UFG Goes Hands on With Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint Beta

Ubisoft has gone out of its way to evolve their Tom Clancy games. For better or worse, things have changed – Rainbow Six Siege focuses solely on competitive multiplayer and Ghost Recon Wildlands went open world, a first for the series.

Fan opinion has differed on their quality. Some miss the classic styled gameplay. Others champion the modern elements. Most everyone can agree that the newer games tend to produce some exciting moments. This is especially true with Wildlands. Taking up an overwatch position on a hill with a sniper rifle, while two teammates stealth their way through an enemy encampment is interesting enough. Escaping the ensuing shootout via a getaway vehicle as bombs, previously planted by a fourth player, send enemies flying is something out of an action movie.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint looks to follow suit. Having recently played through the beta, I can attest to its action. The moment to moment shooting is entertaining. That said, Ubisoft seems more concerned with presenting a decent story this time around.

Taking place four years after Wildlands (or rather, after its Operation Oracle DLC), Breakpoint follows the Ghosts to Auroa island – a hub for drone-based products developed by Skell Technology. The company was wildly successful, with tech that was both sold commercially in stores and privately as military equipment. The latter of which raised a few eyebrows.

It wasn’t long before the US government took interest in some of Skell’s dealings; there were rumors that the company was selling weapons to some unsavory people. Shortly thereafter, the island cut itself off from the rest of the world. No one could make contact with, visit or apparently leave Auroa. Insert Nomad, the created character/protagonist from Wildlands, and his team of Ghosts.

The Ghosts are tasked with investigating the island – after creating your version of Nomad, you’ll be placed on a helicopter on its way to Auroa. Seemingly, the goal was to touch base with whoever’s in charge of Skell and discover what led to the break in communications. Before that could happen though, the Ghosts’ helicopter is attacked by drones.

It’s here that the beta (and presumably, the full game) starts. With Nomad hanging upside down in the wrecked chopper, blood dripping down his or her face. What follows is a tutorial showcasing some of the newer gameplay elements. This includes the new injury system.

Upon exiting the downed helicopter, you’ll be prompted to heal Nomad. The process seems realistic enough; with the push of a button, the character tends to their injured arm and leg using found medical supplies. Injuries will slow you down. And at times, reduce your ability to flee and/or fight off enemies. Essentially, it’s something to consider while traversing Auroa. The same goes for Nomad’s stamina.

Running a lot, over time, leads to a diminished stamina bar. Having to climb a steep hill or cross a swampy area can produce the same results. Less stamina means you’re easier to chase down. It also seems to make it harder to navigate through tough terrain; it’s easier to lose your footing and fall when you’re tired.

The tutorial mission explains some of these survival-based elements as you go. More and more tips pop up as needed. You’ll learn that drinking water and eating food replenishes your stamina for instance. These early moments will also shed light on Breakpoint’s tactical combat mechanics. Most of which should be familiar to Tom Clancy fans.

Ubisoft builds on Wildland’s foundation. Whether you’re moving in and out of cover, using hi-tech gadgets, swapping equipment or performing a silent take down, it all feels great. And besides an odd issue that ruins sniper rifles – changing the view settings to third person prevented the use of scopes – the shooting is well implemented.

The upgrade system is still hit or miss. Improving your version of Nomad through the different skill trees is cool. That is until you get to skills that feel like basic gameplay mechanics. Unlocking mini-drones that can sync up kill shots – you no longer have to partner with companions, AI or otherwise – to take down several enemies at once is nice. That said, having to spend points to use night vision googles or a parachute seems like a waste.

Taking a step back, while you’re going through the motions, more and more of the story is revealed. At a certain point during the tutorial, Nomad finds out that his fellow Ghost Cole D. Walker (played by Jon Bernthal) has gone rogue. He leads the Wolves, an ex-Us Military unit made of up of other former Ghosts that has taken over Auroa for reasons unknown.

The beta only provided one real campaign mission. That said, there were more meaningful seeming cutscenes and dialogue than in the opening moments of Wildlands. Nomad goes from searching for companions to planning an escape from the island. All of his/her efforts are met with strong resistance; while trying to board a boat with Skell employees, an army of drones descends on another vessel, killing everyone on board.

Again, it seems like Ubisoft is trying to deliver an interesting story. It’s hard to say whether or not it’ll boil down to a few intense scenes, a ton of lore and a spirited use of military jargon. As for right now though, things look promising.

Outside of the campaign, there were a bunch of side missions, Faction Missions (which seem like daily changes) and more. They all helped in providing a glimpse of what’s to come. Most of which leaned on a realistic depiction of the Ghosts’ struggles. For instance, players will need to find their own way to missions as the default setting does away with helpful icons. Meaning, they’ll use clues to figure out the general area, pin a location on their map, and then head in that direction.

It’s possible to toggle the normal way points and such back on if you’d rather not do the legwork. Personally, I had a blast hunting down objectives. Getting to a given location quickly was the tricky part. Just like in Wildlands, Breakpoint’s vehicles are unwieldy. The slightest touch of the wheel would send me careening into a tree. Some vehicles were better than others and you have to be mindful of the terrain. Still, driving around Auroa isn’t fun.

All and all, I’m looking forward to Breakpoint. The story seems interesting, the new survival mechanics provide a bit more realism without being too intrusive, and the basic combat is solid. And that’s before getting to see the PvP modes, the rest of the assorted gadgets/gear, raids and endgame content. Here’s hoping that the rest of the game is as entertaining as what was presented in the beta!

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