What is Going on with the Splinter Cell Remake?
What a year it’s been for the gaming industry, right? Between numerous high-quality releases – like Alan Wake 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, etc. There have also been some big disappointments. Some were highly anticipated and missed the mark, while others were just bad, which is always a shame given the talent working on them.
Of course, between all the headlines and controversies, the conversations about the best games and what we can look forward to in 2024, there are several games which we’ve heard very little about. We’re talking about the games that made a splash after being announced and seemingly vanished into the ether with very little follow-up information.
Bloober Team’s remake of Silent Hill 2 had a big reveal last year after seemingly endless rumors about the franchise’s future. However, the updates have been muted in 2023, to the extent that the developer had to reassure fans that it’s still in development, definitely not cancelled and that Konami is the publisher and thus the one to reveal more information. Then there’s Hollow Knight: Silksong, Team Cherry’s long-awaited sequel to its 2017 masterpiece, announced in 2019 and recently delayed past the first half of the year to an unknown date.
By comparison, publisher’s announcement of the Splinter Cell Remake isn’t that old…right? Then you remember that it was announced in 2021 after years of cameos by Sam Fisher in other titles, as many wondered when a sequel would be released. It was after the publisher’s constant explanations about its absence, especially considering the last major title was Splinter Cell: Blacklist in 2013.
With 2023 almost over and very few updates, it feels like a good time to ask: Where is the Splinter Cell Remake?
The last major update saw creative director Chris Auty outlining the team’s plan to make the entire game playable without requiring the player to kill anyone. It’s also scaling back on the whole “trigger an alarm three times and fail” condition in missions, which is what Chaos Theory did anyway. Plus, it wants to offer more ways to “de-escalate” situations and improve the “minute-to-minute stealth gameplay” that made the original so special. All of these are admittedly noble goals.
It’s worth noting in the initial announcement that the Toronto branch, which is in charge of the project, said it was in “the very earliest stages of development.” The “remake” term is fully applicable here, as the original is being built from the ground up in Snowdrop Engine. However, the development team is brand new, with the studio hiring balancing newcomers with new ideas with the veterans already present.
While it makes sense, it also takes time. Maintaining the essence of what makes Splinter Cell so great is one thing. Updating it for a modern audience using new technology while refining the entire experience to support a non-lethal playstyle? While also providing new means to play and probably some new content on top of everything else, but maintaining the feel of the original? That’s not to mention an “updated story for the modern-day audience”, per a job listing from last year, which could mean creating new story beats and scenes.
Cut to 2022, with the developer revealing new concept art for the remake, featuring familiar locations. Auty confirmed that the title is still “very early in production” and the team is “still prototyping.” It doesn’t want to rush anything and is currently set on ensuring it “absolutely nails the game” and does “everything in the right way” to produce a great experience for fans. He also confirmed that the team would be “going dark for a little” to focus on “making the absolute best game possible.”
So that explains the relative lack of new details. It’s probably amazing that we even got the update earlier this year.
As much as some people like to clown on remakes and how they shouldn’t be nominated for awards, there’s no denying that they take a lot of work. This year’s remake of Dead Space was announced in July 2021 and initially set to launch in late 2022 before Electronic Arts delayed it to January 2023 for the sake of more polish. The acclaimed remake of Resident Evil 2, which has inspired so many other studios to develop high-quality remakes, was first announced in August 2015 and wouldn’t be released until January 2019.
Other rumors discussing revamps and other changes would circulate for years. So when you hear that prototyping for the Splinter Cell Remake is ongoing, assume nothing is final or locked down. Until that happens, which also takes time, we’ll have to wait.
Game development requiring time, resources, and some luck is only one part of the equation in this case. That’s because of publisher’s part in everything. In December 2021, it was initially scoping the next Splinter Cell to be an open-world title with a scale similar to Halo Infinite.
Whether that’s still happening is unknown, especially with all the projects it’s cancelled in the past few years, like Ghost Recon Frontline, Project Q and even a rumor Splinter Cell battle royale. Some of these projects were pretty far along, but the publisher decided to cancel them anyway, perhaps due to market saturation in the case of the multiplayer games.
It isn’t to say the same fate could befall the Splinter Cell Remake. With how much thought and care has gone into assembling the development team, let alone the approach to honoring the original’s gameplay while modernizing its themes, it’s hard to believe that publisher would drop it just like that. After all, a smaller-scale stealth title may be what it needs.
However, you can never be sure, especially in a year with so many layoffs and a company with more misses than hits in recent times. Things are always in flux. You would hope publisher understands the importance of its IP and nurturing games that fans will care about. Then again, this is also the same publisher rumored last July to have 11 titles in development.
As much as some developers want to revisit your favorite franchises, those at the top of the company are motivated by profit and what sells, though that also hasn’t stopped publisher from sinking money into Skull and Bones to keep it alive long enough to delay it again for some messed up reason.
There’s still much that can go wrong, but you could say the same for any video game project in early development. Some of its new ideas may not work. It may have performance issues, especially with what the team wants to do in Snowdrop. It may be unenjoyable and require further changes (if not a complete overhaul). Such are the challenges that a development team faces daily. Here’s hoping that the Splinter Cell Remake reaches that point and begins the journey to success with the least hangups.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.