DLC Review: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Arctic Strike

When it launched, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier featured some well-designed maps. That said, the locales for said-maps were all pretty similar; urban and desert settings. To remedy that problem, Ubisoft announced (pre-release, mind you) the “Arctic Strike pack”, set to give buyers new guns and new maps based in northern, snowy locations. One thing seems to be missing from this map pack, though – actual snow.

I suppose I shouldn’t say there is no snow. The one co-op map (Guerrilla mode) in the DLC is quite snowy. In fact, when I saw screen shots of a snow-covered landscape, I thought this was going to be one of the new battlegrounds I would be slaying opponents on. I’m sure you can tell I was a little letdown. If you enjoy shooting through waves of enemies, you should enjoy the new map though. Not only is it covered in snow, but the layout is easier to handle than some of the other co-op maps. It’s a shame the effort of bringing snow into any sort of multiplayer aspect of Future Soldier was just in guerrilla mode. You still can’t join a lobby with random people to play this mode, so if none of my friends want to play it, I’m out of luck. Which is usually the case.

The DLC also dropped six new guns into the game, unlocked as soon as you purchase the DLC. You’ll get one new gun per class, per faction. Since each class has two types of weapon, it was only fair to limit one type of weapon per class. For example, the Rifleman class uses assault rifles and light machineguns, and the DLC gives you a new assault rifle per faction. The Engineer class gets a few new PDRs (no shotgun love) while the Scout class gets a few new SMGs to work with. An interesting choice for Ubisoft to include SMGs and not sniper rifles, it seems like Ubisoft is embracing the fact that their maps aren’t really designed with snipers in mind.

That said, the new guns the DLC provides adds some variety to the small amount of choices the standard game provides. If you have maxed out a class, you’ll have ten more levels to earn attachments with so you can outfit the weapons as you see fit.

If you like urban maps, you’ll be in for a treat, though not a frosty treat. Two of the three maps share a similar urban aesthetic while the third map is set in a highrise building spanning two floors plus a roof. Skyline, as it is aptly named, offers the most vertical gameplay. Even though a lot of your time is spent running up and down stairs, it actually feels like one of the bigger maps if you were to look at area space. With long corridors, the open areas still offer great cover opportunities, which is important in a cover-based shooter. The roof was a big deal in the few matches of Stockade mode I played, as it overlooks large portions of the map. Even though it is diverse, in the grand scheme of things, this is actually one of my least favorite maps the game offers, but only because I love some of the other maps so much. It’s nice that a map stands out from the three new ones, but the design of the other two (non-snowy) maps trump Skyline is design.

Evicted puts you in the vicinity of an apartment complex. Complete with a playground, this map is the most wide open of the three new maps. Again, there is no snow, which is a shame because that playground you prance through is begging to be covered in snow. I did find myself getting disoriented quite a bit the first few times running this map, and while playing Stockade mode I was tentative to leave whatever cozy spot I was hiding behind due to the openness.

By far my favorite map, Riot pits you fighting the other team in a downtown area complete with a tipped over rail car. There are plenty of buildings and alleyways to fight through and it seemed like there were four hot zones in the corners of the map at any given time. The problem I did have with this map was the amount of spawn trapping. If one side gets a heavy advantage with one or two people spawn camping, it gets unfair quick. That’s not to say I haven’t been trapped in my spawn in other maps, it just seemed to happen more often playing this map. It’s still my favorite map of this pack, and made the snow-less map pack a little more enjoyable (don’t underestimate how upset I was that there was no snow; I’m from Oklahoma, after all).

The real genius behind this $9.99 USD piece of DLC is in the new game mode – Stockade. A clever take on team deathmatch, Stockade still works team-play into the general ruleset of “kill all of the opponents”. When someone dies, they are sent to a queue (the “stockade”) where they must wait until a teammate kills someone on the opposing team. At random points in the match, an objective will appear, releasing your entire team upon completion. So there are times you are only in the queue for a few seconds, and other times you can be in there for the majority of the match. Once one team is completely eliminated the game is over, or whichever team has the most tactical points accumulated throughout the match when the timer ends will win.

Stockade has a quirky pacing settling between the one-life-per-game mode Siege and the other respawn modes. People play a little slower because they don’t want to be have to wait in the queue, but they don’t just sit back and camp because they have the opportunity to respawn at some point (hopefully). Oh, and you can also play this mode on any map, DLC or not.

The DLC in general is a solid effort, if not a little misleading (okay – not just a little, but REALLY misleading). With some great maps to spice up your map rotation and a few new guns to tinker with, it’s biggest selling point is clearly the new game mode. Now, if we could just change the name of the map pack…

Pros:

  • Stockade offers a nice change of pace
  • A few of the maps became some of my favorites in the game
  • That new game mode Stockade.. brilliant.

Cons:

  • There is no snow… well, except in the co-op map
  • The disappointing frown as I played the last multiplayer map and realized there was no snow

Score: 4/5

Note: Gameplay was reviewed and recorded (those videos were recorded by myself) on the Playstation 3 console. The DLC is also available for the X360 and the PC.

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Author: Don Parsons View all posts by
Starting out as a founding member of Gamingcore Podcast, Don ventured on to start Gameciety; which began as a podcast, and ended as a blog. Don now handles Vagary.tv's PR work, is part of the reviews staff and has various other little projects he does for the site.