Our squad of four sat on the small ridge checking our weapons and gear. One of them, a guide from the development team, was walking the rest of us through the controls over comms before we headed off onto the dangerous island to pursue the smattering of missions lying around the map. Given the setting, I opted to go with a sharpshooter class, even though my most often preferred style is a run-and-gun assault type character. In the final game, there will be a lot of flexibility to how players can play, so if one class isn’t working out for you, you can just swap to something else. In fact, certain situations may require class swaps to make the most of any situation.
One thing quickly became apparent as we headed off to rescue a scientist from a captured drone factory. This world is better handled with a friend or three. While you can take on Cole D. Walker’s squad of Ghosts that inhabit the island yourself, it’s simply much more fun to tackle it in co-op. John Bernthal is an imposing force as Walker, as if The Punisher himself was defending the island. As such, the movements of you and your team need to be tactical. The hunter has become the hunted. You might be a top-tier elite special operative, but so are your enemies.
The other thing we had to pay attention to were some survival elements. Injuries play a big part in the gameplay, so if you’ve got a bad leg, you’ll have a tough time walking. An injured arm will impact your aim. You’re vulnerable while applying first aid, so it’s a tactical decision for when and how to retreat and heal. Fight through the injuries or heal up? Risk it right on the battlefield, or fall back to a safer spot? It’s a risk and reward system that makes the moment to moment gameplay feel like it actually means something. While we didn’t see much of terrain in play, apparently the island’s unique topography will also play a role. Steep hills can cause you to gain momentum and roll, injuring yourself if you aren’t careful.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint E3 2019 Preview – More Than a Military Shooter
Once we’d used our drones to scout the compound, we messily took down the guards around the area. This was a research facility, not a military compound, so it wasn’t nearly as messy as it could have been. Don’t worry. Our squad caused quite the mess at the military compound we visited next, just to prove we could. Once the guards were down, we were able to talk to the scientist and initiate a cutscene showing Cole D. Walker’s connection to the characters and the story. The sense I get here is that Ghost Recon Breakpoint wants to make him a tough enemy to fight, not just in skill, but emotionally as well. I imagine the full game will expand on these themes a lot more than my brief demo could.
Afterwards, the scientist is caught up in a gunfight and injured. Here we could decide how we wanted to deal with the drone factory and my group opted to blow the thing to hell, sabotaging it so that Walker couldn’t use the production facilities anymore. Apparently choice and consequence like that will play a role in the evolving world. In this case, Walker’s drone presence was reduced. We had to carry the scientist out and back to a waiting helicopter where we escaped the area.
We continued with some other side missions, one of them a super tough military facility. We died a fair amount on that one, but it gave us a chance to use some pretty cool tools, like a wirecutter to infiltrate through a fence. Ghost Recon Breakpoint isn’t going to take it easy on you. It’s going to be tough and unforgiving, and it will make you feel like a badass special ops soldier pitted against a force that is everything your equal.
I’ve never been interested in the Ghost Recon series before now, but getting a significant hands-on play session at E3 this year showed me a game that’s far more than just a basic military shooter. John Bernthal playing the villain, a man who was once a brother in arms, is just the icing on the cake. Ghost Recon Breakpoint doesn’t need a celebrity to be a great game. The survival action gameplay really speaks for itself.