Eurogamer Expo 2011: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Multiplayer Hands-On Preview
We haven’t seen a whole lot of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier over the years since its announcement. The game has been subject to several delays and name changes in its time, but since we took a look at the Kinect-based Gunsmith weapon customisation and the co-operative campaign at E3, more information has started to filter through. Just last month, we got our first look at the multiplayer gameplay for the first time, where the Creative Director on the title – Tommy Jacob – showed us some of the new experiences to expect in the game. At the Eurogamer Expo, the GodisaGeek team got their hands on the game in multiplayer mode, and these were our thoughts.
The mode we got a look at was a four versus four, objective based team deathmatch, where the focus is definitely based around teamwork. The two teams were the Ghost squad and the Bodark squad. Players are rewarded points for kills, assists and completing certain set objectives. For example, the opposing team may have a computer set up, that you are tasked with hacking into, in order to download important intel. Either that, or there may be a generator that needs protecting from enemy fire – you must try to destroy it! Completing these tasks will reward the entire team with bonus points, on top of their basic kill scores.
Players will be able to choose from three skillsets; The Rifleman uses Assault Rifles and Machine Guns in order to serve as the frontline in your assault, taking the brunt of the fire, The Scout must utilise Sniper Rifles and SMG’s to take a more subtle approach to attack, or the Engineer, who is more adept at using technology and gadgets in order to support the attacks of the other squad members.
Intel is of high importance in the game; the more you know about your opponents, the easier it will be for your team to take them out. In the demo we played, the Engineer was equipped with the Drone. The Drone is a remote controlled flying camera, which is intended to be used as your eye in the sky. Fly the drone into enemy territory and keep the camera centered on your foes, and the location of the enemy team members will appear on the radar of all of your teammates, allowing for a synchronised and more focused assault. Of course, the enemy can disrupt or destroy your drone, and if they leave the sight of the drone, they will drop back off the radar, but a talented Engineer will be able to tilt the balance of the fight in the direction of their team. Players are awarded bonus points for providing Intel that leads to a kill. This technique was a lot of fun, tracking enemies and trying to keep up with them, and really lets you help your team out. But you have to be aware that your Engineer is very exposed during all of this, and an enemy can easily sneak up on you without you knowing.
The Riflemen obviously take care of the brunt of the leg-work, storming buildings and taking down enemies, but there are still a few new tactics that they can make use of in order to turn the tide of a firefight. Firstly, there is the option to lay down suppressing fire. Press the suppress toggle button when firing a Machine Gun and you will fire heavily in the direction of an enemy. The fire is so heavy that even if the opposition is in cover, their screen will shake and their balance will be thrown off, so much so that it is near impossible to aim a weapon or even to get out of harms way. Teams will have to work together to help a team member who is under heavy fire, as they are so disabled by the assault. Of course, the player could also employ smoke grenades or a flashbang to try and stop the enemy from firing at them, but this depends on what your aim is like under pressure and if you have any ammo left. It is surprising just how difficult suppressing fire makes it for you to get a decent shot at your enemy, but this certainly makes the experience more realistic, as you would be somewhat put off by bullets whizzing past your ears.
Finally, the other big new feature we saw in the demo was the opportunity to stun your opponents. Get close enough with the correct items equipped and you can disable your opponent with a taser-like device. Whilst this will only be temporary (because it keeps the enemy alive), it will allow you to hack their suit for additional Intel – and therefore, additional points. As with the drone, this will allow all of your team to see the locations of the enemy on the radar for a limited period of time. This of course will be a significant advantage whilst it lasts, so it really pays to be subtle and to be able to sneak up on your opponent. On the other hand, if one of your team has been stunned, it takes some time for the enemy to hack their Intel – so you have the chance to locate and eliminate the hacker before they steal your important information, preventing the Intel leak.
There is even a new Augmented Reality feature where a guide will appear on-screen which can lead you to important locations. This will highlight a stunned teammate or direct you to an item which you should be defending. This is especially useful for preventing the leak of Intel, as in the heat of battle it is very hard to work out quite where a downed teammate is. This makes it much easier to find and help them as quickly as possible. Once your team is together, if you do try to capture a piece of enemy intel, you all gain a co-op confidence boost, where the time it takes to hack is reduced greatly. Moving around and working together really reaps its rewards.
The multiplayer experience is really designed around trying to make online gamers work together more, in the traditional team deathmatch environment. Many games have tried to improve teamwork between online gamers, to differing levels of success. Co-operative online play has become more popular over the years though, and titles such as Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead illustrate this. By rewarding gamers with extra abilities and scoring opportunities through working together more, Ubisoft are really trying to take the core sensibilities of the single player campaign and transpose it into competitive online play. The functions we saw on display seem like a good start, as even at the Expo, without headsets, players were talking to one another and trying to co-ordinate their attacks – and their Intel gathering. If it can work across a loud and crowded Expo floor, it bodes well for the full online experience, and with a whole lot more gadgets and online functions to be added in time for the full release of the game, it will be exciting to see how this will effect how we play competitive online games.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier is set for a March 2012 release, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.