Open-world always-online shooter Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the sequel to 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Ubisoft has launched a second beta for for the game this week, allowing you to try Ghost Recon Breakpoint before its October 4 release date. We played a demo for the game at a recent event at Ubisoft’s Mumbai office as well as the first closed beta that took place earlier this month and came back somewhat surprised.
Unlike Ghost Recon Wildlands, which had you and three of your friends (or AI-controlled allies) romp through the Bolivian wilderness with reckless abandon, Ghost Recon Breakpoint has you exercising a lot more restraint. This became obvious the moment we pointed our crosshairs at unsuspecting enemies—and they revealed what we were up against.
Compared to the ragtag wannabe military forces of the Bolivian drug cartel, Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s foes are a mix of mechanical monstrosities and heavily armoured infantry. The AI is up to the part and tore us to shreds in moments with superior firepower and tactics, forcing us to start over.
During this demo session our objective was to rescue a scientist working in a nearby research facility for a group of rogue US operatives known as Wolves. On our second attempt we relied more on stealth, making use of the adequate foliage to mask our approach, quietly taking out straggler enemy units in our way.
Set on the island of Auroa owned by Jace Skell, philatrophist and billionaire owner of Skell Tech (a fictional company that’s deeply rooted in Ghost Recon mythos), the research facility was replete with a host of enemy types ranging from light infantry to heavily armoured attack drones the size of cars. The variety on display had us opting for a quieter approach with silenced weapons.
However, one issue is that movement and traversal in Ghost Recon Breakpoint didn’t feel as smooth or freeflowing as they should. This made avoiding enemy routes a lot more difficult, inevitably leading to a few firefights before we completed the objective.
Thankfully, the guns held up well with shotguns and rifles having satisfying recoil though aiming felt a bit imprecise. We were playing the game on PC with an Xbox One controller instead of a keyboard and mouse, and suspect this to be the reason why gunning down foes felt off. This should change for the final release.
It was a similar scenario with the closed beta for the game which we tried out a few days later. Traversal and aiming were in dire need of an improvement. The upside though was that there were optimisations to the visuals and frame rate. Running on our Alienware Area 51m test rig consisting of an i9-9900K, 32GB RAM, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, we were able to get around 42 to 60fps at 4K resolution, and it looked a whole lot better than it did during the demo we played at the Ubisoft event.
While the moment to moment gameplay in our time with the demo and the beta felt like a work in progress, some elements shone through such as its cut-scenes and story-telling. There’s more of both in Ghost Recon Breakpoint and it’s all the better for it.
From introducing new bosses to giving us insight on our own allies it is heartening to see Ubisoft flesh out these parts of the game as it makes for a more cohesive experience. In comparison, Ghost Recon Wildlands felt like a destructible sandbox but Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s emphasis on narrative makes the world of Auroa a lot more believable.
And while this aspect of the game holds up, there are other concerns. There’s a wanton focus on gear and levelling up, along with class perks and a hub to squad up with players too. If all of this sounds familiar to Destiny and The Division and their sequels, it is and it makes us wonder how much of the game would actually ship on launch day and how much of it would be course corrected like past games as a service efforts.
Dig deeper and you’ll notice threads beyond that what with stealth, survival, crafting, and progression systems all inspired by a focus on online, open-world play from big game companies. It feels like a greatest hits compilation of game design elements of this generation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The changes to progression and gameplay coupled with a focus on story makes it seem that Ubisoft wants its players to spend more time in the Ghost Recon universe with Ghost Recon Breakpoint. With October seeing the likes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Destiny 2’s much awaited revamp in Shadowkeep, and Nintendo’s unending Switch onslaught of games, it’ll be interesting to see how Ghost Recon Breakpoint fares. Thankfully we won’t have to wait too long. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is out October 4.