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Ghost Recon is a Ghost of its Former Self

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With the announcement of the newest game in the Tom Clancy franchise, Ghost Recon Frontline furthers the perversion of the Tom Clancy brand and more specifically Ghost Recon. As Ubisoft continues to chase the latest modern trends with all of their franchises, they risk losing any sense of identity and becoming a publisher that pushes out an amorphous blob of a library.

Based on the short trailer announcing the game Ghost Recon Frontline appears to be a first-person battle royal type game. The trailer tout’s 100+ players battling for supremacy using tactical squad-based teamwork and the typical Ghost Recon affair’s toolset like drones and collapsible cover. Ubisoft confirmed via the Ghost Recon Frontline official Twitter account that the game will indeed be free to play (https://twitter.com/GRFrontline/status/1445443406730256385) putting it squarely in competition with the likes of Apex Legends and Call of Duty Warzone. Currently, it’s too early to determine if Frontline will be able to introduce any significant competition to the space but between ApexWarzone, and Fortnite the genre has long since reached saturation.

Historically Ghost Recon has been a squad-based single-player or cooperative experience in which players complete black ops missions through tactical and stealth gameplay. While there have been a few missteps along the way, the series has a nearly 20-year record of high-quality third-person shooters with a distinct identity in Ubisoft’s lineup. By changing the style of the game to an action-heavy first-person shooter Ubisoft is communicating multiple things to their audience. First, that this game will be more focused on faster and more frantic encounters that will require less planning than previously demanded in the series. And second, that this is the type of game Ubisoft is wanting to make right now, standards of expectations be damned. Based on the little information we have about the game at this time it appears as though Frontline is Ghost Recon in name only.

The potential of a Ubisoft battle royal is intriguing, Tom Clancy games have become renowned for their grittier and more grounded take on espionage in video games. But upon further evaluation of the space, any armchair analyst is able to come to the conclusion that as it stands now the task of building a player base is a nearly insurmountable one. Not only are developers and publishers new to the battle royal space having to build a player base, but the majority of those players are having to be convinced to abandon whichever battle royal is currently their go-to in order to play a new one. From this perspective Ubisoft’s decision to utilize the name recognition that comes with Ghost Recon makes more sense, it’s just a shame to see what was once a great franchise become a sacrificial lamb for the catalyst of what should be a new IP.

While Ubisoft’s debut in the battle royal genre will undoubtedly make a splash, they are facing an uphill battle toward solidifying their place in the audience’s mind share. Not only is the decision to use the Ghost Recon name seemingly backfiring by frustrating consumers with a game that looks nothing like the Ghost Recon they have come to know and love but it’s perceived as the continued bastardization of the Tom Clancy brand. A new battle royal is interesting, and judgment must be held until the game is actually released but as of now it’s difficult to muster up much excitement.

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. Follow Patrick in everything he does on Twitter @TheLawMorris or on YouTube by subscribing to ColdNorth Productions, you can see everything he does independently at www.coldnorthpro.com.

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