E3 2011 – Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Hands-On Preview
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon is looking to impress with its slick graphics, smooth controls, and tactical mobility. I got some hands on time today with both a single player and co-op version of a demo mission.
Beginning camouflaged, waist deep in murky jungle water, one of the squad members announces the presence of four nearby hostiles. As each member honed their aim on a target, an indicator filled to show us when we could execute a joint strike. In single player, this was initiated by the player’s shot. As expected, all scripted events were based on the player’s actions. In co-op, however, there is no lead player. Everyone has the same opportunities and the same responsibility to communicate effectively. This was by far the most interesting point of the co-op demonstration.
Whomever initiated a scripted event first would view it with all of the special cinematic flairs while the rest of the team protected the interaction. That’s not to say that whomever races ahead first is going to get the best experience. Near the end of the demo we were tasked with extracting and protecting a VIP. All four players took position during the breach and these positions determined their role as the game shifted to an on-rails sequence. During single player I dragged the VIP as I hip-fired on the opposition, but co-op I was the last to breach and so protected the rear of the company.
These dynamic moments allow for a much more interesting co-op experience than having all players stop to view a cutscene, or tasking a single member to play as the leader. It’s this equal playing field that really makes the Ghost Recon mechanics shine. Information gathering, cooperation, and choices are the names of the game. During my playthrough we were able to man a remote-controlled drone (complete with target marking), lob a sensor grenade that lit up the radar, or activate a special optical view that spotted enemies through nearby walls. And all of this intel isn’t just for you. Any radar markers a player obtains are shared with the whole squad. This allows for the most tactical approach to each situation as there were always multiple paths to a target.
During our hands-on with the co-op the headsets were unfortunately unusable, so I didn’t get a true test of calling out shots with my teammates. Thankfully the incredibly competent and self-sufficient A.I. was able to hold their own during single player. And really, with friends like them, I’m not sure I need anyone real.