Building on the depth of gameplay that we saw in Wildlands, Ubisoft has taken multiplayer up a notch with Ghost Recon: Breakpoint’s new four vs four mode, titled “Ghost War”.
Ghost War pits teams of four against each other in a tactical operations setup, where every move you make could mean life or death. With randomized loot spread across the map, you must work with your team to take down the opponents before the combat zone shrinks down and forces you into a close-range firefight. There’s drones that you can utilize to survey the area (and weaponized ones that shoot gas as well), and surveillance equipment inconveniently placed right in the middle of the warzone which will reveal your enemies’ locations.
But this game goes one step further than the rest, forcing you to really make a move and use everything you have to take out your opponents – using the motto ‘do stuff to get stuff’, the game rewards those who take risks and chances instead of camping out in a corner and hoping the fight comes to them. Standing still won’t get you anywhere (and will likely end with you stuck outside of the shrinking circle) so the emphasis really is to work with your team to rout the enemy in any way you can. This starts as early as selecting your character class and your loadout as well – each class has its own abilities which can turn the tide of a match in an instant, or grant you skills to ensure that you can pick up your downed teammates with ease.
Most matches started in a very similar way: “Sending up a drone, everyone keep on your toes”
The drone flies up. The pouring rain and dark sky make it hard to see, until suddenly a red marker lights up. Two enemies on the right flank, one on the left. Where’s the fourth? Suddenly, shots fire from far in the distance. The drone is gone, but we have an idea of where all four enemies are. I’m back on the field, perched on the second level of a building in the shipping yard, while one of my squad mates heads down the left flank and one heads right. The last teammate goes down the centre. We’re spread to intercept, though it may be risky. I switch to my long-range rifle, and notice that they’re sending a drone up as well – three shots and I knock it down before they get a lock on our locations, but now they know where I am.
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is a game that wants you to work as a team, and use your tactical skills as an advantage on the enemy. The loadouts are levelled, as is the playing field – it comes down to how well you and your teammates can plan and sweep the area to rout the enemy. Utilizing drones, you can scout the area and catch out the enemy’s movements (but they can do the same to you). One wrong step and you’ve opened up your position to the enemy. Or did you mean to do that, to weed them out of hiding?
Shots are fired overhead. They know I’m sitting perched, as they’ve got a high vantage point too. The squadmate on the left flank opens fire and takes him out. But they don’t die instantly – they can still be revived. The teammate going down the centre aims for the surveillance equipment, he wants to know where the other three are – but suddenly, he is ambushed by two on the right flank. The other teammate down the right flank also gets taken out. It becomes 3v2. This is my chance, I switch to an SMG and make my move down the right flank. I take out one while the other is going for the surveillance equipment. The fourth makes his move from their spawn point and takes out my teammate on the left flank. 2v1 now, I try to revive one of my teammates but I’m too late and they take me out. The game is over.
The maps provide both tons and minimal cover, depending on your playstyle. Most of the time I run-and-gun, drawing attention to myself so that they are fooled into revealing their position. If it means I get taken out, so be it; that’s the tactics that we discuss and roll with as a team. Revives are unlimited but medical supplies have to be found to get back to full health, so the risk is worth the reward providing you can back up your game style.
We start another match, on the snowy outpost. Again, my first instincts are to go for the drone and scout the area, but this time around they’re onto me and take it out before I can do anything. I get a glimpse of their tactics though – they’re trying to pincer us by sending two down each flank. We’ve gone 1 to 3 though, sweeping the right flank. Our lone teammate manages to take one out, while one of theirs takes out ours. We’re on 3v3.
Each character’s skills can be a lifesaver too – the class that I used had a skill that boosted movement speed for a short amount of time. This allowed me to run between buildings drawing fire, before flanking an enemy and reviving a teammate, turning the tide of battle. Keeping an eye on the enemy on the ground, we waited for their teammates to come and revive them. Silly move on their part, as by this point it was 3v2 and we picked them off easily. A win for us.
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is a lot of fun. As opposed to a lot of multiplayer games these days where your winning condition can depend on where you start or what weapons you find, this game truly is a level playing field which wants you to adapt and overcome as a team. Some matches I had heaps of kills, others I could barely get a shot off before I was taken out – but as long as you’re continuously trying new tactics and ways of playing, no two matches will ever play out the same.
When we got our hands on the game in late July, the experience was already extremely polished and exciting – whether it was trudging through a snowy outpost waiting for an enemy to poke their head out as we made a dash for the surveillance system, or sneaking around in a rainy shipping yard trying to stealthily take out the enemy in pincer movement. No two matches were the same, and it really had us working as a team to ensure we took home the victory. The best part about it was that it came down to skill and tactical advantage – the playing field was level and no character had any critical advantage over the others.
None of this should come as a surprise however – with the team spending three years on the PVP elements of Wildlands, and utilising player feedback and leveraging data, the end result is a fair and balanced system that is designed to be comfortable for existing players, but also easy enough for new players to enter – and potentially come away with the victory.