The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
Let it never be said that I can't be surprised. When I first was downloading the game, I was anticipating a throwaway experience with little reason for investment. Instead, I have been proven wrong, and despite my opinions on Ubisoft, this game may just be what online F2P shooters need.
Honestly, I have never played a Ghost Recon game before now. While I've seen the games in action, I've never truly experienced one of them until this entry in the series. And if this is the low-end of the quality the series can have, then I must be missing out on something fantastic.
Like Dark Souls, the controls take a little getting used to. In my first thirty minutes of playing, it felt like an awkward and questionably designed experience because of just how different from most shooters it is. You control your character in third person, but you aim in first person, and going prone has significantly different advantages and movement options than moving crouched or standing upright. Sliding into cover is often times just as risky as running head first because it will reveal you to enemies.
Stealth sometimes takes too long and instead you need to go in with smart observations and covering fire. For the first time since Spec Ops: The Line, there's even the ability to aim a significant amount around your cover, which is a feature I now demand every TPS add for the sake of actually making the game more fluid and easy and intuitive to play.
There are also context sensitive cover areas and you can go prone/crouch while in cover to lower yourself from line of fire and rapidly switch between the two. Your accuracy and critical hit percentage are dramatically effected by movement, discouraging running and gunning. Most cover provides decent enough protection but leaves you open to flanking if you're not watching your back. Natural bends of the environment and levels allow you to take cover in non-standard means and get vantage points most shooters could only give you if it were a scripted sequence.
There are three classes, any of which you can switch to when not in a match (once you start in a match, you're locked to the class you've selected, although they all start with at least two highly different main weapons to use, allowing you to be versatile between lives).
Assault is fairly obvious as the tank/soldier class that focuses on gunplay and being able to take damage and keep moving. Later, you can unlock team buffs like increased health regeneration and a shield that can be used to push through enemy defenses.
Recon is the sniper/scout class. Expect to depend upon observation and your special abilities in order to succeed. You can focus on sniping and spotting enemies or using an SMG and getting behind enemy lines with cloak.
Specialist is more like, for lack of a better analogy, a mage. He can bring up a small shield that deflects grenades and bullets (don't ask my how, its "the future") and disable enemy devices and weaponry along with providing additional ammo and energy to his allies devices. He's a essentially a hybrid of the Engineer and Heavy Gunner classes of most shooters.
The difference from starting in GRO and mastering the core concepts is staggering. Within three hours time, I went from being bottom of the rank to second place, as a sniper of all things (I usually don't do as well as a sniper). Don't go in expecting a pick up and play experience. The slow regenerating health and penalties for death encourage careful, thoughtful play rather than CoD style run and gun, so if you were hoping for CoD but made by Ubisoft, you're out of luck.
And you can keep your akimbo shotguns!
The problem is, there still are a few gripes I have with the game. For one thing, there's a sincere lacking in map variety. In the beginner pool, even though you're only there voluntarily and only until your character reaches level 5, there are only three maps at present, and all of them generally play the same. Spawn at your side of the map, go to the zone of interest, watch all your idiot teammates run headfirst onto the main bridge in the middle where enemy snipers await, get a few kills, respawn, and repeat. The maps have variety, including varying heights and lots of places for snipers and up-close fighters to take advantage of their skillsets and abilities, but they all end up feeling samey due to similar layouts and strategies. The worst offender is the submarine level, which is a essentially a killing floor KotH map with nothing but a bridge and some tunnels before you reach the point, making it a camper's heaven.
When teams are actually working together then the shift in map control is often dramatic, but most players who aren't in clans don't seem that interested in tactics. Most people aren't even using mics, despite the fact the game has a dedicated Voice Comm section in the options. You can tweak it so you can mute any annoying allies while upping the volume so your squad leader comes in clear through even the loudest firefight. Still, I advise at least having voice chat enabled (it's defaultedly disabled for some reason) so you can convey information faster -- a number of times I was able to get enemies killed simply by reporting their position to allies. I cannot emphasize enough how much a well trained team of combatants will do better than a lone wolf.
You see this? This is the GRO store. And I actually have absolutely no problem with it. To be quite to the point -- you can buy practically anything within 3 or so hours of playing. Save up for the silenced SMG for Level 10s and up? Go for it. Buy a massive bunch of grenades so you have a good supply instead of trying to play without them? Perfectly reasonable and not that pricey. Want to buy temporary upgrades for your armor that boost your stats but only for a match or so and only slightly tweak your odds of not dying horribly? Go ahead big guy!
In comparison to most microtransaction centric games, even Ubisoft/Gameloft's Brothers in Arms F2P on mobile phones, this is pretty nice, at least for the moment. Right now, only XP and currency accumulation boosts are the biggest worthwhile thing that cost money. You can also gain specific clothing items with money, but if you're really that concerned about fashion, I imagine you're already very into the game.
Just keep doing what you're doing, keep polishing it, and you'll be fine.
I'm often known for being notoriously critical of games, but in this case, I just have very little at fault with GRO based on my first few hours of playing. Almost 90% of my issues will either be fixed by the time the game exits beta or are related to people simply not understanding what type of game they are playing. I don't expect this game to be for everyone, but if you liked Spec Ops: The Line, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or want a more tactics/logic centric shooter, GRO has you covered. In fact, it actually makes up for the ridiculousness of having to make a Uplay account just to access the game.
(During the time of playing, I spent roughly thirty minutes as an Assault class soldier, and roughly three or so hours as a Recon class soldier. I have not played the specialist class, but there is a healthy variety of players using all three. Recon however does seem to be remaining the favorite at the moment).
Due to being blown away by the fact Ubisoft did something right without any notable hang ups has left me without a philosophical word to think of. I can't deny how much I didn't see this one coming.
P.S. At present, you can only play as men in GRO. Apparently Ubisoft hasn't been watching the news recently.