Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ghost Recon Online (Part Three)

The Game Lobby
Ghost Recon Online - Game Lobby
True to most shooting titles, nearly all of your interactions within GRO are also limited to the game's lobby.

And while most of the features ought to be pretty intuitive, I shall attempt to brief you through some of it or at least the more important ones.
  • Storage/Loadout (Top Left, Gun Icon)
    Ghost Recon Online - Storage Loadout
    This is normally where you would go to to pick or select the kinds of equipment you would bring to your next match. Your primary weapon, secondary weapon (sidearm), armor vest (for protection), headgear (decorative only), device, squad support and grenades, namely.
    Ghost Recon Online - Upgrade OptionGhost Recon Online - Weapon Customization
    The main difference between this loadout and the one you get during respawns is that, with this one, you will gain access to a Modifications section for your equipment (can be accessed via the "Upgrade" option), as well as a Firing Range to try out those changes you've made.

    In this Modifications section, you can swap in or out modules to customize and adapt your specific equipment to various scenarios that you would likely encounter within a match. For instance, you can make one of the guns you own suited for long range purposes, one for mid range, one for CQC (quick to ready and fire) or even one fitted with a silencer for stealthy operations (backstabs).

    So effectively, what you are doing here is to prepare your character with different setups so that you can switch your equipment on the fly during matches, flexibly, for different situations. (Although I'ld have to say that for this game, it can be "pretty" expensive to do so.)

    Additionally, this is also where you will get the function to sell your unwanted stuff or simply to clear out extra storage space (via the Scrapyard). But do note that the prices you get for selling your items is very bad though.

    (Usually, storage space is not a problem if your only focusing on one class. However, if you do play the other classes as well, then all of their equipment combined would quickly fill up your storage...since they share a common one.)
  • Store (Top Left, Shopping Cart Icon)
    Ghost Recon Online - Store MainGhost Recon Online - Store Weapons
    Needless to say, the Store is where you would go to when you wish to upgrade your present equipment in exchange for better ones.

    Each of the sections and sub-sections found here merely acts as a filter to sort out the plethora of items that you can buy. And since its pretty elementary here, I doubt there's a need for too much explanations. Just note that the equipment you can buy here from the Store are automatically tailored for your current class selection. So if you wish to buy stuff for another class, you will need to change into that character class first.
    Ghost Recon Online - Changing Class
    You may do so by simply clicking on the bar underneath your name as shown above.

    Apart from that, I guess you can see for yourself that nearly every item found here in the "Store" can be bought with either RP (Requisition Points) and/or GC (Ghost Coins). The Requisition Points can be acquired by playing matches and completing daily wins, solo/fireteam challenges while Ghost Coins can only be bought via real life cash (but accomplishing the timed Monthly Events will award you with some as well).

    Even so, I might have to warn you that the "economy" of this game is seriously out of wack at the moment (my opinion, of course). Most of the items will require some serious grinding to acquire using RPs. They seem to be mostly scaled towards tempting you to buy them with GCs.
    Ghost Recon Online - Athena ArmoryGhost Recon Online - AAA Pass Subscription
    As for the "Athena Armory", "Bundles" and "Mystery Boxes", the first one's a sub-only section that sells you new or unique items (unique here just means stuff that's not accessible to the common, non-subscription players...not that its actually the one and only in the game). It requires a triple A subscription pass that you can buy using GCs.
    Ghost Recon Online - BundlesGhost Recon Online - Mystery Boxes
    The second one acts sorta like "starter" kits or something. These bundles, when opened, will give you a set of items as indicated by its description.

    Lastly, the Mystery Boxes are just as its name suggests. When opened, they would give you a random kind of reward depending on their loot tables and chances of looting. It may be some RPs, some rare weapon, armor, armor inserts, grenades, etc...
  • Class Info (Top Left, Portrait Icon)
    Ghost Recon Online - Class SummaryGhost Recon Online - Your Performance Stats
    For this part, its basically stats and data to tell you how well you've performed with your current class selection. Its a no-brainer, so need I say more? XD

    There is, however, one particular stat here that you'll need to take note of and that is "Weapon Proficiency Rating".
    Ghost Recon Online - Sniper Rifle Weapon ProficiencyGhost Recon Online - Submachine Gun Weapon Proficiency
    This stat keeps track of your usage of a specific type of weapon and increases your chances of doing critical hits with that weapon type as you continue to use them to kill your opponents.

    But there is a catch...

    To rank up this "Weapon Proficiency Rating", not only must you use that specific weapon type to kill, you must also use weapons of the appropriate tiers. And not just any tiers, mind you, but rather those regular ones that you buy from the Store that are tier-locked. Kills made from using those unique ones, which skips this tier requirement, will not count towards ranking up this rating. Or so I've heard.
  • Clan Management (Top Left, Double Flag Icon)
    Ghost Recon Online - Clan License PurchaseGhost Recon Online - Clan Creation
    The Clan Management section allows you to create/form a team of your own. But before you're able to do that, you must first purchase a "Clan License" of some sort.

    After getting it, you will get access to some basic form of which you fill to complete the creation process. Its as simple as that.
  • Chat Interface (Bottom Right, Speech Bubble Icon)
    Ghost Recon Online - Chat Interface
    The Chat Interface is where you speak and interact with other fellow players hanging around in the lobby. It basically works kindda like what you would get in an IRC chat channel.

    However, it might be interesting to take note of some of the chat commands that you can use. To learn about them, type in "/?" into the chat and it will list out all of the commands that you can use.

Previous: Ghost Recon Online (Part Two)Next: Ghost Recon Online (Part Four)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ghost Recon Online (Part Two)

Character Creation
Upon first logging into the game, you will be shown with the following screen.
Ghost Recon Online - Class Selection
And as you can see, there are three kinds of classes for you to choose here, Assault, Specialist and Recon.

However, at this point in time, I would highly encourage you to just pick any one class that you fancy and move on to the next stage of creation. You don't really need to waste your time mulling over what all of those "Primary Weapons", "Devices" and "Squad Supports" mean (I will brief you on them in due time). Nor which one of the class you would be more compatible terms of your playing style.

Reason? Because this is ultimately a shooter-based game. And as such...isn't designed to lock you in on a class permanently. The game actually allows you to create and own an avatar each for all three classes, so that you can switch between them freely.

As a matter of fact, I would recommend that you do so. Have a go at each of the three classes to see which one suits you the best and then focus on it after you've decided. The extra RPs that you get from creating them would also help further whichever class that you've decided upon. (Yup, the RPs earned are linked to your account and not your character class.)
Ghost Recon Online - Character CustomizationGhost Recon Online - Equipment Confirmation
Anyway, once you've moved past the class selection portion, what comes next is merely a simple customization section, where you can only alter your avatar's face and skin color (not that it should matter...since most shooter games don't really have much avatar customization anyway), and then one where you confirm the default equipments that you shall receive. (Note: Regardless of whichever default weapon you choose here, you will still receive both of them. At least that's what I've gotten.)

Now that we've cleared Character Creation, I suppose its time to explain the differences between the classes before we move on.

Ghost Recon Online - AssaultSpecializing in frontal assaults, they are the best choice to take point and mount an attack or break through hardened enemy positions.


Base HP:

Primary Weapon Access:
Assault Rifles - Useful for breaking entrenched positions with controlled bursts, this weapon type is ideal for short-range to medium-range engagements.

Shotguns - Extremely lethal at short-range, this weapon type is perfect for the aggressive close combat players.
BLITZ - Deploys a bulletproof shield to charge and knock down enemies. Great for breaking through heavy gunfire.
HEAT - Emits powerful microwaves towards pointed direction/area. Damages all enemies within area, slows and disrupts their aim.
Squad Supports:
Ghost Recon Online - Assault Support HardenHARDEN - Improves the armor of you and your nearby allies.
Ghost Recon Online - Assault Support RegenREGEN - Increases the out of combat health regen of you and your nearby allies. (Provides a fraction of it whilst in combat and stacks with armor inserts.)

Ghost Recon Online - SpecialistAn advanced class that specializes in electronic warfare, they are armed with devices that either protects their allies from harm or disrupts enemy device usage.


Base HP:

Primary Weapon Access:
Light Machine Guns - Albeit too bulky for CQC, this weapon type is apt at providing sustained fire from a fixed position.

Shotguns - Extremely lethal at short-range, this weapon type is perfect for the aggressive close combat players.
AEGIS - Charges up and deploys a mobile, high-energy plasma shield that offers protection against incoming bullets.
BLACKOUT - Discharges a high energy pulse that is capable of temporarily disabling enemy devices within range. Also disorients the enemy.
Squad Supports:
Ghost Recon Online - Specialist Support Ammo SupplyAMMO SUPPLY - Gradually refills the ammunition of you and your nearby allies.
Ghost Recon Online - Specialist Support Device RechargeDEVICE RECHARGE - Increases the rate at which you and your nearby allies' devices recharge.

Ghost Recon Online - ReconGeared with state of the art stealth and intelligence gathering technologies, this class can outsmart their enemies and/or take them out at extended distances.


Base HP:

Primary Weapon Access:
Sniper Rifles - High damage, pin-point accuracy but long setup times, this weapon type is best suited for long-distance firefights.

Sub-Machine Guns - With high rates of fire and quick response times, this weapon type is the top choice for close quarter battles without sacrificing mobility.
CLOAK - Activates an optical camouflage system that renders its user nearly invisible for a short duration.
ORACLE - Hacks into enemy IFF systems, within scanning range, to reveal their locations to you and your nearby allies.
Squad Supports:
Ghost Recon Online - Recon Support Vector DetectorVECTOR DETECTOR - Reveals the location of sprinting enemies, within range, to you and your nearby allies. (Not sprinting counters this.)
Ghost Recon Online - Recon Support Gunshot DetectorGUNSHOT DETECTOR - Reveals the location of firing enemies, within range, to you and your nearby allies. (Installing silencers on weapons counters this.)
* Although there's supposedly a difference here, it appears to only apply to the Hermes armor variant and not the Titan armor. All classes have access to the same Titan armor sets. (For now perhaps? Subjected to changes since its still in Open Beta.)

Additional Need to Knows (Regarding Devices and Squad Supports)
  • Only One of Each
    Ghost Recon Online - Respawn Loadout
    You may only choose to equip one device and one squad support at any point in time during a round/match. Changing of these within the round/match is only possible during respawn (via "Loadout").
  • Active versus Passive
    Ghost Recon Online - Cloak ActivatedGhost Recon Online - Enemy Gunshots Detected
    A device functions like an "active skill". It requires energy to use and has a cooldown time (appears to depend on how fast the energy recharges) to reuse. (Except for CLOAK and ORACLE, which can be used so long as there's sufficient energy left.)

    A squad support, on the other hand, functions quite like a "passive skill" in MMO terms. It is always active and will work as long as your alive.
  • The Need to Link
    Ghost Recon Online - Links
    Whenever you are close to one of your teammates, a sort of line forms between the two of you called a "link". This link not only ensures that whatever you two see gets relayed to the other, but also allows you to gain mutual benefits from each of your own squad supports as well as the information sent by an activated ORACLE device.

    (Do note that the squad support bonuses, I believe, do not stack. Most probably, only the one with the better benefit will prevail.

    Receiving of these benefits will be indicated by those tiny symbols found beneath your HP bar. Which in my case is HARDEN, GUNSHOT and VECTOR.)
For more information#, please refer:
Ghost Recon Online - Assault Class
Ghost Recon Online - Specialist Class
Ghost Recon Online - Recon Class

# Though it may be outdated, but the general concepts still applies. Especially how the devices work and are used.

Previous: Ghost Recon Online (Part One)Next: Ghost Recon Online (Part Three)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ghost Recon Online (Part One)

Ghost Recon Online
The game that I'm going to introduce to you guys this week is called Ghost Recon Online. Currently in Open Beta, this game is a free-to-play third person shooter being developed and published by Ubisoft.

Frankly, since it was a shooter game, I wasn't quite really looking forward to it as I naturally assumed that it was gonna be just like the rest. However in terms of its gameplay, though not ground-breaking, it does bring forth an interestingly new perspective to the genre.
Ghost Recon Online - In CoverGhost Recon Online - Popping Out To Shoot
In my opinion, the cover-based mechanics which they have cleverly implemented into the game sorta adds a dash of realism to it while not overtly exaggerating things.

Being in cover does not give you an over the top ability to defend yourself from being killed by bullets. It merely offers to protect you against incoming volleys from certain directions and to some degree, applies a little bit of bonus to your accuracy, control and stability when firing weapons.
Ghost Recon Online - Sliding Into Cover
Then there's also this cool sliding maneuver in which you can make your avatar perform whilst running from cover to cover as you try to flank your opponents.

However, since it uses the same command key (Spacebar) as when you wish to enter into or exit a cover, it can get a little bit tricky to it if your too close to an object/cover or when your trying to get out of one to reposition yourself.

Additionally, due to the way the system automatically snaps your sliding avatar into a nearby cover (which may not be what you want), use of this stunt does require a bit of perfecting and talent.

(Tip: I actually find that its easier to get out of a cover by backing away from it rather than by using the Spacebar.)

Ghost Recon Online - Balaklava Sub Pen MapGhost Recon Online - Shearwater 51 Map
Ghost Recon Online - Chertanovo LZ Map
And adding even more flavor to the game, the way they've designed each of the maps is pretty brilliant as well, in my opinion.

In terms of scale, there's small-scale ones (the size of a regular CounterStrike map) to mid-sized ones to even large ones covering the length of at least two to three of the small-scale maps joined together.
Ghost Recon Online - Chertanovo LZ Map 1Ghost Recon Online - Chertanovo LZ Point C 1
In terms of flexibility, one is given more than a single route of approach to any given location of interest/conflict. It really allows the players to come up with various attacking strategies to gain ground or the upper hand against their opponents.
Ghost Recon Online - Enemy Using AEGISGhost Recon Online - Enemy Using HEAT
Topping it off, they've also included various sorts of devices to allow for yet more combinations and team-working this game really gives off a flair of its own.

BUT... (Oh boy, here comes the BIG but)

After getting past the beginner stages, I do find that the game's not all roses and sunshine. The exciting tactical aspects that the game offers does actually get shadowed as you advance and fight with veterans and their fully decked out equips using your peashooters.
Ghost Recon Online - Recon's Starting WeaponGhost Recon Online - Maximum 160 Health
Versus them, even your backstabs become highly challenging as not even unloading a full clip would guarantee that you could drop them easily.
Ghost Recon Online - Killed In Two ShotsGhost Recon Online - Critical 295 Damage
On the other hand, a mere one or two stray shots off their weapons can effortlessly take you out or wound you badly.

But in my opinion, rather than it being the equipment's or the person's fault, I think this is more or less a problem in the match-making mechanics. If it were more efficient in its assigning of people to both teams (within a match) such that there is a good balance in firepower, equipment and skills, it would make the game that much more enjoyable instead of being a one-sided bash.

To make matters worse, accessibility to better equipment isn't exactly an easy feat either. It is full of thorns and thistles.
Ghost Recon Online - Round StatsGhost Recon Online - Weapon Shop
Each match takes about 20 to 30 minutes on average to complete. And with it consisting of two rounds per match and your typical earnings per round being 100 to 150 RPs, you will actually only get like 220 RPs at best (minus armor repairs of 40 RPs per round or 80 RPs per match).

On top of that, the pricing of the equipments are pretty steep too. Even a Tier II weapon costs like 11,000 RPs, so it kindda makes it pretty hard to upgrade yourself to be competitive.

(Putting things into perspective, its like needing at least 25 hours of optimal gaming to get yourself the Tier II weapon. Not to mention that you've got armors, devices and armor inserts to get too...and that higher tiers cost more RPs.)

Ghost Recon Online - Round Stats NewGhost Recon Online - Weapons On Sale
But keeping in mind that its still in Open Beta, things might just improve and become better. In fact, just recently, I've noticed that the income earned per round has been increased and the prices of weapons lowered.

A Tier II SMG now costs 5,500 RPs instead of 11,000 RPs, so if you work hard enough and earn sufficient RPs, there is still a way for you to stand on equal footing with the veterans...eventually. Or, you can just buy your way to veteran status using real life cash (via Ghost Coins, GCs) if you can't grind for it.

All in all, if you look beyond its flaws, this game does have a pretty good potential to keep you long as the team at Ubisoft balances the game properly that is.

Next: Ghost Recon Online (Part Two)