‘Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’ Hands-On Preview

3 years ago by  

After having its release date pushed more than once over the last two years and enduring another slight delay announced a few weeks ago, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will finally debut this May. In anticipation of the long-awaited new installment in the Tom Clancy franchise, we traveled to Ubisoft’s San Francisco office to get hands-on with the game’s campaign to find out what this new direction for the Ghost Recon series entails.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier takes the ideas of its predecessors to an entirely new level, offering a departure from the first-person gameplay the series was known for. Future Soldier is a third-person tactical shooter with a heavy focus on tech and teamwork, all wrapped in a character-focused, international storyline – something the series has been lacking in up until now.

The campaign contains 14 missions in total, each ranging from 30 minutes to a full hour each, and is playable with up to four players co-operatively online or through LAN (no splitscreen). During our time with the game, we explored different segments of levels previously showcased at E3 and GDC, along with a few entirely new locations designed to demonstrate different forms of gameplay (including the use of helicopter mounted gun turrets) and environments. Specifically, we played parts of the first, second and fourth missions, and a significant chunk of a larger mission set in an open area just after the 10th.

Players will notice two key differences right off the bat in regards to the digital people who populate the game. We knew already that the AI for the squad and enemy combatants had been overhauled, but for the first time in the series, environments are given life in the form of civilian NPCs. They must be protected at all costs as shooting innocents – accidentally or otherwise – will result in the player having to restart that area. The other key improvement is that Ghosts themselves play a much larger role in the game’s story than they have in previous installments, with more dialogue, more screentime through cinematics and a story that will pull players into the mindset of the Ghosts and their motivation.

The game’s tutorial of sorts is built into the first missions, with game mechanics introduced to players gradually. Players won’t be able to utilize active camo or tag enemies and coordinate simultaneous take-downs from the get-go, but it won’t take long before they can. Once the player does have these tools at their disposal, Future Soldier becomes a completely different experience.

After 10-15 minutes of learning and getting comfortable the tactical features and controls – it takes time – I was able to quickly cycle through equipment when necessary (including the new magnetic vision mode), depending on the situation, using drones to recon the target area, selecting enemies that my squad could eliminate without alerting other foes. There are often more targets than there are Ghosts so marking targets strategically is crucial as patrolling guards are very observant of dead bodies, just as they are of the recon drone if you fly it too close.

Unlike in the Advanced Warfighter titles, the Ghosts in Future Soldier carry and deploy the drone themselves, fully controlling its movements. The neatest feature of the drone is that players can hover it down to ground level and ‘Land’ it, converting the flying device into a four-wheeled rover that’s practically invisible to enemies. This is key for missions when moving from exterior to interior locations and vice versa (the drone can take off at any time as well). While the drone is in its rover form, it can be triggered as an EMP mine, giving it a variety of tactical functions.

The most highly advertised gameplay feature from early gameplay videos of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is the optical camouflage which turns the Ghosts partly invisible. It’s very simple and it’s built into gameplay; Simply crouch when moving and it’s on. It isn’t overpowered however, since moving quickly or getting too close to an enemy looking your way will get players caught (and shot). Taking hits or using loud weapons also deactivates the camouflage, while silenced weapons significantly reduce the effect.

If used tactically, players can stealthily get behind enemy combatants and employ one of they many melee takedown actions or, if in close enough range for a takedown, they can tap the trigger and automatically put a bullet in their target’s head.

This leads into another brand new system and key feature of Future Soldier: weapon customization. The new Gunsmith mode (Read our Gunsmith preview) was featured at E3 heavily since it’s where Xbox 360 players can utilize the Kinect to assemble and customize their weapons. It’s not necessary, but it does offer a neat gimmicky way to play with the in-game tech. Players unlock weapons and components throughout the game and can interchange pieces on up to 10 difference sections of the weapon, allowing for over 20 million variations and hence, any type of weapon for any type of situation or player preference.

Gone is the limitation of one primary weapon as Ghost Recon: Future Soldier lets players fill out their secondary slot with another large firearm, allowing for close range SMG and long-distance sniper rifle combinations. The Ghosts can carry several types of grenades, from typical explosive frags to sensor grenades which reveal the location of nearby enemies. There are no rocket launchers in the game, so taking out vehicles will involve making use of stationary turrets or being crafty with grenades.

Continue to page 2 for details on synchronized takedowns, weapon customization and mutliplayer!

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  • Lifer

    third person = no go for me. I’m sad cause I was really looking forward to this game, but seeing the guy I’m controlling in front of me is like being on LSD. It’s sush a greater sense of emergence into the game from POV. It sounds like they are wanting to get all the Gears of War players on a new platforlm they can relate too.

    • Levi

      The ghost recon games have always been in third person and they have been around a while longer than gears of war

      • Ken J

        Um… No they haven’t…

        Ghost Recon was originally a first person shooter… If you’re looking at a Ubisoft made game, sorry, that’s not the original Ghost Recon, that’s just another Ubisoft butchered version of a Redstorm classic… Like Rainbow Six…

  • Vermin

    The game seems to have a lot of great ideas.

  • Ken J

    And I like how they say that if you use a silenced weapon that they won’t notice if you miss, lol. Yah, I’m sure the supersonic snap of a bullet passing close to your head will not alert you at all, yep, really show-cases Ubisoft’s eagerness to bring you something more “realistic” since seeing around corners without exposing any part of yourself thanks to the magic 3rd person camera and regenerating health is so realistic… *shakes head* Stupid video games trying to pretend to be “tactical”…

    Oh, how I’ve missed you Redstorm. Why, oh why, did you sell yourself to Ubisoft out of all people??? *sigh*

    • http://gamerant.com Rob Keyes

      For video games, this one is more challenging in that it does require actual tactical play vs. other shooters, first or third person.

      • Ken J


        Just to clarify, but you meant *current* video games right? Because I’m pretty sure you’re not trying to say that this game will be more challenging and require more planning and tactical play compared to games like the original Rainbow Six or the original Ghost Recon back when they were made by Redstorm right?

  • emile1234

    I have admit I’m looking forward to this so long as the story isn’t ‘America F*** Yeah’, like the last two, I might even be able to bear all the changes that have happened to the series.