Splinter Cell Blacklist: Spies vs Mercs Detailed

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Splinter Cell Blacklist: Spies vs Mercs Detailed
Splinter Cell Blacklist: Spies vs Mercs Detailed

It feels so good to be back on PlayStation.Blog! Whether you got a chance to check out our Spies vs. Mercs trailer or not, we’re bringing some deeper insight (and a live Q&A to follow) into what we’re working with in Splinter Cell Blacklist’s multiplayer experience.

First off, if you’re not familiar with Spies vs. Mercs, I will say one thing: It is an experience like no other. Either you’re playing as a Spy in third-person perspective, trying to remain undetected and hack terminals while being quick, agile, and deadly in shadows; or you’re the Merc, in first-person perspective, a brute force with unmatched weaponry who’s trying to defend the data from the infiltrators.

One of the cool aspects of Spies vs. Mercs in Blacklist is that you will be playing both sides before a game is done. There’s a very applicable quote from “The Art of War” (by Sun Tzu) that I like to use: “Know thyself; know thy enemy.”

By that, I mean that you can’t truly master the Spy until you fully understand how to eliminate one. The same thing goes for playing as (and neutralizing) the Merc. A game of Spies vs. Mercs isn’t done until you play as both classes — which also helps prevent the ‘rage quit’ (added bonus!).

Now… that’s the overview. Going under the hood, today we’re revealing two of the multiplayer modes: “Spies vs. Mercs Classic” and “Spies vs. Mercs Blacklist”

Spies vs Mercs

Two VERY different games, played in VERY different ways. ‘Classic’ is a mode that was designed specifically for our fans. Gunther Galipot was the creator of the original concept of Spies vs. Mercs from Pandora Tomorrow. He’s returned for Blacklist as a Game Director, and he’s bringing his baby back just like it was in PT and Chaos Theory.

It’s 2v2… and very much an intense game of ‘cat and mouse’ meets ‘hide and seek,’ in which you and your partner need to be in constant communication to outsmart your opponent(s). Spies have no lethal weapons, and rely on vertical navigation, shadows, night vision goggles, and smarts. The Mercs have heavy weaponry, a flashlight to track the Spies, their own set of tools, and force… but also need to play intelligently, themselves.

What you can’t see is your greatest threat.

It’s also worth mentioning that the maps played in Classic are lit differently, to further push the core elements of light and shadow.

Spies vs. Mercs ‘Blacklist’ is a new and refreshing take on the original Splinter Cell multiplayer experience. It supports a maximum of eight players (4v4) and, while many core principals return, there’s an incredible amount of customization that comes into play.

It’s really all about creating your own playstyle. You can do so by configuring loadouts with different weapons, gadgets, vision modes, and armor parts with both active and passive abilities – which are specific to each of the sides.

Spies now have access to lethal weapons and gadgets – adding an entirely new dynamic to Spies vs. Mercs. Despite the uptick in speed and pacing, strategy and teamwork remain at the heart of the gameplay.

There’s SO much to obviously talk about with Spies vs. Mercs (both Classic and Blacklist), and there’s still more to reveal down the line…

…but for now, what’s on your mind? I’ll be here for an hour to take your questions.

Comments are closed.


44 Author Replies

  • Well it is great to be here, im am very excited about Splinter Cell Blacklist, i see that the dev team is very excited about it too.

    So my first question would be.


    • Hey ExcellerLT… I’m not sure exactly what you mean, but the core mechanics of Spies vs. Mercs remain.

      The Spies are trying to hack the data, the Mercs are trying to defend it.

      If you clarify your question, I’d be more than happy to shed a little more light.

  • So we are getting the old maps back?

  • Hey Zack, thanks for doing this dude!

    What can you tell us about the games networking? Is it going to use player to player or dedicated services? A good connection system is so crutial for multiplayer.


    • Truthfully, I’m not even sure.
      We’ll probably be sharing that info shortly down the road.

  • Also, how will the PS3 version differ from the PC version, which should I pick-up? I assume they will be slightly different for each platform?

    • We have dedicated teams working on the both the console and the PC editions.
      The goal is to have each version identical to one another.

      (posted as a separate comment, accidentally)

  • Is neutralization (hacking the data ) the only mode?

    Can the spies still break necks?

  • We have dedicated teams working on the both the console and the PC editions.
    The goal is to have each version identical to one another.

  • Hey, game looks great. I noticed in the trailers the spies had some weird looking guns they never fired. Are these guns non lethal or do they shoot gadgets or are they actually guns?

    • Good eye!

      The guns are lethal… but they’re only available to the Spies in the BLACKLIST Spies vs. Mercs.
      The 4v4, highly customizable mode.

      While we have added lethality to the Spies… getting into an open firefight with a Merc is a very bad idea.
      You still need to be smart and pick your spots.

      …Mercs can take a lot more damage than the Spies – who don’t have access to the SAME weapons.

      There are also a bunch of really cool gadgets to play around with, too!

  • I’ll go to the next question.

    How vulnerable will the Spies be in comparison to the Mercs (in open firefight for example)?


  • Hey Zack, if anyone is wondering this is Dome500,

    so I have a load of yuestions to ask you but I will start with one:

    1. Are there security systems on the maps and how many?

    • There are cameras that the Mercs use to monitor Spy activity.
      These are accessed by the Mercs in the respawn screen, but can also be temporarily disabled by the Spies.

  • What steps were took to ensure even balance on blacklist? I mean spies with lethal weapons is scary just saying that maybe it can work I hope so

    • It definitely works.
      There have been COUNTLESS hours spent on balancing, alone. They’re still tweaking, as well, to make sure we get it just right!

  • Here are some of the most important questions to me, I want them all answered (as far as you can), but no hurry:

    Is there a counter attack for the Mercs against the Spy’s melee attacks or DFA’s?
    Are there security systems on the maps and how many?
    Are there different game modes such as Deathmatch, story mode or some kind of customizable objective mode?

    I have some more, but I’ll leave you time to breath.

    • We’re only talking about CLASSIC and BLACKLIST Spies vs. Mercs today.

      I already addressed the security systems (above), and as far as counter attacks, you just need to be quicker, smarter, and more prepared ;)

  • oh sorry for the double post about sec systems^^

  • I saw in the video revealed that there’s a lot of spies and a lot of Mercs but what I want to know is can I play the classic 2 on 2 ?

    • Definitely!!

      It’s called CLASSIC SvM. It’s 2v2, and VERY similar to the vibe from Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory’s Spies vs. Mercs.

      In the video, we (re)introduced you to Gunther Galipot. He was the Creative Director on PT’s multiplayer, and was the man responsible for bringing the asymmetry between the Spies and the Mercs (3rd and 1st person perspectives).

      We’re bringing that classic feeling back in Blacklist… and we can’t wait for you to play it!

  • Two questions. One: In Classic and Blacklist mode, what kind of radar will the Mercs have? In double agent if you were near a merc as a spy, they knew because of the heartbeat sensor. Can a merc walk right by you if you’re hiding and not know? Second question is, is there free motion? As in, can you hit Y to jump, or are you stuck on the ground unless a button prompt appears.

    • So ONE of the Passive Abilities for the Mercs is a motion detector.
      If there’s a Spy running around in your vicinity, you’ll see it come up as a red dot.

      As for the motion, we’ve brought the Active Sprint mechanic from the Single Player into Spies vs. Mercs.
      It obviously makes you louder, but makes it much easier for you to climb over obstacles, or up walls and into vents.

  • Ok you say that your revealing two of the multiplayer modes? Now that must mean there are more!!

    Ok I have so many questions but the next that I would love to get answered is will we get a demo?

  • Are there classic co op moves in Blacklist’s Spy vs Merc?

  • @ Zack, the counter moves was just a question because the Death from above is normally scripted so a Merc who is standing under a Spy and realizes it, even if he runs away, can be killed because the animation already started (if you know what I am trying to say), will this be a problem?

    • I certainly don’t think so!
      It happens so fast, anyway… you’ll barely have enough time to scream ;)

  • Thanks that’s exactly what I wanted to hear :-) now take my money$$

  • 3 more, again no hurry:

    -follow-up to security sytems: Will Mercs have to enable security sytems before they are accessible/usable to/for them?

    -How far will customization go? (just an example) That is tied together with the next question:

    -Are there different classes/equipment combinations for Spies and Mercs (Armor/Weapons/Gadgets) (fitting the 3 playstyles maybe?)?

    • There is SO MUCH customization in BLACKLIST SvM… weapons, gadgets, vision modes, and armour parts.

      Breaking down the armour parts, there are gloves, boots, and torso abilities, which bring with them ACTIVE and PASSIVE special abilities.

      In all, it equates to more than 540 possible combinations.

  • But only if they are running? So in Classic mode specifically, if you are crouched and sneaking as a spy, the merc will not see you on the rader/motion tracker unless you make noise/run, right? So you could be sneaking around the same room and they wont know you’re there?

    And then last question, in classic mode do mercs get visor modes like in Pandora/CT like EMF?

    • Don’t quote me on the ‘only running…’
      I haven’t played it enough to determine exactly how easily the movement is picked up.

  • Zack you have made my day!!!! All this intel is awesome!!! So stoked!!! Just take my money now please!!!

  • Can you add BOTS in Spy vs Merc?

  • Hey zack ! Just wondering will the spies be able to use lethal force or perform some sort of melee attack on mercs from the front , like in double agent u could only grab mercs from the back so I’m wondering do the spies have any melee attack from the front in blacklist , and if so is it in both modes ? Thanks

    • Spies are much deadlier thanks to the karambit (knife). They are not limited solely to the back, any more!

  • Heard many good things about the old version.. Looking forward to it.

  • How large will the maps be?
    Can you go into more details about where the levels take place?
    Thanks if you could answer those questions.=)

  • So in the classic SvM we can the spies break necks? Will they have the tazers and sticky cams?

    • The inverted neck snap is there… so make sure you use those pipes!

      Tasers and sticky cams… OH HELL YES!!

  • Hey zack , are the sensors were seeing in the videos heartbeat sensors or noise/movement sensors ? And will they be in both modes ? Thanks :)

    • They’re movement detectors.
      …I’m fairly certain they’re only in BLACKLIST SvM (not CLASSIC)

  • @ netdude13 Zack will surely confirm this but he already said above they can only pick you up if you run

  • Well from all the videos I’ve seen so far the team or teams are doing a phenomenal job and I would like you to let them know from my behalf. I spent countless hours on Pandoras tomorrow and Chaos theory !

  • Great stuff Zack!How deep will be the customization?
    Things as outfits(outfit parts),weapons,gadgets,equipment,…

    • So there are various pieces of head gear, gloves, pouches, booths, and torso parts (which is where you find your active and passive abilities)… not to mention gadget and weapon customization.

      It’s DEEP!

  • Okay, I won’t quote you on the only running, but how about this, in classic mode if you are NOT moving and hiding behind a box, if a merc comes in the room to do a sweep, will their motion pick you up if they get close to you? =p Or can you remain undetected and let them pass by if they dont see you.

    • So the one thing we’ve got (that you hopefully picked up in the trailer) is called SHADOW BLEND.

      In CLASSIC, if a Spy is hiding in the shadow, he will basically become invisible. Obviously, the Merc’s flashlight can counter that… but it definitely adds some tension to both sides!

      As far as the motion detector… I’m checking my notes, which reveal:

      “Intermittent pulse detects fast enemy movement”

      Hope that helps!

  • Ok now an important one:

    Will SvM have an anti-cheat-system?

    • Can’t say for sure just yet…

      …but make sure you tell your friends not to cheat!

      (then they’ll tell their friends… and they’ll tell their friends… and so on.. and so on…)


  • Alright, here’s the big tricky question: You guys going to release a demo in the coming months?

  • Sorry for all the questions zack :P but will there be more game modes then the two ye have already mentioned , I know u can’t probably talk about them but can we expect other alternatives to the two you have mentioned ? Thanks :)

  • Godmode_is_King


    Could you please tell us about the inventory system and gadgets available in Classic SvM? How many are we allowed to carry? What gadgets are there? Are there spy cams? Chaff/flash/smoke? Heartbeat detector?

    What vision modes do the Spies have? What about the Mercs? Is the Karambit in Classic mode?

    • Ahh… you want to get INTO IT, eh? ;)


      In CLASSIC… Spies get NVG (Night Vision Goggles) + 2 Gadgets.
      Mercs get their Flashlight and 2 Gadgets

      In BLACKLIST… there are 3 vision modes for each the Spy and the Merc to choose from (they’re different from each other), and there are 5 gadgets that you can choose from (but the number is determined by your armour parts, I believe)

  • @reddragonhrcro look at post NR. 19 and the answer

  • Also Zack this one might be little tricky question

    So for example is there a big difference between low level and high level player.
    When low level player has bacis gear, high level player has more extensive amount of gear unlocked.

    So my question is: Does high level player is superior to low level in terms of unlocked gear? Or is that depends how skilled player you are?

    • Smarts and skill are the two biggest factors, and will always trump a loadout, no matter how much you’ve spent to unlock gadgets.

      You can unlock them in any order… or simply use the presets that we’ve set out for you.

      Those presets are:


      Intel Scout – you can reveal and track enemies for your team
      Saboteur – Destroy any gadget and neutralize enemy abilities
      Predator – Use optic camo + stun crossbow


      Disruptor – Disrupt enemy electronics
      Hunter – Has a wicked awesome drone to tag or eliminate enemy Spies
      PeaceMaker – has an adrenaline shot that basically turns him into a tank (moves faster, can take more damage, heightened field of view… CRAZY)

  • I have a question from a UbiForum memer who can’t login at the moment, I’ll pass it on:

    Will the maps in ‘classic’ mode and ‘blacklist’ mode be the same environments but smaller or completely unique maps for each mode due to the addition of more players in ‘blacklist’ mode?

    • They’re the same environments, but lit differently…

      CLASSIC *very much* pushes the light and shadow… it brings the tension of cat & mouse/hide & seek with the darkness and the flashlight.

  • Thanks for answering my previous questions :) your great on twitter too :P what I would do to have your inside info :P haha , just wondering if (I’m not sure exactly what it’s called) but in svm double agent the mercs were able to do this 360 spin to knock any spie they thought was behind them to the ground , will that be in blacklist ?

  • Few more Zack, you’re doing great

    What kind of voice chat or command system will we have in SvM?

    Will there be certain amount of lives for Merc’s and Spies?

  • If anybody is wondering about my name, it’s SCUser1978.^^^
    The SpyvsMercs game looks amazing.
    Can the Spy’s use non-lethal take-downs?
    Zack: You said “540 possible combinations”
    I can’t wait for this game!!!!

  • HOLY S*** Zack is on the PS Blog!!!!!
    You’re so awesome man. Spies vs Mercs looks awesome. I never played the older SCs but I’ll pick this one up for sure because it looks great. I love that we can choose whether or not we want to be stealthy or not.

    Btw, when can we expect some Co-op footage?

  • Two more questions sorry , will there be an online beta for svm and if so when can we expect it and will it be open to everyone ? Will there be any demo for singleplayer either ? Thanks a mill

  • First and foremost thank you for taking the time w/ this Q&A, Zack. My questions revolve around the games competitive nature in today’s world of #eSports. I’m Co-Owner of Hypefestation and run very successful tournaments(11.2 Million unique views, 11k concurrent viewers for Hypefestation 2[Gears of War tourny w/ $12k Prize pool])

    1. Will there be spectator mode?

    2. Will there be LAN support?

    3. Will all equipment be available in both Classic and Blacklist versions of SvM from the start or will people have to go through the process of unlocks/xp and what not.

    4. Will you guys have a Matchmaking system similar to Halo 2’s or StarCraft 2 where via ranked games you’re matched against people of similar skill levels?

    I’m super excited about this game(and it’s return of Classic SvM!!!) and would love to give the community an additional reason to buy and play the game via creating a competitive event where people could come and compete in your game from around the world and have their skills displayed via Streams like we did for Hypefesetation 2. This could be HUGE.



    • Hey CDNThe3rd…

      I can’t really speak to the matchmaking aspects of your question (sorry)… but as for the gadgets availability, you’ll have plenty available to you through the 3 presets (see above), but if you’re creating CUSTOM presets (which you definitely should), you’ll need to unlock almost everything (in whatever order you’d like).

      You earn cash by completing objectives in SP, Co-op, & SvM.
      It all goes into the same pool, and you can spend it however you like!

  • SCC => Dome500 here => check in to talk (between the questions and the answers)


  • Godmode_is_King

    Cesar, I hope those things are there. I’d love to have a tournament for this game. I never knew you played SvM, only knew you from Gears.


  • I’ve gotta say as an old school fan since the beginning of Pandora, you guys had me scared with the first SvM trailer, but you have made me incredibly happy today. Thank you for giving everyone the option to play how they want and not forcing new fans to play an old game, or old fans to play a new game. I realize things aren’t ever going to be exactly the way they were, but you guys did a great job. I love you.

  • will we get a co-op spy missions again like the older games because that was a lot of fun

  • So, it seems there is a flood of questions, but I still have to ask some more (sorry):

    What is the number of lives for each side?

    What kind of voice chat or command system will we have in SvM?

    Are there coop moves in SvM (or Coop) ?

  • Will there be a levelling up system where you unlock gadgets and abilities as u level up , or just gadgets ,,, or will u level up and unlock in game money which u use to purchase upgrades and weapons ? Thanks

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