Not Brink, Not Reach: Breach

Houses: Weak!

Breach! It’s a download-only class-based multiplayer FPS coming in Jan 2011! Oh yes it is.

I went pottering along to a preview event on Wednesday for some hands-on time. As it turns out, Breach focuses on encouraging some authentic military tactics, and, more excitingly, boasts some really advanced destructible environment tech. Atomic Games president Peter Tamte laid out for me like this:

Peter: So, the only multiplayer FPS with destructible environments that I can name is Bad Company 2. But the destruction of walls and stuff there is semi-scripted. At Atomic, we call that “Destruction 1.0”.


Peter: Then you’ve got games like Red Faction: Guerrilla, where the destruction is dynamic, and you can blow apart walls and ceilings in whatever way you want. We call that “Destruction 2.0”.

Me: …!

Peter: So, what we have in Breach…

Me: !!!

Peter: …we like to call “Destruction 3.0”.

Me: !~!!@*

Summarised, Atomic’s “Destruction 3.0” means that in addition to being able to create dynamic holes in walls and ceilings and blow apart pillars and support beams, players can also knock out individual bricks and sandbags. As such, Breach is a game that encourages mouse-holing, a tactic wherein you punch small holes or slits in walls to shoot out of, like this:

Breach also boasts a dynamic cover system that adapts to not only how high a given object is, but how much of a particular wall is left (or is still there at all). Breach is, in fact, a pretty cover-centric shooter, so if you’re one of those mad fellas who thinks the addition of cover mechanics to shooting games is a bad thing, well, consider reconsidering your position. You’re mad!

Destruction 3.0 doesn’t extend to terrain deformation, and the maps (predictably) boast a great deal of indestructible stonework, and I’ll admit to being disappointed by both of those things, but I still had an awesome time when I got to actually play Breach. The way the guns and maps are set up creates a very, very long-range FPS, with players sprinting between pieces of cover and making heavy use of grenade launchers and RPGs to blast apart whatever your enemies are peeking out from behind.

You can see Destruction 3.0 at work in the following awesome and somewhat staged screenshots.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t staged, and is in fact a shot of Breach’s as-yet unannounced Dance Studio: Behind Enemy Lines mode.

Army of Two Wet Blankets, anyone?

Back on track: At one point playing Breach I was firing out of the window of a fragile wooden house, and a loud explosion came blasting through my headphones. BOOM! Clearly someone had blasted a chunk off the house, but I couldn’t see any damage from where I was standing. Yet I knew my world had been reconfigured- I didn’t know if the upstairs was there, or if the porch had been destroyed, or whether the closed room behind me had become a new entry point into the house. It was fun.

Equally fun are the moments in Breach where you fire a heavy explosive at some distant piece of cover, only to see the enemy you were shooting at come sprinting out of the subsequent dust cloud, unharmed. That fucker! You’ll get him next time.

A final feature of Breach that impressed me is something I’ve been longing for since the original Red Orchestra – a mechanical disability for when you come under suppressive fire. In Breach, sitting behind a piece of cover that’s being pelted by bullets causes your view to narrow and fuzz around the edges, simulating a kind of panicked tunnel vision. Atomic’s goal with this isn’t simply immersion- they want enable the real-world tactic of one guy suppressing a target while the other advances. As a machine gunner, that’s exactly what I longed for in Red Orchestra. Tripwire! Steal this idea for RO2 immediately.

If you want to take a look for yourself, here’s a video of Breach from PAX. I expect Jim and I’ll be getting in a good few rounds of this when it’s released. I also expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of these fairly unique, cut-price download-only shooters next year. Battlefield 1943 sold absurdly well, and Breach is the first response to that.


  1. Eclipse says:

    ” so if you’re one of those mad fellas who thinks the addition of cover mechanics to shooting games is a bad thing, well, consider reconsidering your position. You’re mad!”

    No we are, cover mechanics in fps games are just pointless, as you are already able to cover and lean in any modern fps. Also, I’m sorry but in real life you can’t see your enemy while you stand behind a wall

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah I don’t really want a 3rd person cover system in an fps. But, something like Call of Juarez where your character actually keeps himself behind cover is good. Nothing worse than hiding behind some cover only to find out your player model is sticking out so you get shot.

    • Brumisator says:


      I wanted to slap the face of whoever is talking over the video when he said in an awed voice “1st person shooter with a cover mechanic?”

      And I, developper, sir, say YOU’re mad for thinking cover mechanics are some prerequisite to awesomeness. If arma 2 doesn’T need one and feels very much as close to a real firefight as can be expected, your game doens’t need it either.

      Now, I’ll get down from my high horse and look forward to this game with cautious optimism.

    • Mister Yuck says:

      Not that I much like third-person cover systems (most of the time), but the appeal to real life is a terrible way to argue for or against the inclusion of a mechanic in a video game (unless it’s a sim). The creative improvement of reality is one of the most appealing features of video games.

      The reason I dislike third person cover mechanics is that it takes away an interesting choice: the choice between safety and awareness. Interesting choices is one of the other most appealing features of video games.

    • Mister Yuck says:

      Also, that was the first reply that ever worked for me! Hooray for fixing it!

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think the awareness argument is a bit lame too. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty aware of where my body is and I play life in first person.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Dr Gonzo,

      You may well experience life from the first person perspective, but if that is first person, then first person games are at a sore disadvantage. We use all of our senses in “life” including an ill defined one that allows you to know intuitively where your body parts are.

      Games, by contrast, have to fool you with only video and audio. We can’t even use those to their full capacity.

      Note: the captcha displayed and the one given on audio were completely different. Again.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Hmm. Rainbow Six Vegas was fantastic, and I can’t really imagine it without its cover mechanics.

    • Brumisator says:

      jermypeel, I won’t flame you on that, but we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    • wengart says:

      DrGonzo, I think he means awareness as in what you can see not where your body is located. Will you hide behind the wall and lose LOS on the target or look around the cover and risk being shot.

    • droid says:

      Also to consider: In real life you have a FOV of over 180 degrees. To test, put you hands out to the sides and look straight ahead, you will not see detail but you will detect them, especially if they move. Even if the third person perspective is not accurate, it may be a good compromise in the right situations.

      In other words, it’s like being in a refrigerator box with a narrow slit to look out of.

    • Bungle says:

      Cover systems don’t bother me as long as I can destroy their cover.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I’m all for cover systems. Just this morning in a store I hid the last copy of The Witcher behind Borderlands and Modern Warfare 2 so that I could come back and buy it later.

  2. Mithrandir0x says:

    Will the game require any kind of dubious technology such as Physx to make physics work as showed on the videos??

    • noobnob says:

      I don’t think so, PhysX implementations in games are just for eye-candy and don’t have direct impact on gameplay.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Physx COULD be used for gameplay, but then you alienate anyone who doesn’t own one so it never is.

    • perilisk says:

      Anyone that doesn’t own a modern nVidia card, you mean.

  3. Alex Bakke says:

    Thanks, Quinns.


  4. Web Cole says:

    Project Reality has the whole suppression effect thingy. It’s a good idea, I’d like to see it spread to more games :)

    • Qwentle says:

      Insurgency has a similar thing, I think they do it with an extra hitbox that triggers a blur and whiteout effect if a bullet passes through it.

  5. Alexander Norris says:

    Only one question, really: dedicated servers?

    • Miker says:

      I wouldn’t count on it. Taking a look at the last budget-priced modern multiplayer shooter on the PC (Blacklight), I wouldn’t be too surprised if Breach launched w/ GFWL.

    • Berm says:

      No matter how pretty this game may look like, without any dedicated server there will be no buy on my part. Not to mention everything this game is doing, RO2:Heroes of Stalingrad appears to do it better.

  6. lemming77 says:

    “Authentic military tactics” and cover systems don’t mix. So I’m not sure what to make of this now.

    • mlaskus says:

      Ah, modern military, duking it out mano a mano like in the old wild west…

    • Wilson says:

      I thought ‘authentic military tactics’ made a humorous contrast to the main image for this post, where a man blind fires his gun over a wall. I guess there have been some advances in such things since I last checked.

    • Sassenach says:

      It’s a robotic gun that aims itself.

      Real military tactics…


    • scottossington says:

      I thought modern military tactics was to bomb the f%#k out of the guy from the air.

  7. Gosh says:

    what is the name of the engine again

    • Ted says:


    • MrTambourineMan says:

      Hydrogen, mr Atomic Games CEO says it twice in the interview :)). The thing is when I looked at the videos at official game site : link to I noticed that material that flies trough the air when certain wall is destroyed looks like it was cell shaded 0.o

    • jeremypeel says:

      Heh :-) Gosh was joking, as the interviewer had to be told THREE TIMES before it stuck! Also, he seemed most impressed by the idea of a first-person shooter with cover (“WOOOWWWW”); his employers should require him to play some games before writing about the buggers.

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      Huh… I tried to be so smart, and now I am the idiot nr.2 :)

  8. Army of None says:

    Sounds interesting. Particularly, supression mechanics– because most bastards won’t want to stick their head up when being randomly pelted by large flying pieces of lead.

  9. Faldrath says:

    Man, whenever someone mentions “destructible environment” I still think of Silent Storm.

    • Gehrschrein says:

      You, Sir, have said it.
      SS was the only game that properly and intelligently used destructible environments to great tactical effect.

      Nevermind X-Com.

    • Bret says:

      Did Silent Storm have Blaster Bombs?


      Well, then X-Com still leads.

  10. Ozymandias says:

    I’m not entirely sure where you get “very, very long-range FPS” from, it seems engagement ranges never reach over 100 meters, and to me it looks like you can go into third person mode to peek around cover without exposing yourself, so it’s not really a first person shooter anymore.

    I think that the destruction part of it is cool and all, but running out in the open in a straight line and getting shot 5 times by a guy with an assault rifle and not even flinching… I’m not so sure about that…

    • Brumisator says:

      ..Are you a bot? Your entire post is completely out of context for ANY comment in here.

    • bleeters says:

      @ Brumisator

      From the posted article we’re all replying to:

      “The way the guns and maps are set up creates a very, very long-range FPS, with players sprinting between pieces of cover and making heavy use of grenade launchers and RPGs to blast apart whatever your enemies are peeking out from behind.”

    • Barnaby says:

      I completely agree with Ozymandias. The movement, the cover system, the weakness of the guns in the video. All of these things seemed very “I’m playing this with a controller”. Can’t imagine a game that plays that primitively on consoles, (running out in the open getting shot just to hide behind destructible sand bags 200 feet from the enemy) yet plays like a long range, realistic shooter on PC. Maybe though!

      The suppression firing and destructible environments are very cool.

    • Josh W says:

      I think computers just won the inverse turing test.

  11. Unaco says:

    Didn’t this game suffer a major Breach in security not that long ago? Someone tried to steal it from their demonstration machine at some exhibition… and got himself arrested and charged with grand larceny in the region of several $1,000,000’s.

  12. bleeters says:

    Like gunpowder, tanks and inter-continental missiles, I predict the invention of armour constructed from chest-high walls bolted together will be the next revolutionary change to warfare.

  13. pupsikaso says:

    Cover has been in FPS games forever. You come up to a box and you CROUCH behind it. BAM! Cover. And if the game has leaning, well now you can even shoot out of your cover.

    But what I hate about TPS-style cover is that instead of doing it all yourself, you just come up to a fence, press a button, and your character auto-magically sticks to it and then glides around it like an oiled herring on a plate.

  14. Schmung says:

    I hate, hate, hate that switch to third person when you activate cover. it’s horribly jarring and the slight delay when you do it is going to get you killed plenty. The actual destruction looks highly entertaining, but as with any FPS it’ll live or die by the weapon balance and feel and the map design. I just hope there’s an alternative to the 3rd person view switch.

    Will certainly keep an eye on it.

  15. Whiskey Jak says:

    “Battlefield 1943 sold absurdly well, and Breach is the first response to that.” I’d say that Blacklight Tango Down and Monday Night Combat are actually the first two responses to that (albeit MNC is only on XBLA I think) but maybe you were referencing to something more specific than that but they both fit the “fairly unique, cut-price download-only shooters” description (MNC more than BTD though, because MNC is a lot more unique, and also a better game imho).

  16. Flakfizer says:

    Wasn’t there a game called Breach already? I seem to remember a Laser Squad / UFO style turn based sci-fi combat game on Amiga or Spectrum…

  17. Lukey__b says:


  18. Heliosicle says:

    To me, “destruction 3.0” would be the destruction of the ground etc.
    Red Faction 1 started 3d destructible environments with everything (except metal) being destructible, since then they’ve only got less destructible.

    • Gotem says:

      so worms is destruction 4.0 ?

    • wengart says:

      Honestly most games don’t need destruction of the terrain, especially if they are leaning towards realism. Most of the weapons that infantrymen have wouldn’t do anything significant to the ground. Now if they had terrain destruction and some 155mm Howitzers, that would be excellent.

    • Sassenach says:


      And the 1812 overture.

  19. Dervish says:

    Red Orchestra already has suppression effects (zip sounds and view blurring) when under fire, and the Darkest Hour mod cranks them up even further. The implementation in the sequel remains to be seen, but rest assured they’re aware of this sort of of thing. You can also bet there will be angry fan debate over how realistic it is.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Heh, I was going to point this out, and add that I think both (or all?) sides of that debate have good arguments in their favor.

  20. Jonathan says:

    Modern remake of this instead, please: link to

  21. Centy says:

    I can already smell the GFWL and listen servers. If it has proper dedicated servers and uses Steam or something then if the requirements are ok I would certainly be intrigued.

  22. I'm at work says:

    This looks like it will be fun. I remember in BC2 I was defending a building, taking pot shots at anyone that neared my special camping window when I turned around and suddenly realized, holy damn, the whole back half of the building I was in had been blown away, leaving me exposed in an embarrassing way.

    Destructible environments are the future. I predict we’re hitting a flare up, where the new technology is done in an over the top way to show off the newness of it. Over time, it will settle back down and become a normal part of the game. Sort of like how physics went from being a central showpiece of games to “merely” something that is, and ain’t no big thing no more.

  23. Logo says:

    I played this at PaxEast where the only media attention to it was from the security breach. I really enjoyed it in the sort of, “This is stuff more FPS games should have, but your game isn’t necessarily standout” kinda way.

    It’s a shooter, like most other shooters. The difference is that the destructible terrain and the tunnel vision. It works as advertised, I spent most of my demo time blowing stuff (rather than people) up. Overall it seemed like a really nicely done package and probably worth the price, but it don’t expect it to feel entirely fresh when compared to other FPS games.

    I’d really like to see their engine and style applied to a larger scale project with more of battlefield like maps.

  24. jeremypeel says:

    This properly dynamic destruction model looks great.

    And exactly the sort of thing XCOM should be implementing, amirite?

  25. Brian Rubin says:

    Like others, I was hoping this would be a continuation or a remake of the classic Breach games.

    link to


  26. Annet says:

    I look forward to this game with optimism too.

  27. WiPa says:

    The guy on that video is an idiot. (Not the dev guy, the other numpty).

  28. loGi says:

    Xbox360 only?

    • TWeaK says:

      That’s what I thought… has no one else listened to the video? The PR guy or whoever he was says it’s XBLA, no mention of it coming to PC.

    • conner says:

      He does mention it coming out for PC and XBLA once, the second time he leaves out PC though.

  29. poop says:

    does this game have dedicated servers so people will play it for more than a week after it comes out?

  30. The Juice says:

    This game already came out, it’s called Bad Company 2. But in all seriousness, I think I would be more excited about this game if it looked less cartoony in its graphics department. It looks like WoW, except an FPS

  31. Jim9137 says:

    So this not at all related to the Breach series? Damn. Breach 3, even though I have no idea what I am doing it, is very <3

  32. BeamSplashX says:

    Now we need a games called Rules of Engagement that also has nothing to do with the old game of the same name. But they should still link up somehow (I vote trading weaponized Pokemon).

    Also, Minecraft with guns.

  33. Fred X. Quimby says:

    I wish I could play the old DOS Breach.

  34. cassus says:

    Cover systems in games are dumb. Especially for FPS games. Like someone up there said, if ArmA 2 don’t need it, nothing needs it. The whole thing about being behind cover is you don’t know what the hell goes on behind it, and that creates suspense. If you can cover and see everything that goes on… That makes the game less exciting.

    The whole thing about being able to peek out and stuff is nice with systems like these, but you really don’t need the silly lock-on-cover stuff to be able to do that. Vietcong 2 did it perfectly back in the day. Crouch behind something, hold right click and you would stand up as much as was needed for you to lay your gun atop whatever you were hiding behind, and you’re in iron sights and ready to fire.

    Even better way to do this is to make the higher-lower stance keys progressive. As in hold the Z key down and you’ll go from standing up to fully prone in about 1.5 seconds. Release key anywhere inbetween and you’ll stop and continue moving in that stance. Dynamic Stance (R) :P Doubletap while standing up straight and you’ll throw yourself into prone instantly.

    Not sure why every developer saw the cover locking system and went “yeah, this is perfect. No reason to improve upon this.”. It’s crap, and easily improved upon. Stop being so fricken lazy.

  35. pWEN says:

    Six Days in Fallujah is still coming out? Good!

  36. Paul says:

    agree with everything cassus said.

  37. rammjaeger says:

    “In Breach, sitting behind a piece of cover that’s being pelted by bullets causes your view to narrow and fuzz around the edges, simulating a kind of panicked tunnel vision. … As a machine gunner, that’s exactly what I longed for in Red Orchestra. Tripwire! Steal this idea for RO2 immediately.”

    We’re already implementing a different kind of suppression system for RO2, and one that I think will surpass this in realism and effectiveness. But thanks for the suggestion :)