Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a strange game to review. Following in the footsteps of the well-supported Ghost Recon Wildlands, one would think that the formula has been set for improvements all-around for the sequel, but this is hardly the case. For all of its new bells and whistles, Ghost Recon Breakpoint runs the gamut from bad to great, and it can be a bewildering experience.
The first thing that stands out about the open-world tactical shooter is the undeniable Ubisoft DNA – it is as though the developers took ideas from every major franchise in the stable and crammed them into Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The obvious additions come from the infinitely more enjoyable The Division 2, and suffice to say, it erodes the very identity of the Ghost Recon brand.
Realism should be at the core of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and sure, there is a stamina system, injuries can hamper your mobility, and the harder difficulties actually require you to plan your actions or risk failure every time. Unfortunately, the new loot system of colour-coded equipment, a meaningless gear score, and the illusion of role-playing elements dilute the pure, realistic nature of what you would expect from a title in the Ghost Recon stable.
At least, this time we get a proper villain that has motivations and is truly captivating, Jon Bernthal fits the role perfectly as Cole D. Walker, a former Ghost gone rogue.
Four years after taking down El Sueño and his drug cartel in Bolivia, the player and the Ghosts are sent in to investigate the downing of the USS Seay off the coast of the island of Auroa.
Home to Skell Technology, it has been cut off from the outside world abruptly and is now under the control of Walker and his army of Wolves. Not to mention an army of drones ready to fill you with lead.
Long story short, you are the only able survivor, while the rest are killed or grievously injured, time to start saving the world.
A tense and critical situation to say the least, and while certain cliches and cheesy moments do occur in a somewhat predictable plot, it is an enjoyable romp from start to finish, helped by the performance of our main villain.
However, as Wildlands has proven, you are not in the fight for the story. It is the progression loop that keeps players invested, and Ubisoft has done a great job in incentivising players to keep fighting. Aside from the needless gear score/coloured loot, Ghost Recon Breakpoint constantly rewards players for exploration, eliminating enemies, and taking down the rogue army on Auroa.
New weapons and clothing gear come by quickly, and the experience points you earn are also substantial enough to keep you levelling up.
The new class system in Ghost Recon Breakpoint lets you invest points in your favourite playstyle. You can be a Field Medic, who comes with a healing drone, or the Assault class with a gas grenade that can flush enemies out. The Panther is perfect for stealthy players, and the Sharpshooter excel in long-range warfare.
The class you choose is not locked, and can be switched out to suit whatever situation you are going into. The many skill points you earn will also go into unlocking perks and passive skills that will make you an all-around more lethal Ghost. Our suggestion is to go for the Experience Upgrade first to make your ride to the endgame even faster.
Unlike in Wildlands, you will not be sticking to a favourite firearm, at least not before the endgame, and dismantling extra gear will net you parts that play into an upgrading system. It is a neverending cycle of getting better equipment, dismantling obsolete gear, and hunting for the next drop, and it is addictive.
There are certain perks too, that can help boost your stats, although it really does not matter as long as you make your headshots count. The selection of weapons is one of the biggest yet, with modifications and attachments giving players more choice in gearing up, but not so when it comes to the clothing gear.
Each item comes with a gear score, and your overall score is determined by the average. The importance of these numbers is Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s way of keeping you competitive against the combatants you will come up against. Certain areas are blanketed with red, with suggest gear scores of 250 and above, but in true Ghost Recon fashion, if you get there, you can try your luck at picking a fight with foes obviously more dangerous than you.
In fact, you can go straight for Walker, just like Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, whether you survive is a whole other matter.
The combat in Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a definite standout, allowing players the option of stealth and going gung-ho without many restrictions either way. There are tools that can get you past fences, or distract enemies as you sneak into a compound. Or you can utilise your sync shot drone to take out a group while you eliminate the sniper up top.
Shooting feels really good, no matter the weapon, and in particular, landing a headshot from over 300 metres away with a sniper rifle while adjusting for bullet drop will never get old.
In addition, enemies are not bullet sponges, which is great for a tactical shooter, but weird when you consider the gear system Ghost Recon Breakpoint is trying to push. Every enemy will die from a headshot, only helmets can protect them for a short while. However, after spending dozens of hours in The Division 2, no bullet sponges is good news.
The drones and robotic foes put up more of a fight, and the elite Wolves are a force to be reckoned with. When the repetition starts to set in when you have taken out plenty of the rank-and-file, the adrenaline gets pumped up again when the more dangerous combatants decide to join the fight.
To really experience the joys of Ghost Recon Breakpoint and lessen the impact of the bad, co-op is essential. Be it taking down hordes of drones and humans, or taking the quiet route to clear an entire base, having friends along for the ride is where tactics truly shine. Story be damned, a team of Ghosts makes for more fun than a lone wolf.
Not to say you cannot play Ghost Recon Breakpoint solo, but the whole game has been built for a co-op experience. The open-ended way you approach Ghost Recon Breakpoint, the vast environments of Auroa, and the many missions are all better when you are riding in a group.
Apart from certain tutorials, the world is yours, and despite a distinct lack of civilians, there is plenty happening on Auroa. Random patrols, drone surveillance, enemy encampments, collectables, and more, form a dynamic map that seldom leaves you hungry for action and rewards you always.
The number of locations marked on your map is staggering and would be a nightmare for anyone, especially the completionists that want to check off everything. It is definitely not required, but it is an integral part of the addictive gameplay loop that sits at the core of Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Travelling from place to place can be done on foot, or on one of many vehicles that await in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and you can always fast travel from one bivouac to another. These are camping sites that allow Ghosts to prepare for missions, granting bonuses to stats, resting to change the time of day, craft items, and calling in a vehicle. It is yet another addition that ups the realism, then take it all back with magically summoned modes of transport.
The hub area of Erowohn also serves as an online lobby of sorts, allowing players a safe space to purchase weapons and gear, pick up missions, check out other players, and jump into the PvP mode, Ghost War. It can be jarring, to say the least, considering the story casts you as the lone hero, but here we are, surrounded by dozens of other operators, but at this point, this is what is expected of an always-online title.
For those looking for a more measured way of playing Ghost Recon Breakpoint, the PvP action in Ghost War will be right up your alley. Unlike the main game, there is much more room for the tactical nature of Ghost Recon to shine, especially when you have a team on the same wavelength.
Hunting your prey and successful ambushes are a great high in Ghost War, but more likely than not, you might end up in games where everyone is just rushing in like a traditional deathmatch, which is the antithesis of the Ghost Recon formula, so set your expectations right.
The always-online nature of Ghost Recon Breakpoint is also not without some issues. Moments of lag, downtime with maintenance, and rubberbanding can occur. There were also a few instances of graphical bugs or the AI breaking and walking into wars, but overall, nothing game-breaking thus far.
A major point of contention for many would be the many microtransactions that are present in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. While Ubisoft has removed the controversial “time-savers” that will inevitably come back in the future, there remain plenty of cosmetics and weapons that can be bought with the premium currency.
However, it is important to note that you can literally play the game and not spend any money, especially when Ghost Recon Breakpoint rewards players constantly. There is no pay-to-win mechanics either, as guns bought are pegged to your current gear score, and the only way you can improve is to play to get better items.
It is understandable for cosmetics and emotes, especially if you want your Ghost to stand out, but the question remains of why the weapons microtransactions existed in the first place.
For what it is worth, Ghost Recon Breakpoint feels like the two sides of a coin. The new loot and gear score systems do not feel like they suit the franchise and not entirely implemented flawlessly, with the identity of Ghost Recon getting blurrier. Microtransactions are a worry, and the always-online nature will turn some off.
On the other hand, it remains an enjoyable open-world shooter that make for fun adventures both solo and in a group. The freedom it affords players is commendable, Walker is a great villain, and after Wildlands, it feels like more of the same in a prettier package, perfect for those with the right expectations coming in. You have been warned.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
More of the same with some unnecessary missteps, Ghost Recon Breakpoint feels like one step forward, two steps back for the Ubisoft tactical shooter.
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 5/10