After I got some hands-on time with Ghost Recon Breakpoint, I had the chance to sit down with Eric Couzian, the creative director on the game. While I never have been into the Ghost Recon series too much before this meeting, I was quite eager to dive into a conversation with one of the creative minds behind the game to talk about where it sits in the market of shooters today as well as amongst Ubisoft’s diverse lineup of other multiplayer shooters.
Jordan: Where does this game fit in the Ubisoft family of shooters? You have Rainbow Six Siege, The Division 2, and they kind of offer very different gameplay experiences. Can you tell me a little bit about where you want Ghost Recon Breakpoint to sit with fans of these types of games?
Eric Couzian: So to be very honest, the way we create the game is not created to the other games of Ubisoft. So it was more an evolution of Wildlands. I think even if we are compared to the other Ubisoft games, there are differences. Here it was more to get it to a more authentic experience. The reason we brought a more military survival aspect to the game was to always give more content because it was something strong from Wildlands and it was super important for us to give all the players different activities that are diverse.
J: You’re introducing Raids in Breakpoint for the first time, I’m assuming there’ll be a leveling system of sorts. How long is it going to take players to max out in the game, see a lot of what it has to offer? Your team talked a lot about replayability, can you tell me about that?
EC: Actually, Raids are just part of the endgame so we will have more in the later weeks and month. What we can tell you is that yes, it will require time to reach a certain level. You will have to play with friends because it’s super difficult. Raids are located in specific parts of the world. As you begin you will have the choice to play storyline or many side missions. The structure of the game is long enough so that you can really play the way you want to in the world. Once you reach a certain level you will be able to go to the volcano and other parts of the world for Raids.
J: In terms of difficulty in these Raids, you were talking about leveling. I know, in particular, The Division is sometimes criticized for enemies feeling like bullet sponges. How do you counteract that in a game like this, that’s more about survival and taking out enemies quickly but still having big bosses with more HP — how does your team take that on?
EC: So it was the very first day when we started to work on the progression system of the game — with this world one bullet kills, which is a principle of the Ghost Recon franchise. So first, it was quite challenging to figure how can we bring a progression with Raids and everything, the players to loot, change equipment. We have a system that adapts to you so that the game always remains skill-based.
In the world, usually, you’ll have enemies at the same level as you and regions that are at fixed levels of difficulty. When I say this, you also have a section of difficulty that you can choose at the beginning of the game, which can be changed anytime.
J: With this game, you’re the hunted, a new aspect of Ghost Recon that we haven’t seen before. How does that affect the game and missions players will be experiencing?
You showed at one point today a cutscene that shows your helicopter is being attacked by drones. Can I be riding around the world in a car, helicopter, or boat with my friends and suddenly a swarm of drones will come after us? Is that kind of the dynamic gameplay you guys are going for?
EC: Yeah, exactly. You will switch from being the hunted to the hunter always. Nothing is scripted in the game, exactly like Wildlands. We wanted to offer that freedom of choice.
What we have added with the drones, for instance, just an example from the world, there are drones patrolling the sky. If you are detected by these drones, they won’t attack you, they’re specially designed to notify the Wolf patrols to hunt you on the ground.
You can be in a situation where you’re doing recon on a camp on top of a mountain, you feel like you are the hunter, but then you’re detected and your role changes suddenly. It will only happen if you’re detected. Same thing if you want to get away, you will take on all of the swarming drones.
J: What made your team feel like Jon Bernthal was the right choice for the villain of this game?
EC: When we started the project and said we wanted a deeper storyline that we used to have, the first statement we had was, “What is stronger than the Ghosts?” Since we always say they’re the best of the best, it was hard to find someone stronger. If you faced the Ghosts you’d have to face the worst enemy you can meet. That’s the reason we designed the Wolves since you are the leader of the Ghosts, we needed someone to embody the leader of the Wolves.
Because of the TV show we saw with Jon, his background with military universes, his personality. He’s not a trope character, even though he’s the bad guy. You will understand his motivation and it’s interesting to see how he used to view the Ghosts and drifted slowly. You feel that there’s a conflict deep within him.
J: You’re telling me you guys kind of watched The Punisher and said… yeah, that’s our badass?
EC: Yeah, yeah, yeah… [laughs]
J: I was wondering if you and your team have been observing the other shooters that have come to the market since the release of Ghost Recon Wildlands. A few of us are big fans of Apex Legends which has been praised for its co-op pinging system that doesn’t really require a microphone. Do games like that make you look at the way you make co-cop games differently and can we expect to see that in Ghost Recon Breakpoint?
EC: It’s true that co-op is key to Ghost Recon. You have a lot of complementary skills that are quite new. In Wildlands, there are no co-op skills. Here you have the buddy-carry feature, a lot of features that are complementary when you play.
We are still investigating a non-verbal communication system so that we have the players being tactical. It’s very important that when you play co-op you can play the way you want always. We have people who don’t play tactically, we have many other fans who want to play tactically. We want them to have good communication even if you don’t know each other so the experience is just as good as if you were close friends.
J: Can you tell me about the types of PVP content you’ll have at launch?
EC: We will have a moment to deal with PVP, so I won’t go into the details of it. Just remember that the progression across the game is shared with PVP, it’s a big changer.
J: So between the PVP and campaign the progression does carry over but will the loot players acquire be different between modes?
EC: For us, it’s very important that if you want to play only PVP or only PVE that the progression is not blocked. Sometimes it happens with games, they want you to play everything. When we say freedom of choice, that refers to those parts of the game as well.
J: Can you give me a rough estimate of how long the campaign might take? After release, how long until you’ll begin adding new content to the game?
EC: What we can tell you is hours and hours of gameplay.
J: Can you give me an idea of how big the island is? Maybe like Far Cry for instance?
EC: I won’t compare it to Far Cry but what I can say is it’s as big as Wildlands.
J: With the nature of these types of games, will there be any kind of microtransaction or cosmetics systems? What can players expect in that regard?
EC: We’re still working on how exactly it’ll be designed at the moment.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 4. For more, you can check out our official gameplay preview of the game.
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