After the recent “leak” regarding Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell franchise, it was only a matter of time before we saw the shadow-clad superspy returning to our screens in one form or another. Although speculations are still running amok as to just what Splinter Cell 2018 will turn out to be, fans were overjoyed when Ubi posted the Tweet below.

The trailer confirms that Sam is still around and very much in the game. Fans then collectively lost their shit when Ubisoft confirmed that Wildlands would be receiving a second year of content drops, some paid and some not, including a special mission involving our favourite ghost.

How to start the Wildlands Mission: Operation Watchman (Splinter Cell)

After installing the sizeable 16GB update and running the game for the first time your Ghost squad will be contacted by Bowman who mentions a national security asset and close friend will be operating in the area and you’re being tasked with supporting them. She then patches in the grizzled but welcoming tones of Fisher and you’re told to meet him later. When and where isn’t specified at first but the mission becomes available after 9pm in the La Cruz area of the map.

Get over there and hang around until Sam pings you again and the mission begins.

The mission itself starts off with Sam telling you to infiltrate a heavily defended Unidad compound without killing anyone or being detected. You’d think this would be a breeze but sure enough there’s a jammer in the compound preventing you from scouting the area out with the drone.

As with everything in Wildlands there’s more than one way to gain entry to the compound and make your way to the central building to meet Fisher in the server room. The route to the right of the main gate/guardhouse is one of the easier and less defended routes.

Once inside you get to chat with Matchwood himself and he elaborates on just what he’s doing in Bolivia, then asks you to cover him as he extracts the data he came for and remove it from the Unidad system. For Ghosts now using the Tier One system, you better buckle up because all hell is about to break loose! Unidad fall on you hard and fast, raining hellfire missiles from choppers and enough troops to make a tragic friendly fire headline. Fight them off for a few minutes with whatever method suits you best, the HTI for sniping the choppers is a godsend.

Once the hack is complete Fisher tells you its time to get the hell out of dodge. Call in an armoured SUV or steal one of the Unidad ones and book it. Push through the waves of Unidad patrol vehicles and ineffectual roadblocks and you’re home clear before long.

The mission is a simple one but manages to combine both Splinter Cell and Wildlands’ personalities beautifully. Completing all three stages of the mission successfully unlocks the Sonar Goggles head accessory. These augment your Night Vision Goggles to give the black/white/grey vision of the Sonar Goggles from the Splinter Cell games. Sadly, they do not appear to grant the Sonar properties, but they appear to give low-light environments a crisper/cleaner look than the standard NVGs.

Operation Watchman is a great little mission, but it’s clearly a small piece of a much bigger whole we are yet to fully realise. Throughout the mission you’re given a wealth of dialogue and information to dissect and analyse for hints at what’s to come. We KNOW there will be more Splinter Cell content of some degree or another coming from Ubisoft, with The Division 2 being revealed at E3 2018 it’s fair to assume that we’ll either see Sam again before or shortly after the show if not during.

Sam himself drops plenty of hints towards the information he recovers being part of a bigger picture and once he gets it back to Fourth Echelon and Langley they will know more of what’s happening. Needless to say, if that doesn’t pique your interest then nothing will. This is a flashing neon sign that something big and something Splinter Cell is coming soon, if the “leak” didn’t already prove that to you.

One possibility is that there will be a remastered Splinter Cell collection coming soon. The original games are fantastic but they haven’t aged well and could badly do with a touch up! Sam (and by extension Ubisoft) salute the Metal Gear series in a not so subtle line during the closing scene of the mission, referring to Snake as one of the last greats and how it’s just Sam left now. It’s powerful and full of emotion, showing that the past is not forgotten. It tells you that Sam is the last one left to carry the torch of super spy with Solid Snake’s retirement and the fact we will probably never see another true Metal Gear game, but Splinter Cell lives on.

Another possibility is that The Division 2 and the new Splinter Cell could heavily cross over. We’ve seen that Ubisoft are willing to cross their franchises over and do it to great success recently, so seeing Sam supporting the Agents doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Keener is on the loose with what is essentially Pandora’s Box, which seems like exactly the kind of thing Fisher and the Fourth Echelon team would get involved with after the events of Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

Most likely of all though is that we will see a totally new Splinter Cell game. Just what it will be about remains unknown, it might operate off the intel recovered in the Wildlands missions or possibly something tying into The Division and their operations. Most likely though it will be a new standalone story that features all of the staples of the series we’ve come to love with hat tips and nods to its predecessors and cousins.

It’s safe to say that this is very much a statement that Sam isn’t old and washed up yet. I mean yeah, he looks pretty old in the new footage but he’s still kicking arse and saving nations before breakfast. Watch this space folks, there’s far more to come and we can only guess at its potential!

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