Three Reasons to Love Future Soldier's Multiplayer
Changing the pace of online stop-and-pop.
US, April 12, 2012
by Mitch Dyer
With the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta starting on April 19, it's as good a time as any to learn what Ubisoft's long-time-coming shooter brings to the table.
IGN spent a few hours digging into Future Soldier's adversarial multiplayer. The impressive suite of features and atypical approach to third-person pew-pew gives it an edge over many me-too action games. Its maps are designed to make players work for their kills, which makes them feel like they've truly earned each one.
Great though many of its competitors may be, few shooters think about combat as intelligently as Ghost Recon.
Stealth, Tactics, and Communication Matter
Future Soldier distinguishes itself with its pace. Soldiers here are efficient and fast. They bring a speed to stealth that contributes to the competitive online modes in a major way. Scouts with invisibility camouflage can slip behind enemy lines, cut through their ranks, and get out without ever having been spotted. Hiding (not just behind cover but in trees, around corners, and out of the way) is the most efficient way of eliminating the opposition.
Storming at the other team using light machine-guns certainly gets the job done, but a tactical team will undoubtedly come out on top. Hasty players leave themselves open to slower players precise methods. Those brash, thoughtless types will find themselves not only dead, but contributing to their team's failure. Running-and-gunning means you're not considering potential threats like stun mines, which the opposition uses for more than just incapacitating guys. If you stun someone, you can "data hack" their kit before killing them. This exposes the exact location of everybody on the other team. Oops.
In theory, players could go rogue, abandon their team, and clean up all the kills as a lone wolf. This is a terrible plan. Bullets kill people, and in Ghost Recon they kill people quite quickly. If a team doesn't know where someone is, they can't revive a downed ally, protect their flank, or support them in combat. Playing as anything but a talkative, coordinated team is a risky proposition that will, in all likelihood, result in a loss.
Objective-Based Adversarial Multiplayer
Every mode in Future Soldier, even the standard deathmatch, hinges on some sort of objective. This is multiplayer with a purpose. Players dedicate as much time to completing tasks as they do drilling holes in others' faces. Conflict, the standard red vs. blue competitive mode, tasks players with capturing a series of control points. Having an Engineer cover your back with a deployable turret, or dropping a camera that sees through cover, goes a long way to making sure you secure a spot.
Decoy plays similar, although it's a little more goal-oriented. The attacking team needs to figure out which of three potential command posts is the one they're looking for. When they've exhausted or avoided the decoys, they make the final push to another control point. Kills don't mean anything to the attacking team's score. If you don't capture, you don't win, even if your K/D ration is killing it on the leaderboard.
Saboteur places a neutral bomb in the middle of a lengthy map. Teams play a violent version of tug-of-war as they kill for control. The first team to lug the heavy briefcase to the enemy HQ and detonate it takes the win. Bomb-carriers slow down and, short of briefcase-based stealth kills, can only use their secondary weapon to defend themselves. Again, teams have to watch out for each other. The guys and girls who stay together keep control. You flat-out won't win on your own here, and coordinating ambushes can give your team a huge time advantage.
Few games outside Counter-Strike and SOCOM have the stones to keep dead players down, never mind making them appreciate their limited life. Siege, a callback to a classic Ghost Recon multiplayer mode, gives each player just one chance to take out the other team. When a Rifleman fills your chest with lead, or a Scout cuts your throat, you're done. No respawn. In a game already so heavily reliant on careful play, Siege really makes that one life feel valuable. Taking someone down with you might help, but it never feels like enough.