The Ghost Recon: Breakpoint Beta Is A Debate On What A Ghost Recon Needs To Be

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the follow-up to 2017’s popular and controversial Ghost Recon: Wildlands, kicked off its closed beta weekend yesterday, letting players who pre-ordered the game take on two early story missions and a host of side missions that ostensibly will give players a clearer picture of what to expect when the game launches October 4.

Almost immediately, players have been polarised over what’s arguably the game’s most prominent new features: its new gear system.

In a shift from Wildlands — which itself was an open-world reinvention of the more level-based Ghost Recon franchise — Breakpoint now has weapons and gear with levels, much like your character. The average level of all your gear contributes to an overall gear level, which gives you a rough idea of what kind of challenges you can take on.

According to Ubisoft, the forthcoming raid mission is the only game content that will be locked behind a gear level limit, and enemies do not have a visible level attached—just a skull noting that their gear level is significantly higher than yours, and you’d better prepare for a tougher fight than usual.

Some Ghost Recon players consider this antithetical to the franchise ethos, which is predicated on realistic, tactical play. “One shot, one kill” is what, they say, people look to Ghost Recon for.

Their argument is that It’s not supposed to matter what level your weapon is at or what kind of perks their character class has—if your character sends a bullet to another one’s head, that’s all it should take. From a messaging standpoint, Ubisoft seems to agree.

What gear looks like in the Breakpoint beta.

In a lengthy Q&A published the same day the beta went live, Ubisoft laid out its rationale for the RPG-style gear system, noting that it’s not meant to detract from the series’ brand of tactical shooting.

For human foes, higher levels just mean they’ll spot you faster and be a little bit more lethal, taking an unspecified but slightly higher number of body shots before they go down.

“Whatever the human enemy level, you will always be able to eliminate them with a single headshot, as long as they are not wearing a helmet,” the post reads, “in which case you just need to land a shot once to remove it, and then a second time to take them down.”

The operative word there is human. Breakpoint is set on a tech magnate’s private island, and taking on a variety of autonomous drones is a big part of what goes on. It’s also Breakpoint’s out for having missions and areas that do scale based on gear level, although Ubisoft states that lower-level squads should still be able to take them on as long as they’re ready for a challenge.

To which ... sure. You can also technically beat Dark Souls naked with a single club, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Ubisoft’s argument for implementing this system stems from user data that indicated most Wildlands players found a weapon they liked and stuck with it for almost the entire game. This new system, the company says, encourages players to swap out weapons regularly and see more of what the game has to offer.

It’s nice on paper, but if Ghost Recon is the skill-based shooter that Ubisoft says it is, and the tactical fantasy players seem to want from it, then players sticking with a gun they’re good at using seems a little bit like a problem that doesn’t need solving.

Similarly, classes feel like an addition made for the sake of having another thing to add in post-release content, the way Operators are added to Rainbow Six Siege or Specialisations in The Division 2. It’s not that they aren’t fun—I like having the option of being a medic or a heavy weapons expert, but that’s also because I’ve acclimated class systems after years of playing shooters with them.

If I think hard about it, there’s nothing particularly Ghost Recon about how they’re implemented here.

During Kotaku’s stream of the Breakpoint beta Thursday, I joked that Breakpoint is just “every game,” full of moments that recall other (mostly Ubisoft) games. It has the gear and class system of The Division 2, the loose, intel-gathering quest structure first implemented in Wildlands and fleshed out in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and the aggressive post-release roadmap that’s common to every major release these days.

Despite these substantial changes, Breakpoint still feels tremendously satisfying to play. The trouble is that with its new class and gear systems, Breakpoint moves into fashionable areas of big-budget video games that aren’t entirely simpatico with Ghost Recon’s hardcore style. Figuring out how well developer intent meshes with player feedback is one of the purposes of beta tests like this — and it’s almost certain that players will figure out how well this early version of Breakpoint aligns with what Ubisoft says the game is meant to be.

Here’s one thing I’m certain of: Breakpoint’s new gear makes Ghost Recon a much more compulsive game, appealing to the big dummy in me who loves seeing numbers go up. I don’t have a problem with that, but there are also dozens of places where I can get that feeling any given week. Ghost Recon should feel different, right? 


Comments

    So its actually the Division? Hard pass.

      Yup. It's even based in DC. Can't you tell?

    Yeah nah, if I want to play The Division, I don't play Ghost Recon.

    Ffs Ubisoft.

    I like having one or two gun's that I'm comfortable using, in Wildlands it was the HTI and Mp5 , this was not a problem that needed a soulution.

      Exactly, people went the weapons that best suited their play styles
      While we may have had a preferred load out, it didn't stop us from finding and trying new guns or swapping out for a more specialised setup.

      This is purely about wedging loot mechanics in to the game to introduce a grind, the only changes the guns needed was to stats and how they work.
      (AI could've used a tweak too)

        Keep people playing until paid dlc drops, or there will micro transactions like xp boosters so the guns you like using will be locked at a higher level.

          I was saying on an earlier article that the Wildlands community is still very large and active, perhaps they just aren't buying anything though.

    To be honest, the camp is the most jarring part of the beta. They set you up for this gritty, cloak and dagger story, then spring on you an hidden resistance camp that somehow managed to evade detection complete with children.

    As for the game play, it feels like division crossed with just cause. Which would have been fine if it stuck closer to it's narrative.

    Yeah I'm gonna skip this one. I enjoyed wildlands a lot. However this just looks like division 2 wildlands edition. I already have division 2 so this game is not worth it for me.

    Ghost Recon hasn't been a realisitc or particularly hardcore franchise since the early 2000s. The only game in the franchise that I'd maybe use those words for is the first one and its expansions. Kind of bizare to me that people are still complaining about it becoming a more mainstream action franchise a solid 15 years after that happened.

    Comparisons to The Division are also kind of ridiculous, though. I've been playing the Beta and at no point did it take like 20 headshots to kill somebody. There's classes and gear now but it's not bulletsponges: the game.

      Operation Flashpoint was a good realistic shooter a lot of fun.

      Full Spectrum Warrior was another realistic one mote squad movement and tactics than actual shooting.

      If people want realism there are those two, can almost guarantee they would go crawling back too Ghost Recon "realism" in an hour or two.

      In saying that I do like the more fast paced actioney game play of Ghost Recon games.

      "This game cant be compared because of a very specific requirement ive chosen!"

      Sound logic right there!

    I could almost look past the looter-shooterism, the gawdy hub and the poor cutscene animations, if this was not a seriously broken mess of a game.
    Every time I play, there's another game-breaking, seriously hindering or embarrassing issue.

    Menu wheel locked up. Controls locked up. Invulnerable enemies. Stuck "falling" in water. Cannot revive a teammate. Broken inversion. Menu option text not implemented. Randomly behaving like I'm running through a swamp. AI that beggars belief.

    And the Predator drone, what the hell? This is that "looter-shooter-we-need-to-keep-them-doing-something" behaviour. Just teleport in a bunch of insane enemies and drones to annoy you when you're doing well.

    This is a beta? I remember the days when a beta meant, "we're done, the customer should be happy with this".

    haha they still cant build a game engine where you can jump freely.

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