Ubisoft is offering an alpha build of Ghost Recon Breakpoint at E3. The focus on squad-based gameplay was apparent immediately, as me and two other attendees were led by a Ubisoft representative to form a four-person squad. There are different classes available, and the guide explained each role as you go, pointing out spots where each player could shine. The sniper had a convenient perch, and my guy specialized in damaging vehicles. That proved essential against a deadly drone tank. But then cutscenes reared their heads, reminding us that it is technically a single-player experience too.
We already knew that Ghost Recon Breakpoint promised a "seamless" exchange between single-player and online multiplayer modes. Gear is supposed to level the same either way, and there won't be restrictions on what can be used where. This also extends to how the story is delivered, with the claim that you can go through the campaign by yourself or with your squad. After our Ubisoft guy led my squad through the basic controls, I got to see what that looked like. It was... strange, but still made me excited for the game.
Our mission was to free a scientist from the drone factory because reasons. When we reached the factory, our guide introduced us to our drones. Every class seems to have one, and at the press of a button they took to the skies and gave us a camera view of the facility. We could press another button to tag enemies, making them visible to everyone in the group and putting them on the mini-map.
It was very convenient, and that seems to be a running theme in this game. Drones, how easy they make warfare and how scary that is. After our guide suggested I cut open a hole in the gate to breach, I got hit by a rocket and went down. Unfortunately, we didn't tag every enemy with the drones. The guy we missed saw me, and all hell broke loose. That resulted in the arrival of an armored drone car, the one enemy the guide told us to watch out for.
We immediately found out why. With its speed and heavy machine gun, there was no way to run. Two more squadmates were gunned down as I bled out, forcing me to respawn on the last remaining squadmate. Our sniper, bless him, was hiding away at his perch like a pro. Once we all respawned on Mr. Sniper, we were able to toss grenades at the drone car, and I used my special ability to finish it off.
With the scary drone car destroyed, we went in as a group to easily finish off the remaining soldiers and find the scientist. That's when story happened. Or rather, I made it happen. But here's the thing. Even though I pushed to button to initiate dialogue with the scientist, everyone was taken to the cutscene.
What was truly strange however, is the way the game handled this. On my screen, my character was talking to the scientist, devising a plan to blow the factory up and escape. Everyone else, meanwhile, saw the same scene but with their character facing the scientist. The rest of the squad disappeared, and it was like we were all living in four different realities, four different movies where we're the star. Then we returned to gameplay, and the squad was whole again.
It was not seamless, that sudden shift from squad-based gameplay to zooming in on my character as he had a meaningful flashback. It feels like they wanted to tell a realistic Tom Clancy story but also have an extremely customizable looter shooter. Since those two don't always mix, they just kind of tag each other in every now and again.
The good news is, the gameplay is still solid at its core. Calling it a tactical stealth shooter is not all marketing. Even our simple factory raid benefitted from a more measured approach and almost failed because of one slip-up. I found myself calling out enemy positions and announcing ideas to my random squadmates like we were playing for real. Classes were locked, so I couldn't test customization, but the squad-based shooting is strong. It just has a story that bursts in with all the subtlety of a drone tank sometimes.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint will release on October 4th for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.