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Designing the Ghosts and Respecting Authenticity

20/10/2015 06:00 PM

We spoke with Laurent Fischer, our Lead & Tech director – character specialist, about what went into developing the Ghosts and the rich world they inhabit in Ghost Recon Wildlands. We are extremely excited to share this interview with you.


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The Ghosts are a clandestine team whose operations are highly classified. What factors helped determine what equipment the Ghosts would have access to while in the field?

Laurent: As with the previous Ghost Recon titles, from the start of the project we’ve been in touch with US Special Operations advisors. US Navy SEAL trainers were invited to Paris as consultants and they ran us through some training exercises, including shooting sessions. We also had several discussions with the French Special Forces team. We met with them in a relaxed environment and they gave us a more in-depth look at what they do. Beyond the material authenticity, it was interesting to talk with them about other details about their jobs.


Which details did we pay attention to when creating the Ghosts?

Laurent: The key words were “behind the lines.” How will the Ghosts survive behind enemy lines for 20, 30 or maybe 40 days? They must have not only fighting skills, but also logistical and survival skills. Discussions with military advisors units really helped us while designing this.

In the early stages of development, we explored many ideas that were in the end not in line with our vision of the Ghosts. In order to recreate the Ghost fantasy, we want to recreate the mood, and what it’s like to be a group of four Black Ops operatives behind enemy lines. We chose to put aside some realism (but not everything), and focus on the tactical aspects of being a Ghost. We’re not doing a simulation.


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We tried to keep the equipment as authentic as possible. Everything the Ghosts wear looks like items used in the field today: backpacks, shirts, pouches, vests, jackets, etc. What they wear is based directly off our talks with military advisors: we took their advice. Through the intermediary of our friends at Red Storm, we also discussed with brands such as Camelback, Crye Precision, First Spear, High Speed gear, Oakley, Tactical Tailor, S&S Precision and Under Armour whose military products are designed to resist to the harshest conditions. An important fact is that the Ghosts wear not only military equipment, but also civilian clothing. This allows them to blend in with the environment, which is just as important a concept to us as recreating a “behind the lines” look.


Where is the originality in Wildlands?

Laurent:If we look at the history of Ghost Recon, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was very futuristic. In Wildlands, we went back to present-day authenticity by removing everything that looks like the futuristic vision of Future Soldier. We also focused on the “what if.” What would happen if what we’re describing in the game comes true? We tried to create real Spec Ops guys surviving in the Bolivian no man’s land. They’ll have to choose their equipment according to the environment and use lightweight, quiet, and durable gear.


You visited Bolivia to gather references. Did the trip change your vision about the Ghosts’ equipment at all?

Laurent:There’s many different environments in Bolivia. On the Altiplano, which is 2.5 miles high, you’re burning and freezing at the same time. The sun burns your front, while your back freezes. The people who live there wear several coats to protect themselves against these weather conditions. This is the most beautiful place on Earth, but the people live in the harshest conditions. To me, as a Ghost, you have to wear suitable shoes, thick socks, solid fatigues, several coats, and a soft shell. But when you’re in the jungle, the climate changes. You’re in a temperate but humid zone, so you have to dress accordingly. In the plains or in the swamps, the weather is hot and humid from spring to fall and you’re getting bit by mosquitos all day. In the winter, you’re freezing, and the freezing fog is incredibly difficult to live with.

We also met up with a Special Forces team while in Bolivia and visited two different camps. They’ve been trained by the Americans in the past, so their bases and equipment are similar to the ones American forces use. We attended trainings with FELCN soldiers (Bolivia’s Special Antinarcotics Force). We also met the UMOPAR (a subsidiary of the FELCN), attended their trainings, patrolled on the river and saw them dismantle and burn a cocaine lab. At first, our relations were a bit tense but when they saw that we were really interested in their work, were familiar with their weapons, and that we knew what we were talking about in general, they were more open to talk and gave us some useful advice.


To check out some footage of the Dev Team was able to capture while they were in Bolivia, click here. Also, don’t hesitate to get in on the conversation on our Official Forums and our subreddit!

Author
The Ghost Recon dev team

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