This is how you ruin a co-op experience in “Ghost Recon Breakpoint.” My teammates are running around like an unbridled mass of chaos and stupidity running into a gated facility inhabited by soldiers and drones armed to the teeth. We shoot at them, we die, we respawn and die again as we try to revive each other. This would have made sense, but unfortunately, the site we’re attacking isn’t even the objective.
That’s a few kilometers away, and my teammates in all their wisdom drove to this place by mistake and ended up fighting for no reason at all. One person just started shooting and then another person did and we all assumed we had to attack this area.
This is the danger of previews for games played online. Sometimes you’re stuck with people who don’t have the same priorities as you do. I wanted to get through the missions and try a little bit of everything in the short time I had with the game. On the other hand, my teammates wanted us to coordinate our outfits so we all dressed in a garish plaid and lie down with armadillos. I am not making this up.
My complaints don’t mean that “Ghost Recon Breakpoint” is a bad game. Far from it, if you were with the right group, it has the potential to be fun. Ubisoft Paris brings in more of a survival element and combines that with the loot-based mechanics of “Tom Clancy’s The Division.” Despite the shared mechanics, that doesn’t mean one is a clone of the other.
They’re distinctly different experiences. “The Division” is a cover-based shooter with fighting taking place in dense urban environments. Players sprint to cover, shoot enemies and try to manage the confined battlefield.
On the other hand, “Breakpoint” is more open. It’s a game that relies on ambushes and stealth. Ideally, players scout a zone with their drones and come up with a game plan. They mark enemies and spot trouble areas and then go into action. Most of the time, it doesn’t work out. Someone screws up and teammates die. Players have to maintain discipline and adapt to the situation.
To help push gamers toward team play, they can choose from four different classes: Field medic, panther (stealth-focus), assault, and sharpshooter. Each class has its own type of drones, gear and perks. I played mostly as a medic because someone had to. I could revive myself if I go down. I had a healing drone that let me revive teammates from afar. Being a Field Medic allowed me to have faster revives and to carry bodies quicker.
Those are the base abilities for the class, but “Ghost Recon Breakpoint” progression system also lets players earn experience points for kills and missions. By leveling up and accomplishing other feats, they gain skill points that are used to gain abilities such as Close & Personal, a basic skill for everyone that increases the reload speed and mobility. They can also add another perk slot to their character allowing players to “better define” their playstyle.
In addition to the substantive customization, players also have the option to dress up their spec ops soldier however they see fit. While exploring the archipelago of Auroa, my teammates and I constantly kept opening chests. They contained better weapons and armor, but they also contained cosmetics that change the look of the avatar. Players can don hats or scarves. They can also keep the stats of the armor but maintain the look of their character.
My teammates liked this so much that instead of doing missions, they sat around trying to find the most absurd color scheme. Everyone settled on a different color of red lumberjack plaid.
As for the missions themselves, they seem straightforward but relied less on the idea of killing everyone in sight. That was refreshing. We had to find information on a computer or locate a source that may have information on our target Jace Skell. When my teammates weren’t messing around, we made some progress through the campaign, which took us through Auroa’s diverse terrain.
We received our mission from a central point called Erehwon, which is comparable to White House in “The Division 2.” This is where our team met up to start missions or head to the bivouac to make supplies. Several of these improvised camp sites are scattered around Auroa, and this is where players craft rations, change classes and make healing supplies before heading to battle.
Players will scavenge for material throughout the world, and players can turn it into items that will help them survive. That’s the other half of the “Ghost Recon Breakpoint” formula. Players have stamina, meaning they can’t sprint around forever. Over the course of the battle, they’ll tire out and the ability to run lessens. They can regain stamina by drinking from their refillable canteen (it carries three charges) or they can craft meals ready to eat. They gather ingredients from the environment by shooting animals.
Lastly, if they get hurt, they can find cover and bind their wounds in bandages. The healing process works similar to “Far Cry.” If players want full health, they need to devote time to wrapping up their body. Do it quickly and two health bars fill, if they do the full time, all three will be maxed out.
Much of the gameplay experienced in the multiplayer story campaign translates over to the player vs. player part of “Ghost Recon Breakpoint.” The development team said it learned a lot from the first game and designed the multiplayer maps in tandem with the single-player campaign. That means the maps are created for competitive play first and transported to parts of the main single-player map. It won’t be the other way around, which is what the team did for “Ghost Recon Wildlands.”
Better yet, all the progression earned in the PvP Ghost War mode carries over to the single-player campaign. It makes the 4 vs. 4 contests worthwhile. It’s a way for players to sharpen their skill and earn credit for it. I played a few matches of sabotage and elimination. Sabotage is the “Counter-Strike” rule set where one team plants a bomb and the other tries to stop them. Elimination is essentially team death match where each person has one life.
What’s notable is that if a player is down, teammates can still be revived and get back into battle. Another element about dying is that players can still talk to the survivors and give them a heads up on enemy movement.
Ubisoft Paris is trying to keep the matches short, and they’re enforcing it by squeezing the map so that players are forced into a smaller area during this overtime period. It guarantees that players won’t be camping in respective places trying to pot shot each other from 100 yards away.
From what I played, “Breakpoint” has the potential to be every bit as good as “The Division 2.” The issue facing developers is of course quashing bugs. I ran across a few during the preview event. Personally, the bigger obstacle is finding a reliable group. If players are depending on the competency of random allies, it could be a tough fight for a game that requires plenty of teamwork and coordination. As I mentioned before, not everyone you meet has the same playstyle and that can inevitably lead to conflicts.
“Ghost Recon Breakpoint is scheduled for release Oct. 4 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia. A beta is scheduled for Sept. 5 to 8.
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