Beta Impressions: Ghost Recon Future Soldier

Ghost Recon: Future Solider is the latest addition to the Ghost Recon franchise. The title has been in development for some time since it was first revealed in a Ubisoft earnings call back in early 2010 and when first shown at E3 2010, didn’t exactly get a positive response from the gaming community.

The Ghost Recon franchise has held a special place in my heart ever since they appeared as a tactical PC shooter. Since then I have played numerous games in the series and when the Advanced Warfighter series hit the Playstation 3 I spent many hours playing the multiplayer with a group of friends. So I was hyped when I got a code for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier multiplayer beta.

The beta was pretty limited initially including only one game mode and two maps (I’m aware that another game mode was available via a patch after the initial beta release but I didn’t get chance to try it out). The game mode, called conflict starts with both teams trying to capture a point on the map and keeping it for a set amount of time whilst fending off the opposition. If said team manages to defend the objective for the set amount of time or the opposition over run the objective, another is spawned randomly on the map. This makes for some great shootouts as all players have a rough idea of where the opposition will/should be.

The two maps included in the beta have been designed well. Pipeline is based around an oil pipeline facility.This is a brightly lit map which has an open area in the middle and the surrounding areas being made up of alleyways and multistory buildings, The other map is Mill. This map takes place in a woodland area and is rather murky. It has plenty of waist high cover to hide behind as well as buildings, cars and foliage to help camouflage yourself in.

Before you jump into the action you have to choose what class you want to be and you have the choice of three. The rifleman, who is your standard middle of the road grunt equipped with assault rifles and frag grenades, the engineer, who is more of your up close and personal soldier and has access to gadgets like UAVs and detection grenades and the scout who come equipped with a sniper rifle and optic camo making him nearly invisible whilst not moving. Like all modern shooters, Future Soldier has a leveling system. You gain XP for completing various tasks and completing objectives as well as just for sticking with your team. Once you hit a new level you unlock more guns/attachments and unlock points so that you are able to purchase these items. These levels and unlocks follow the Battlefield model and only apply to the class you are currently playing with, so if you stick with the rifleman for a few levels then decide you want to try the scout, you’re back at level 0. I’m not a fan of this leveling system and find it often stops me changing class due to the time investment in my preferred class, but time will tell.

The game plays like many other third person cover based shooters. If you’re not in cover, most of the time you will end up dead pretty quick. But if you have the right team with you, the game becomes a lot more tactical and engaging. With some coordination, squads are able to complete their objectives well with little resistance against unorganised teams. If your team is the unorganised lot though, you’re in for a rough ride.

A lot of my games seemed to end up with me matched with COD type players who would just run off on their own, get a kill or two, die, respawn and repeat, only interested in their own K/D and not the teams overall performance. Lets hope that these players play the beta and realise the game is not for them and do not buy the retail release. This was not the only problem I ran into unfortunately. During many of my matches I suffered terrible lag/connection issues with the game, leaving me either running around the levels with no one moving, or being booted out of the game completely. Also during my games the hit detection seemed to be pretty bad; I’d unload a few rounds into someones skull and expect them to be dead, only to then be mowed down by them panic spraying bullets at me. These issues I’m putting down to this being a beta, but with the game set to ship on the 25th May I’m a little worried to say the least and am hoping that the beta build is an old one.

Overall future Soldier seems like a competent third person multiplayer shooter and if you have like minded friends to play it, you should have great fun when it’s released. I have no doubt that the game will have a strong multiplayer presence on its release but after the initial period I can see the fast paced shooter fans going back to their shooter of choice leaving the Future Soldier community smaller, but more tactically focused giving them a better gaming experience.

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