Outpost Design in Open World Game — Analysis #part_01
This weekend I decided to give Ghost Recon Breakpoint a shot and see what it is about:
First and foremost Breakpoint is a stealth game and it tries to do some interesting things with its stealth mechanics.
- Stealth Stances
- Soft/Hard Cover Surfaces
- Day and Night visibility modifiers
- AI Factions with different visibility thresholds.
They affect how visible a character is to the AI:
- Standing — gives you no advantage what so ever
- Crouch — Cuts visibility by half
- Prone — Reduces visibility to 25%
- Blend in soft cover -> or Ground Camo — reduces visibility to 12.5%
Soft/Hard Cover Surfaces:
The game tends to try to separate world bits into different areas that have different types of advantages:
- Soft Cover Areas : Player can bend in ground, vegetation can boost stealth, might include bushes that also push stealth.
- Hard Cover Areas : Locations built of concrete foundations, players can’t blend in ground, has lot of hard cover (low or tall)
This leads to an interesting dynamic where the player knows clearly where the safe areas.
It also makes engaging with the game-play space to be more of a choice:
- Do I stay outside the location and snipe the enemies one by one?
- Do I go inside and risk getting discovered with nowhere to hide?
It also forces you to commit to the choice that you make.
Hi-Tech locations tend to be ultra consistent in this, making it clear that infiltration will be dangerous.
From a level design perspective things would look like this:
- You get a Hard Surface Compound in the middle with several roads passing trough it, splitting into several sections.
- The compound is surrounded by soft cover surfaces where the player can blend into the ground
- Bushes are more predominant toward entrances.
- Hard cover like like trees are placed further away in order to generate a bit of a no mans land between safety and exposure.
The game also forces the player to toggle between blended and non blended by triggering occasional drone and helicopter patrols.
But this not a general rule, more like a combination of factors.
Other layouts, for example the Red Tiger Outpost tends to do things a bit differently:
Instead of building the outpost on a concrete foundation, this time it is build on a soft cover surface, however it compensates trough superior fire power and detection ranges.
I did a quick check to test out what these ranges are and here are the results:
In broad day light Normal AI will spot the player at:
- 50m if the player is standing
- 15m if crouching
During the night the values change:
- 12m if the player is standing
- 5m if crouching
For Wolves things are a bit different:
- 100m if standing during the day
- 90m if crouch during the day
- 50m if standing at night
- 36m if crouching at night.
Please note that I did this using the Slim Shadow and Master of Shadows perks from the Splinter Cell content update.
I have no idea how this is actually calculated since the game doesn’t actually shows you the accumulated stats.
But going back to the Red Tiger Outpost:
Instead of having a concrete hard cover surface as a base, these types of outposts are build on soft cover terrain. You can actually blend in it if you want. Unfortunately the Wolves will spot you.
A layout built on this format would look something like this. For simplicity sake I used the same placement of structures as the previous examples.
You can approach the location from any angle however going straight in is not an option since the wolves will spot you immediately.
Instead you have a set o imaginary cordons defined by cover pieces and different types of soft cover surfaces
This provides for relative save movement around the perimeter of the hot zone, and they have a tendency to guide you towards a vantage point.
In this example it’s a watch tower.
The cordons seem to either blend with each other allowing the player to navigate from cover to cover around the hard cover structures or they can exist as islands around the structures and intermediary risk bridges between layers.
I call these structures risk bubbles because they tend to be rather opaque and you can’t see very well inside them.
It’s usually a good idea to do this since you might want sometimes not to reveal all the information that the player needs to know before the player engages with the location. (meaning in the scouting phase).
The game does some interesting thing with lights but I will leave this for another session.