Hands-on: Six hours with Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s campaign and multiplayer
A few weeks back, the fine folks at Ubisoft invited a handful of people to check out the latest build of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. We were able to get our hands on the game for about six hours playing the campaign, side missions, as well as multiplayer modes that will be available when the game launches on October 4.
The game begins with you choosing how your character looks and dresses. You can select male or female, skin tone, face shapes, and hairstyles. Once chosen you’re thrown into an opening solo mission which sees your character, a Ghost, sent to the island of Auroa to investigate Skell Technology, a military contractor who may be up to some nefarious things. But before we can even start the investigation, our helicopter is shot down, the entire crew is killed, and we’re in survival mode.
The small intro mission introduces you to the gameplay mechanics, shooting a few enemies here and there and investigating the other helicopter crash sites. There’s also a bit of light exploring involved where you can pick medkits, ammo and other materials.
As always with Ubisoft and Ghost Recon games, Ghost Recon Breakpoint looks amazing. Our first environment was a forest setting with blazing helicopter wreckages, and plumes of smoke across the sky indicating another crash. Later on, we visited jungle environments, mountainous and snowy settings, and wet marshlands. We played on PC, using Xbox One controllers and every movement seems even tighter and more fluid than Ghost Recon Wildlands. The character seemed a lot more nimble, the zoom to aim seems quicker, and overall the gameplay felt phenomenal.
Skills and gear check
As far as gear, your character can carry two large weapons and a small weapon, but they can be switched out at any time. Each new piece of found or earned gear, including weapons, headgear, gloves, vest, pants, and footwear has the possibility to increase your Gear level and overall power. Your increase of your Gear level is a necessity to take on the more powerful enemies in the game.
While playing the game you earn XP, and when you reach a certain number, you earn a Skill Point. Skill Points are spent on your class skills. When you earn your first Skill Point, you choose which class you want to play as: Field Medic, Assault, Panther or Sharpshooter.
Field Medic gives the player a healing drone, faster revive of teammates, and self-revive (which comes in handy if the whole squad goes down). The Assault class gives players recoil reduction, healing from making kills, gas grenades, and extra health. Panther allows players to disappear behind a smoke screen, use a cloaking spray to become invisible to drones, faster movement, and bonus stealth skills. Sharpshooter is the sniper focused class that offers high penetration bullets, a sensor launcher that marks enemies in the area, longer breath control when aiming, and bonuses with sniper rifles and marksman rifles. I chose Panther.
Skill Points are then used to “purchase” skills in each class that range from being able to use a parachute to XP Boosts to Night Vision.
It’s a party
At the end of the solo intro mission, you arrive at the game’s main hub called Erewhon. Here you can engage in other activities, get missions, and connect with other players for co-op gameplay. Every mission in the game can be played with up to three other players. In Erewhon you can also buy weapons, attachments, and other gear.
Typically, I enjoy cut scenes, but during my playthrough I couldn’t wait to get through them. The game’s story is told mostly the cut scenes, from the present and in flashbacks, giving your character a history with Jon Bernthal’s Cole D. Walker, the game’s main villain. While the acting is great and Jon Bernthal looks amazing, the story, at least the parts I saw weren’t that interesting. Maybe that’s just me being impatient and wanting to get to playing the game knowing I had a limited amount of time. The cut scenes seemed long and drawn out and at times unnecessary. And there was more than I expected in the limited time I had with the game.
What I do like about some of the storytelling is the Investigations missions. Investigations are basically questions that your character has about certain circumstances. “Where do the Homesteaders come from?” “Is Midas Still Alive?” “Who Betrayed the Ghosts?” Each question has a clue on where you can find the answer. When you find the answers to these questions as you play the game, you earn XP. I thought it was a cool little aspect of the game that gives you a meaningful reward for learning more about the story.
Once I joined three other players, we were off to do some campaign missions and some side missions. Along the way, you discover Bivouacs which act as fast travel points and rest areas. You can also craft and upgrade items here as well as change your class, if you ever get tired of being a Panther or Sharpshooter.
There were a handful of vehicles we used to travel the island. The helicopter, of course, got us places the fastest but we also used military jeeps with mounted guns, motorcycles, and river boats. The early missions consisted of our team looking for people and places and taking out enemies in an area or who were trying to ambush us. Faction missions are side missions that would have us hijacking and blowing up a truck or trying to take over an enemy-controlled area. Every day, there are 12 new faction missions for players to participate in.
After a couple of hours of campaign and side missions, we moved on to Ghost War, the game’s PvP mode. The first PvP game we played was Elimination, which is basically 4v4 Team Deathmatch. The PvP maps were created in a way where each team have to depend on communication and planning. If players just run and gun, they will die immediately.
We also played Sabotage, a game of detonate or disarm and defend. Like Elimination, Sabotage requires a methodical approach where players need to plan out where they’ll go and who will detonate or disarm the bomb. A player or two might want to camp, keeping watch over the bomb, others might roam looking for enemy players to take out.
We played on three of the six maps that will be available at launch, one of them is a long requested snow map.
I loved this type of PvP where it’s not all about who has the fastest aim or trigger finger, but more about who knows this map, where will we camp, where will we approach, and how will we flank the other team. Of course, the experience might be different if you’re playing with random players online, but if you have a group of friends you communicate well with, you’ll be playing this for hours on end.
Overall, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is looking like it’ll be a gratifying time sink. In the six hours I played with the game, we were just scratching the surface of the history of the island, Skell Technologies, and Walker’s overall goal. The game looks incredible, plays exceptionally well, and has a story that seems to start off a bit slow, but seems to be laying the foundation for some interesting twists and turns.