There’s something a little unfamiliar about the upcoming Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Unlike Wildlands, Breakpoint takes place on an entirely fictional island in the Pacific, tackling an entirely fictional enemy made up of rogue Ghost Recon operatives.
This time around you can get new weapons and gear as tiered loot that explodes out of enemies like confetti, and instead of ubiquitous sicarios you’ll face a range of sci-fi foes ranging from minigun-toting heavies to tank-like drones. Then there’s the new bivouac and injuries systems torn straight from the survival genre – it’s tough to compare Breakpoint to any other Ghost Recon game.
However, despite all the new systems and features, its creators insist it’s still a Ghost Recon game at its core. Both you and your enemies will go down after a couple of shots, so while Breakpoint shares a few mechanics with The Division 2, you certainly won’t have to deal with bullet sponges. Stealth remains important as well, with a new system in place that allows you to blend in with your environment when prone by covering yourself with mud.
We got the opportunity to talk to community developer Laura Cordrey and lead development tester Sebastien Le Prestre about Ghost Recon Breakpoint and the evolution of the series.
PCGN: How important is PvP to Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and the series as a whole?
Laura Cordrey: I think the decision to bring PvP to Ghost Recon Breakpoint at launch shows that we’re obviously very excited about it. With Wildlands, PvP came quite a bit later, but having it at launch shows we’re going big. We’ll be going into more detail on PvP closer to Gamescom.
Was the introduction of PvP into Wildlands very successful?
Sebastien Le Prestre: Yeah, it was a success, but beyond that it was also useful in terms of what we learned from it. In Wildlands, we released the PvP well after the initial release of the game, but we’ve provided support for it throughout the game’s two years of post-launch. We didn’t commit to that at the beginning, but we’re happy we did it as we got some outstanding feedback from the community.
So now we have a much better idea of exactly what people are looking for from a Ghost Recon game. Ghost Recon’s style is a bit slower, a bit more tactical with much larger environments, that’s what people enjoyed and that’s what we’re bringing to Breakpoint from day one.
New features like tiered loot and classes remind me of The Division 2. How are you ensuring Breakpoint feels like a Ghost Recon game?
SLP: In Ghost Recon Breakpoint, you’re stranded behind enemy lines: you’re hurt, you have to survive, and the objective is not very clear. This is still Ghost Recon at its core. Your only link with HQ has been severed, you don’t know where you’re going, but you still experience the world as a soldier. Even though you can loot gear and there’s going to be a power creep, you’ll still be able to take out high-level enemies with one shot. We’re still chasing the realism of the series, and you’ll also find that in the survival mechanics.
LC: The authenticity is really important to us; we really want to put you in the boots of a spec ops soldier. All of the gameplay mechanics we’re introducing are so unique to this brand that, as a player, you can really dive into this fantasy, like with the prone camo.
SLP: And with the bivouac, so all of the players can really tailor their style of play and switch classes there.
How deep is the class system?
SLP: Each class will have its own progression system, and you’ll also have challenges to complete within each one. As you complete challenges, you’ll unlock passive perks that aid you when you have that class.
And everything you unlock will be available in PvP?
SLP: Absolutely. Everything that you unlock in PvP or PvE is shared, like if you put a lot of time into earning the perk in the Panther class that lets you move more silently, you’ll have it in PvP as well, so all of your efforts will be rewarded.
Are you at all concerned that introducing raids to Ghost Recon may be seen as an MMO-ification of the series?
SLP: We’re hoping players see this as a natural step in the evolution of Ghost Recon. The main things we want to offer players is freedom of choice and plenty of things to do. The main piece of feedback from Wildlands is that players loved it, but they wanted even more to do once they finished the main story. This is just the natural progression for us, we’re committed to many years of post-launch with this game, so it seemed natural to us that we should give a lot more challenge to those hardcore players who really want to invest in the universe.
Will AI differ between the Wolves and standard enemies?
SLP: The Wolves are a lot more reactive than the standard AI – they move quicker and will remain in tactical formations. Like we said, these enemies used to be your comrades, so they’re very iconic and you’ll be able to recognise them. In addition to this, we also have a lot of new enemy archetypes that we’re working on. You’ve already seen the heavy archetype, but we’ll also have enemies like rushers and drone carriers. On top of that we also have a few drone archetypes like the AYM drone and the Dragonfly.
You’ll be able to differentiate between the different enemies, but they all have one thing in common, which is that they’re all really deadly. This remains Ghost Recon, so whether it’s a grunt or a high-level Wolf, the time to kill is always low.
If you play the game solo you won’t have AI companions, right?
SLP: You will not.
LC: You’ll have your drone though, so you can still do Sync Shots.
Why was that decision made?
LC: Multiple reasons. Firstly, we offered the option to turn off AI companions in Wildlands and players really liked that full solo experience. Secondly, with the story here, you’re stranded alone behind enemy lines, so we really want players to be able to dive into this fantasy. But we also offer the mechanics so that the game is fully playable in solo and co-op. Those who want to have the solo experience can, and players who want to have the four-player co-op experience can as well – we just want to offer as much variation as possible.
What’s the in-game justification for suddenly being able to summon in three friends?
SLP: Without going into too much detail, when you do originally crash land on the island you come in on one of four choppers. So in solo you’re the only survivor, but for the narrative’s sake there are more survivors in the other choppers.
Players complained about the driving model in Wildlands being quite clunky, has this been addressed in Breakpoint?
SLP: We heard all of the community feedback about vehicles, it’s not something that we turned a blind eye to, and we’re working hard on optimising the vehicles in Breakpoint. We’re going to have over 30 vehicles, and they’ll be a lot more military-themed this time around as the island is under martial law.
Is the injuries system specific to different body parts?
SLP: We’re not going into too much detail on that yet, we just gave you a sneak preview. All I will say is that when you do sustain injuries, they’ll affect you differently. Some will affect your aim, others your movement, but we’re not ready to go into how you contract these injuries.
LC: Also, the world is dangerous now. The world is more dynamic, the terrain is dangerous, and there are consequences if you run down a slope. It’s all about offering an authentic experience where your decisions have consequences.
With the injuries being semi-permanent do you foresee this being annoying?
SLP: It will depend on your style of play. If you’re getting injured a lot in the game it’s because you’re playing a certain way and taking a lot of damage, so you’ll probably want to rethink your approach to certain situations. You may also get injuries that are only a minor annoyance to you, probably anything that inhibits movement will be more problematic. You can heal up in the bivouac, but you can also use bandages to heal on the fly and in combat, it’ll just take a lot of time so it’s going to be a gamble. We’re giving players the tools to fix these issues before they get annoying, but we’re hoping that people will be able to adapt their style of play to preserve themselves and their team in tricky situations.
LC: It’s also worth noting that as you progress through the game you’ll almost always have bandages on you, because you can pick them up throughout the world.
SLP: Yeah, you don’t have to craft these all the time.
Can you place the bivouacs anywhere or do they have set locations across the world?
LC: They’re in specific places, which you can spot thanks to a chimney of smoke.
SLP: These also act as fast-travel points.
Why did you want to move away from real-world settings after Bolivia?
LC: There are a few reasons for it. Firstly, we’re incredibly proud of what we did in Wildlands and what we did with open-world Bolivia. With Ghost Recon Breakpoint, it’s about offering a brand new experience to our players, but obviously the creative freedom that [having a fictional setting] allows means we can have the story we have. Also, as it’s an archipelago, we can surface new post-launch content on the surrounding islands. It allows us to have this dark, sombre, and gritty world where we can fully embrace the Ghost Recon fantasy.
Is the new setting an attempt to distance Breakpoint from the kind of controversy Wildlands attracted due to how it portrayed the US intervention in Bolivia?
LC: We were really happy with the setting of Wildlands and obviously we always take feedback into consideration. This setting just suits the story we wanted to tell.
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SLP: It just offers that flexibility and it’s a clever way of surfacing new content on new islands when we get to post-launch. It was a conscious decision in terms of creativity, not a reaction to anything.