Sniper Elite V2 is both a sequel to and a remake of Sniper Elite. It takes Karl Fairnburne, the protagonist of the first game, and offers a setting in the same period of the original title. The gameplay and levels are however entirely new, so it is only a remake in the sense that it re-envisions the character and the setting of the original game. Fairburne is an American agent of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) who is disguised as a German sniper and is inserted in the Battle of Berlin in 1945 during the final days of World War II. In the original game he was after intel about the German nuclear warfare program. In this game he needs to hunt down German V-2 rocket scientists.
This shooter is played from a first-person perspective and puts tactics and stealth before direct engagements. In many of the missions a location needs to be entered stealthily and movement patterns need to be observed before acting. It is possible to crawl and to throw rocks to distract guards, but there are also grenades. A threat indicator displays how exposed Fairburne is. If he is not careful an alarm is raised and that point the enemy threat becomes overwhelming, also because of the limited ammo. In many scenarios it is also required to backtrack and leave afterwards. A safe escape is assisted by placing trip mines, booby trapping a body, or dragging corpses out of sight. It is also possible to sneak around, seek cover, and emerge quickly. Nearby enemies can be taken out with a silenced pistol. In most of the situations, especially for kills over long distances, a sniper rifle is used. At that moment the camera switches to a scoped first-person view. The accuracy is influenced through the heart beat, the breathing that can be steadied, the force gravity and the distance, and general ballistics. The amount of realism for the ballistics can be toned down through a difficulty level. In some missions there are battles against enemy snipers and in those cases even their reticules shining in the the sun light can be used to reveal their position.
The different game modes include singleplayer, cooperative games, and competitive multiplayer. Cooperative games include Kill Tally where endless waves of enemies need to be killed in a race against the clock, Bombing Run where an area needs to be searched for parts to repair a broken vehicle before the location is bombed, Overwatch where a sniper cooperates with an operative to mark targets, and the entire main campaign that can also be played together with a friend.
Compared to the first game this title incorporates elements of contemporary shooters such as point rewards for actions and kills (similar to the Modern Warfare games) and a slow motion kill cam for long-distance hits with an anatomical cutaway X-ray view similar to the one used to show bone-crushing attacks in the 2011 Mortal Kombat. It shows precisely where the bullet enters the body and the damage it does to the organs. The player is encouraged to do difficult shots such as shooting an opponent through the eye. Other features include white figures that show were enemy soldiers were last seen and the ability to mark fighters for their position and additional target information. The mission environments are not entirely open but guide the player in a direction with an amount of freedom. Next to the main objectives hidden bottles and gold bars can be collected.