Games like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 are magic when it comes to taking the intricacies of sniping and presenting them to you in an approachable way.

You don’t have to be a professional sniper with years of training under your belt to land some impressive distance shots. And while sniping is the game’s bread and butter – it's called Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 after all – there’s a lot more to do than shoot at targets up to 1,000m away. 

Close-quarters combat is also an option that’s available to you, allowing you to move through large maps and vivid desert locations ripe with enemies and eliminate threats up close and personal. 

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is wonderfully open-ended, putting you in full control of how you want to approach each situation. 

There’s no right or wrong way to play the game. 

As open-ended as Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is though, there’s also a nice structure to the game that keeps it from feeling overwhelming, almost like looking through a scope. You can clearly see what the developers were trying to accomplish with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, and you can clearly see what’s expected of you. 

All that’s left is for you to figure out the best way to complete the contracts and operations you’re given, with 21 new contracts on offer in the game and some additional side operations for good measure. 

Pretty straightforward. 

Adding to the draw of the game is its realism, taking things like trajectory and bullet drop into account when sniping enemies from afar. It makes you think harder about the shots you take, and adds a nice element of strategy to the game. 

Even though Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 parallels what sniping might feel like in real life, there are things even the most realistic of games struggle to convey. I experienced this firsthand after attending an event for the game, an event which gave attendees like myself the exciting opportunity to receive some fun combat training under the guidance of real military experts.

Let me just say, being a badass contract assassin like Raven in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is a lot harder than it looks.

A lot harder.

Signing up for the event, I wasn’t sure what sort of “combat training” to expect until I saw the facility where myself and other participants would be spending the day. You felt like you were walking onto a movie set, or like someone had taken a map from Call of Duty and brought it to life.

From an immersion standpoint, I was blown away.

Prior to seeing this incredible location, I’d thought the event would be shooting fake (or real) sniper rifles at practice targets out in the desert or something. I’m not sure why my mind conjured up that imagery given the actual event was about more than the weapons themselves, and made way more sense in relation to the game.

Another thing I wasn’t anticipating was my reaction to the realistic imagery, training, and combat scenarios of the event. I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life and have mostly adapted to living with it. Unfortunately, it can be hard to predict when my anxiety is going to hit me with a panic attack the way it did during combat training. 

It was like one moment I was fine while listening to the experts talk about entering a building and making sure it’s clear, and the next I was violently throwing up in the bushes. Let’s just say this wasn’t my proudest moment. 

No one else reacted the way I did, and it was indescribably embarrassing to know that other people there saw me react that way. This isn’t the first time my anxiety has made me throw up, but it is the first time anyone has been around to witness it so yeah… yikes.

My surprise at the reaction I had was also more in regards to what made me throw up than the fact that I threw up in general. I wasn’t holding a gun at the time, and no one had one pointed at me. I wasn’t in any danger, and yet my anxiety felt convinced that I was. 

My brain fixated on the idea that at any moment I could get shot at and I’d have no idea how to react. In fight or flight situations, I’m very much a flight person. Unless it’s a video game like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, of course.

After throwing up, I was permitted to head back to the main building to sit out the rest of the training exercises with the idea that it’d help me avoid throwing up again. Except that didn’t work out quite as planned as I did wind up throwing up a second time for a similar, yet slightly different reason.

I recall that walk back with uncomfortable clarity and the thoughts that kept getting tossed around in my mind. I thought about all of the people currently in – or who have been in – the military and the things they’ve seen and experienced and waves of guilt washed over me. 

I had thrown up right in front of real military experts, people who’ve seen actual combat, and here I was throwing up over a reenactment. Something that was only ever meant to be fun and informational. I thought to myself, what the hell is wrong with me? 

As much of the “shy writer from the middle of nowhere Maine who can’t make eye contact with anyone” as I am – not exactly someone people would expect to excel under the pressure of even a simple paintball game – I felt disappointed in myself.

It was like someone had held up a mirror and forced me to take a look at a part of myself that I wasn't aware existed, and that I really didn't like. And make no mistake, I’m completely fine when I’m playing first-person shooters, but that’s a situation where I have control over the things happening around me. 

It’s also easy to disconnect yourself from a video game because, no matter how awful the things you’re seeing on the screen, at the end of the day it’s fiction. What you’re shooting at are rendered graphics, pixels on a screen. 

The enemy NPCs want to harm you because that’s what they’re programmed to do. It’s simple, predictable. In a game, you’re always prepared to handle dangerous situations like entering a building not knowing whether there are enemies inside, how many enemies there might be, or what corners they could be hiding in.

And even if you fail and get shot, games have that respawn magic, you know? You can easily get back up and try again and again, as many times as needed. Even games with permadeath, there’s more frustration there but at the end of the day you can restart the game and try again.

Permadeath doesn’t delete the game from your console or PC – although that’d be kind of funny – you can always pick yourself back up and try again. And trying again is one of the most beautiful aspects of video games, not just games like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 but all games. 

The more you try and fail, the more you notice things that can help you be successful. You have time to adapt and learn, and it’s satisfying to watch your failures turn into victories. It’s not as easy to replicate in real life. 

Real life is unpredictable.

Even at fun paintball-esque reenactment events, there are things you can’t predict when you’re dealing with real people. Real people make mistakes, and yes, real people such as myself may get anxious and end up throwing up in the bushes. 

Going from a video game to watching an expert like Toshiro from Strategic Ops Training explain how to hold a weapon and move from different points of cover is such a wonderful, eye-opening experience. I’d recommend everyone who enjoys first-person shooters to look into a day of training like this.

It’s worth every single second of time spent because by the end, you end up understanding more of the work the developers have put into a game like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 to try and make it feel realistic, and you end up appreciating the people who do the incredible things you’re able to do in games in real life even more.

If you’re like me, it also helps you realize exactly how grateful you should be that there are experts out there who are able to (pardon my language) actually get shit done. I kept thinking about this as I watched all of the other participants run through the final exercise at the end of the event from the safety of a watchtower overlooking all of the action down below. 

They had pyrotechnicians setting off fake explosions during this final exercise while the experts shadowed them shouting, “Move, move, move!” in order to keep them from freezing up. Everyone was able to make it through, and you could see on their faces the sense of accomplishment they felt at what they were able to do and achieve. 

Those are the sort of memories they’ll carry with them forever, as will I.

For me, I know I’ll think about this experience every time I play a game like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2. In a good way, I promise. I had a great time (anxiety vomiting aside), and have been having an equally good time with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2!

If you’ve yet to check out the game and want to give it a go, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is available now on platforms including Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.

For more info on Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, be sure to check out the game’s official website