Some people may be concerned, or even dismayed, at the direction Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon franchise has taken over the past few years, and heading from a strategic third person shooter to one that focused on advanced warfare raised a few eyebrows. Going from advanced warfare to a futuristic tactical shooter actually dropped a few jaws. Where do we stand on the whole issue? Well, we love the direction that the franchise has taken and, after seeing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier at E3 2010, we’re even more impressed.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, as the title suggests, is all about the high-tech gadgetry. After being treated to a developer walkthrough, and talking to a Ubisoft representative, we can bring you more insight on the game based on what we saw. Granted, most of you may have seen the same walkthrough at the Ubisoft press conference - but we dug deeper for some more information on the underlying mechanics.
In a mission set on the European Coast, we saw a demo of the new Ghost squad – remember, there is 4 player co-op as well, so this can be you and 3 mates – who were sent into an enemy stronghold to capture a high value target. Note: capture, not kill. You’re given a ton of fancy toys to accomplish this, but Ghost Recon’s most important tool is (like it always has been) teamwork and working together as a squad.
Unlike in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2, where the cross-com (the tool which gives you added situational awareness on the battlefield) lived in the corner of the screen, Future Soldier actually integrates that into the game, allowing you to see your target, mission information, points of interest and potential bogeys on screen in real-time. No more flicking back and forth.
The first new gadget we are introduced to is the Ghost’s new optical camouflage – in layman’s terms, an invisibility cloak. If you’re thinking “wait, what!? That’ll make everything way too easy! I thought it was meant to be tactical!?” Well, you’ll be glad to hear it isn’t as easy as Ubisoft made out in their press conference. In the final build of the game the optical camouflage will have a battery wasting down when in use – we assume it will regenerate automatically – and will also cease to function when you are shooting or sprinting. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
After sneaking up on a couple of targets, the Ubisoft representative runs us through a little of the new close-quarters combat – or CQC for the video game savvy – which is looking to add another element to the proceedings. We see a Ghost sneak up on a target and snap his neck, then slowly lower the body to the floor, and we’re informed the finished game will feature 12 different takedowns of varying brutality. The CQC is a real indication of Ubisoft Montreal’s desire to make you feel and act as if you were a proper Ghost: in and out with no alarms, and all that jazz.
As far as the guns go, while the Ghosts will have access to their signature gun, the MRB, there will be over 30 weapons to take into combat, each fully customisable. They also get access to gadgets like thermal goggles, shoulder cannons and probably some other crazy, over-the-top boy’s toys.
There’s also a strong focus on creating an accessible co-op experience. Being able to see where your co-op partners are aiming is going to be a tactical godsend, for instance. As our Ghost moves up on the high value target, blue lines on the screen indicate everyone is ready and has taken aim over their particular target, meaning there should be no more conversations like this: “I’ll have the one on the left.” “You mean inside left or left, left?” “Left, left...” “Okay, on 3. 1... 2... 3...” “Oh shit! I meant right. I shouldn’t have had that 12th beer!”
Tweaks to the cover mechanics have also been made, and it seems like Ubisoft want the game to excel at both action-driven third-person shooting and tactical squad management. This is reflected in the fact that not only can you easily vault, slide and snap to cover with relative ease, but also in the game’s destructible environments to stop you getting too comfy in one spot. Where’s the tactics in a pop n’ shoot strategy from the same spot? That’s just boring.
We’re huge fans of the weaponry and gadgets Ubisoft Montreal are giving us in this latest Ghost Recon. It’s a far cry away from the series’ origins of tactical, one shot and you’re dead malarkey, but you can still approach Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in that way if you want. Considering it’s over six months away from release, we’re excited to see the new direction the franchise is taking. Whether we’ll be in the majority this time next year though, remains to be seen.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be hitting stores in the March quarter of 2011.