With the “Gunsmith” feature, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has made an impressive forward step in the world of military shooters. Allowing you to customize your gun right down to the gas chamber, Gunsmith gives you the gun you want. There is no doubt in my mind this is a unique system setting Future Soldier apart from the crowd of “unlock gun > get x amount of kills with gun > unlock mandated attachment” systems.
Going into this article, I had numbers in my head already. I expected low numbers all the way around due to this being a tactical shooter. SOCOM: Confrontation spoiled me in this sub-genre, as I remember the 20-45 minute long matches. I also remember the absurdly long matches in Starhawk. But everything about Future Soldier’s multiplayer stands apart from other titles. Other “tactical” games like MAG and SOCOM 4 failed to capture that spirit and thrill of Confrontation for me. Future Soldier has been an exciting experience so far, and while the progression system fueled the beginning, pure gameplay became the focus of my enjoyment.
Unlike most shooters, you don’t unlock a gun every few matches. On the contrary, I didn’t unlock one single gun during my three hours playing as a Rifleman class. I have a kitted out assault rifle though, and am still nine levels away from unlocking a single gun. But the attatchments play such a large role of your experience on the battlefield.
07:00 Hours- Insertion
You’ll see a big difference every hour in the amount of games played. For the first hour, I played the Conflict gametype. Conflict has randomly located objectives that change as the game progresses with a 15 minute time limit. If you’re math is up to par, that means four games were played. There is no way to end the match early, so you are committed to a 15 minute sitting.
I leveled up seven times, and to keep things parallel with other class-based shooters (Battlefield 3), I solely used the Rifelman class. Weapon unlocks come VERY slowly (level 20 is the first one), but you will unlock some equipment and some headgear along the way and get an attachment credit per level. It only took a few attachments to get my assault rifle to keep up with me; after the first two games I had four credits, amounting to a very likeable gun. I even unlocked an alternate color for my Rifleman’s bandanna.
Being a tactical shooter, I figured my kill-count have been pretty low, but I garnered 61 kills in the first hour. The maps are designed with lots of cover and a variety of pathways. There are only a few maps with wide open spaces, and even in those, I was traveling along the side and trying to flank my enemy coming down the middle. Kills ranged from 12-21 per game.
08:00 Hours- Planting The Bomb
The second gametype I played led to far fewer games. It was Decoy, which is by far my favorite gametype. It features three rounds, with teams alternating between attacking and defending. In short, the attacking team has to investigate three points, a random one of which has intel on the defending team’s bomb point. Once your team has the intel, you push forward and plant the bomb. I say all of that, because these games require much more time to play; during this hour I got to play two games of Decoy. Yes, two.
36 kills later, I only felt like I had been playing for half an hour. The first game was a long, drawn out affair spanning all three rounds (the third round is a tie-breaker round). While it didn’t feel like an hour after two games, the games did feel very intense and required more teamwork than Conflict. And despite doing exceptionally well during both games, I only leveled up once, putting my Rifleman at level 8, at which point I unlocked the medkit.
You’ll see this being more prevalent after the next hour, but how many games you play really depends on what mode you are playing.
09:00 Hours- Extraction
This hour was Sabotage, and it reminded me of a one-round version of SOCOM’s Demolition mode. A bomb is placed in the middle of the map, and your objective is to grab the bomb and plant it on the other team’s side of the map at a designated point. Both teams are fighting over the same thing, so it’s a constant tug-of-war. As a side-note, I think it would be amazing if they added a 3+ round version of Sabotage, that would make for some intense matches.
My strategy played a key role in how many games were played, as well as how many kills I obtained. Nine games (more than the first two hours combined) and 53 kills later, it was obvious these games were quick. Three of those games, I rushed forward, grabbed the bomb and planted it; all in under two minutes. Only a few of the games ran to the time limit. Whereas Conflict was strict on time and Decoy had more than one round, Sabotage games can be rather short.
With all of those victory bonus’ and bomb plants, I managed to level up three times. All three games where I planted the bomb and won the game I had terrible kill-death rations, too; 0-1, 0-2 and 2-5. Future Soldier is about playing less for yourself and more for your team. That 1,000 XP bonus for winning should always be a perk in the back of your mind when you urge to run off and play team deathmatch during an objective based mode.
The Final Numbers
(Please note, I have included the numbers from the rest of this series of editorials for comparison. Please refer to “Progressing Through the Modern Battlefield” and “Progressing Through Starhawk” for further reading.)
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier: 15
Battlefield 3: 15
Modern Warfare 3: 24
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier: 150
Battlefield 3: 208
Modern Warfare 3: 294
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier: Level 11
Starhawk: Level 6
Battlefield 3: Level 7
Modern Warfare 3: Level 23
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier: 15 attachments, 1 headgear, 2 equipment
Starhawk: 6 shirts, 6 pairs of pants
Battlefield 3: 5 guns, 21 attachments
Modern Warfare 3: 8 guns, 16 attachments
Field Report Conclusion
Unlike the rest of the games used in this experiment, Future Soldier relies on it’s intricate gun customization to please people (like me) wanting an interesting progression system in their online shooters. One gun (per faction) is all I needed to have fun with the game during the three hours I played. Since then, I have switched to Engineer and am currently customizing a shotgun.
Starhawk had no guns or attachment unlocks, and Modern Warfare 3 had the most guns unlocked after three hours. Future Solider has an odd place in the middle of the two. On the one hand, the 12 guns available from the beginning (two per class per faction) offer choice diversity, while unlocking more will require quite a bit of time. On the other hand, it’s more rewarding to know you spent a considerable amount of time to unlock it (I would guess a few more hours, so five total as the Rifleman), instead of a game saying “Here, new gun!” followed by “Ohai! Here’s another gun!” a few matches later.
Future Soldier’s Gunsmith progression system is different enough to stand out. In a sea of similar level-up mechanics in online shooters, it’s nice seeing something new and interesting.