Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon games have always put players in the boots of the best of the best, elite special operations soldiers trained to handle any situation. The series’ brave men and woman are always prepared, possessing the intel, weapons, gear, and gadgets needed to get the job done.
The recently revealed Ghost Recon Breakpoint isn’t having any of that. While the next entry in the tactical shooter franchise – out October 4th – still stars the titular super-soldiers, it’s stripping them of all their go-to resources and tossing them to the wolves.
Dropped on a mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean, players will face an enemy faction of ex-Ghosts that call themselves, you guessed it, the Wolves. Led by antagonist Cole D. Walker (played by actor Jon Bernthal) this rogue group has taken over smart-weapon manufacturer Skell Technologies, headquartered on the island, and hacked its military drones to do their bidding.
While facing an army of locust-like attack drones – controlled by your former brothers in arms, no less – might sound like a daunting challenge, it only scratches the surface of what you’re up against. According to Breakpoint‘s writer and military technical adviser Emil Daubon, the game’s upping the ante and realism by drastically stacking the odds against the Ghosts. “It puts you in the boots on the ground like never before. You’ll eat, sleep, and breath this word like a real soldier in combat,” says the former U.S. Army Green Beret.
For players, that means a focus on survival. On top of going in blind, with no weapons or gear, you’ll face harsh weather, unforgiving terrain, hunger, stress, dehydration, and fatigue. “The idea of being sort of a lone survivor behind enemy lines is a core tenant, and it’s the details that help to heighten that fantasy.” explains Daubon.
What does survival mean to you?
Those details aren’t just for cinematic effect either, as they’ll regularly inform your tactics, strategy, and overall ability in the field. “It does affect how you’re going to choose your sort of operational tactics if you have to factor in an injury; if you have sustained an injury that you haven’t dealt with, it’s going to affect your gameplay. If you are not eating, if you are fatigued, it’s going to affect your gameplay.”
The point isn’t so to punish the player for, say, neglecting their nutrition or failing to dress a flesh wound, but to support the story and enhance the play experience. Breakpoint is doubling down on narrative and character development, areas Daubon believes benefit from this new survival-focused take.
A bullet to the shoulder might find your Ghost unable to aim a two-handed weapon, while a fall down a steep slope could leave them with a limp – but the bivouac offers some hope. Arguably the game’s most significant new feature, these makeshift military camps will be a beleaguered Ghost’s best friend. “A bivouac site is sort of a safe and secure location. They provide security, where your soldiers can clear their equipment, check their gear, eat, drink water, rest, maintain their weapons and plan the next phase of an operation.”
These camps may be real-life military save-havens, but they also hold tremendous potential as an engaging gameplay system. Spread all over Breakpoint‘s sprawling map, bivouacs serve as a spot for players to craft materials from resources found in the field, maintain and upgrade weapons and gear, and treat conditions like hunger, thirst, and injuries. Most notable is the ability to select a class while at these encampments; between missions, you can choose assault, sharpshooter, engineer, and panther classes, each sporting specific weapons, buffs, and abilities. These disciplines can be switched whenever you’re at a bivouac, allowing you to tailor your Ghost to the specific needs of the mission ahead.
These respites will also help you prepare for your coming objectives by monitoring weather forecasts and choosing which time of day or night to make your next move. Much like the realism of the world’s harsh elements and environments, Daubon believes the bivouacs are equally authentic. “You’re engaging in these activities that real soldiers would do for the purposes that real soldiers would, in order to prepare for your next objective. It’s a great place to test your own sort of tactical knowledge, and it heightens that experience of actually being a Ghost in this scenario.”
Breakpoint‘s continuing many of its predecessor’s best elements, from its open-world and 4-player co-op to its spot-on on stealth and tactical gunplay. Based on our conversation with Daubon, though, it sounds like the fresh focus on survival elements could add an absorbing new layer to this familiar formula. The potential of the bivouacs, working as a counter to all the new things that can hinder you, could push the series in a new direction.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint will come to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC on October 4.
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