September 5, 2019

Developer Q&A - RPG Elements in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint

We sat down with the development team on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon® Breakpoint to discuss the upcoming release and integration of RPG elements into the franchise.

TIERED WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT

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Q: We’ve seen a lot of questions from our community about tiered loot, both weapons and equipment. Can you go into the team’s philosophy behind their implementation in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint?

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint remains a skill-based military shooter, this is the core identity upon which the rest of the game has been built. All of the RPG elements included in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint are there to add depth to the military shooter gameplay, while staying true to the spec ops experience.

Our vision is to create a system that encourages our players to try out different types of weapons and create a large amount of variety when it comes to gameplay opportunities.

Based on the data we analyzed in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, many of our players were getting a single weapon and sticking with it throughout the game without changing much.

This is absolutely something you can do in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, but we really wanted to create a system that encourages players to test out much more of your possible arsenal. Our team has put a lot of effort into giving each of the weapon types a lot of fun gameplay potential and unique handling, so we’re confident that given the incentive to try out new combinations, our community will really enjoy the variety, and create unique builds for every playstyle!

For example, let’s say you want to try a more stealthy approach. You can equip the CQC variant of an SMG with bonuses that increase Handling and Mobility while choosing skills that up your stealth and speed. Using this build will work well with the strengths of the Panther class.

We really want to emphasize here that the goal of this system in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is not to make the experience feel dependent on random chance, in terms of progression.

There is an element of randomness when you get a loot drop – but it is not the core mechanic of the game, nor is it fundamentally necessary to switch out a lower Gear Level gun you like just because you got a slightly higher Gear Level of a different weapon.

Q: What if players find a weapon they like – are there ways to keep it upgraded to be on par with the weapon drops they’re getting in the world?

We know this will be important for a group of our players to be able to focus on one kind of weapon and we want them to be able to do just that if it’s important to them.

This can be done by acquiring a weapon’s blueprint in the world. Every weapon in the game will have a blueprint associated with it.

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Once you get a weapon’s blueprint, that weapon is yours forever. With the blueprint unlocked, you’ll be able to have that weapon made at your current level in Erewhon, your base of operations.

This is not the only way to get a new version of the weapon. You may also acquire it in the world from an enemy drop, chest, etc. However, for those that really want to focus on one in particular, we recommend finding its blueprint.

Q: How do you acquire weapon blueprints?

Blueprints are acquired in many different ways in the game. You can explore the world to find Intel that will give you the location of blueprints in camps.

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Some missions will reward you with rare blueprints as well, and defeating bosses will give you access to the blueprints of their signature weapons. Difficult challenges like Behemoth Drones and Wolf Camps will also reward you with some of the more interesting blueprints.

When the Raid comes out it will also include blueprints for some very cool and unique weapons.

This is not unlike what the players of Wildlands learned to know and love. If you like a weapon, go and find its blueprint in the world, then it’s yours forever.

Q: Can you eliminate a max level human enemy with a headshot from a Gear Level 1 weapon?

Yes! Whatever the human enemy level, you will always be able to eliminate them with a single headshot, as long as they are not wearing a helmet. In which case you just need to land a shot once to remove it, and then a second time to take them down.

A skilled and patient player will have few issues doing this if they’re able to maintain stealth. However, high-level enemies are also more lethal and harder to sneak around, they’re very dangerous once you’re detected.

You can play the game without upgrading, but it will become a lot more challenging and punishing if any mistakes are made.

Q: How does the number of body shots required to eliminate an enemy scale by level?

At the maximum difference in Gear Levels, human enemies will take several more bullets to eliminate via body shots than a human enemy at your current level. The scaling of body shots to eliminate a target versus your difference in level has been carefully determined by our team so you feel those differences, but the encounters stay well within what is expected of a realistic military shooter.

Encounters with human enemies that are high above you in Gear Level will be harder and require more planning and higher precision; however, they won’t feel bullet-spongy.

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Q: How have you balanced the game to avoid the feeling of bullet-sponginess?

In terms of the time to eliminate a target, players will find Breakpoint very similar to what we did in Wildlands. Human enemies go down in one headshot, and you will never need more than a few shots to the chest to down an enemy.

These differences can be counted in seconds or fractions of seconds, and are small enough to not change the realistic feel of the game, although encounters with higher-level enemies will definitely be harder and require you to be more patient and focused, like a real Ghost should be.

Major differences with enemy levels will impact the difficulty to survive, not the difficulty to eliminate a target. If there is a large discrepancy between your Ghost and the enemy’s level, they will have shorter detection times, you’ll receive more damage when hit, etc.

Q: What about drone enemy balancing?

Drones are meant to be some of the tougher enemies in the game. Depending on the type you are facing, they can come very heavily armored. If you aim only at the armor, it can take some time to down them.

All drones will have weak spots based on their armor configuration. Their purpose in terms of gameplay is to make you think tactically about your approach. We want you to learn about your enemies and create strategies to take them down.

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These are also opportunities to experiment and learn how to use all of the Ghost’s tools, like the Cloaking Spray or EMP Grenade.

The drone enemies offer unique experiences in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, we hope that they provide a challenging but fun tactical problem for you to solve in the field.

Experienced Ghosts will have no issues using their skills and tools to down drones in an efficient manner, even more so if they work as a team.

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Q: Do enemy encounters scale with how many players there are in a session?

Enemy encounters are balanced depending on the number of players in the session. This allows for them to be a challenge for all team configurations, from solo players to full tactical squads of four.

Based on the number of players, the damage received will increase to scale the level of challenge for squads. Additionally drone health (not human enemies) will increase with the number of players.

The stronger drones in the game are made to be real challenges and will definitely be a bit tougher for a single player to handle, but a skilled player will definitely be able to take them down with planning and focus.

WEAPON BONUSES

Q: Higher quality weapons have more bonuses on them. Can you explain what these are?

Weapon bonuses add variety to gameplay and to the weapons the player will find. They are bonuses to stats that will affect the player’s ability to handle the weapon, as well as some other utility abilities.

A few of them will affect player statistics, like experience gained or the speed at which their class technique gauge will fill. Others will affect the character’s ability to handle the weapon itself.

We worked closely with the Weapon Design team to make these effects interesting attributes based on the weapons. A few of these types of bonuses are vertical and horizontal recoil, spread, and reload speed. If you like diving into weapons systems and comparing weapons, you are going to have a blast.

In any case, these bonuses are always going to respect the feel of the game and won’t add completely unrealistic abilities.

Q: What are the differences between bonuses on low-quality weapons vs. those from a higher tier?

The lowest-quality weapons will not have bonuses, but as soon as you start getting higher quality weapons, they will all have one or two bonuses depending on that quality.

The higher the quality of the weapon, the stronger these bonuses are going to be.

Q: How much do these bonuses impact PvE gameplay?

Weapon bonuses can impact gameplay in very interesting ways, allowing certain weapons to be stronger in situations where you would not expect them to shine. For example, you may have a bonus on an LMG that increases accuracy, reducing horizontal recoil. This will make it slightly stronger in long-range and sustained fire than an LMG without the bonus.

That being said, they are never going to be mandatory to tackle the hardest challenges of the game.

If a player wants to invest time into bonuses to enhance their playstyle, they will be rewarded with a lot of variety. Players that just want to focus on good gunplay and realistic, tactical encounters, will always be able to participate in all of the content in the game.

WEAPON UPGRADES

Q: We’ve discussed a bit about Weapon Marks at the announcement. How does this upgrade system work?

All weapon families start at Mark 1 and can be upgraded by spending weapon parts. These parts are acquired by dismantling the weapons you don’t need anymore.

Once you have upgraded a weapon, all versions of it will keep these upgrades. This allows players to improve their favorite weapons while they are leveling up throughout the game.

Every part spent on upgrading a weapon will give it a small increase in damage, accuracy, reload speed, or a number of other attributes. Once you have upgraded a weapon enough, its mark will upgrade and you will unlock a new, stronger bonus. There will be three Marks for every weapon on launch.

Q: How much of a gameplay impact will Mark Upgrades have in PvE?

The impact of this system will be gradual. At first, the bonuses won’t be that noticeable, but they will start adding up. They won’t completely change the identity of your weapons or make them overpowered. A Mark 3 weapon will be slicker and feel even more like a weapon handled by a real spec ops soldier.

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PLAYER AND ENEMY LEVELS

Q: How does your level impact the game?

There are two types of leveling in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint for Ghosts: Player Level and Gear Level.

Player Level

Player Level awards players with Skill Points, which they can spend in the skills page to acquire passives, perks, items, and abilities, as well as new classes. Player Levels do not affect player stats directly or any of the encounters in the game.

Gear Level

The Gear Level is based on the quality of gear/weapons that your Ghost has equipped. As we discussed earlier, a headshot is a headshot – but having a higher Gear Level will help you more easily take on tougher drone enemies.

Likewise, enemies with a significantly higher Gear Level than your Ghost will naturally be harder to sneak up on and will do more damage to you than those of a closer Gear Level, as the quality of their equipment exceeds yours.

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Aside from a few exceptions (Wolf Camps, Behemoth Drones, the Raid), areas will not have enemies at set levels. Even then, it is still possible to clear Wolf Camps and Behemoth drones without having the recommended level. However, it will be very challenging.

The only content gated behind a specific player Gear Level will be the Raid, when it is released.

Enemy Levels

Enemy levels will not be visible to you unless you are directly scanning them with your drone or binoculars to analyze their threat.

Enemies with a significant level advantage over you will also be marked with a red skull when scanning them, so you’ll need to be extra cautious when approaching these, in particular.

Once you exit your drone/binoculars, you will not see the enemy’s level anymore. You will only see the skull challenge rating when you ADS towards that enemy.

To see the level again, you will need to go into your drone/binoculars.

If you don’t want to see any markers of enemies on your HUD, you will have the option to turn off these visual indicators in your settings.

Coop

You are not restricted by the Gear Level or Player Level of any of your coop partners. As was the case in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, your instance is player-centric. Your chosen level of difficulty and player level will also have no impact on your friends and vice versa.

PLAYER STATS

Q: What stats can be modified by equipping certain gear/weapons?

Stats in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint aim to add a fun layer of depth to the experience for players interested in fine-tuning their ultimate spec ops soldier.

There are more than 60 different stats that can be modified through the different sources in the game. They can affect many different aspects of a character’s ability to fight and interact with enemies and the world.

Some of the stats affect weapons, such as their accuracy, handling, and range. All of these change real attributes of weapons and are grounded in our new, realistic weapons system.

Other stats affect the character’s survivability and ability to deal with the harsher aspects of the environment. Things like stamina bonuses, fatigue resistance, and stumble resistance allow for better navigation through the world.

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We also have stats that affect mobility, including movement speed or your character’s agility. These are of course grounded in realistic ranges of movement, and your character’s movement will never feel goofy or unrealistic. We made sure that all of our stats allow you to personalize your character without compromising the realistic feel of the game.

It would take too long to list all of them but expect bonuses for all kinds of playstyles, from better stealth to bonuses to grenade usage, like better throw range and damage.

Q: How much of an impact do these stats have on PvE gameplay?

As with all progression aspects in the game, these stats will allow you to fine-tune your build and create the character that feels just right for you. On the other hand, knowing and manipulating them is not mandatory and players that want to focus on the other aspects of Breakpoint will have all the liberty to do so.

We will have an article coming soon on how the progression system and RPG elements are balanced in Ghost War.

For the latest news on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, make sure to follow us on Twitter @GhostRecon and join the discussion on the official Ubisoft Ghost Recon Forums.