The thing about military combat is that tactics is everything. You don’t sprint through the jungle spraying bullets onto enemy positions, survive more than three gunshot wounds, or single-handedly stop world ending nuclear launches. Either you work with your team or end up – you know – dead. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier follows the same premise– tactics rule the battlefield. Being tactical means working as a team and Future Soldier’s co-op makes coordinating, and communicating with your friends smooth and easy.
In a visit to the Ubisoft offices in San Francisco, we had a chance to play Guerrilla mode and two co-op campaign missions: a stealth based “can’t get seen or it’s game over” mission set in an airfield and another that had us infiltrating an enemy base to capture valuable intel. Guerrilla’s horde-type gameplay has players stealthily capture a headquarters in the first round and then defend it from waves of soldiers, snipers, and even armored personnel carriers for nine more rounds. After the tenth, the headquarters moves and the cycle repeats every ten waves until you hit the wave 50 cap.
The experience of being surrounded by hostile forces with only our teammates to rely on helped us learn a few things about teamwork. Two or three bullets will down players, forcing their teammates to risk their necks to revive them. So making just a few small mistakes can mean a complete mission failure for the whole team if everyone isn't careful. Luckily, the future soldiers have all of the tools and gadgets they need to survive against the superior enemy numbers.
In co-op, every member of the squad is able to tag enemy soldiers either by direct eyesight or through the use of gadgets. The most useful was the remote control UAV. Once a player tosses one into the air they take control and highlight the bad guys with their eye in the sky. Tossing a sensor device into strategic locations will automatically place a tag on soldiers within range. Once an enemy is tagged, they can be seen through objects and walls, making tracking patrols and sneaking about much easier. Spotting the enemy is the easy part, but after your team can see their targets, they still need to take them out.
Coordinating simultaneous take-downs is essential to mission success, especially in stealth only missions. Future Soldier allows players to tag up to four enemies with numbers "1" to "4." Players can then line up their targets and drop them simultaneously when the on-screen indicator shows all players have their targets locked. The first player that pulls the trigger activates a three to four second slow-motion window in which the other players need to pull their triggers. The number tags also help with communication with other players. Teammates calling out, "I got number 3," or "Number one is on a mounted gun," was constant and made clearing out guarded areas without a hitch feel like an accomplishment.
On top of communicating and acting as a single coordinated unit, co-op squads will also have to support one another. Each soldier is outfitted with equipment that complements other members of the squad. Having a sniper, light machine gunner, and close quarters fighters allows the team to handle every situation and since one squad member can't carry every piece of equipment, the essentials are dispersed throughout the team. One member might carry the UAV while others have EMP grenades or smoke equipped. Once squad members know their roles, covering, flanking, and enemy spotting almost become second nature.
Our time with Future Soldier was the best co-op experience we've had since Modern Warfare 3's Spec-Ops mode. Look for our future coverage of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier as more information becomes available. The game will be available May 22 for Xbox 360 and PS3.