If you think back to almost 2 years ago when Breakpoint was released – there were many aspects of the newest Ghost Recon title that caused a bit of a stir. One of the most contentious decisions made by Ubisoft however was the removal of the the AI (Artificial Intelligence) squad mates. In Breakpoint there was to be no team, it was a lone soldier story and lone soldier gameplay. Not only was this a huge departure from every single Ghost Recon title up to that point, it also made no sense with the Breakpoint narrative, and it became a massive source of complaint from the impassioned Ghost Recon community.
Fast forward several Breakpoint patches and updates later, and the AI was eventually re-introduced to the series and with no small effort, the dev team worked their magic and once again, players could make use a team in Ghost Recon. From July 15th 2020, this opened up new opportunities from campaign play, new strategies and a whole new level of immersion. Along with the reintroduction of AI teammates, title update 2.1.0 also included a new live event with 9 missions, gunsmith and weapon updates, and a huge list of character customisation options. But there is no doubt about it, this title update was all about the team. The fans had asked for Ghost Recon to return to it’s team based roots, and Ubisoft delivered, eventually.
Or did they?
Artificial Intelligence is used in many areas of gaming like over here, but in Ghost Recon the reintroduction of the AI team mates brought many new features and also resulted in a degree of derision from some players who felt that more work was needed to properly re-introduce this feature. The three teammates were Fury, Fixit, and Vasily and players had the option to customise their personal appearance. This included gender, eyes, hair, paint and tattoos. Each of these new teammates carried two primary weapons and players could customise the first primary weapon only. The second weapon was a standard ASR. Additionally, these new teammates also carry a handgun, this however was cosmetic only as only the primary weapon would be used by the AI.
On a more positive note, re-introduction of the AI in TU 2.1.0 meant one of the most loved features from Wildlands could finally be used breakpoint – Sync Shot. With syn shot the player could co-ordinate spectacular takedowns of multiple enemies.
AI stances were dictated by the players character stance, if you went prone, the AI also would go prone. In some situations this is not ideal and it introduced a restriction that was not such a drawback in the original Ghost Recon in 2001. Back then, the player could tell his individual AI squads members what stance and what rules of engagement to adopt. Breakpoint did not go as far as this, but it was a step in the right direction. Orders such as Cleared Hot, Go To and Regroup meant that the player at least had some control over what his team would do, although it was a “team” command, players could not send commands to individual AI.
In May 2021 Ubisoft announced that title update 400 would contain further improvements to the AI team. The main update was the introduction of experience points for the AI team. As the AI earn experience points by being actively involved in missions, so they become more lethal in action and unlock upgrades. To further increase the opportunity to upskill the AI team, new Team XP challenges were announced. Upgraded abilities included a new special shot for Vasily, a enemy scanner for Fury and a combat drone for Fixit.
But that’s not all – the squad size could now be determined by the player. This introduced a new level of control and meant a player could decide if a mission required maximum squad firepower, or perhaps a more stealthy approach with only 1 or two AI team mates on board.
Ubisoft should be congratulated for this squad AI turnaround, it is a welcome return to lost gameplay features and extends the replayability of Breakpoint! Long live Ghost Recon!