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Beta Impressions: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (Multiplayer)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series has been doing the rounds now for a quite amazing ten years. Although there has not been a release this generation since the critically acclaimed Advanced Warfighter 2 way back in 2007, Future Soldier has been on the horizon for quite a while now. Those who purchased Splinter Cell: Conviction were promised access to the Multiplayer beta when Fisher’s last outing hit shops two years ago.
Finally though, the release of the latest game from the Tom Clancy stable is imminent. Those who had kept their copy of Splinter Cell (or got in quick enough last week) will have been able to experience a taster of what the new Ghost Recon multiplayer will bring to the table when the game hits our shelves this summer.
I was one of those people, and I like what I’ve seen.
We have been able to trial two game modes over the past few weeks, with Saboteur having been added to the excellent Conflict. Saboteur is, essentially, a capture the flag style offering that sees a single bomb in the centre of the map. The two teams have to try and get, then transport it to a specific location and detonate it in the allotted game time. Conflict, which is the far busier and, in my opinion, better option, sees the two teams attacking each other with randomly generated objectives appearing at various stages of the game.
The objectives can be quite varied but usually will see the teams looking to defend a particular point on the map, or find and transport an item from point A to Point B. Both modes are designed, in true Ghost Recon fashion, with teamwork firmly at the forefront of thinking as bonuses are given for acts of teamwork. This means that simple kills and completion of the objectives is not essential to coming out on the winning side so long as you stick together and come to the aid of your colleagues when they are under fire.
Both modes offer us different looks at the same two maps. Pipeline is a disused Oil Refinery that has a distinctly red/brown look to it with some stone buildings and corrugated iron shacks sitting around the tin of the disused refinery. Towards the centre of the map is an open square surrounded by high points ideal for snipers. It is an area that is often the hot points of objectives and navigating through using the cover points available can be a challenge. If your team works together, this particular area is ideal for an ambush and excellent for building up those kill streaks.
The second map is called the Mill and sees you in an old village with a water-mill at its centre. This map has far more colour, and cover comes in the form of abandoned vehicles, old barns and foliage. The Mill seems to have far more open space and is also played more on the same level. Aside from a small quarry to its centre, there is little in the way of vantage points. I found makes it a harder area to do well on, but is in no way less enjoyable.
In this beta we have been able to choose from one of three classes with a very low level of customisable loadouts. The standard Rifleman is your basic grunt with slightly better armour than the other options, but very general in terms of weaponry. The default setup is an AK-200 rifle, a GSH-18 hand gun and Frag Grenades. Either side of the rifleman we have the Engineer, set for closer range combat and the Scout, set for longer range attacks. Having said that, it is the Engineer who has access to the UAV, a remote-controlled scouting device that is by far the best item in the demo. Once deployed, you move it around the map and it shows up the location of enemy units.
This is where teamwork pays off. If you have a group of people who are chatting on the mic and working together, and a good combination of the three classes (including one engineer who utilises the UAV), then success becomes infinitely more likely.
The Scout also has some cool technology at his disposal with an optical camo suit, which activates when you are still. This makes you almost invisible to your enemies until you move or fire your weapon. I have fallen victim on more occasions that I care to count and it is another very good gameplay mechanic in certain scenarios.
Take the Pipeline Map, for example, and the central area I mentioned earlier. Those high points around the opening are perfect for deploying a sniper who, if he is skilled enough, will remain practically invisible while he takes out soldiers with carefully executed head shots. Throw an Engineer into that team who keeps some distance from the action and deploys the UAV to highlight the opponent forces, and you are well on your way to a very strong showing.
As a Beta, there have been a few issues experienced in terms of ridiculously slow load times, freezing and even crashes in places. There were a few occasions when I have been standing, shooting a guy directly in front of me, only for the very same person to mêlée kill me from behind at the same time. Still, the overall opinion of Ghost Recon Future Soldier’s Multiplayer is positive.
The most enjoyable of the games I’ve played, have been with vocal players keen to work as a team and this does mean that when playing with randoms, you’re going to be at the mercy of the community but early signs are good in that respect too.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is scheduled for a May 25th release, and I honestly cannot wait!