Games that encourage tactical combat are always something to be fairly cautious of. Matches you enter force you to witness the reality of being able to “Lone Wolf” your way through enemies, objectives, and the result of ridiculously high experience gains. It feels that at the heart of many games claiming tactical combat and communication are key, few accomplish anything other than making it an option, rather than a necessity. In order to dominate in Ghost Recon Future Soldier, you need to prepare, plan, and execute. I’m happy to report that while there may be flaws in its present state, it is still a beta, and Ghost Recon Future Soldier is aiming to make tactical combat and teamwork a necessity for victory.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier offers a variety of play styles and customization options in order to help prepare for battle. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. First, it is critical to understand the structure of the game. Teams are split into two factions, and on those teams, they are split into two separate fire teams Alpha and Bravo. Each fire team is composed of four individual players and this creates two squads that can separately act together for the greater good of the faction. Once you realize that this boosts efficiency within your team, you begin to plan together before you ever even step foot on the virtual battlefield. Preparation and tactical awareness are all crucial components in Future Soldier, and it is definitely refreshing to know that even though you may find a few Schwarzenegger Commandos throughout your online experience, they die, and they die often.
Once you have formed your perfect fire team and shaken away the notion that you don’t really need a team, it is time for a little tactical planning. This is where the customization truly shines in Future Soldier. With Gunsmith, players can dynamically change the working components of their primary weapons by picking new barrels, optics, stocks, trigger, magazines, and more. Leveling up unlocks points, that you spend to purchase the different parts for your weapon. Plan carefully, because these points only unlock options on the specific gun you upgrade. Once you’ve changed your weapon, go ahead and jump straight into the firing range simply by pressing start. This allows you to test your weapon quickly, without ever going into a match to face the horrifying realization that your gun is complete garbage. Gunsmith is an awesome customization option and it makes me wonder why more games fail to include such an option.
Now that you have your weapon, be sure you coordinate with your fire team. What will you play as? An engineer can acquire a UAV drone, and sensor grenades to help give your team intel. An assault man can run with frags and a resupply crate. The sniper that supports from a distance with cover fire, and planting a claymore to surprise your enemies on their assault. This is where the game truly shines. A well organized and coordinated fire team can change the entire battle in seconds. Learning to support each other and communicate efficiently rewards players greatly, often with higher experience for support actions over a high volume of kills. This makes for engaging and rewarding team experiences.
Conflict and Saboteur, are the two game modes offered up for play in the beta. Both provide very different types of gameplay, but reinforce the core concepts that teamwork will bring you victory. Saboteur has both teams fighting their way to the center of the map in order secure the bomb. Once acquired, players must fight their way to the enemy base in order to plant and detonate it. If neither team detonates the bomb, then the game calculates your teamwork actions and this is scored as the tiebreaker. Saboteur is definitely a fun mode to play, however it doesn’t feel it really brings anything new to the battlefield that hasn’t already arrived with previous games. Players who are fans of this mode will certainly have a great deal of fun, but I believe that Conflict provides the most engaging and diverse gameplay.
Conflict will have you fighting your way through numerous dynamically changing objectives over the course of 15 minutes. At the start of the match, you may find yourself fighting to defend against the enemy team planting charges on an EMP blast. If you succeed your team is rewarded with the EMP detonating wiping enemy equipment for a short period of time. You may also find one of your teammates as the high value target. This requires your team to escort him to the objection and provide protection as they hack into the enemy intel. These dynamic objectives that occur at different locations on the map provide a different type of gameplay that fully encourages the idea of tactical coordination. The team that fights as one, and communicates efficiently, is nearly guaranteed victory.
All of these gameplay elements mean nothing if the game fails to give players full control of their characters. Future Soldier offers a variety of ways to make you feel exactly like you are a tactical killing machine. Cover swapping provides you with the ability to move swiftly from cover point to cover point, and provides faster movements than simply sprinting from point to point.
This encourages the use of cover and observation before you move into the open. In the highly possible chance that someone opens fire as you sprint, pressing down the prone button will find your character sliding to the ground. The best part is when you open fire as you slide into the dirt. Hot lead peppers the ground around you, and flicking the left stick to the right sends your soldier rolling into cover. Finally, pressed against the stone wall, you click in the stick and swap your aiming reticule over your shoulder. Now that your line of sight opens up your enemy, light em’ up, and claim your well-earned kill.
The game makes you feel that there are numerous ways to get a leg up in a firefight. It does its best not to limit your character to certain movements, however the game can feel at times that even with all of these options your character gets caught on certain obstacles. Often times as I rounded a corner, my character would clip the edge of the wall, preventing me from pushing forward. This is a very big problem especially when every millisecond counts once you become engaged with an enemy. These minor control problems are greatly outweighed by the feeling of control the game does grant players when it works flawlessly.
Overall, Future Soldier is definitely a breath of fresh air in the shooter genre. With so many games claiming that tactics and cooperation are key to victory, it is understandable many would be apprehensive to give Future Soldier a shot. I’m here to tell you that never before has a game fully embraced these core ideas of tactical coordinated combat and it is fun. After several matches with a newly formed team, you will find that acting as a unit has never felt more rewarding. While there are several balancing and matchmaking issues that need to be addressed before the launch next month. With the development team providing gameplay tweaks in updates as feedback rolls in, the game is very well on its way to change the way we play tactically in our online battlefields.
As the beta will continue through May 2, we have 2 Beta Keys to giveaway for those of you craving for a taste of the action. All you need to do is send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the first two to arrive will get a reply with the beta key, be sure to include the subject line, “Ghost Recon Future Soldier Beta Key”. Remember this is first come first serve basis, so act quickly!
Special thanks to the WhatCulture! community for helping to fill my parties as the servers went live.
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