The anticipation is high for the October 4th launch of Ubisoft’s upcoming 3rd-person shooter Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The game is a direct sequel to the developer’s last entry in the Ghost Recon franchise, and promises many new innovations for the series. I had the opportunity over the first weekend of September to take part in the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta. Here are a few of my thoughts on the experience.
Take a trip to Auroa
The Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta begins on the remote island of Auroa. It seems innocent enough at first, a standard topical archipelago in the South Pacific. However in the standard near-future sci-fi vein of the series, it actually serves as a dystopian warning of things to come.
The island is the private compound of tech mogul (and presumably billionaire many times over) Jack Skell. Jack specializes in autonomous drones—or at least he did, until one of his machines goes rogue and assassinates a politician. At the same time, Skell himself appears to go entirely dark.
Naturally someone has to investigate Skell’s domain and try to figure out what’s going on. This of course is where the Ghosts enter the picture. However going in blind means that nobody truly knows what to expect when the boots hit the ground on Auroa.
“Boots hit the ground” may not be the appropriate term in retrospect. I’m not certain my boots were the first or even second part of my body to touch down on Auroa. More likely my character—and anyone else lucky enough to come down alive—made our entrance head-first.
This is due to the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta opening with an all-out ambush on the Ghost’s arrival. It seems that the investigation was both anticipated and heavily accounted for. The approaching Ghost force suffers heavy losses before most can even land.
Separated from my posse and seemingly lucky to be alive, the first goal is to seek out and join any other survivors. Here the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta offers its first taste of gameplay. First by showing how to carefully (and relatively slowly) patch a serious wound in the field, then with a bit of trademark gun play. Dangerous but unknown enemies are clearly on the hunt for anyone surviving the massacre.
The point truly seems to make players feel like they are very much on the losing side of a difficult fight. In what essentially amounts to a tutorial you aren’t given a clear target, plenty of ammo, and a few sitting ducks to make you feel good. Instead you’ll be disoriented, beaten and bandaged, and dropped into a struggle for survival.
Take a look around
Despite the bleak outlook surrounding my arrival on Auroa, it is nevertheless difficult not to take a moment to appreciate the world around me. By that I’m referring to the incredible environment that is the island of Auroa. Ubisoft is always at the forefront of creating stunning and beautiful worlds to play in, and from what can see with the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta, this is no exception.
One of the first things I took note of was just how incredible the effects of a rain storm are. The storm is impressive in and of itself, and really excites me for how the game will look in all manner of weather. However it was the result of the downpour that really gave me pause to take notice.
Trudging along a dirt road, I couldn’t believe how great the effect of vehicle tracks and pooling water was rendered. Each tread appears unique and spontaneous, and even the light seems to reflect just the right way in each depression to give that sense of hyper-realism. This is just one example of the lush, thriving environmental design in the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta.
It may seem like a very specific and somewhat inconsequential thing to hone in on. Yet for me personally, this is what really adds to my hype for a new game. I love seeing how developers are getting better and better at creating realism in game environments, and every time I feel like the next game is going to draw me into the escapism a little bit more.
An open world to explore
After finding some respite and becoming acquainted with what essentially amounts to a home base, the rest of the beta plays out in a small slice of mission-based gameplay. The structure of receiving quests and side missions is about what you’d expect from the series. However, the world does feel significantly bigger and more dangerous.
When playing solo you aren’t given a team of AI counterparts. Nor are you ever even given a very specific path to your objectives. The Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta seems content to simply send you in the general direction you need to go and let you figure it out from there.
The focus really seems to lean heavily into survival and skill. Ubisoft seems to be taking its biggest leap yet in developing games that are less reliant on handicaps and HUDs and more on skill, problem-solving, and independence. Rumours, landmarks, and overheard conversations are gradually taking the place of arrows and waypoints.
Final thoughts on the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta
After playing the Ghost Recon Breakpoint closed beta I’m definitely even more excited for the game than before. It has a very interesting premise, and I’m eager to learn more about what has gone wrong on the island of Auroa.
The world is absolutely stunning, and I can’t wait to see more of the detail that has clearly been poured into its creation. The survival aspect seems like a great step forward for the franchise as well. As a solo player I’m looking forward to seeing how these survival tools and features will help me handle the threat on my own.