When Ghost Recon: Wildlands released in 2017 we were introduced to a massive version of Bolivia, in which you and three friends (or AI partners if you prefer) could take down a drug-dealing cartel in whatever way you wanted. It was a game packed with stuff for a merry band of operatives to explore, and now Ubisoft is back with a follow-up to this experience called Breakpoint, one we got to play for ourselves at E3 this year.
It's necessary to preface this preview by mentioning Wildlands because it's clear from the outset that this is sort of a direct sequel to Wildlands. As soon as we started shooting, aiming, and moving around it was clear this was built on the foundations the 2017 game, and that's good news for people who spent ages wandering around Bolivia taking on the various challenges available.
There are key differences though, as you'd expect from a sequel two-and-a-half years later. Ubisoft has worked to make this a bit more authentic with regards to gameplay, and one element of this is the traversal of the world. You'll find it harder to crawl up steep inclines, for example, and you'll slide down hills. Try to make a big jump and you might get injured as well, so it's worth taking your time with things.
You can also get injured in combat as well, and this will actually impact your experience, making it harder to aim or forcing you to limp, for example. This is why taking the time to retreat and apply bandages is important, since these injuries will cap your health, and syringes can also be used to top up as well. Wildlands was never about running and gunning, but it's even less viable now, and you need to think things through tactically this time around, especially since your healing resources are limited.
Elsewhere there are other tools at your disposal as well, like a torch to cut through fences, an EMP grenade, and a rocket launcher, all of which will help you against the various challenges you'll encounter, be they great or small. More tactical options are always a good thing, and there are even crafting options from the resources in the world that allow you to create more.
This can be done from your bivouac (a temporary camp, if you didn't know), and this serves as your base of operations in a number of other ways. This applies temporary buffs to features like accuracy and stamina, but you can also tweak your classes and change your loadouts to prepare for a mission.
Yes, there are classes in the game and they're suited to different areas like stealth, assault, and sniping, but Ubisoft told us these are soft because you can swap everything in and out in the bivouac. In the mood to play a sniper as the assault class? No problem. This gives plenty of room for adaptation, especially since each class also comes with their own special ability too. Fury - the stealth character - has an ability to throw smoke down and escape, for instance, and these actions can help at key points in the fight.
Those who wanted a bit more vehicle variety in Wildlands will also be pleased to hear that there's a military emphasis on vehicles this time around, with beefy armoured cars and helicopters helping you get around. The island of Aurora is a big place after all, and there are plenty of faction missions (rewarding loot) and daily missions to travel between when you're not fighting through the main campaign.
Speaking of the campaign, the narrative is another big focus this time around. Ubisoft told us in the presentation before the gameplay that there will be lots of cutscenes here, and they've not been shy in showing off Jon Bernthal as Cole D. Walker, the antagonist who used to be a Ghost like you. We only got to see a bit of the story in our demo, but what we saw portrayed Walker's army of 'Wolves' is a lethal force that can really deal some damage when they show up. Ubisoft said that you're the hunted rather than the hunter in this game, and it'll be interesting to see how this dynamic works.
Helping with the hunting is the technology at the Wolves' disposal, comprising of military weaponry and lethal drones, both on land and in the air. There are flying ones that are hard to shoot and quick to detect you, drones on wheels to drive up to you and deliver a beating, and behemoths that guard the important points on the map, offering the most significant challenge (reminiscent of boss fights in something like Anthem, where you need four people and all their weaponry to defeat them). These offer a new challenge that we haven't seen in Wildlands and they make things a lot tougher.
With shared progression across all modes too - PvE and PvP - there will be no shortage of content to see when Breakpoint launches on October 4 this year. The narrative is already looking interesting, layers have been added to the core gameplay we've seen in Wildlands, and it's just as much fun to be tactical with your buddies as it was before. We've come away pleased with what we've seen during our hands-on, and we're looking forward to seeing whether this can be sustained throughout the whole of our time in Auroa.