Getting the Target: Führer DLC mission for free wasn’t what enticed me to pre-order Sniper Elite 4, but after playing it I have to say that it’s definitely a worthwhile bonus. The whole act of killing Hitler still doesn’t feel like the highlight to me though. I mean, it’s alright, and it certainly was fun and fairly satisfying putting a bullet through his skull. But the true star of the mission is not the Führer, but the base he’s at.
While the main campaign was set in Italy, this DLC mission takes place on the Greek island of Santorini. Unlike the opening San Celini mission, the focus isn’t on the island but the secret U-boat base it houses. And before you get to the base, there is a series of sea forts you have to bypass first.
Compared to the mini-open-world-feel of most of the campaign missions, Target: Führer offers a more compact and focused location. It’s still pretty big though, and it offers a high degree of verticality right from the get-go. The sea forts are linked by walkways suspended over the water, and to my delight you - and the German soldiers - can opt to traverse on the roofs of the walkways. Both the sea forts and walkways, along with their respective roofs, offer various vantage points for snipers, and there’s also a ruined church tower on the nearby cliff that offers an even greater vantage point. It’s a complete sniper haven, and the fun also extends to the stealth-play.
There are multiple ways to enter the base, like sneaking through the docks or by climbing up a pipe to name a few, but generally speaking you’re still entering it from only one direction: the front. That doesn’t stop its entry points from feeling varied however, especially with verticality taken into account. My chosen entry point actually led me to such a good view of the interior that I could easily spot Hitler and his entourage of guards when he came in for an inspection of the submarines housed there.
As a result, killing Hitler turned out to be a pretty simple and hassle-free affair (especially since I was playing on normal difficulty). But since it was the result of natural coincidence and timing rather than a tightly scripted event, I didn’t find it that underwhelming. There were also still some other optional objectives left, which required sneaking through a base with alarms ringing everywhere as it went into full alert following the assassination of the Führer.
Even inside, there’s a lot of verticality, and like the sea forts this allows for both sniping and sneaking satisfaction. The base is filled with platforms, crates, construction equipment, and also some rooms and submarines, but it feels like a single space rather than a series of connected sections. The ends up creating a delightful sense of scope within an indoor location, and its ability to easily weave close-quarters stealth and exploration with plenty of long range sniping is my favourite thing about the base.
The singular environment also means that you’re dealing with an entire base’s worth of soldiers at once, though the size combined with the number of obstacles and places to escape means that you can confront them in smaller numbers at a time. Find a good spot that’s inaccessible by the AI (which isn’t hard, considering that they’re close to the entry points) to snipe and you can take out faraway enemies without worrying about the closer ones ganging up on you.
Despite feeling smaller than the campaign levels and being less filled with side objectives, I still spent almost an hour with Target: Führer. I’m planning on replaying both this DLC mission and some of the ones from the campaign, but I wonder if the level design here has spoiled me. The smaller size means that it’s easier to get straight into the action, but the density and verticality on display make it more than just a simple, straight-up shooting fest. It offers a quicker pace (or less jogging around at least) while still letting you spend a lot of time with the location. It also connects you to the environment in a way that the other missions never fully did, as enjoyable as they were.
Making my way through the base is also the first time Sniper Elite 4 reminded me of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, though not quite in terms of similarities. In fact, it reminds me of what MGS 5 lacked - a large indoor environment to offer a change of pace from the mostly outdoor-based sneaking. Target: Führer is sort of what I’d envisioned the hangar where Sahelanthropus was stored to be like if we had been able to sneak around in it, only bigger and with submarines instead of a bipedal mech.
There are three more DLC missions for Sniper Elite 4 planned, which will form a 3-part campaign. I can’t say yet if I’d like their design to be similar to Target: Führer or the campaign missions, or perhaps somewhere in the middle. What I can say is that my experience with the former has tempted to get the Season Pass, and made me regret not pre-ordering the Deluxe Edition of the game slightly.
Target: Führer’s standalone price of RM23 feels a bit steep even though it allows for co-op, but overall, I have to say that this mission is a nice success.