Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is about a ‘spec ops experience’ [Interview]

30 Jan 2012  by   Paul Younger
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You may be forgiven for thinking that shooters – third-person or first-person – are the only kinds of games being made these days. It seems that not a month goes by without the latest Call of Honor on the Future Battlefield hitting shelves.
We talk to Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s associate producer, Yann Suquet, about the difficultly in standing out in such a crowded as well as how to balance stealth with action and issues surrounding the game’s PC release.
Accompanying this interview is our latest hands-on preview of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
IncGamers: Military shooters are hardly an endangered species, how does Ghost Recon: Future Soldier begin to stand out from the crowd?
Yann Suquet: Ghost Recon has always been about special forces and giving you that spec ops experience. Like past games in the series, Future Soldier is about gathering information and thinking about it before getting into the action. I’d define our genre as a ‘smart third-person shooter’, an STPS.
So, you can take time to plan actions using the drone, the intel grenade, the cloaking camouflage, the cover system which allows you to properly assess the situation. Then you can decide what exactly you’re going to do yourself and how you’re going to use your teammates. It’s all about freedom, that’s where we stand out. 90% of our situations are A.I. based rather than pre-defined so you need to react to that.
IG: How have you gone about designing the A.I. to facilitate that?
YS: We made sure that it takes all four players into account. So, in single player, the enemy A.I. will focus on one of your A.I. teammates if he’s spotted. In other shooters your teammates are usually useless and do nothing to help, whereas ours are always reacting to exactly what’s going on. If your teammate is spotted, the enemy A.I. doesn’t immediately know where you are as well which is what often happens in other games.
That gives you time to flank and do something interesting while the A.I. are engaged with one another.

IG: Have you still designed specific levels to be stealth based, or action based?
YS: Yes, we have. Some situations force you to play stealthily, whereas others might be impossible to play like that. Still, you always have a choice about how you act – you’re not forced to also take out certain enemies to progress.
Some of the opening missions are designed to teach you certain controls and tactics, whereas some of the later levels are completely open to you doing whatever you want. There are definitely some scripted events to allow us to provide those ‘wow’ moments that you expect from a military shooter, but the general gameplay is not scripted.
IG: Co-op is becoming an ever more commonplace feature in shooters, will all shooters eventually include it?
YS: I think it’s an awesome experience, I love playing in co-op. It provides a layer of depth that isn’t present in single player. Playing together is always great with a friend sitting next to you. For racing games, for example, I think it’s a shame that we’re moving away from split screen play.
So I hope we’ll see more co-op games. It’s certainly an important part of our game, which is why the whole game has been designed to support it. 
IG: Can Future Soldier be played in split screen?
YS: We don’t have anything to say about that right now.
IG: You’ve got Kinnect in the gunsmith feature, but did you think about implementing it elsewhere in the game?
YS: Kinect has always been considered a system for casual games… dancing games, for example. But we’ve brought it to a hardcore audience and proven that it can be done. Will the next game be completely playable with Kinect? I don’t know the answer to that.
I think a Kinect shooter would be horribly boring because the system is limited to movement, whereas a shooter needs to be fast and allow you to react quickly. With Kinect you just can’t move fast enough for that. We do want to implement it further, but I don’t think we’ll have a Kinect-based shooter with this particular technology.

IG: Kinect for Windows has been confirmed. Will the gunsmith portion of Future Soldier on PC support that?
YS: I don’t know. I only saw the Kinect for Windows news when it went public. RedStorm Entertainment are working on the gunsmith, but I’m not sure if they’re working on a PC version of it.
IG: I know that the motion capture for Future Soldier was performed by actual members of the military. Was there any other military involvement in the project?
YS: In every feature of the game they had their say. We did the motion capture because we wanted to convey that feeling of being part of a real team. How they move, check cover, raise their gun, everything is motion captured.
We also worked with them on the order system. In Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter the order system was location based, telling your team to hide behind an object and being in aggressive or defensive mode. The spec ops guys told us that that’s not how it works, so now ordering is based on targets and telling each member what their objective is.
Also the weapons and weapon customisation were worked on with them, as were other forms of equipment. There are 52 weapons with up to 48 attachments per weapon… 20 million authentic possibilities.
IG: What about the story… does Tom Clancy have any input?
YS: Tom Clancy’s videogame studio, Redstorm Entertainment, are people that we still work with as they’ve been working on the game franchises since the beginning. Tom Clancy himself wasn’t specifically consulted on the story, but we still meet with him – the last time was about a year ago – to pitch him the story and gameplay elements.
He’s not a regular consultant though. Ubisoft has bought RedStorm Entertain and with that comes the Tom Clancy name. What’s important to add is that we have an official Tom Clancy writer, Richard Dansky, who knows Tom Clancy really well and writes our scripts – so he has that same feel to his work, as does this game.

IG: What was behind the decision to release the game on PC? Originally we understood that it wasn’t coming to the platform…
YS: Actually, we never said it wasn’t coming to the PC. What happened was that the producer of Ghost Recon Online said something that was completely misinterpreted, and somehow ended up as “Ubisoft will no longer make PC games.”
The truth is that we’ve always considered doing it. The fans want it so we’re going to make it. The misinterpretation caused the confusion that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier on PC is being replaced with Ghost Recon Online, but it isn’t. It’s a completely different game. Future Soldier is definitely coming to 360, PS3 and PC.
IG: Any differences between the console and PC versions?
YS: I can’t talk much about it. All I can say is that it’ll be available shortly after the console versions. 

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