The last Splinter Cell game was released in August 2013. It’s been nearly six years since we last got to play as grizzled spy Sam Fisher. Near six years since we got to creep around the shadows and use those sweet goggles that make that cool noise. Going this long without a new game in the franchise would be easier if Ubisoft would stop constantly referencing Splinter Cell in all their other games.
I loved Blacklist. It felt like a perfect balance between the faster, more action-filled Splinter Cell games and the earlier stealth-focussed games. It became my most played game in the franchise, even if I missed original Sam Fisher actor Michael Ironside. I remember thinking shortly after it came out that I couldn’t wait for the next game. Over five years later, I’m still waiting.
It would be one thing if Ubisoft just stopped making Splinter Cell games and never referenced the series again, leaving the franchise to rot and be forgotten. That would still suck, but it would at least make it easier for my mind to move on. However, Ubisoft is doing the exact opposite of this. It seems pretty much every game they release has some small reference or wink to Splinter Cell.
The suit players can find in New Dawn. Screenshot: The Easter Egg Hunter (YouTube)
The most recent Splinter Cell tease pops up in Far Cry New Dawn. In that game, players can find a crashed military cargo plane which contains an entire treasure trove of Splinter Cell goodies and references. These include notes from characters in the franchise, the computer from Blacklist and even Sam’s famous suit, complete with tri-goggles. New Dawn players can even take the suit and wear it.
Ghost Recon Wildlands took the Splinter Cell references to a whole new level by actually having Sam Fisher show up in a special event and letting players work with him to complete a mission. Ubisoft even got original Fisher voice actor Michael Ironside back to voice the character, making this tease even more frustrating. Bringing back Ironside and then using him for one mission in Ghost Recon seems like a lot of work to just tease fans again.
During an interview on Inside Xbox with Major Nelson about the Splinter Cell/Ghost Recon event, Ironside even hinted at future Fisher adventures saying “Let’s see if the storylines allow an organic [way to bring], Sam, back”. Still, a year later and it seems we aren’t any closer to a new Splinter Cell game with or without Ironside.
Beyond these bigger Easter eggs and references, Ubisoft has continued to include smaller nods to the series in other games.
The most commonly found Easter egg is a pair of the famous tri-goggles that Sam often wears in the games. These useful goggles appear in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division. Will a pair appear in The Division 2?
Other games like Watch Dogs, Watch Dogs 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag have included the cover of Splinter Cell games in their worlds. The weirdest reference to Splinter Cell is Ubisoft’s voice assistant who is named Sam, a nod to the franchise’s lead spy. Sadly, Ironside doesn’t voice the digital assistant.
After all these Easter eggs and other references to Splinter Cell we still don’t have any confirmation of a new game in the franchise. I would at this point be happy with some remasters, at least of Blacklist.
Jade Raymond, a former producer at Ubisoft, confirmed in an interview with GameReactor that there was a new Splinter Cell game being designed at one point. “There is a design that we actually had and worked on that we would have wanted to make,” Raymond said. “But since I am not at Ubisoft anymore I can’t talk about it and I don’t know who wants to share that concept.”
E3 2019 isn’t that far away and, as all these references seemingly prove, Ubisoft still seems to like the Splinter Cell franchise. Or at least they still know they it exists. Maybe this is the year when we finally get a new Sam Fisher adventure.
Or maybe in five years I’ll write a follow-up post to this one about how it's been a decade of teasing.