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)