The one thing I didn’t expect from Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s Ghost War PvP multiplayer was to encounter echoes from the battle royale genre. It’s not a fully fledged battle royale mode by any means, but it’s clear that Ubisoft have seen some of the tricks that games like PUBG and Fortnite pull and thought, “I’ll have that” like a veritable Burglar Bill.
Ubi have built upon the foundations of what they belatedly created for Ghost Recon Wildlands, taking that game’s 4v4 multiplayer and expanding on it with a clutch of new and interesting ideas. Perhaps the most noticeable of these is the shrinking combat zone that comes into play after you’ve been battling for a few minutes (or can be triggered by players). The idea is that, having seen the typical playing time that matches had in Wildlands’s Ghost War, they can comfortably retain that same overall pacing and cautious push and pull of combat, but then also ensure a result as the damaging combat zone funnels players together on pain of death. Die or die trying, in other words.
You fight through some nice and really quite open environments. They’re expansive enough that you can comfortably head to a sniping spot and get overwatch across much of the map, but the two examples that we played on – Tech Port and R&D Centre – had enough scenery that it makes spotting enemies a little tricky, allowing you to close the gaps, push a flank and aim for some closer quarters combat. That’s accentuated when the six maps switch from night to day, forcing you to break out night vision goggles or lean more heavily on your drone for spotting duties.
Two modes will be available at launch, and the one we got to check out was Elimination. You hear that name and think of the modes in other games where you have a single life, or very limited respawns, and can throw it away with a moment of foolhardiness or a mistake that sends you to sit on the sidelines until the next round. That can happen here as well, but the only way to ensure your victory is to knock out all of the opposition players thanks to a new injury system.
Despite being Elimination, there’s weirdly no deaths to speak of. Instead, players can only ever be downed and must then be revived in order to rejoin the fight, albeit coming back with half health. It means that no round is ever a foregone conclusion; there’s always a way back into the fight if one of you is still standing. It encourages front foot play, where if one enemy player is downed, you want to press your advantage and lock down that area so that the balance can’t be restored. It also means that a team’s designated sniper is all-too-easily revived to get back to work duelling with their opposite number.
The various player classes can also play into this. Assault, Sharp Shooter, the scout-like Panther and Medic all have particular positions on the battlefield, but enough freedom with weaponry choices not to get pigeonholed in a particular situation. Any class can pick any weapon, so you can have a Medic with a sniper rifle and SMG, or (for some reason) pick a Sharp Shooter with an AK-47. The difference comes in their abilities, both passive and active.
The Medic in particular facilitates those comebacks with their abiliites. They revive allies quicker than the other classes, can drop a gear item that heals nearby enemies, and their drone can go and revive allies from quite some distance away. With character progression running through all the game’s modes, you’ll be able to take your experience and skills from the single player or co-op into the multiplayer quite nicely.
There’s a lot of good ideas and tweaks in Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s evolved Ghost War, in particular with how it adopts some battle royale ideas and incorporates them into the pacey tactical multiplayer. The matches that we played, going from one round to another, always felt close and thrilling, whether looking for the flanking manoeuvre, clinging on and hoping to revive a teammate, or a scramble to find the last player on the other side before they can trigger a comeback. It might have been a late addition to Wildlands, but for Breakpoint, Ghost War might just be a go-to mode from day one.