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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Beta Preview: Gears Of War's Brainy Cousin
You're going to die a lot when you first start playing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's multiplayer. The controls might feel like your usual third-person, cover-based shooter but there's a lot going on underneath the hood. Discovering all the game's nuances gives the multiplayer a satisfying learning curve. Expect other players to eat your lunch for a little while, though.
The multiplayer beta features two team-based modes, Conquest and Sabotage. Conquest tasks players with completing dynamic objectives, such as capturing a supply package or defending a sensor. In Sabotage, the teams fight over possession of a bomb and must use it to blow up their opponents' base. I don't know whether Ubisoft will include Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch in the full game but their absence in the beta sends a clear message: this is a team game. Having a good kill:death ratio certainly helps your team's chances but if you ignore the objectives in Sabotage or Conquest, you're going to lose.
Future Soldier might handle like Gears of War but you can't take nearly as much damage in this game. A couple well-placed shots can drop you. Players are forced to stick together and make extensive use of cover. Characters move quickly and fluidly so you'll be tempted to charge into battle but your subsequent string of horrible deaths will ween you off the habit in short order.
Each of the three classes brings some utility to the team. The Rifleman can resupply teammates and pin down enemies with suppressing fire from machineguns. The Engineer can deploy drones, decoys, and sentry turrets. The Scout, meanwhile, wreak havoc on the enemy by destroying their deployed devices with EMP grenades or sniper rifles.
The classes can all be adapted to your playstyle. For example, the Scout might be "the Sniper class" but they can also equip submachine guns. Their optical camouflage, which cloaks them whenever they stay still for a couple seconds, can enable you to effectively flank enemies. Each class has a branching progression system that presents them with choices, as well. When you hit level 4 with the Rifleman class, you must choose between two attachments for your rifle: a stungun or a smoke grenade launcher.
The weapons are the most customizable part of the game, though. Each level, you earn a token that can be spent on a new weapon attachment. You have plenty of choices; every little piece of the gun can be upgraded: triggers, scopes, cartridges, whatever. It's a little daunting, to be honest. Thankfully you can test these guns out on a shooting range before you finalize any purchases. Discovering the perfect weapon for your playstyle is bound to be an adventure in and of itself.
Besides killing the enemy in front of you or accomplishing the current objective, your most important goal is to attain intel. Intel allows you and your teammates to see the positions of enemies, even through walls. You can attain intel simply by spotting your enemy with a rifle scope, or more exotic means like drones. You can also incapacitate enemies with a stungun and then walk up to them and hack their equipment in order to find out their teammates' positions. Considering how easy it is to kill someone in this game, intel is gold. Gathering information on enemy's movements while preventing them from doing the same to you adds another layer to the battle at hand.
Future Soldier is not going to be for everyone. I don't say that to be snobby; In the beta, I'm typically one of the noob Riflemen that only stops sprinting long enough to throw a frag grenade. However, the game really belongs to the patient player who supports his teammates. We'll have to wait and see if there are enough players with that mindset out there to make this game a success.
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