Finally, fans could start worrying about leaving bodies lying out in the open again - it mattered. How else to make Sam Fisher vulnerable? Heavy infantry to discourage gun running.
Fans of the series were worried whether or not Blacklist could deliver on the promises of a 'true stealth' Sam Fisher, or whether Ubisoft was going all action again.
Ubisoft Toronto's James Everett explains how they made sure there were plenty of opportunities for players to quickly realise Sam Fisher is no terminator just spewing bullets, but had to think his way through levels just like in the old days. Their secret weapon to quickly instil this was the heavy troop types.
"At a root level, at a gameplay level, we took nothing away," Everett told GamesIndustry.biz. "We just made everything easier to get at, and we made it feel better. I think if you take the things people love and you find a way to amp them up without diluting them, I think that's probably your best bet."
"The heavy character was brutally hard if you run straight in like a shooter," he said. "We needed that moment of something hard to shake people loose a little bit from maybe how they're used to playing a standard third-person game." The team had to be careful in how much frustration they caused in Blacklist.
It's one thing to become frustrated knowing your demise was because of a personal mistake, but another if the game just almost artificially keeps knocking you down with little rhyme or reason.
"Dark Souls is fascinating, right? Dark Souls is incredible because frustration in Dark Souls is about the choices you made as much as they are the choices the designer has made," Everett said. "The frustration is a result of you almost always knowing why you got boned. You know what killed you, and you know why. So you look at it and say, 'I won't do that again.' And then you proceed to find an entirely new way to screw up, which is awesome."
"If Dark Souls was genuinely frustrating, you wouldn't go back to it. I think frustration's something to avoid. Challenge though... Even the hardest challenges, so long as player feels and knows that they can learn from each failure, and that the challenge is surmountable in some way, shape, or form, those are the best games in some ways."
Playtest, playtest, playtest. "There's no substitute for the experience of just watching players play your game," he continued. "There's nothing like it. It is simultaneously the most enlightening, humbling, frustrating, and horrifying thing you can do, and everyone should do it all the time."
Putting aside the change in actor for Sam Fisher, Splinter Cell: Blacklist has been lauded as a glorious return for the franchise and it's thanks to that 'take nothing away' approach Ubisoft Toronto stuck with.