When your life is on this much of a knife's edge – with death being only a few speed-holes away – playing as a Ghost
can feel downright... spooky
. It sure didn't feel this way for my first round of PvP in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, though. My team and I foolishly played it cocky, like this was a third-person CoD
. End result: the run-and-gun strategy quickly devolved into run-get-gunned-and-mewl-for-a-revive. It was brutal.
With our attitudes adjusted back to Wildlands
caution, my team of four and I learned to not only respect the opposing force of Europeans
, but also a bunch of new mechanics that make this game remarkably different from Ubisoft's
2017 effort. The most obvious one is the basic feel of your Spec Ops
operators – movement feels noticeably zippier, plus the basic traversal of this world has some new wrinkles and tactical implications.
For example, want to run up a steep foothill to gain a patented Obi Wan
high-ground advantage? Expect your avatar to slow right down during that upwards slog. Conversely, want to run down a steep hill? If the ground conditions are poor and the incline too steep, chances are you're going arse over tit and into the mud puddle at the base of it. Pro tip
: when your allies give you shit for this, say it was intended. You needed more brown on you. For camo.
"If your killer doesn't take the time to camp on your corpse, like a ghoul, there's a chance you can be rezzed back into the fight..."
Though Ubisoft says Breakpoint will come with six maps and two modes on day one, I only got to tamper around with the Elimination mode and two maps. (For the record: the other mode is Sabotage, a bomb planting concern.) Elimination is basically a TDM where two teams of four order one another lead salad sandwiches until one side chokes.
That being said, if you're shot you don't ever bleed out completely. If your killer doesn't take the time to camp on your corpse, like a ghoul, there's a chance you can be rezzed back into the fight. However, there's no regenerative health here. You'll do a poor man's Lazarus – your new life will consist of only a bee's dick of health. More on how to solve this conundrum in a minute.
With the respawns non-existent and the average bullet being Rainbow Six levels of lethal, you'd figure PvP in Breakpoint would be camp-fest 2019. Not so. Ubisoft has taken aggressive measures to ensure that exceptionally passive players will be putting themselves at a disadvantage. Firstly, I found that being mobile was the only way to stumble upon the precious randomised loot in a map. These drops are the best way to stock up on health recouping syringes, or to gain a tactical edge by snagging an extra grenade or an all-powerful drone pick up.
Speaking of drones, they tie into the second big anti-passive concept. By default you won't get issued an eye in the sky that's on a spammable cooldown. Like I said, you have to find a single-use drone out in the field. Also, in general, the PvP is uniquely cool-down free compared to the rest of the game. You have to “do stuff to get stuff”. Earning a use of your Class Ability for example requires you to tag enemies, land shots and get downed allies back into the fight. Likewise, Ubisoft also took the time to “PvP massage” the existing gun / item / perk stats ensure all playstyles are viable in PvP. They insist nothing is OP.
If loot is not enough to keep your slovenly spec ops butt moving, Breakpoint's medium-sized maps will also – you guessed it – restrict over time. In my demo with the game, it seemed that every firefight got sorted well before this mechanic had a chance to occur. It's very late round stuff. More of a sudden death clause.
Also in my two hour stint, we got access to three of the four classes available on launch day – Assault, Sharpshooter and Panther (Field Medic was under lock and key). Assault folk get more health, better mobility with heavy weapons and a True Grit class ability that supercharges your health for a time. Sharpshooter is obviously for the Lee Harvey Oswalds
among you, and they get armour-piercing rounds as a special. Panther is for the wannabe Sam Fishers
who want to be more marking resistant and have a limited invisibility Cloak and Run skill. Lastly, the mysterious Field Medic will no doubt just be the support class that more people really ought to play as but won't. Because everybody has to be Rambo
"Making drones a special treat rather than a crutch for every idiot to lean on is much appreciated..."
All in all, and even though I got my clock regularly cleaned for being way too aggressive, I had a blast playing Breakpoint. Making drones a special treat rather than a crutch for every idiot to lean on is much appreciated. It makes for boots on the ground stuff that takes me back to the pre Ghost Recon Warfighter
days when the series wasn't so obsessed with whizbang battlefield tech. What we have here is mostly just good old fashioned pincer movements, marking for your teammates and scope-heavy gunplay.
Every trigger pull means something, too. Take an unsuccessful potshot at somebody meerkating from cover and you will pop up on your enemy's mini-map. Interestingly, my team and I turned this auto marking system to our advantage with a little ruse. At a few points I would be a deliberate belligerent in a high-ground position. After I'd intentionally light myself up like a Christmas tree and dance between cover, my kill hungry foes would open up. From there, my pals would use the info to flank and pick them off from the sides, like true Ghosts. Or possibly velociraptors. Ghostraptors.
It's also worth noting that the map design in this sequel is quite a bit better than what we got in Wildlands PvP. In short, it's no longer been done ass backwards. In 2017 the adversarial component of Wildlands was bolted on top of a sandbox that had been crafted for solo and/or co-op purposes. When the PvP team came along, they had to more or less scout around and find chunks of that world which could be reasonably bounded and sprinkled with spawnpoints. Not ideal.
Breakpoint ditches this in favour of custom, hand-crafted maps that have been designed purely for player on player slaying. Once these were tweaked to PvP perfection, the team were then allowed to transplant their altered terrain back into the sandbox for full integration with the PvE campaign as well. Oh, and the community won't have to spend months begging for a snow map either – there'll be a winter wonderland available on launch.
Last but not least, Breakpoint will be a helluva lot more cheater free. Ubisoft has listened to the pleas of the community and will be delivering dedicated servers. Exploits and glitching bastards will be in fewer numbers, and there'll also be a general improvement in quality of life with regards to server outages and the like. Theoretically.
Honestly, from where I crouch in a state of cat-like readiness as a Panther class Ghost, this PvP is looking like a winner. Wildlands PvP wasn't a perfect beast, but it showed more than enough potential. As a result, Ubisoft has gone all in and given the PvP team the autonomy, tools and time needed to take the experience to the next level. Now that progression is shared evenly across all modes, there's a very good chance my crew and I will take co-op vacations to hit these lobbies hard.