I’d be the quickest person to argue that amongst the over-saturated mess that is the contemporary First-Person Shooter genre, the Ghost Recon franchise hasn’t been one that’s appeared brightly on many people’s games radars. Previous entries seem to flock by without any major buzz; glaringly unambitious and worryingly generic in their execution. They tend to lack the Hollywood-budget that fuels the adrenaline rush that is Call of Duty, or the tactical finesse of Battlefield, or indeed the intricate detail and graphical polish of upcoming 2K FPS Spec Ops: The Line. Well, I’m proud to say that as of last week I’ve finally been converted…
After attending a hands-on preview of the game last week, accompanied by the games’ development team from Ubisoft, I finally had an opportunity to view Ghost Recon from a new perspective. Granted, it’s a game which seems to rely on team communication and multi-faceted strategy in order to succeed – but it’s the intuitive ways in which the game presents its players with set pieces and objectives that really capture the spirit of an authentic military experience.
The main draw that hardcore gamers may appreciate is the Gunsmith. A total of 600 unique assets are available in Future Soldier; all fully authenticated and confirmed by US military in order to customize your weaponry, bolstering it to its maximum potential. A nice feature is that Future Soldier has its own administrative network, therefore if a particular weapon seems drastically overpowered or if players are glitching certain areas of the game then the design team can amend the specific issues in-game time without asking everyone to download an update. This network also extends to a clever mobile app that has been produced, allowing gamers to customize their weapons, tech and loadouts on the move before sending them wirelessly to their console, ready to use next time they switch on. It’s this dedication to the gamers, the overall balance and unique yet authentic customization that makes me confident Future Soldier will be the most popular clan game this year and potentially the most successful entry in the whole history of the franchise.
The multiplayer BETA is a real blast to play, although being limited to two maps (Farm and Pipeline) can be a little repetitive as you may expect. While I imagine many gamers who didn’t attend the Ubisoft event may feel a little thrown in at the deep end in regards to the daunting Gunsmith, semi-invisible scouts, complicated objectives and one-shot deaths – but like all things this is something you rapidly get to grips with and start addressing and customizing in relation to your own skills as a gamer. Myself, I prefer playing as the rifleman – a well-equipped mercenary who’s capable of capturing objectives and racking up killstreaks providing he/she has good team cover. That’s where scouts may come in – usually snipers due to their invisible camo which shields them when stood still, utilizing gadgets such as the Drone (basically a remote control Frisbee with a camera attached) to seek out the oppositions locations and “tag” them on the team map for all to see. Medics are key to keeping teams alive; reviving both themselves and others whilst being able to take more gunfire and generally assist the team. Perhaps this is not the role that many limelight kill/death ratio vets are after, however due to Ubisoft’s new mentality of “no rewards for lots of kills, but plenty for capturing the objectives and assisting the team,” hopefully we’ll see less firefight focus and more tactical play.
As I say, if you were lucky enough to pick up the BETA (from either Explosion, Twitter or any other medium) then hopefully you’ll recognise and appreciate the unique direction the series’ has been taken in. Fairly nice graphics combined with fantastic team play really make this the thinking man’s multiplayer shooter – hopefully possessing enough backing and longevity to see really talented teams make names for themselves, destroying any hopeless run n’ gun Rambo who thinks they’re in another Call of Duty. Pick it up if it sounds like your type of thing, this might well be the shooter for you.