The future of warfare is no longer a "fighter jet on legs", as promised by Ubisoft Paris last year. The exoskeleton which made the Ghosts so formidable, along with the AI-guided drones which made the future's battlefields so terrifying.
Like Splinter Cell before it, Future Soldier has taken a sharp about-turn and gone back home - open battlefields, punishing combat, tactical stealth, and a Ghost team guided by tech taken to the extreme.
"There is a void in the shooter genre," says Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's Creative Director, Roman Campos Oriola. "There's a lot of really fast-paced shooters out there, but we have always been tactical, and we want something more.
"We want more depth in the game. We want to reward the cunning player and the team player so we focused on the combat, we focused on the squad, and we focused on the intel - your knowledge of the battlefield, your knowledge of your enemies - and that's where you can start to plan."
Future Soldier's journey begins with the Ghosts investigating a weapon smuggling ring in South America but it's mission three where Ubisoft's showcase kicks off, in North Africa. The level starts in the new pre-level hub where you can customise your weapons in the game's Gunsmith mode and outfit your team for the assignment.
In mission three the Ghosts are tasked with advancing on a refinery controlled by opposition forces and recovering information from their on-site network. The network will reveal the source of the weapons and will send the Ghosts on the next leg of their world tour - a tour which takes in Bolivia, Zambia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Arctic Circle in just the first third of the game's fourteen missions.
"We wanted to involve the player in the story more than we did in GRAW," says Game Director Eric Couzian. "We have a globetrotting story; not just the one city. We will have real relationships with many characters - some will betray their own side, some will need to be saved. We want players to care - you will understand that this guy is a father, this guy has a son and so on..."
Landing in the village, the Ghosts advance through the narrow streets and take out a lone soldier without betraying their presence, breaking his neck with a tap of R. With eyes on a small group of enemies, we designate four targets, and each of the Ghosts - here played by members of the development team - take aim.
As each one lines up their shot, the Ghosts' Augmented Reality HUD counts off the targets, invisible lasers tracking where your team's barrels are aimed at any given moment. Once all four are counted and locked the team fires a synchronised shot - dropping four men at once. In co-op, when one player fires, everyone experiences a second's slow-motion in which to fire their own bullet; alone, the AI synchronises with your own shot.
It's early but already the gameplay loop works. You advance carefully, picking off lone targets along the way; you pause and gather intel, sending in your drone or scanning with your vision modes; finally, you use your fresh intel to strike. Then it's back to the careful advance and information gathering, all the time preparing for the next battlefield.
'Intel' is simple - it's where your enemy is and what they're doing - and it can be gathered in over a dozen different ways. If another Ghost has eyes on an enemy, they'll appear on your Augmented Reality display regardless of walls or other obstructions; if the drone has a clear view, they'll appear on your HUD; if your support team has a satellite view of the area you'll see everyone without a roof over their heads.