Ghost Recon: Breakpoint hands-on preview - Danger island

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint will have players navigate their way through a dangerous island with no intel and only their teammates to survive. Shacknews goes hands-on.

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Last week, Ubisoft launched a special event for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands. On top of offering a week-long free trial, players were treated to a new story-based event that introduced a new face to the Ghost Recon mythos. But Ubisoft didn't recruit actor Jon Bernthal to bring new character Cole Walker to life for a single event. No, Walker is actually a key component of an all-new entry to the Ghost Recon franchise.

Unveiled on Thursday, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is a very different experience from Wildlands. While Wildlands is an organized operation within the known landscape of Bolivia, Breakpoint is defined by a number of unknowns. The island that players crash land on is an entirely unfamiliar location. While Bolivia offered a series of mission briefings, Breakpoint will offer no mission briefings of any kind. While Wildlands depended on teamwork to succeed, Breakpoint will depend on teamwork to survive. To get a taste of the twists that Breakpoint offers to the Ghost Recon formula, Shacknews went hands-on with one of the game's early missions.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

The Breakpoint story follows the development of a special brand of military drone. Creator Jay Skell created a line of lethal drones, which have been used in clandestine special ops missions and has gradually made its way into the civilian space. But the drones have suddenly started to take an undesired turn, murdering political candidates and persons of interest around the world, leading to universal condemnation from the United Nations. While the U.S. looked to Skell for answers, it was quickly discovered that Skell had gone missing. A Ghost Recon strike team was sent to Skell's private island, but a swarm of drones descended on the team like locusts and destroyed all incoming helicopters, leaving only four soldiers alive. Those four Ghosts now find themselves up against an island filled with rogue Ghosts, led by Cole Walker, with only their training and each other to help them survive their most harrowing mission yet.

Players are thrown right into the action at the start of Breakpoint, where they must find their own way around. With no mission briefing, players must discover for themselves where to go and uncover objectives along the way. The island landscape is treacherous, with a multitude of different environments, including scorching deserts and snowy mountaintops. Even the standard jungles will feature slopes, a new feature in the Ghost Recon franchise. Soldiers will react realistically to slopes, unable to simply run up and down any that they encounter. They'll need to be careful when they're being chased. They'll also have to be careful to avoid being grazed by enemy fire, because players can now sustain semi-permanent injuries. Deblitating injuries can cause players to move slower or affect how they handle their weapons. If a player is too severely injured, they won't be able to handle any heavy weapons, but instead be reduced to using their sidearm pistol.

There is a way to treat injuries and it's through the new bivouac system. Bivouacs are military encampments spread throughout the island. This is where players can stop to regroup, rest, and prepare for missions. The bivouacs are critical, not just for treating aforementioned injuries. Players can nourish and hydrate themselves to gain temporary buffs or perform weapon checks to provide a temporary accuracy boost. The bivouac is also good for harvesting resources and crafting items, which can be shared among teammates.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

Before embarking on a mission, players will be able to browse through an all-new class system that provides specific skill sets that can contribute to an overall character build. Certain class selections will be a great help for select missions. While there are a handful of classes that will be made available at launch, such as the Sharpshooter class for snipers or Panther class for stealth, Ubisoft will add additional classes after Breakpoint's launch. After classes are chosen, players can decide when to begin their strike, whether it be at a different time of day or during different weather.

Actual missions carry a great emphasis on stealth. Breakpoint will feature a variety of vehicles, with Ubisoft pledging that vehicle handling is "dramatically improved" from Wildlands. Random enemy activity is everywhere, so players need to watch where they go and how far they take their vehicles. To help dispatch targets, the Sync Shot makes its return from Wildlands, now with the ability to use it with AI teammates. There are several different ways to sneak around, whether it's using a Breach Kit to cut through a fence or by utilizing prone camo and blending in. Both of those are new features for the Ghost Recon series.

As noted, human resistance is heavy. Players will be able to loot bodies for the first time in the series, but with enemy movement random, it may be best to exercise caution. Beyond the rogue Ghosts, squads will also need to contend with drone resistance, whether it's an armed flying drone or a robotic gunner drone. Getting into a heavy firefight with no plan is ill-advised, to say the least. If things do go south, players have the option to carry a teammate's body to safety. The ability to carry bodies extends to carrying NPC bodies during certain missions or hiding enemy corpses to avoid detection.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

Ubisoft has grand plans for Breakpoint, well beyond launch. The publisher has indicated that the game will not only launch with PvP out of the box, but players will be able to share their character progressions across solo, co-op, and PvP game modes. As for the post-launch plan, the Wildlands team is lending a hand with Breakout's post-release content, offering new story missions and events. They're also helping with endgame raids, a new feature for the franchise. Raids will only be playable in co-op, with the first one taking teams to a facility within the island's volcano. Ubisoft is aiming for replayability with raids and will offer more information in the future.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint looks to test franchise fans like nothing before it. A dangerous new adventure awaits when the game releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 4.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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