Sniper Elite 5 hits Xbox Game Pass in a few short weeks at this point, landing on May 26th. Thanks to the folks over at Rebellion though, we went hands on with the next Sniper Elite game a few weeks early and let us tell you: it's a right blast. Literally.

Sniper Elite 5 takes things to war-torn France during the closing stages of the Second World War. The setup isn't too dissimilar to prior games, but the move to France does make it feel more like a classic World War 2 shooter than Sniper Elite 3's African setting and Sniper Elite 4's Italian backdrop.

Whether the move to France is something you're into or not, thankfully, the sprawling level design from 3 and 4 remains alive and well. Our preview gameplay took place during the game's second mission, where we were tasked with infiltrating a large complex to grab some suitably-important documents. The mission's setup wasn't wholly unique — this ain't our first document-grabbing rodeo — but the way the map was set up provided plenty of unique mission paths.

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After spotting a few too many guards on the main road, we took the left flank for our first run. Once we'd swept a few quiet barns with just the odd guard or two lurking, we came to a ravine that presented an obvious challenge, go loud now or continue to sneak? We opted for sneaking a little longer by grabbing a bridge that crossed the ravine — Lara Croft style — and shimmying along until we could take out an alarm.

As it turned out, taking out said alarm was a great idea because shortly after, we were spotted, and nearby enemies sprinted towards us with reckless abandon (we expected no less). This gave us a chance to try out Sniper Elite 5's new iron sight mechanics for backup weapons. Sadly, the results here were a little mixed. While we appreciate the option for more accuracy, in practice it didn't really work out that way. Iron sights felt a little clunky — especially in prone where we spent plenty of time hiding — and we found the game's traditional crosshairs more than adequate in taking out targets at close to mid range. We reckon you shouldn't bother with iron sights on secondaries to be honest.

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After that short skirmish, we navigated our way towards the documents — grabbed them and any other secrets lying around — and snuck towards the exit point, avoiding combat as much as possible. It turned out a satisfying run but then we thought, err, we haven't really done any sniping? Our second run fixed that.

This time out, we opted to head right, and go loud. The few clusters of enemies on this side of the busy main road were more active, so we steadied our scope and got to work. Sniping feels just as satisfying as ever in Sniper Elite 5, and let's be honest, we'll never grow tired of blasting nutsacks with a trusty bolt action rifle. After tearing through a solid amount of Nazis (is there ever a solid amount?) we came across a huge underground bunker that led right into the main building - where the documents hid. When choosing which path to take at the beginning, we never expected this route to present itself and to be honest, it showed Rebellion flexing its level design muscles to great affect. There were countless other routes we could've taken — including attacking straight down the middle in a suicidal rage — so the series' replayability factor is very much intact for this 5th entry.

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Of course, we embraced the underground bunker with open arms and came across a wave of enemies, so we used just about anything we could find to blast them to smithereens. Sniper Elite does get a little finnicky when close-quarters becomes the main engagement range, but we managed it and quickly got back to sniping once the opportunity presented itself. Make no mistake, sniping at range is still our preferred choice for any sort of non-stealth combat, and we had as much fun as ever doing it.

Once the documents were acquired on the second run, we took a slightly more direct approach to the exit point, taking out who we deemed fit along the way. Let's say this didn't go according to plan, and in the end, we had to make a mad dash for the exit, spraying and praying along the way. Sniper Elite at least gives you the tools to adapt on the fly though, avoiding those frustrating fail states that crop up too often in other stealth-heavy games.

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All in all, we had a great time playing Sniper Elite 5 and in our opinion, we're all in for a big Game Pass-flavoured treat next month. Don't be put off by the numbered entry either, if you're a newcomer. Sure, having played previous games gives you the skills to succeed more quickly in 5 — along with some additional backstory of course — but you can easily hop in here and have a great time causing absolute havoc across rural France. Sniper Elite 5 doesn't gatekeep any of its ball-breaking action for newcomers, and we reckon this one will be well worth a go for players both new and old.

Excited for Sniper Elite 5 to hit Xbox Game Pass on May 26th? Let us know your thoughts below!