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With Global Agenda heading toward the final phase of closed beta one this weekend, we asked Executive Producer Todd Harris to tell us about the recon class - the most popular class in beta so far (recon edged out the other classes with 27% of the total characters created). Recons play a much more active role in Global Agenda than just sniping from afar. Equipped with stealth abilities, traps, mines, and anti-stealth capabilities, recons are the perfect choice to wreak havoc behind the lines. Join us as we learn more about the roles,capabilities, equipment and tactics of the recon class in this first of four part series.

Ten Ton Hammer: It’s natural to think of the recon class as a bunch of snipers, but recon is a lot more than just headhunting through a scope in Global Agenda. What are the various roles the recon class performs?

Todd Harris: Recon is definitely a very versatile class. Probably the easiest way to explain recon is to tell you how some of the different people here in the studio play the class. One of the tasks recon is particularly good at is hunting the beacon of the other team. In Global Agenda, both teams in PvP have a beacon, which is basically a chance for a forward spawn for their team. They only have one; the entrance to the beacon is in their drop ship or defensive spawn area and then they place the beacon aggressively in the map. That allows players to step through and make a big difference between winning and losing. Since recon can go stealth and easily get behind enemy lines, hunting the other team’s beacon is a task they do often. Travis, our QA lead, is particularly adept at doing that.

Another common task is taking out heavily fortified areas, such as turret farms. When the other team has set up a fortified area - medical crates and multiple turrets - recon has a lot of tools to deal with that. So taking out those turrets is a second task, and Dan, our lead animator, is particularly good at that.

Clearing out blobs of people is another task. If the other team has a lot of momentum and is kind of clumped up around the objective, recon can stealth in and use bombs to clear those people out, since getting caught in a bomb’s radius could mean being rooted for a short period of time (which usually means death). Nick Larkin, our Technical Artist, does that quite often.

Another interesting task is just being a spoiler against other recons. One of the offhand devices a recon can take is a scanner, which will show other recons even if stealthed for a limited period of time. Andy, one of our weapon designers, will often play that role and when recons think they’re immune, he’ll go behind them with a rifle and finish them off.

Recons can also play more of a traditional scout role. They can take bionics, which gives them additional speed, agility, jumping ability, and also the ability to place a decoy of themselves and spec high in melee, basically causing a lot of chaos around the objective. So those are just a few of the recon tasks that we see people in the office taking with the recon role in addition to sniping, which of course is a valid role too.

While a robotics class works to protect the beacon (stacked blue rings, top right), a recon class makes his move.

Ten Ton Hammer: Taking stealth as an example, in what ways can players bolster their existing recon abilities?

Todd Harris: You can bolster stealth a few ways. One is through the devices themselves. All of our gear is ranked from one to four, where rank four devices are more powerful than rank three than rank two than rank one - but they also cost more equip points, so you can’t be rank four in everything. So, in the case of stealth, rank four does allow you to stealth longer than rank one because it consumes less power and all stealth has a slight consumption of power. So you can definitely bolster it through your item choice, and you can also bolster it through talents. There’s one talent, for example, that supports a faster transition into stealth. Because you can be unstealthed by taking damage - if you want to get back into stealth quickly, there’s a talent for that. Other talents can kind of indirectly bolster stealth because you can increase your total power pool or the rate at which you get power back.

Ten Ton Hammer: One thing I noticed about the recon class from my brief play session at PAX is that there’s no such thing as a one shot kill (that is, when you’re facing an enemy with full health). Taking away the coveted head shot was a very intentional design decision, I take it?

Todd Harris: Yes it was. The headshot is fun, from one person’s point of view... (laughter) but not as much fun from the other person’s point of view. And really, we are a hybrid of a first person shooter and a role-playing game - we’re a third person shooter. People that aren’t familiar with the game might not know where we fall between tab-targetting and super-twitch, über-macro, nano-second reaction time gameplay. Basically, because it’s not fun to be on the other end of a one-shot kill, and it’s also not very fun as a medic trying to keep someone up and having them drop after one shot, for our sniper role, we wanted to support player skill with aiming but really not overemphasize twitch skill.

So, for us, it’s more about picking your target, picking the right place to snipe from, rather than pixel hunting. We do have a hitbox, it’s not stat-based - I do have to hit you with the projectile that comes out of my sniper rifle, but having a single hitbox around the character felt like a good compromise between player skill and not overemphasizing twitch gameplay.

Ten Ton Hammer: Another weapon in a recon’s arsenal is a set of traps. Could you tell us what’s available right now in terms of traps and how these work?

Todd Harris: What’s available right now is a proximity based mine. We certainly may add more later, but the ability to lay (per mine type) up to three mines and they’re triggered by the enemy when they step into that area. That can be used in a number of ways, from protecting an objective area to mining up an area so a recon can lead other players to their own death or injury. Another way they’re used is to protect their team, such as protecting a medical crate or a turret laid down by another class.

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CG (left) and two screenshots of the recon class in action.

Ten Ton Hammer: Every class in Global Agenda has a unique silhouette that makes it easily distinguishable from the other classes. Rather than the sheer size of the assault classes or the bionic arm of the robotics classes, recons have spikey tendrils coming out of their shoulders. Is there a reason in the background or the lore for these, or did they just look cool?

Todd Harris: It was definitely important for us that each class stand out with its silhouette. It depends on who you ask what the reason is for the recon’s silhouette. Our art director would say it’s because spikes and blades look badass. The lore reason, from our writer, is more related to it being a part of the agent’s sensor system, so kind of functioning like antennae on insects - keeping recons ultra in-tune with their environment. Those are at least two reasons, and I’d say that the community is invited to come up with their reasons as well.

Ten Ton Hammer: We talked a bit about the natural counters between the robotics class and the recon class. How else do these two classes face off? Are there other counters to the recon’s abilities that he or she should be aware of?

Todd Harris: Turrets are really where the back and forth tends to happen in Global Agenda, because turrets are very powerful. If they’re placed in a good location, many times they’re going to need to be cleared out or blocked. Multiple classes may go after them and have different abilities to go after them, may stealth behind them and use bombs to take those out. Often teams will place a beacon inside an area fortified by turrets, so that’s a primary target for recons.

Ten Ton Hammer: We touched on the point-buy system and how it’s possible to max out a particular piece of equipment or strategy fairly early in the game. What does a recon player have to look forward to - loot, rewards, etc. - as they’re leveling up and working towards endgame?

Todd Harris: That’s a good point, we really did want players to be viable with a particular playstyle very early in the game. So, examples for the sniper role (which, as you said, many of the recon players would start out with), agents do get a sniper rifle fairly early in the progression, but at the higher level they have access to a sniper rifle that also has a poison damage-over-time component, so that’s an example of an elite level weapon there. They’re also getting skills as they level - it’s not exactly on every other level, but we generally alternate between giving access to more equipment options (by opening up another equipment slot) or new equipment types or new ranks of equipment or skill points that can go on the talent tree.

At a very high level, Recons are able to fill in that top point of one of their talent trees. For marksman, that topmost talent means increasing their attack rate with a damage boost. But because the game is player skill based, this is not a case where we’re increasing their accuracy; hitting the target is still based on the player’s skill. But the rate at which they fire and the damage that they do get a significant boost with that talent. They still won’t be able to take someone down in one shot, but they’ll certainly be a lot closer. Those are a flavor for what the recon get at that level, and even once they’re max level, across all classes we have this concept of upgrades, which are basically 15 different types of armor implants and other technology implants where you can do additional bonuses for your character. So that’s another level of advancement there.

Ten Ton Hammer: Being that recons are naturally a little more fragile than the other classes, would you say that they’re a little more equipment or upgrade dependent than the other classes?

Recon class sketches.

Todd Harris: I really wouldn’t say that recon is more dependent on gear, because all of our agents rely a lot on their equipment and devices. So, in terms of playstyle and how people spec, they might be a little more dependent on using the element of surprise, basically, in their attack style. But other than that, I wouldn’t say they’re more dependent on equipment.

Going back to your early question about what happens at the top level, since you can be viable even at the early level, a lot of what you get when you advance is just more versatility. We talked about all those roles at the beginning - sniper, scout, spoiler, beacon hunter - really what we see happening at the top level, based on acquiring a complete arsenal of devices, allocating skill points, and just being more familiar with the game, is we’ll see recons being versatile enough to play all of those roles. That’s not to say that if I’m spec’ed skill wise as a sniper, I probably won’t be able to take out enemy turrets at close range as I would as someone who was spec’ed that way, But I still want people to have the flexibility to be able to do that.

Ten Ton Hammer: What are the big mistakes you’ve seen players make with the recon class? Because recons are so versatile, maybe doing too much too soon is a common mistake?

Todd Harris: Because all our classes are broad, probably across any class there’s just a general possible mistake of trying to do too many things at the beginning versus specializing and maximizing your skills.

Things specific to recon are, one, we talked about the enemy beacon, and particularly in coordinated play, the recon is looked toward to take out that enemy beacon, but in the beginning recon players might not know that they’re particularly well-equipped to do that. So you’ll hear over voicechat and team chat requests for recons to hunt the enemy beacon if it feels like its in an aggressive place.

As you mentioned, they can be kind of fragile once they expose themselves. So once a recon does identify a primary target, a beacon or a turret, another mistake we see is that they basically won’t finish the job. They take it down to partial health, and once they’re exposed, they’re threatened, and it’s always a judgment call as to whether self-preservation is important to finishing the job. In many cases they may opt to disappear into the shadows. But that also means that the robotics class can then repair the beacon and let more teammates in or repair the turret and wipe out the opposing team. So not finishing the job is another thing that we’ll see at the beginning.


A quick look at Global Agenda's recon class in action.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.