A gunsmith is a person with the skills to design, construct, repair and augment a firearm. In Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, that person is you.
While the news that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier would support Kinect was spoiled early last year, it wasn't until Ubisoft's E3 2011 presentation where we learned how it would be implemented. Kinect functionality is utilized in a brand new feature for the Ghost Recon franchise: the Gunsmith mode. It is here where players can use gestures and voice commands to assemble, customize and test out their weapons of choice.
Gunsmith is the key new feature of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, bringing an unprecedented amount of weapon customization to the series through a sleek new interface. While Kinect is not necessary to make use of the system, being able to ask - by speaking - for a preset build of a weapon is very handy and moving your hands to slide through weapon components and break apart the weapon is a gratifying experience.
Future Soldier ships with 52 weapons with each having up to 10 parts of the gun that can be customized. All weapons are divided into U.S. and Russian sets and are based on real world guns, with the few weapons not used in service coming from real-life prototype designs. Ubisoft has a deal with Remington for example, so there’s a prototype weapon in there from them.
During the campaign, players have the opportunity to setup their loadout after each mission's briefing, selecting and customizing weapons accordingly for their needs and preferences. Players unlock parts as they play, U.S. pieces by playing through the campaign, Russian pieces by unlocking through challenges and achievements.
In multiplayer, players build their own character however they see fit before jumping into matches. The weapons, weapon slots, and components are purchased through progression trees not unlike other shooters - As players progress in multiplayer, each new level grants the player one unlock credit to spend with certain unlocks (or choices of unlocks) that are available at pre-defined levels.
Choosing a soldier class has been streamlined into three groups for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and each specializes in two weapon groups and hence, each classes has its own progression tree for unlocks.
- Rifleman (Assault rifles and Light Machine Guns (LMGs))
- Scout (Sniper Rifles and close-range SMGs)
- Engineer (Shotguns, SMGs)
Once the class is selected, it's time to play with weapon loadouts and here's where the fun begins. Choose a weapon group, select a firearm of choice, and pick components to make it do what you want it to. Looking for close-range combat but need to shoot through obstacles? Done. Need long range with bullets that can lock-on for easy headshots? Done.
With the Gunsmith system, players can switch out components for trigger groups (Match trigger — makes trigger more sensitive vs. standard semi-auto trigger), stocks, barrels, magazine (some powered ammo types only work in the campaign like Dragon’s Breath), gas systems which let players tweak firing rate vs. recoil, etc. etc.
Deciding between which components players want on their weapon of choice is made easy through four stat bars that appear on screen, indicating how each piece improves certain aspects of the gun, while other aspects may feel the burden. It’s all up to the player to decide what they want (close/long range, silent, fast-firing vs. precision shooting).
- Power: Damage dealt by the weapon.
- Range: Distance for effective shots.
- Control: How much dispersion and kick you have on the weapon.
- Maneuverability: How much your motions impact dispersion.
Attachments not only play with these stats, but many of them give the player a new ability. Some of the ones we saw in action are the bipod which can be deployed on cover (especially useful with LMGs) to stabilize gunfire, attachable shotguns and grenade launchers, along with a large variety of scopes.
A notable difference from the previous games in the series is that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier lets player carry two primary weapons, so no longer are the Ghosts restricted to holding a slow-to-equip, useless sidearm. Like the Advanced Warfighter games however, there are no anti-vehicle rocket launchers in the game. For multiplayer reasons (i.e. avoiding the “noob tube” effect), the dev team decided to leave it out but opted to not include it in the campaign either, making encounters with vehicles problematic without the help of mounted turrets in the level and some crafty usage of explosives.
At any moment in Gunsmith, the player can press 'Start' to be instantly taken into the gun range which has close, medium and long range targets scattered in the surrounding area, allowing players to instantly see how their customized weapon feels and shoots. Check it out in action:
In addition to firearms, there are five different pieces of equipment — they show up and can be viewed in Gunsmith but aren't customizable. These include explosives, grenades (flashbangs, frag, sensor), the drone, etc.
The kind of customization available in Future Soldier should raise the bar from what players expect of the industry's most popular shooters. Where Call of Duty restricts the amount of attachments, and Battlefield 3 forces players to pick between unrelated parts (e.g. bipods and straight pull bolts), Ghost Recon now lets players fully customize every part of the gun, without such restrictions.
For more information on the game, read our Ghost Recon: Future Soldier hands-on preview.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier releases May 22, 2012 in North America, and May 24, 2012 in Europe, for the PS3 and Xbox 360. A PC version will follow at a later date.
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