Sam Fisher's been everywhere at this point, thanks to Ubisoft's ever-expanding universe of Tom Clancy's games. He's shown up in games as large as Rainbow Six Siege or Ghost Recon Wildlands, and as small as the Elite Squad mobile tactics game. While it's been over seven years since the last Splinter Cell game, the titular hero has managed to find himself basically any place besides a mainline sequel. Not to mention Splinter Cell Blacklist left the series in a very different state compared to his iconic outings from games like Chaos Theory. One of gaming's most iconic secret agents deserves his own adventure, rather than being a footnote in someone else's.
However, based on the pipeline of games that's quickly become Ubisoft's forte, it's hard to see where a traditional Splinter Cell game fits in. Nearly every single game that's been published by Ubisoft since 2013 has been an open-world game, focusing strictly on minimal linearity and emphasizing co-op play. New entries in Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, as well as the beginning of Watch Dogs and The Division, have all released since the last mainline Splinter Cell game. Clearly that has to be indicative of something, but there's also a pretty compelling reason why Splinter Cell could make a return relatively soon, though it's tough to say when.
Putting aside the sheer amount of Splinter Cell cameos there are, Fisher's appearance in games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six imply something far more important. Looking back on what Ubisoft has published in the last seven years, Splinter Cell is virtually unlike most games that are out and supported by Ubisoft currently. Examples like The Division 2 and Rainbow Six Siege are procedural multiplayer games, that continue to evolve and change over time. Examples like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 5 are huge non-linear, open-world games full of branching storylines and side quests, which is a format never attempted by a Splinter Cell game.
To be fair, it's arguable whether or not that kind of foundation would make sense for a Splinter Cell game. Evidence of that being early demoes of Splinter Cell Conviction, a game which was severely altered during development so it wouldn't be so similar to Assassin's Creed. Even for Conviction, the game that largely broke from most of the franchise's established stealth conventions anyway, it was clear Splinter Cell was best developed as a linear experience. Nearly every Ubisoft game since Splinter Cell Blacklist's release has basically been the antithesis to linearity. However, a new Splinter Cell game could break from Ubisoft's pattern for one important reason.
There's a gigantic, Metal Gear Solid-sized hole where strictly stealth-oriented action games used to be. The original Splinter Cell game was largely inspired by Metal Gear Solid's innovations, but now that Metal Gear Solid is presumably dormant, Splinter Cell could return and fill that niche. It's not like there aren't any Splinter Cell fans left, as fans have been asking for a new entry ever since Sam Fisher gained his new penchant for cameos in other Ubisoft games. There's plenty of potential in a new Splinter Cell game, like utilizing ray-tracing tech and improved shadows to refine the franchise's darkness stealth systems, just to name one example.
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