You may remember a while ago when I asked for you all to throw some questions at the developer team behind Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Well we just received answers back from Jean-Marc Geffroy, creative director at Ubisoft and the man with the knowledge behind this upcoming shooter. So without further delay, let's see what answers he provided.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter was also set in the future. What really sets Future Soldier apart from previous iterations of the franchise?
There are so many improvements in terms of storytelling, animations, lighting, AI and cover system since 2006, that it’s hard to focus on one, but the “Clancy” philosophy and authentic special ops feel still remains at the core of Future Soldier.
The biggest change is to provide the player the campaign as a full online experience and maintain that feeling that you’re a part of an elite unit when you are playing with 1-4 players.
A key new feature that demonstrates the elite abilities is the ability to focus on “targets” and execute synchronized shots. The game was designed from the ground up with 4 player co-op in mind, which allows players to really use the breadth of the maps as they approach their objectives. It also means there are several ways to tackle each map and objective, which makes it particularly exciting for players who want to play hardcore recon. This is one of the key reasons why we changed the order or command system from the original GRAW, because today we wanted orders to work seamlessly whether you are playing with AI or real players online.
In terms of design, we have also improved on our third person experience by creating over 2500 animations on the main character alone. It means you really feel your character as he jumps, rolls, slides and swaps cover through the varied terrain. Besides the added visceral and physicality of seeing your character, we have an advanced and improved cover system. The cover system allows an additional sense of realism and a tactical layer as you can maintain a secure position to plan your attack, using the peak and analyze the battlefield. It allows you to recon and be more of the predator than the prey.
The cover system and third person view also aids the “preparation” and intel gathering phase. The cover system allows you to quickly identify your next cover position (using the augmented reality provided Via CROSS COM device; the blue projection over your eye) and move to it fast and fluidly. You can also launch your UAV drone on the fly to get added eyes in the sky. When you’re in danger of getting pinned down, this allows the player to reach a safer position as fast as possible. It is especially useful since covers are dynamic and can be destroyed with sustained enemy fire, leaving the player out in the open and vulnerable. Swapping cover varies depending on your approach. If you cover swap in recon, your visual signature is very low and you can get close to enemies while keeping your cover. This allows you to flank quickly without being spotted and giving you a tactical advantage to start the fight.
GunSmith, with over 20 million variables for customizing weapons is also pretty sexy, and something I expect to be a hit among the “gun porn” lovers out there.
Does any future game of GR see it moving its way onto portable devices? Such as Vita and the ever growing iOS and android stores?
We have expanded GR on mobiles already through the free Ghost Recon Network apps (available today on Android and iOS). With Gunsmith you can also customize your weapons and share them with friends. We are also planning further layers to the service for our GR players to enhance their experience and add value to the GR ecosystem.
Will uPlay play a big part in the game like the past few Ubisoft games?
Uplay is a Ubisoft service that is available through all our games. It brings content for gamers around 4 axes, Win, Share, Help, Shop.
In the specific case of GRFS by connecting to Uplay you get :
- Access to the Ghost Recon Network, our free social service for Ghost Recon Future Soldier and future Ghost Recon games. With the GR Network, you can access your GRFS weapons from outside the game and customize them from the web, your mobile or your tablet (free apps). You can also manage your squad on the go, receive friend activity and messages, stats, tips…
- Exclusive unlocks if you succeed at specific challenges: we have themes, guns and even a specific Guerilla map
What limitations were faced with making present day weapons and making them futuristic?
With our consultants we defined 3 rules for the type of technology that we put in the game. Everything in the game design around technology needs to stay in the frame of those 3 rules and from the needs of real life soldiers. Luckily for us, those 3 rules match the pillars of the Ghost Recon (Recon / Intel / Communication). The 3 types of technology are:
1. Technology to improve camouflage: A soldier that can’t be seen can’t be shot.
2. Technology to improve knowledge about the enemy: If you see the enemy first you can shoot him first.
3. Technology that improves team communication: Communication within the team is often the difference between life and death.
With those guidelines, it becomes much easier to design gameplay around real world tech or take real world tech and integrate it.
Throughout this process there is a lot of influence from both research and game design. In the end, we are trying to achieve a good mix of both. For example in game design, we want an ability that allows you to see through walls at short distance. Then we do some research to see if there is anything that exists or in prototype that offers a similar ability. There, we found the Backscatter used on roads blocks by the military to scan trucks and see through solid walls/surfaces. This was a perfect match for us and was a natural fit to include in the game. Another example is when the research came first. We saw the prototypes of the night/thermal vision mix imagery. We thought it was such cool technology that we tried to then think about how to integrate that in design in the game. However, for the guns it was a little bit different... everything must be based on reality, period. Otherwise, you become a sci-fi space shooter.
What kind of war is waged in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?
An energy crisis within Russia kicks an aggressively nationalist faction called the Raven’s Rock Druzhina into action. These guys are proud Russian nationalists, and their main goal is not international domination, but rather to restore Russia to what they see as its rightful prosperity and strength. They don’t want WW3; they want what they see as their rightful due, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes – from sponsoring brushfire wars to acts that are almost literally unthinkable – to get it. Raven’s Rock is made up of high-powered individuals from across all aspects of Russian society – petrobillionaires, military officers, mafia kingpins and more. They use their power and influence to support a clandestine “Shadow War”, projecting Russian power into oil-rich areas in order to destabilize them and allow Russian interests to take them over. While their efforts are focused on Russia, their connections extend well beyond its borders, and it’s this that inevitably brings them into conflict with the Ghosts.
So, in typical Ghost fashion they are sent in before the war actually starts. Their goal is to go in to each situation, settle the conflict, and leave undetected.
Will there be dedicated servers/Region locking for consoles
Will pistols be as customizable as the primary weapons or at least have more of them as well as more stopping power? graw2 pistols were average
Pistols are in GunSmith and you can customize them down the inner parts. By nature however, there are less parts on a pistol than on a rifle. We just tested the pistols during the Beta, yes they are less powerful than rifles but we are talking military warfare
Is there splitscreen and how long is the campaign?
Yes, Guerrilla mode can be played in split screen with 2 players locally, it is also possible to play in split screen in LAN or via XBL / PSN (2 players on one machine + 2 players on another machine or 2 players on one machine + 1 player on another machine + one player on another machine). The co-op campaign can only be played online and will last about 12 hours.
A big thanks to Jean-Marc Geffroy and Mikey Foley from Ubisoft for making this happen. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is storming retail shelves on May 24 across Australia.
By Stephen Heller - Bio