Ghost Recon: Breakpoint – We speak with executive producer Nouredine Abboud on dialling up the tension for survival behind enemy lines

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands set a pretty crazy standard for the franchise. What was known as a tight, tactical game that focused on strategic movement around fairly large maps exploded ever outward, dropping the Ghosts into maybe the most impressive open-world that Ubisoft has ever created.

Despite the…issues that came with translating a real-world country into a combat-heavy militaristic video game, Bolivia proved to be an excellent playground for fans to engage enemies, explore the wildly expansive terrain and just dick around together when they weren’t in the middle of the War on Drugs 2.0. So it’s pretty much entirely up for speculation as to how Breakpoint plans on delivering that same strategic sandbox experience. We sat down with Executive Producer Nouredine Abboud to talk a little more about how Ghost Recon: Breakpoint plans on building on from what Wildlands established.

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The first thing we were curious about was how the core gameplay has shifted. In my time with the multiplayer component at Gamescom, I noted that a lot of the gear available for us to use was tiered with different rarities, as well as an RPG-esque class system seemingly borrowed from The Division 2. I was concerned that Ghost Recon would be taking a move into the realm of looter-shooter territory, but Abboud eased my fears. “This is a shooter game. We are using elements from other games, even an RPG element, in order to increase the feeling of being a ghost, by having the progression system,” he said.

But, at its core, if you shoot a human enemy, at the critical spot, no matter what is your level or his level, they are going to die. This means there is no bullet sponge.”

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Yet that hasn’t stopped Ubisoft from implementing mechanical reasons to progress your character. All over the fictional map of Aurora, the renegade special-ops unit “The Wolves” have set up towers that control a series of drones that range in power level. “Drones are a good reason to develop your character, to upgrade, to go at high level fights”, said Abboud.

With the no bullet-sponge and the shooter elements, by having drones that give opportunities for high level, we can guarantee that when you’re playing the game you only have the good side of it and you don’t have the issues that can come with it.

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Yet with all these MMO-like additions to the game, Abboud was adamant that Breakpoint is still fundamentally the same game:

We are still a shooter, we have always been a shooter. I’ve been on this franchise since 2006, so I can see what has changed and what hasn’t changed. The idea [Raids] came from: what would people who are playing in a squad of four, and have upgraded their characters, what would they like to face? The answer was easy: they want to have high-level enemies, they want to compete, they want to see how good they are worldwide.

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The idea of competing, of testing your mettle against others seems to be at the very core of Breakpoint, carrying over even into the single-player experience. With the introduction of The Wolves, players are no longer the biggest, baddest soldiers on the ground as they’re constantly pursued by a force that has the same equipment as you, larger numbers and a better understanding of their environment:

The Wolves are the best hunters in our game – they follow you, they’re hunting you. The biggest change is that, as opposed to other enemies, they are the ones that are going to make sure that they follow you. They have access to drones, they are masters of these tools, that is why we actually call them the Wolves.

It’s an interesting shift for the Ghost Recon franchise; while you’ll certainly be at the advantage over average grunts, for once you’re not the only hunter stalking the forests. The Ghosts have gone from Apex Predator to prey as they have to outfit a force that’s constantly at the advantage.

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That’s what Breakpoint seems to really zero in on: Survival behind enemy lines. While Wildlands had The Ghosts in the heart of enemy territory, they never really felt like they were at a disadvantage. In Breakpoint, it seems like everything is out to take you down as you have to actively survive the environment:

We don’t want the survival to be boring or tiring… we want to make sure that the survival is an aspect that you can choose the way you want to play. Yes, if you are playing on Extreme, it will be hard to survive…we [want to] keep the cool side of survival, without the unnecessary baggage.

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Despite Abboud’s insistence that Breakpoint is not an evolution on the formula, I can’t help but feel that enough has changed to label it as such. Whereas Wildlands opened up the Ghost Recon experience into sandbox territory that allowed for even more tactical gameplay above and beyond what was offered in previous titles, Breakpoint seems to be moving the series in a direction that wants to emphasise an element of individual character growth alongside the usual squad-based action the series is known for. The developers seem confident that this is correct direction for Breakpoint, yet after both playing the game and talking about it more in-depth I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. With the closed beta officially kicking off tomorrow, I’ll be sure to report back on what I thought of Breakpoint’s gameplay, so watch this space.

Last Updated: September 4, 2019

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