I’m actually quite excited about Ghost Recon Frontline. Admittedly, I’m not really a Ghost Recon fan, so years of questionable genre shifts haven’t left me exasperated and angry like much of the official Ghost Recon subreddit. But while I’m quietly excited for a fresh battle royale from a triple-A publisher, Ghost Recon isn’t the series to try this experiment with.
Come May 2022, it will have been a decade since the last truly tactical Ghost Recon game, Future Soldier. Why not give the community what it’s been pleading for before starting the next experiment? Ubisoft’s determination to ignore the focused single-player experiences that birthed IPs like Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell is increasingly baffling, especially in a world of remakes and reboots. Trend chasing is out and traditional single-player games are back in – look at Jedi: Fallen Order, God of War, Cyberpu – ok, not that, but there are plenty of examples.
And if Ubisoft must have a battle royale with ties to a major IP (rest in peace, Hyper Scape – I still say you were done dirty) then there are plenty more candidates. Just Dance? The Crew? Watch Dogs? Ok, probably not them. Let’s take a quick peek through Ubisoft’s IP catalogue: Rainbow Six? No, that’s already a successful multiplayer game. Splinter Cell? That would just reproduce the fan resentment that’s caused Frontline’s closed test to be delayed. The Division might already be getting a battle royale game in Heartland, so that’s out. Well, there’s always the Rabbids licence…
But there’s one more prospect. How about Far Cry? Yeah, what if the next Far Cry game jumps in front of Ubisoft’s desperate, sweaty need to have a successful battle royale to save beleaguered Ghost Recon fans? That… that could work.
It’s got plenty of big, exotic, open-world maps, which is a staple for the genre. The shooting feels pretty good and, thanks to Far Cry 6, there’s a selection of modular attachments that would be perfect for fleshing out loot tables. It’s also got land, sea, and air vehicles with control schemes that have been honed over the past few entries, and an auto-drive mechanic so the driver can fire their sidearm while evading the zone. Wingsuits, parachutes, grappling hooks, and ziplines grant players more ways to get around their rugged surroundings than you’ll find in games like Warzone or PUBG, too, so fewer frustrating deaths for players who find the zone pushing them down dead ends or into congested areas.
Battle royale games have been knocking around in the mainstream for four years now, so Far Cry needs to introduce some kind of twist to stand out. That’s where its ferocious and adorable animal companions come into play. Obviously, letting everyone run around with their own tiger, crocodile, grizzly bear, or combat rooster would be total chaos, so there needs to be some scarcity involved. Ubisoft could follow in the footsteps of Activision (Editor: like they aren’t already), adding vendors around the map where you can purchase fangs for hire, which you can then spawn for a limited duration.
You could buy an eagle that soars overhead, providing your squad with passive reconnaissance for a few minutes, or splash out on a mighty bear that can charge into battle on your behalf. Stealthy beasts like mountain lions? Give them the ability to pin an enemy in place and gradually drain their health – something that could be easily dealt with by vigilant teams who stick together, but which punishes gung-ho players.
If this seems like too much work, Ubisoft doesn’t actually need to do anything to integrate animals into a Far Cry battle royale. Just carry them over from Far Cry 6 and let them loose. Having deadly predators that roam around the map and pick fights with players would make each match feel different.
Owing to its immersive sim roots, the Far Cry series also has plenty of other systems that could breathe some new life into the battle royale format. Fire propagation could let players experiment with area denial and turn the terrain in their favour. Weapons could deteriorate the more you use them, eventually resulting in weapon jams like you’d get in Far Cry 2. Let’s have throwable bait like in Far Cry 4, so you can get a leopard to do your dirty work for you.
The Far Cry series boasts a wealth of systems that would not only slot straight into the battle royale mould, but also ones that could diversify it, and bring just the right amount of innovation to stand out in a crowded multiplayer space.
Better still, a battle royale scenario could be the perfect home for Far Cry’s increasingly confused tone – some desperately needed separation from settings clearly heavily inspired by the real world, which have seen Ubisoft invoke real-world political narratives in its marketing while reveling in ridiculousness like Macarena guns and Tekken-inspired cockfighting minigames. There’s got to be some middle ground between this and Ghost Recon’s neckbeardy bro-squad special forces schtick.
So far Far Cry’s spin-offs have taken us to a neon-drenched future dystopia, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and 10,000 years before the birth of Christ. Why not a battle royale next?
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