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Review

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PC
Aaron Sampson on Google+

The flashy free-to-play shooter Ghost Recon Online front-loads the fun, despite some inconsistencies.

When you wind up on a well-rounded team that works together cohesively and uses each class's abilities intelligently, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online's brutal multiplayer firefights are among the most satisfying you'll find in a free-to-play game. Matches don't always click though, and since the fun in each encounter hinges on how well your team works together, getting stuck with a bunch of meathead bullet sponges can spoil your killing groove. However, a great cover system, balanced class perks, and some cool high-tech gadgets make the moments where it all comes together feel immensely satisfying.

Ghost Recon Online ditches the high military plot setups of its predecessors and explores a wild what-if scenario that pits dueling teams of ghost operatives against one another. There's no rhyme or reason to it story-wise, but that doesn't matter. With 16 soldiers thrown into the fray sporting the latest futuristic tech, things get crazy in a hurry, and that's a big part of what makes this online shooter feel unique. The balance of power constantly tips back and forth as each side one-ups the other with sneaky moves aided by some powerful but nicely counterbalanced unit abilities. When you're diving in and out of cover under sniper fire, scrambling to get behind a teammate's temporary force field bubble as you push forward to take a position, and lurching around corners to shoot unsuspecting foes in the back, it's easy to appreciate the high level of strategic flexibility you're given to play around with.

Three dynamic character classes offer a broad array of tactical options on the battlefield. It's great that you can eventually deck out any class with the full range of guns and armament goodies you unlock from playing and amassing points for buying gear, but it's their special abilities that really make classes stand out. Far from a generic run-and-gunner, the assault class is perfect for pushing the front line into enemy territory. The blitz shield lets you charge forward at high speeds right into incoming fire, bludgeon enemies into a prone position, and then take them out with a few quick shots before they even know what happened. Or you can nuke foes with area-of-effect microwaves that blind them and cook them with radiation damage.

Sniping is a favorite pastime among players.

Meanwhile, specialists can trigger EMP devices to short-circuit enemy tech or engage a limited portable force field bubble that affects bullet trajectories. Recon sniper units are favorites for their cloaking ability and a radar-like ping device that reveals enemy positions and invisible units to all teammates. Each unit's special perks are useful in countering another class's abilities too, which makes balancing your team important. Putting all of these skills into play on the battlefield at once is deliciously chaotic, and it keeps matches fluid and engaging.

Tight gameplay lets you focus on enjoying the flow of battle and capitalizing on your team's strengths. When you're running around and dodging behind cover, Ghost Recon Online is mostly a third-person affair, but anytime you look down the sights of whatever weapon you're wielding, the action kicks into a first-person perspective. It's a great blend that you barely notice because it just feels right, thanks to fast and smooth transitions. The excellent cover system itself is equally fluid. An awesome sliding move lets you zip behind barriers even when you're about to eat lead, and once you're behind cover, there's a lot of maneuverability for lining up shots and popping out quickly to surprise the enemy. Ghost Recon Online feels great, from the responsive controls to the way you move around the battlefield.

Both of the two available modes, Onslaught and Conquest, emphasize the need for teamwork with slight variations on point-capturing and defense matches. Running around on your own gunning down enemies boosts your own character growth to an extent, but you won't win rounds and earn much-needed bonus experience without working with your squadmates to put together more orchestrated battle plans. This is where the matchmaking system can be problematic, making for a wildly inconsistent experience from one battle to the next. It's possible to form your own fire teams composed of online friends, but there's no way to limit the class makeup of your group, which sometimes puts you at a serious disadvantage. Recon units are a popular player pick, for example, and it's not uncommon to wind up being the lone assault soldier on a team of snipers. Nothing sucks more than getting stuck on a wildly imbalanced team with players who don't cooperate. Otherwise, hotly contested matches played with a good group of comrades can be a real blast.

The four sprawling maps you battle across are rife with sniping hotspots, cover points, and pathways weaving throughout. They're a fun playground for strategic mayhem, though the visual designs fall a bit short flavor-wise. It's not that these areas look bad; they just blur into one another in terms of their visual design. Despite the limited play modes and environments to fight in, Ghost Recon Online's class-specific progression system keeps you in the game even during moments of aggravation.

Gaining experience and leveling up lets you unlock tons of abilities, weapons, and gear to deck your soldiers out with, but most importantly, it also earns you requisition points--one of the game's two currencies--that can be used to buy everything from special skills and guns to upgrades for individual weapon components. RP doesn't cost you anything; it's earned simply from playing. The better you perform, the more you can get, and taking on daily missions or earning achievements also nets you sweet bonuses.

For those on the fast track, ghost points can be purchased instantly with real-world cash and spent on everything available in-game as well as experience boosts. What's great about Ghost Recon Online's model is that you truly don't have to spend a dime to enjoy the game. Spending money is optional, and the pricing model isn't as heinous as other "freemium" games. RP is doled out generously, and amassing a bunch of it in one fell swoop feels like a substantive reward for pushing hard and ranking in the top tier of your squad in a match.

A dynamic cover system makes for intense firefights.

Out of the starting gates, four large maps, three distinct classes, and two game modes doesn't seem like a lot of content. It isn't, but what's here plays smoothly. Even without considering what's coming down the pike in terms of additions and updates, the currently limited scope delivers a lot of mileage and high replayability. While it's an option to speed things along, purchasing gear and perks via microtransactions isn't necessary, and there's a lot of fun to be had just working your way up the ranks with each class to unlock things as you go. Both Ghost Recon Online and its burgeoning player community may still be in their infancy, but this addictive, high-end multiplayer shooter is already a force to be reckoned with in the free-to-play space.

The Good
Cool class abilities offer lots of strategic options
Dynamic cover system works excellently
You don't have to pay anything to play or access extra content
The Bad
Matchmaking can yield inconsistent and unbalanced teams
Small number of maps and modes
7.5
Good
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25 comments
Bowser05
Bowser05

I'm going to check this out. I've always liked Ghost Recon and I especially enjoyed Advanced Warfighter.

banj0123
banj0123

I refuse to believe Ghost Recon has gone from a slow-paced tactical shooter (with 36 player multiplayer) to this generic, 16 player snorefest.

toshineon
toshineon

What did they do to you, Ghost Recon?!

Elle64
Elle64

the problem now is more cheaters in ghost recon online and the game need more new game tipe game mode exeple capture the flag,plant the bombs,stop hakers is idea for create a new mode game and need more attacament for wepons now is very smoller and need introduce new costomise avatar for clan wars now is very smoller this game is beast  but not exploited and the more prolbems is cheat ubisoft me sure cange road and resolve problem and inprove graphics and introduce more game mode and defeteted cheat .

monowasp
monowasp

Downloading at the moment, looking forward to it. Bought the retail game a few days ago for a cheap 5 USD here in Sweden (PC-version).

eol_is
eol_is

One other thing, their boosts are counting down continously. Doesn't matter if you're not in the game, in a match or it's not even equipped. It will simply expire on its own, whether you use it or not. Bull.

eol_is
eol_is

Having played this game both in beta and 'retail', i want to share some nuisances i found to be quite irritating:

 - it's not that matchmaking can yield inconsistent and unbalanced teams, more like it will most likely screw you over again and again, with small breaks for a smoke.

 In 10 matches, excepting 2,3 or 4 with a somewhat balanced play, the rest are you getting thrown into a 2nd-round, near the end, losing match, just in time to watch the unskippable Defeat scoreboard, that is if you even make it into the game at all.

Of course you can also get sent into a match moments away from ending, just so you can go to the loading screen, time out and get thrown back out with an error.

 

- from what i've seen, there is no level restrictions so you're quite likely to encounter an enemy team full of lvl30 players, with all their fancy gadgets and armor, while you're in max lvl 5 team - with the result of instantly getting wiped.

 

- When team members leave, due to rage or something else, matchmaking takes care of that by bringing in players actively looking for matches. If it can't find any...sucks for you.  - This can especially be a pain if you win the first round, but get 3-4 leavers in the second one. If you don't start cursing when that happens ... you're a better person than I am.

 

- Your biggest enemy here though isn't matchmaking, nor fully upgraded enemy players, but latency. The better the connection, the less likely you'll get killed by 'round the corner shots and less complaints about cheating. And here it's a complicated relationship: doesn't matter if your net is top of the line. If the game server refuses its advances, you're screwed instead.

 

Recons - pain in the ass snipers and pain in the ass in general. A good sniper surrounded by a somewhat competent team can stay in one spot and take all of your team out with one bullet each. I know because i tried it. 8 kills from the same spot before i charged in so they wouldn't call me a camper.

Others reach 20-30 and don't give a damn.

But depending on who's playing what, all classes are annoying when played against.

 

Overall, when i play GRO, i am angry most of the time and it's good that there's a chat filter, else it would be filled by a lot of vulgarities.

 

 

 

EatShanna
EatShanna

Having played GRO from beta to "retail" I can say it's a lot better than your average Free-to-play-pay-to-win game.

 

So far the only thing I find irritating about GRO is the amount of Recon players per match. 

 

For the most part they seem to outnumber the other classes which can be very annoying, but it's also very satisfying to flank them, neutralize them and then rest your soldier's testicles in their mouths.

 

Give it a shot, it's better than dreck like Blacklight: Retribution, but not quite up there with Tribes: Ascend. 

youngzen69
youngzen69

Very few games can really get people playing as a team. Most r in it 4 themselves. So a online multiplayer game that is completely dependent upon teamwork 4 winning is bound 2 frustrate. Yes, teamwork is always important but if some loner on a team choices 2 operate solo it shouldn't be a complete fail 4 the team. The key is finding tht delicate balance of teamwork and solo play. BF3 is the one game I can think of tht seems 2 have achieved this balance.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

great game, but my comp can't handle it

luncHb0X84
luncHb0X84

hope it comes to steam in the future. anyone know anything about that?

pmclees1
pmclees1

This game is excellent!  The only people not enjoying the experience as single player types and should stick to COD games as team play is what makes this game amazing.  More maps and modes coming for sure to keep it fresh but the current content is great.  The matchmaking system and time between matches is need of help but I'm sure this will be fixed soon.  Highly recommended!

kachal
kachal

GS wasn't used to review online free games and even DLCs . I'm really happy for changing that attitude . Thanks a lot GS !

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

from what i hear the only thing missing in this game is a few maps and an ability to change class before the match starts (like in AVA)

Kars
Kars

It's been a while since i started playing GRO. I think 2 moths ago. I was in closed beta. Believe me this review is REALLY accurate. The game is really good, classes are great, abilities are needed, teamwork is essential and taking a cover is a MUST and is so smooth and nice. BUT!!!...only 2 modes and 4 maps, 2 for each mode. It gets really hard to keep playing . . .but its f2p so you people should definetly give it a try... and its pretty small download too (2gb if I am right).

Witchsight
Witchsight

Sounds like an actual videogame, instead of a perpetual credit card transaction. How Old-School!

AndCarlsen
AndCarlsen

This is what a F2P game should be, no like those Pay-2-Win we get all the time.

Zulu1Tango
Zulu1Tango

Haven't really picked up the GR series in a while but Future Soldier got me interested again. Wish I was able to play this one...

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

It's ok for a while,But It's too easy with the Sniper class...too easy kills..not bad game though.

lsw3638
lsw3638

If you like tactical shooter, well, anyone who liked any of previous R6 or ghost recon series would find this one extremely good.

Not just for F2p but very well designed game.

glez13
glez13

So it's only decent.

alipipaks
alipipaks

 @pmclees1 Yes, it is a very great game! I am rating it as 9.0. Matchmaking is the only need of fix and additional maps...

pathosfire
pathosfire

 @glez13 And free.  Decent and free = pretty good deal for the consumer.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Phantoms More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • Wii U
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online is a multiplayer, third-person, cover-based tactical shooter.
    7.4
    Average User RatingOut of 73 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Phantoms
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Singapore
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genres:
    Action, Third-Person, Tactical, Shooter
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
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