Developer/publisher Ubisoft didn't show off much of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier at PAX East. I experienced the tactical shooter through rounds of Guerilla mode, tackling up to 50 waves of increasingly difficult hordes of soldier enemies with three fellow elite Ghosts.
For those not familiar with the franchise, it's easy to recognise the heavy emphasis on gadgetry and futuristic warfare once you take control of the third-person perspective soliders. Your HUD is detailed, and maybe even too complicated for less enthusiastic players. But that will be part of the appeal for gamers who are looking for a tech-involved experience that includes things like sensor grenades and Cross Com goggles to scope out intel on enemies rather than just depending on the mini-map to locate potential threats, as most shooters do.
The first wave we tackled — insertion wave — was easy enough. We were able to stealthily move in between enemies for silent kills. But we had to step out of our optical camouflage once the proceeding waves started pouring in.
For all the tactile HUD and tools, I found it odd that crippled enemies were so difficult to identify on the screen. There was no clear visual to indicate where your fallen comrade was attempting to limp-crawl to safety. It became too much of a chore rather than a seamless, momentary movement to revive a teammate.
The map itself was also boring. You had a typical congregation area, almost a small hut-like shelter that covers all angles where enemies are flanking you. I wanted to wander and run around from cover to cover, which I managed to do for short increments of time, but the map wasn't conducive to it. The only time my teammates and I were dragged out from our hunting shed was to seek out the lone RPG-holding soldier squatting from a roof somewhere overhead. Otherwise, we were mostly holed up in that one area that was useful for team defence, which can be redundant after just a few waves.
Regardless of your play style and class selection — Assault, Specialist or Recon — the goal is to provide support to your teammates. It's easy to get flanked in this horde-style mode, but there are effective ways to communicate with your teammates to avoid that. Shooting enemies is always supportive, but perks like UAVs and drones are also accessible to you.
Unfortunately, the drone my kill streaks built up to was only used to communicate enemy locations to fellow players. Although I can see this being useful in other modes, it didn't suit Guerilla mode. I found a nice hiding spot to send my drone out, hoping that I could fire on enemies, but realised that I was wasting precious time during which I could've bested my teammates on the leaderboard instead. It was useless, especially because you can communicate by tagging enemies.
Fortunately, adversarial multiplayer will apparently have drones with mini-guns attached to them, but the campaign and Guerilla mode feature strictly communicative devices for drones.
Surviving waves unlocks other special abilities, like 30 second intel on all enemies, turrets, air strikes, carpet bombing and more. Eventually you get access to vehicles like helicopters and tanks, but the short amount of time we were allotted didn't give us an opportunity to run through as many waves as it would have taken to get to that point.
There are a lot of good ideas with potential to be filled in later down the road. Since Future Soldier is hopefully a game that will be known for its equipment, I'm reserving solid judgement until I get my hands on a more expansive list of them.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will release on May 22 for the Xbox 360 (played), PS3, and on June 12 for the PC.