A typical lunch in the north tower of Ubisoft Singapore:
The floor is a giant playing field.
The majority of the Ghost Recon Phantoms developers are at their stations, headsets on, eyes glued to their computer screens. The headsets allow different teams around the room to coordinate in the game. “We play live every day,” says Design Manager Simon Davis. “I can tell you that every single person in my team is online every single day.”
Commands and tactical updates fly around the room.
Who’s got a device ready?
Ghost Recon Phantoms is not like other shooters – lone wolves don’t last long. Those who play solo figure out pretty quickly that’s a surefire way to lose. Communication is key. For Brand Manager Benjamin Pommeraud, “Ghost Recon Phantoms is a shooter, not a MOBA, but it requires more team coordination than individual skill to prevail – much more than any other shooter. When you win in Ghost Recon Phantoms, you feel the well-executed teamwork, which is the core experience of MOBA games. We are not a MOBA, but we provide very similar benefits to the player.”
Interestingly, during the Open Beta phase a survey revealed that the majority of Ghost Recon Phantoms players spend equal time playing MOBAs. This insight has helped shape the way the team communicates with the community and addresses future systems. The similarity between Ghost Recon Phantoms and MOBA games comes from four key parallels: Team play, classes, devices and the tactical mechanics.
In addition to the constant need for communication and coordination mentioned above, team play depends heavily on the second pillar: Classes. In a MOBA, each character class has a distinctive role, unique abilities and its own niche within the team.
As Producer Corey Facteau points out: “In Ghost Recon Phantoms, we have three character classes. Assault is the team muscle with a lot of health and armor; Support is an excellent initiator and provides his teammates with ammo or energy regeneration; and the Recon is our stealth/sniper role who provides intel with a high DPS, but low HP. The strengths and weaknesses of each character are very similar to the Tank, Carry and Support roles of MOBAs.”
The majority of Ghost Recon Phantoms players spend equal time playing MOBAs
All three classes are further differentiated by the two unique devices available to each of them. Like abilities for MOBA classes, devices allow players to deploy powerful effects on the battlefield (such as microwave suppression, seeing through walls or firing an EMP blast). When coordinated together, devices can be instrumental in pushes or cause game-changing reversals.
Ghost Recon Phantoms and MOBA games include kills and kill assists scores, but unlike other match-based arena games, killing opponents is only a means to an end, not the objective. The true objectives are reachable via a series of available lanes and only attainable through strategic team movement. While MOBA games use mechanics such as the river or jungle to move strategically, Ghost Recon Phantoms uses a very sophisticated cover system to tactically advance or defend key lanes or positions.
“Our cover system is quite unique,” adds Davis. “You can use it to improve your accuracy and aiming. It almost turns the game into a frontline shooter. It’s very clear whether each team is in position; it is like a moving frontline. Almost like in a game of American football, you can see the position of each team and their composition on the battlefield – the cover system really makes that possible.”
Ghost Recon Phantoms officially launches on Steam on April 10.
Special thanks to Alan Frazier and Felix Marlo Flor for helping out with this column! We’ll be back soon with more stories directly from the Ghost Recon Phantoms team!