something. That said, we weren’t fully expecting a remake of the original game.
But maybe that's the right approach for now; to go back to the series' roots and re-discover and re-examine what made fans fall in love with it in the first place before doing something completely new. Back in 2019 Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot suggested in an interview with IGN that the publisher was ready to revive the series again but said it would need to offer something different, noting that "the last time we did a Splinter Cell, we had lots of pressure from all the fans actually saying, ‘Don’t change it, don’t do this, don’t do that,’" which made "some of the teams [...] more anxious to work on the brand."
"Now," he added, "there are some things and some people that are now looking at the brand, taking care of the brand, so at one point you will see something, but I can’t say more than that."
A recent report suggested that a new Splinter Cell game would take an “open world of sorts” approach but this announcement seems to distance itself from those rumors, making it clear that the studio intends to “keep it linear like the original games, not make it open world.”
It’s kind of hard to believe (or maybe it isn’t) but it’s been eight years since the last mainline entry in the series, with Splinter Cell: Blacklist released back in 2013. Fans have been pretty vocal about their desire for a new game and while the series’ protagonist Sam Fisher has popped up, making various appearances over the years, this is the first time they’re getting something more than a cameo.
Interestingly, Ubisoft’s interview with the game’s development team suggests this isn’t a one-and-done scenario. Creative Director, Chris Auty, says, “with this remake, we are building a solid base for the future of Splinter Cell” so we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.