Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release: October 4, 2019
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
With the wide strokes of Ghost Recon Breakpoint already outlined earlier in the year, Ubisoft Paris took its E3 time in the spotlight to instead focus on some of the more granular innovations coming to the franchise. Our one-hour hands-on session took us to the same region of Auroa as the first look, but this time we got to stretch our legs outside of the research compound and get a sense of the open world. Here are the four biggest takaways we had from our time with Breakpoint.
These Soldiers Have Crafting And Camping Boy Scout Badges
With no supply drops to replenish their stocks, the Ghosts on Auroa need to find their own resources. Thankfully, they appear to be abundant. Running low on ammo? Take out the roving Wolves patrols and grab their leftover magazines. Need more health items? Collect the various plants littered around the island and craft them yourself.
“For us, really, the objective is to fulfill the fantasy of being spec ops, and we wanted to go further than just the fighting and the fact that you kill enemies,” says UX designer Matthew Tomkinson. “We wanted the ghosts to be able to rest, spend time traveling, and also take advantage of the environment. Auroa for us is almost the main character of the game. The island is super important.”
Maybe it was just the region the demo took place in, but the landscape was largely devoid of human activity – Tomkinson says you shouldn’t expect to see as many civilians roaming the roads considering the curfew placed on the island’s inhabitants. But the lack of people doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to beckon you to engage the world outside of armed conflict. Flowers, aloe vera, termite nests, and other various resources were sprinkled across the terrian we explored, giving Ghosts ample opportunity to gather supplies. Some fauna are roaming the regions as well. A well placed shot to the heart of a deer yielded a good stock of protein my soldier could prep back at camp.
The bivouac is the only area where players can engage in the crafting system, which we weren’t able to use during the demo, but I did mess around with the other options you have when making camp. Preparations allow you to choose among a series of minor buffs that grant temporary accuracy increases, slightly larger health reservoirs, increased stamina, a larger drone range, or even increased resistance to injuries or fatigue. You can also swap out your character class or change your loadout.
Faction Missions Deliver Fresh Content Daily
Like Wildlands before it, Ghost Recon Breakpoint features an in-depth storyline that should keep players engaged for dozens of hours. But once the credits roll, you will still have a wealth of activities thanks to the Faction Missions system.
“We want the players to be able to play endlessly, so there are parts of the faction missions that are procedural,” Tomkinson says. “But there are also other ones that are handcrafted, with a degree of narrative and with cinematics. It’s like the same quality as the missions that you get when you play the main story. So the idea is really that is that you are helping different factions in the game and you’re getting rewards for that.”
These faction missions center on the two factions inhabiting the island besides the Wolves and Skell Technology. One is the Outcasts, a mysterious group we don’t know much about just yet. The other is the Homesteaders, a collective led by a retired U.S. Marine named Mads Shultz. When the Wolves invaded, this group of anti-industrialists fled into a cavern system.
“[The faction mission system] gives more depth to the world and the experience that offers players the opportunity to go off the narrative and engage with the world in a different manner,” says Breakpoint writer Emil Daubon. “You gain perks and buffs from fighting these other missions, which still support that overarching narrative of the mystery of what happened on Auroa. It broadens the story, and it introduces new characters, which may or may not be popping up in post-launch content. From a storytelling perspective, the faction arcs give us this enormous playground to play with additional stories and missions that will serve to sort of push the story forward.”
The Behemoth Drones Keep Endgame Firefights Frantic
This being a Ghost Recon game, a well aimed headshot will still take down any human in Breakpoint. But when you square off against some of the advanced technology like the behemoth drones, you need to rely on a lot more concentrated firepower and explosives like rocket launchers and EMPs to emerge victorious. These drones are stationed around critical communication relays on Auroa, and unprepared soldiers will be neutralized with extreme prejudice.
Tomkinson says these end-game focused enemies are much stronger and don’t allow any mistakes. They detect you easier and are super deadly when hunting down those who dare to breach the perimeter.
It may be foolish to do so, but Tomkinson says strong players with sound tactics and true aim may survive fighting a behemoth early in the game, but he recommends getting your bearings before attempting such a feat. “Even if you with your starting character you can take on almost everything in the game, but it really makes your life much easier if you get to better gear and improve first,” he says.
Responding To Community Feedback Is A Top Priority
When Ubisoft Paris announced its plans to remove the A.I. squadmates from Breakpoint, many fans (myself included) bemoaned the loss and weren’t looking forward to roughing it aided only by our trusty drone companion. After hearing the feedback loud and clear, the developers reversed course and announced plans to re-introduce squad teammates after the game launches. That’s not the only quality-of-life change the studio already agreed to; when fans complained about the weapon restrictions for the different classes, they took that criticism to life and reversed course yet again.
This pattern of responding to fan feedback should only strengthen after the creation of the Delta Company, a new community hub where cosplayers can share creation ideas, competitive players can organize tournaments, and critics can share feedback with the developers.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is scheduled to release on October 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.