Ideas for how the series could course-correct.
If it can be agreed that Ghost Recon's identity at its core is an Authentic Strategic Shooter Putting the player in control of a Small Special Operations Unit Conducting Small Unit Tactics, I would suggest the following things being implemented would reinforce those themes:
The genre should go back to its identity as an authentic semi-realistic strategic squad shooter. It should remain an open-world game as it lends itself best to the subject matter.
The setting needs to be an authentic real-world location covering realistic geopolitical conflicts..
The tone needs to reinforce the subject matter, and not serve to discredit it. The tone should be gritty and tell an authentic military story complete with a requisite amount of gallows humor.
The world-building needs to reinforce the theme of a small special operations unit operating in a clandestine environment.
The Player should feel like the world is alive and reacts to the player's choices, but still like events could unfold without direct action from the player.
The world-building and gameplay mechanics should make the player feel like there are severe consequences for getting caught when operating in a non-permissive environment.
Civilians should have a larger impact on one's mission and not just be aimlessly wandering about as set dressing. One could gather intel on targets/missions/convoys by asking civilians for information one would have to choose the right things to ask/say to get information out of them, not just pressing the action button to get intel out of them but actual dialog choices with multiple outcomes and possible tasks to complete in return for the intel, this might mean bribing them.
One might have to dress in civilian clothing when in urban areas so as not to compromise the team's presence, as well as when they are trying to get through checkpoints or border crossings without being detected. One might have to bribe the guards at the checkpoint but it isn't guaranteed to work and the money supply is limited to what they might find on objective sights or what they have limited access to from CIA safe houses.
One could also bribe civilians to get intel or to not give you up to the enemy, depending on the relative distance or scope of influence the hostile faction has on the civilians they would be more or less inclined to help or rat you out.
If the team is compromised in a non-combative situation at a checkpoint or in a town/city the team would have to escape and evade those, they became compromised too.
A capture system should be put into place where the team members that are caught go to a local jail or military base depending on the type of transgression and who they are caught by, the team member could break out where they are being held or have people break them out.
The story should cover plausible geopolitical turmoil & the conflict that arises from them in a realistic manner. The story should be linear to allow for better character & story arcs with narrative cutscenes. Allied factions should also get a character arc this could be accomplished by the Ghost team training the allied faction in small unit tactics that would also act as a tutorial to teach the player those same skills.
The missions should be authentic to that of a small special operations unit working in a clandestine environment.
The Ghost team should have a planning board at the HQ or Regional Safehouse with the mission objectives and overhead map of the area of operation that would allow the player to plan the mission after gaining the requisite intel via reconnaissance and allied assets actionable intel.
The player is then able to set up their; insertion/exfiltration routes and points via AI-controlled vehicles. Dismounted approach/exfill routes. Entry/exit points of the objective building or compound. Primary, secondary, and tertiary exfill points/plans. Contingencies for Quick Reaction Forces. What available assets are available that the area of operation and their constraints of the area in regards to what for Close Air Support, Airstrikes, or Fire missions can be called in.
The gameplay should mirror real-world Special operations mission sets. CO-OP player count should be increased up to 6 if possible to better employ small unit tactics. If it was upped to 12-player CO-OP to mirror the upper size of an ODA team it would allow for serious strategic squad-based gameplay not currently available on a console. Fireteam controls should include patrol pattern/spread, bounding overwatch, fireteam/squad formations, proper AI execution for clearing buildings, and ambush tactics such as Linear, L Shape, & V Shape Ambushes at either a Near, intermediate or Far distance. The Ghost team could be tasked with teaching rebel groups those same squad tactics to mirror the mission capability of some ODA & SFOD teams, this would hopefully give the allied rebels some character development and could act as a tutorial to teach the player some of these tactics towards the beginning of the game. AI control should have more functionality such as being able to be given individual orders to do certain, change the Rules Of Engagement, chain waypoints, tell them to suppress a target, set up a defensive position/ambushes, assault, or fall back, etc...
Vehicles should be authentic to the factions and locations being depicted. The full suite of current Special operations watercraft, air, and land vehicles should be present in the game to include covert up-armored bulletproof and blast-resistant civilian vehicles such as the Toyota Hilux or Landcruiser. The team's vehicle should have storage for additional weapons, ammo, and gear, as well as having a winch/ recovery kit, jerry can for extra fuel, & snorkel. Storage of ammo equipment gear and heavy weapons like an M107A1, MK32A1, CARL-GUSTAF M4, Mortars, and tripod-mounted crew-served weapons like the General Dynamics .338NM LWMMG or .50 BMG XM806 one can move around to set up ambushes/defensive positions. To make travel between areas more engaging and add a bit of tension having the need to fill up the cars with at gas stations/safe houses/or with jerry cans in case one runs out of gas in remote areas. Having areas on roads where one can get stuck in mud/sand/water after which one would need to use a winch/recovery kit to get out, as well as including flat tires/engine problems being a random/very rare occurrence and more commonplace for NPC vehicles.
-Firearms & Weapons:
Firearms Ballistics and handling characteristics should be based on real-world data variables being derived from what caliber, barrel length, and ammunition are being used, not made-up stats. Optics should have functional reticles with functioning holdovers, Ballistic Drop Compensators, and Auto-Ranging markings on the reticles.
The Ghost Team should have access to authentic US Special Operations weapons from the start of the game with appropriate accessories & modifications also being available from the start. The weaponry of the other factions should reflect their real-world counterparts and what is actually available and used within those regions. Realistic and plausible weapons being used by the factions in the game adds to the world-building and authenticity of the factions. The next game needs a competent professional advisor who has extensive knowledge of weapons and experience employing them I think Lary Vickers would be the best choice given his credentials and previous involvement working on Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Gunsmithing should be as in-depth as industry leaders like "Escape from Tarkov". Quality Real-world industry-leading Optics and Accessory that would mirror what is used by SOF units and what is available for procurement at the higher end. Placement for applicable accessories based on ergonimics and eye relief constraints. Variations in cosmetic weapon furniture such as Buttstocks, Rails/Handguards, Pistol Grips, and receivers. Multiple Caliber options for applicable firearms. Flashlights (For [censored] Sake) with realistic characteristics when it comes to disrupting enemies' ability to react in close quarters. Both White light and Infrared settings could be available.
rounds (better penetration) and possibly velocity.
So as to increase terminal ballistics and not to over-penetrate one's intended target causing the projectile to strike something that would compromise one's presence to the enemy or harm an HVT or noncombatants.
option to use either subsonic or supersonic ammo for suppressed firearms as an option so as to get better bullet velocity lethality and trajectory with supersonic rounds with the trade-off being the report of the round breaking the sound barrier downrange. Subsonic ammo being, much quieter but has decreased velocity/lethality.
Radios: Shortwave & Longwave. Longwave radio would be used by the team's RTO/Forward Air Controller to coordinate airstrikes, fire missions, and call-in assets. Having coms tied to radios would be a natural way to encourage teammates to stay in range of the shortwave frequency to maintain coms with the team.
What Gun, Calibers, Backpacks, Plate Carriers, and Chest Rigs, that one chooses impacts what one has available to them during a mission and their mobility. Didn't pack the bolt cutters too bad, didn't wear a plate carrier on a direct action raid go down in a few shots, and didn't consider the weight of your gear/gun/caliber choice now your slower with less stamina.
-Clothing & Gear:
Clothing and kit should affect the player's ability to blend into the world camouflage concealing the player at plausible distances if the 5S's of concealment are being followed Sight, Sound, Shape, Shine, Silluet. The other aspect of that would be concealment in plain view, wearing full tactical gear would only be advisable in certain scenarios like direct action raids but wouldn't be when gathering intel staking out an objective. Wearing full kit would blow the team's cover when traveling in areas where it isn't appropriate to be in full kit with unconcealed weapons (this could be a setting for those interested in the idea of what is "tactical" over what actually is tactical IE actually blending into a given environment.)
Clothing & Gear should be authentic to what JSOC uses or brans who work in conjunction with JSOC clothing brands Like Arceryrx LEAF, Beyond Clothing, TAD Gear, TYR Tactical, not 511.
-Climbing Gear for Abseiling/Rappelling/Climbing Buildings & Cliffs.
-Breaching charges, & devices.
-Six12 breaching shotgun.
-IR strobes, and IR lights for Identifying teammates under nods.
-Smoke Grenades (40mm, and handheld)
Land Navigation tools shouldn't take the player out of the game into a menu, there should be a Hand-Held topographical Map one can bring out and Lensatic Compass to plot routes then made visible to the squadmates. Wrist or chest-mounted GPS could offer different digital maps including satellite overview. A wristwatch to tell the time with a compass attached to the band is another option for a quick baring.
Bases should range from a largescale US Military Base that the player would plan and launch larger missions from, the base would have an airfield that could launch AI-controlled planes to insert the team via High Altitude Low Opening or High Altitude High Opening airdrops, and AI-controlled helicopter insertions for the team. The team's Air Support & Quick Reaction Forces could also be launched from the base in real-time, or be loitering on standby if dictated by the player when setting up a mission. The larger base could also incorporate a randomized kill house as well as an area to build a modular kill house that could be rearranged to match target buildings when preparing for certain high-profile missions during the story.
Forward Operating Bases would act in much the same way but with different assets available to the team such as support for helicopters as well as ground or water-based vehicles. The FOBs might also include artillery batteries or 120mm Heavy Mortars depending on the size of the FOB.
Safe Houses would be used when in more hostile controlled areas to resupply and plan missions from and would support covert civilian up-armored vehicles.
Allied rebel camps & training camps could act as both a training area with a rudimentary kill house a safe area and a way to visualize the human cost of getting rebels killed, as well as launch rebel fire missions and quick reaction forces in real-time.
Rebel or CIA-controlled airfields or docks could launch smaller planes or boats for the team to utilize for AI or player-controlled insertions.
The Philippine archipelago would be a great setting for the next game:
It Has an erratic and Tyrannical head of state.
Is at the forefront of a violent & brutal Drug War.
Is in the midst of a rise in Religious Extremist & Terrorist Activity.
Is a key player in a major Geopolitical Flashpoint in the South China Sea both territorial disputes and superpowers like the US and China vying for influence over the country each positioned in interesting ways with the US having multiple military bases around the country and China becoming a more strategic trade partner.
The Green Berets have close military connections with their Pilipino counterparts so there is already a relationship to play off of with local personnel.
The location could afford the use of US air support and other substantial military assets SOF specific or conventional as far as support or transportation is concerned while still having the clandestine mission set and the requirement of the team being an unknown actor in the conflict.
Factions at play could be:
Pilipino Special Forces (Possibly spearheading a sanctioned coup attempt or aiding with rebel fighters subverting one or other conflicts with the other factions)
US NAVY, Air Force, USMC, & ARMY.
A rogue faction of the Pilipino Military and its political/military leaders were involved in a coup.
Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), and Chinese Navy.
So long as they included a good amount of large Islands as well as smaller ones I think it would play well giving different modes of transportation more importance there could even be a system to choose one's infiltration or exfiltration by AI or player-controlled vehicles like a local charter plane or boat, Helicopter, Zodiac, RHIB or SWICC Boat, Submarine or HALO drop between the islands and navigable river systems.
Interesting set pieces could include artificial Chinese military Islands off the coast as well as Chinese US naval presence static or patrolling, container ships, or other large maritime vessels.