Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond says the inherent difficulty of hardcore stealth has kept Splinter Cell from the big-time, so Blacklist will simplify things for gamers who don't like to think too much.
Stealth is hard. Walking into a room with an automatic rocket launcher and turning everyone inside into paste is easy, but stealth is hard. That's why stealth is also, at least for some of us, rewarding. Shooting a dude who's in your way may be more efficient, but getting around him without anyone realizing you're even there is truly the hallmark of the professional.
But it's hard, and in the eyes of the decision-makers at Ubisoft, that's a problem. "One of the things that held [Splinter Cell] 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."
The solution to that particular "problem," of course, is to simply dial it all down, and so Blacklist will offer a wider range of gameplay options than previous Splinter Cell games. True stealth aficionados will be able to ghost entire levels without using any aids like "Mark and Execute," but the default mode will provide a more "fluid, modern play-style" that won't demand nearly as much from players.
"You can climb up, do 3D navigation and jump over things without thinking too much or pressing buttons," Raytmond said. "Sam does it automatically. The Killing in Motion, being able to Mark and Execute while moving through the map, makes it much more accessible to more of an action gamer."
Before everyone gets mad about the continuing dumbification of videogames, remember that nobody is being forced to play in a "modern" style, it's just an option for newcomers to the franchise who'd rather shoot dudes than dance around them. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, as long as Ubi can pull it off without compromising the elements that originally made Splinter Cell great.
Okay, you can get mad now.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist comes out on August 20 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC.