desire to strengthen its core brands is really a shining light in the industry. We’ve talked a lot about it here on AusGamers
in the past, citing titles such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
as examples of the publishing and development giant’s desire to continue to support its titles well into the next phase of their post-purchase lives. Rainbow Six Siege
and For Honor
already enjoy seasonal content, and while Ghost Recon: Wildlands
also saw life after its sun set, that entry has been quietly put to rest to make way for a true sequel in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
The big news that will be filling up your feed over E3
week will be the inclusion of Jon Bernthal
(The Walking Dead
, The Punisher
) as the game’s lead antagonist, Cole D. Walker
-- an elite Spec Ops soldier, or Ghost
who’s now gone rogue on the fictional island of Auroa
with an agenda not entirely known. The island itself is owned by Jace Skell
whose company produces high-end military tech. Questionable business and business practices have produced enough uncertainty around goings on on the island prompting the US government to deploy its trusted Ghosts to investigate. It’s from here they (you) will face off against your former brother, who now commands a rogue military force but can also troublingly anticipate your every move, having been trained the same way.
This setup allows for a unique follow-up to Wildlands in that combat and story are now far more intimate in active unison. Your backs are more against the wall and with a seemingly endless supply of military tech, strongholds and what can only be a fast track chopper conveyor belt, Walker and his army are far more dangerous. Ubisoft tells us the game will also support AI Ghosts for the soloists of us out there, but in reality these games are far more fun with friends given the systems upon systems you can play with, that can only be disrupted in chaotic harmony by nefarious individuals.
"This might be a balance issue, or it might be that we just didn’t get a chance to spend the required amount of time with the game to work like the well-oiled Ghost machine we should be..."
Speaking of, at a pre-E3 press event, I had a chance to play with fellow locals in Ben Salter
and Shannon Grixti
, along with a Ubisoft developer. And we were rubbish. Well, only for the first 30 minutes or so.
It’s clear there’s two ways to play Breakpoint: seriously, or randomly. The game itself fosters the idea of guns-a-blazing or stealth, though it must be said the latter proved difficult to not just master, but to even actively perform. This might be a balance issue, or it might be that we just didn’t get a chance to spend the required amount of time with the game to work like the well-oiled Ghost machine we should be. But it was still fun, and often hilarious.
New features this time around include sustaining semi-permanent injuries, like rolling your ankle if you don’t control a slide or descent down an incline (requiring bandaging ahead of just using a health kit), improved enemy archetypes such as heavy infantry and even rocket launcher dudes perched in positions snipers ought to be. Drones play a massive part on the enemy list as well, and will allegedly feature heavily in endgame content, including what is known as a “Behemoth Drone” -- a massive automated tank we actually did
manage to destroy. Crafting plays a role, and you can hunt and harvest the land around you. This then happens within arguably the biggest new feature: the Bivouac.
"It’s an interactive player-management system with in-game context and just makes a lot of senseount of time with the game to work like the well-oiled Ghost machine we should be..."
The bivouac is essentially a camp you utilise between missions and to heal yourself, trade with other players, craft and more. It’s an interactive player-management system with in-game context and just makes a lot of sense. You can also set the time of day from the bivouac which can aid in whether or not you take on missions during the day to maybe go all out, or at night to facilitate a better stealth approach.
And back to that stealth issue. What seemed to be a problem was alerting one enemy, lit an entire camp up far too quickly, and for some reason the enemies from that point just know where you are, despite another new feature in going prone and then covering yourself in mud as if you were Arnie
hiding from the Predator
. Again, this might be a balance issue still being worked out by QA and the team on the whole, or just our own ineptitude, but it’s worth noting our handler also struggled with it, so I’ll put it down to the game still being in development and just at preview stage for the sake of E3.
"More weight to vehicles will likely be looked at, but there’s a fun element to playing with moon-like physics sometimes anyway..."
Movement through the world is still super-fun; the earlier-mentioned choppers, the ability to base jump, and hijack any moving vehicles, beyond drones is just an ever-enticing transport concept. Car physics were a little touchy, however, and we wound up tipping over a lot, and again, our handler also struggled with this. More weight to vehicles will likely be looked at, but there’s a fun element to playing with moon-like physics sometimes anyway, so we weren’t too stressed about it. And we also learnt that the shortest route, might not always be the most efficient. The game’s engine draws massive vistas on the fictional island, but it should be said it’s not of the same visual fidelity of, say, The Division series. But what it lacks in that sheen, it more than makes up for in toys to play with and its sheer size and myriad systems in place.
There is a story here, and you’ll even get dialogue choices, but Ubisoft was transparent when it revealed these choices would have little bearing on the story’s overall outcome, rather they’re there for players to just play the game and act as the type of soldier they’d want to be. It’s oddly refreshing, and speaks to the idea that gameplay here is king. Still, gaining the services of Frank Castle as your baddie isn’t a bad lean on your narrative at all, so kudos to Ubi for landing him and giving us someone menacing to chase down across Auroa.
In the end we had a semi-successful attack on a stronghold as a group, with myself performing particularly well as a sharpshooter. Once the base was cleared of the enemy, you can scour it for Intel and other minor collectibles. There’s no real loot system here, but you can find gear to craft with, leftover ammo and dropped enemy weapons to add to your arsenal. But Breakpoints clearer agenda is intense firefights, vehicles and scope. And in that space, the game looks to be set to deliver.