Ghost Recon Breakpoint Preview and PvE Gameplay

By Sean Carey,
Building off the success and depth of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, the Ghosts are back for another outing and will be tested to their breakpoint. We got hands-on with Ghost Recon Breakpoint and played through some of the PvE campaign both solo and co-op and PvP.

In Ghost Recon Breakpoint, gone are the real-world South American wilds of Bolivia in favour of a fictional island called Auroa — presumably to avoid diplomatic controversy this time around. A tech company that specialises in drones called Skell Technology calls the Auroa Archipelago home. However, Auroa and Skell — along with all their fancy drones —have been taken over and the tech workers are being held hostage by a group of rogue ex-Ghosts named the Wolves. Headed up by Cole D. Walker (Jon Bernthal), the Wolves have cut Auroa off from the outside world, and after a United States ship is sunk just off the coast of the archipelago, the Ghosts are tasked with restoring communications to the island. And that's where things go wrong. The Ghosts are usually prepared with a plan and intel, this time around, the Ghosts are the ones who end up being hunted.

Immediately from the get-go, the story gripped us. Primarily due to the superb performance from Bernthal — who players will recognise from Wildlands if they played Operation Oracle, a free DLC mission. It feels as if Ubisoft has stepped up the narrative compared to Wildlands. Breakpoint's Creative Director Eric Couzian said, "We didn't want to make a simple sequel, we wanted to have something very new. We want to depict spec ops soldiers and wanted to tell the tragic story of Cole D. Walker from being a friend in Wildlands to becoming an enemy. This guy is questioning himself, and at some point, he crosses a line but for good reasons." There is some serious depth to the character of Walker and Bernthal is the ideal person to play the role of the conflicted soldier.

cole walker breakpoint preview

If you've played Wildlands, you'll feel right at home with Breakpoint. Although the core DNA of Wildlands is present, Breakpoint is, for the most part, a vastly different experience. There is a heavy focus on survival — Ubisoft wants to bring a taste of what it's like to live as a real spec-ops soldier out in the field. Players will need to stay hydrated, eat food and treat injuries to keep up their physical performance. Staying hydrated is as easy as finding a clean water source such as a river (or a swimming pool as we found out) and filling up a canteen, or resting at a camp.

Introduced in Breakpoint is the use of bivouacs. Dotted around the map are bivouac locations where players can set up their own makeshift campsites, cook meals, swap out classes, maintain their weapons and craft new items such as health kits and rations to take out into the world. Classes are a new addition to Breakpoint, and there are four to choose from, each with their own unique abilities. The medic class, for example, comes with a healing drone to revive teammates as well as being able to self-revive. After choosing a class, abilities can then be unlocked from the skill tree, just like usual. However, this doesn't mean you have to stick with one class; you can swap out a class anytime you visit a bivouac. It should also be noted that any abilities and weapons that you unlocked in the campaign can be carried over to the PvP and vice versa. Progression is shared in Breakpoint. The same goes if you're playing in co-op. Anything earned there can all be carried over.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Screens

Specific actions performed at the bivouac campsite provide performance buffs, for example, eating gives players a 60-minute injury resistance bonus, and stretching will grant the player a 10% stamina increase. From here, players can also change the time of day to what suits them. Fancy taking on that outpost in the dead of night with only a pair of night-vision goggles and a silenced weapon? Well, now you can skip forward in time to the early hours of the morning when half of the guards are asleep.

This preparation is vital to staying alive in Breakpoint. Going out into the rugged landscape of Auroa unprepared is a death sentence. More often than not, we'd find ourselves lagging behind due to being dehydrated, or limping around with an injury — not combat effective in the slightest. This doesn't help when one of the new features of Breakpoint is the terrain. Couzian said, "We wanted to show that the terrain has a big impact, it's no longer all about the mission. Dealing with the terrain, the harsh environment and the weather conditions." Tackling an incline will now affect movement speed and stamina dramatically and will cause the character to scramble up the side of a steep mountain slowly and methodically, Couzian said, "The stamina gauge is a simple mechanic that really changes the pacing of the game and the tactical decisions, the angles of the slope have an impact on your stamina gauge, and we expect players will take tactical decisions depending on if the hill is steep or if there is a river. It's a new layer in terms of tactics which is a pillar of Ghost Recon." The same can be said for deep snow. On the other side, it does mean Ghosts can slide down a rocky slope to make that quick escape, providing, again, you have enough stamina if you don't, you'll be taking a tumble and will end up with a couple of broken bones.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Screens

As mentioned earlier, the core of the Wildlands experience is still there. Missions are similar in terms of scouting outposts before attacking, and the shooting mechanics feel somewhat the same. The focus here is on realism. There are no bullet sponges in terms of human enemies, even the big heavily armoured guys will go down in a few shots. However, Ubisoft has recognised the shortfall in terms of PvE gameplay. The Wolves are formidable high-level enemies that will hunt you down if detected, but the real bosses are the drones. The drones are hard to take down, and the map is littered with them; from smaller weaker flying and wheeled drones to the aptly named Behemoth Tank that will take a full squad and a lot of firepower to take down. We came up against a few of the smaller drones in our time with the game, and they do mix up the gameplay a fair bit. We also tried to take down the Behemoth Tank and failed miserably — that thing is not to be messed with, especially if you're playing solo. AI teammates will not be present at the time of launch which caused outcry amongst Ghost Recon fans. However, Ubisoft has been listening to the community and been taking on their suggestions, Couzian said, "For those who like to play solo with AI teammates, we plan to have them back in the game in a few months after launch."

From our brief time with Ghost Recon Breakpoint, we had a lot of fun. The island of Auroa was vast and detailed, the gameplay open and down to us and how we wanted to define it. From taking out an outpost stealthily to messing around in an APC or parachuting in from a helicopter, Aurora was our oyster. Add all of this to a narrative that looks highly engaging and Breakpoint seems as if it could be an excellent addition to the Tom Clancy universe.

If you want to get your hands on Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, you can sign up for the beta here. The beta will run from September 5th to the 8th with the full release of the game following on October 4th.

For our thoughts on the PvP modes, keep your eyes peeled for our preview article coming later today.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Sean joined the team as a Staff Writer for both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies in 2019. He games across all platforms and is always looking for an excuse to replay any of the Metal Gear Solid titles.