The bulk of my time with Ubisoft's upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was spent with singleplayer, but near the end of the session, I had a chance to talk adversarial multiplayer with the game's developers. The burning question I had was: Now that Future Soldier is coming to PC, how will it be different from the free-to-play PC multiplayer game Ghost Recon: Online that is also due out this year?
Ubisoft internal brand manager Thomas Leuroux-Hugon made it clear that there are three main differences between Future Soldier and Ghost Recon: Online: the increased lethality of weaponry, the level design, and the resulting importance of intelligence, i.e. learning your enemies' position on the map.
(OK, yes, there's also a fourth difference. Future Soldier will cost money, and Ghost Recon Online will be free.)
Future Soldier's multiplayer dynamics can be seen at play in this trailer, which I've also embedded. The trailer for Ghost Recon: Online is a bit further down.
Here's Leuroux-Hugon on those key differences between the two games.
"The first [major difference] is in some of the level design. GRO has linear maps with choke points, and you're always on one side of the choke point. In Future Soldier, we wanted to have 360-degree battle. So an enemy can come from the left, from the right, in front of you. Because in GRO intel is just one super power among others."
(Yes, he actually referred to it as "Gro". That means we now have "GRAW", "GURFS" and "GRO". Yippee.)
"In Future Soldier, intel is at the core of the multiplayer loop. And so is having a 360-degree battlefield where you don't know where the enemy can come from, and you can be killed in one or two shots."
Leuroux-Hugon elaborated: "The second big difference is the lethality. In GRAW, you need a lot of bullets to kill someone. By default, it's not that easy to kill someone."
Both games will have persistent levelling systems; Future Soldier will allow players to unlock new attachments for their weapons as they work their way through each of 50 possible levels for a given multiplayer character. "We don't have superpowers by classes [in Future Soldier]," Leuroux-Hugon said. "[Your class-choice] affects the kind of weapons you can equip. You have 50 levels, and at each level you unlock one credit that allows you to unlock one attachment … At some levels, like level 2, you have to make a choice. You can't go back!"
Future Soldier's multiplayer has been built to discourage "lone wolf" playing. In the game, a player can be "stunned," which renders him helpless for a period of time and allows opponents to hack into his suit and steal intel. Stolen intel gives an entire team the locations of their opponents for 30 seconds. The only way to stop a stunned teammate from being hacked is to kill the hacker as he does his thing, which means that it will theoretically be to everyone's benefit to stick together and cover one another's asses.
"When an enemy is stunned," Leuroux-Hugon said, "you can attack him [to hack or steal intel]. It's an action that lasts 5-10 seconds, and basically you hack into the augmented reality of the enemy team. At the end of that action, you have full intel on the enemy team for 30 seconds. When you get stunned, the only way to prevent that is to have a teammate come and shoot the guy that is controlling the attack. So if you are doing the lone wolf [routine], your team will say 'Hey guy, you just gave us up for 30 seconds. Bravo!'"
I would imagine that the actual language your team would use would be a good deal more profane than "Hey guy."