Saturday, February 11, 2012

Preview: Ghost Recon Future Soldier

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (previously known as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 4) is published by Ubisoft. Excluding expansions, it is the fourth installment in the Ghost Recon series, and was first announced to be in development by Ubisoft in January 2009.

The story will take place in a near future in Norway, the Middle East, and Asia where Russia went into war. The Ghosts will be fighting an ultra-nationalist force that took control of Russia and are invading neighbouring countries on the deadliest missions behind enemy lines. The player will take control of a 4-man Ghost team consisting of a commando (Kozak), a sniper weapons expert (Pepper), a reconnaissance expert (30k), and an engineer (Bones).

The game is a third-person shooter for most of the time, except when aiming using sights or firing from cover at which point the game switches to a first-person camera in order to facilitate more precise aiming. A new feature in the series is the “optical camouflage”, a form of active camouflage which allows the Ghosts to become instantly invisible.

During E3 2011 Ubisoft also debuted the games weapon customiser. The system works with the Xbox Kinect and allows an unprecedented level of customisation, down to the gas management parts of every gun. While customising weapons, the player is also allowed to test their creations in a simulated environment. Voice control is also used in weapon creation, in addition to hand movements.

Using Kinect, drawing a weapon is done by reaching a hand over your back, and pulling it back down, as if grabbing a gun from your back. Shooting is accomplished by opening the hand and closing it again. This amazing level of interaction should bring a new dimension to the series.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, the military tactical shooter, was first created by Red Storm Entertainment, the game development studio founded in part by American author Tom Clancy, in 2001.

Throughout the series, players have been in charge of a fictional, newly-conceived squad of United States Army Special Forces operators from Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (5th SFG ). Their role is not unlike other real world special operations forces, in that their operations are kept highly classified, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “the Ghosts”.

We donned our camouflage flacks and took to the battlefield with Thomas Leroux-Hugon, International Brand Manager, for a debrief on the Future Soldier.

Will Last Man Standing make a return?
We don’t have Last Man Standing, but we ARE bringing back the multiplayer mode Siege, which is a lot like Last Man Standing with the addition of a central objective that has to be defended. We find it focuses the match and creates a stronger sense of team play. [In case you don’t know/remember the rules of Siege, one team spawns in a central location and has to defend an objective. The attackers are deployed randomly around the outside of the map, and you have only a single life, there are no respawns!]

In co-op, will there be multiple points of insertion?
In our co-op mode the entire team spawn at the same moment and at the same place. Instead of choosing where you will spawn on the map, we like better to offer to the player the choice of “how he will engage the fight”, and how he will coordinate with his team to reach his objective efficiently.

What team play incentives have you introduced?
In addition to speeding up the objective capture rate, Confidence also affects the hacking speed for Data Hacking — so if you have a teammate nearby when you stun someone it can be a big asset [Data Hacking is the action of stealing the enemy team’s positional intel from a stunned enemy]. We have a number of other systems that encourage team play — we’ve got intel and suppression, for starters. Getting intel for your team makes it a lot easier to set up a shot, and tools like the UAV allow you to perform in a dedicated support role in this regard. Suppression allows a rifleman to keep a target pinned down, which gives his teammates time to flank the enemy. We’ve also got tools like the Coordination System which allows players to mark objectives, enemy targets, or call for support. Finally, items like ammo boxes and med kits can make a crucial difference for a well-organised team, especially in non-respawn game types.

How will the weapon progression work?
We’ve got both a rank progression system — where you can unlock equipment and weapons based on leveling up — and an “open” system, where everyone has access to everyone. You get the best of both worlds: unlocks in the Public matchmaking for those of you that like them, and access to everything in Private matches for those who don’t!

Can you play multiplayer in first person?

All guns have first person scope view for precise shooting — however, there is no dedicated first person view other than this.

Will you introduce Kill Streak rewards?

We don’t have a concept of rewards for “kill streaks” — that doesn’t really fit our Future Soldier experience. What we DO have is rewards for completing objectives — for example, if you hack into an enemy sensor network, you’ll be rewarded with positional intel on enemy forces, or if you capture enemy ammo crates, you’ll be able to resupply there. Our play tests show that the objectives really focus the game, creating intense firefights and awesome teamwork.

How much customisation is offered in multiplayer?
In terms of settings, we’ve got four game types, and 10 maps. Combine this with two factions, three roles, over 50 weapons, dozens of pieces of equipment, and a number of grenades and you’ve got a huge degree of flexibility in how you want to play the game. You’ve also got the ability to play in Public matches with the ranking system turned on, or play with all of the gear in Private or Local matches.

How many weapons are there?

You can create over 20 million entirely unique guns. We have 52 guns in GunSmith with over 49 possible attachments & modifications! For instance the ACR itself has over 1,000,000 unique variants.

How have you incorporated training?

In GRFS you indeed have to be careful as every shot you take can be lethal, but each of the gameplay mechanics are adapted to these. The cover system for example, has been designed to be very easy to handle, you can go to cover, aim, shoot, and then switch cover in a blink of an eye. And of course, in the first stages of the solo campaign the player will be partially guided with an ingame integrated tutorial, teaching him how to perform all of the moves and how to use intel.

What is the average game play time?
Depending on the level of the player, an average of 12 hours will be necessary to run through the solo campaign. Furthermore, the game time is greatly increased by the co-op mode which will allow you to play the campaign with three friends, the extremely wealthy eight player adversarial multiplayer mode, and a very ambitious new multiplayer mode that we’re going to announce soon.

What extra dimension has motion control added?
The motion controllers create an exciting challenge to the teams as they look for ways to innovate and give meaning to the player. The Kinect component of Ghost Recon is an exciting addition to the game – it enables the player to interact with the weapons as never done before, check out the options and get a hands-on feel before going into combat.

  • Michael Gordon is editor of Charged Middle East magazine, a leading Dubai-based gadgets and games title that provides news, reviews and features on the latest home and consumer electronics. For more about the magazine, visit its Facebook page after the jump. Check out this article and many more in the February issue.