Ubisoft is taking Ghost Recon in a little bit of a different direction with Breakpoint, which takes everything the studio learned with Wildlands and builds upon them to offer a new experience in a very different direction.
I was able to visit the Ubisoft Paris studio to get the lowdown on what Ghost Recon Breakpoint is, have a play of it, and interview some of the key creatives behind this new title in the series.
ALL OF OUR EXCLUSIVE GHOST RECON: BREAKPOINT COVERAGE:
Ubisoft came up with the concept of Breakpoint out of a simple question – “where and how can we push the Ghosts where we haven’t before?”. In the previous title, Wildlands, you had a plan going into Bolivia. You were directly headed there as part of your mission. In Breakpoint, there is no briefing and you’re on your own in enemy territory. The idea behind Breakpoint is literally in the title – it’s about pushing your Ghost to their breaking point with new pressures and builds upon the experiences of Wildlands to take things in a new direction.
In the story, you’ll play as Nomad, who is fully customisable to be yourghost. Gender, ethnicity, equipment, and classes are all customisable to make Nomad your own. On the way to a routine mission, your helicopter is ambushed and you’re stranded on an island called Auroa in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You’re the only survivor, and all your skills are put to the test.
The story is being penned by Emil Daubon, who himself has served in the Green Berets for fourteen years, has a background in drama study and has previously consulted with Ubisoft on their other games as an advisor. The aim of Breakpoint is to give as real an experience as they could – to deliver an authentic experience of being behind enemy lines.
Without a doubt, the biggest presence at the world reveal was Cole D. Walker, the leader of the rogue faction of Ghosts calling themselves the Wolves. Played by Jon Bernthal, just as he was in Wildlands, his group has commandeered the drone technology on the island for their own means. He has his own band of liutenants too (think of FOXHOUND from the original Metal Gear, or the key members of the Santa Blanca Cartel in Wildlands).
Auroa itself is a brand new setting that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t re-use any maps from previous games. It’s a brand new open world with heaps of biomes – think sunny beaches, dense jungles, snowy mountains and flowing volcanoes. It’s obviously fictional – but that’s the point – Ubisoft can create whatever they want with this archipelago and add to it as they see fit with future updates.
The island is also the headquarters of (or a major facility for) Skell Technology, an organisation founded by Jace Skell who develop military equipment, including the drones your Ghosts used in Wildlands. There’s not much sign of Jace Skell in the reveal footage you saw today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his story arc was explored further in the full game.
GAMEPLAY AND NEW FEATURES COMING TO BREAKPOINT
Breakpoint is a massive, open world game that’s playable from beginning to end however you want. You can play by yourself if you want. And that means by yourself – no AI companions are auto-filled into your squad. It’s literally just you. You can play it in co-op too though if you wish. Any returning skills or abilities that required a second character can be performed by your drone.
The coolest change with Breakpoint is (perhaps) borrowed from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. No waypoints are given to you explicitly but instead must be found through triangulating their locations using procured intelligence on-site. It’s a simple change but one that really encourages you to explore the island rather than just running from waypoint to waypoint.
There’s a full weather system in place on Aurora in Breakpoint and the weather affects your approach to certain missions. The game does offer a 24 hour forecast so you can know what’s coming up – a rainy night might offer more opportunities to infiltrate a location rather than a sunny day, as an example.
There’s a host of other variables that you will have to account for when planning your exploits on Auroa. Civilians are still on the island, under house arrest. They’re not hostile but they can create a scene if you spook them. There are thirty or so types of vehicles on the island, different enemy archetypes and heaps of different weapons and equipment to loot too; so you’ll be able to hopefully procure what you need on-site at any mission.
New gameplay mechanics contribute to this idea of on-the-fly planning. The bivouac allows you to set up a base camp, plan your approach and set up your loadout and class, as well as share supplies with any friends. You can now go prone to camouflage yourself in tall grass and even mud, to offer new stealth takedown opportunities. You can even take with you breaching kits that allow you to infiltrate any perimeter – we saw chain link fences in the demo but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to breach into buildings Rainbow Six style. Injuries and stamina now have real consequences on your character, and have to be addressed promptly. And finally, there’s dialogue options too, which helps you make your Ghost and your experience your own.
In a big step that puts it above Wildlands already, Breakpoint will also feature PVP modes at launch. The great kicker here is that your progression between all the different modes of play carries across all modes as well, meaning that nothing you ever do in Breakpoint will ever really feel pointless. Playing solo, co-op or through PVP, everything earnt is earnt to use in the other modes.
You also get the vibe that Ubisoft is in it for the long hail with Breakpoint, having a plan of many different story arcs to explore much like they did through Wildlands’ 15+ updates. It’s just this time they’re much better at it. I heard the terms “long term commitment” specifically being used multiple times and Raids are just one of the ways they’ll be doing that.
Raids are now an almost expected inclusion in any online game that utilises co-op, but it’s bizarre to think that Ghost Recon hasn’t had anything like this until now. The structure for these missions will be pretty typical for anyone who’s played any online game – they’re missions that are so difficult that they are only playable in co-op, but they’re high in rewards. Adding them to Ghost Recon seems like a great way to improve the PVE experience.
That’s more or less everything you need to know about Ghost Recon Breakpoint for now, but we’re sure there’s going to be heaps of updates in the future (and especially at E3). Don’t forget to check out our extensive coverage of the game below:
ALL OF OUR EXCLUSIVE GHOST RECON: BREAKPOINT COVERAGE: