Next week the new Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon game, Future Soldier, will be released, sporting a host of new features and a new near-future setting for the third-person tactical shooter. We were able to join the recent multiplayer Beta and see how the Conflict and Saboteur modes were shaping up, get hands-on with the customisation options available in the unique Gun Smith feature, and seehow the class levelling system works.
The Future Soldier Beta offered two modes over two maps. Conflict – a team objective based mode – and Saboteur – a team bomb planting objective mode – on the maps Mill – a forested area – and Pipeline – a desert town.
In Conflict objectives appeared at random points across the map. Completing these objectives raised your team’s counter to win the match. The random nature of the objectives added variety to the tactics you and the opposition invoked. You’ll seldom find an objective in a point that’s easy to defend, so securing it is always a challenge and the opposition has plenty of opportunities to take it off you. It helps add some natural balance to the game and proved to be a fun and engaging setup.
These objectives can also grant temporary advantages to your team, for example guarding then activating an EMP will disable the electronics of the opposing team. You are also awarding additional experience points for team based actions, whether it be securing objectives or saving teammates with savoir kill or healing them with a med pack.
Conflict brings out the tactics in teams, with the three available classes of riflemen, engineer and scout, truly showing their individuality as each of their abilities and gadget load-outs come in useful for different plans of attack and defence. Depending on the surrounding terrain around an objective and how it was being defended determined how to attack it and vice versa. Sometimes it was even viable to surrender an objective to better prepare for the next one. Teamwork proved to be imperative to victory; a running theme in Future Soldier.
Saboteur is a more traditional team objective mode with a neutral bomb appearing in the centre of the map and both teams tasked with picking it up and placing it in the enemy’s camp. It’s a frantic, fast paced and action heavy mode, far less tactical than Conflict but certainly exciting enough to engage you. Once again experience points are earned through performance on the battlefield and team support as well as victory.
As you earn experience points your class levels up, unlocking additional weapons and equipment as well as customisation credits for use in the Gun Smith section. Additionally some pieces of equipment require you to choose between two as you unlock them, making your progression a bit more unique and specific to your play style.
The gadgets available primarily revolve around surveillance. Class related abilities such as the riflemen’s med pack and the engineer’s ammo cache offer specific aid to teammates, and the odd offensive gadget like the sentry gun is available, but sensor grenades, deployable cameras and UAVs prove to be the most useful. Acquiring the position of the enemy and being able to adapt to it is far more useful than firepower. Future Soldier is a game of strategy and tactics, not just a shooter. This is further emphasised by tactics such as stunning enemies and data hacking them, which allows your team to temporarily see the enemy’s position on your map.
Finally we got to try out the weapon modification and load-out customisation aspect to Future Soldier, Gun Smith. With credits you earn every level you can purchase a component to a weapon. Components range from rail accessories such as sights, stability grips and under mounted grenade launchers, to the inner workings of the weapons, including barrels, triggers and gas. Each component affects power, accuracy, range and manoeuvrability in some way and finding the balance to best suit your play style and role in combat is the challenge. It’s easy to lose hours modifying every aspect and testing it out in the firing range. It’s a fantastic feature with a unique visual identity – the blown apart schematics of weapons – that really helps to immerse you.
What’s clear is how Future Soldier drives players to think and act like a squad. Lone wolves are easily picked off and for all the hi-tech gadgets you have for surveillance, it’s through communicating your findings that you and your team succeed on the battlefield. As such Future Soldier feels pleasantly different to other shooters out there and very true to the franchise feel of both Ghost Recon and Rainbow 6. It’s action packed combat and teamwork at its best and we can’t wait to see the full game on May 25th on Xbox 360 and PS3, and June 15th on PC.