Ghost Recon Breakpoint… could be a breaking point for the franchise…
Review written by Kyle Byrne
Breakpoint, the latest of the Ghost Recon franchise coming from Ubisoft France released on October 4TH 2019 (the 1st of October if you decided to fork out for one of the more premium editions). Releasing on Xbox one, PlayStation 4 and PC from the price of £50 in stores or £59.99 digitally on each of the platforms respective store front.
The previous last gen release of the Ghost Recon series Future Solider, a praised series and a game I admittedly played slightly too much way back in 2012, Ghost Recon is a series I’ve sunk way too much time in providing a good third person tactical shooter. Playing “Ghost”, a member of a Special Forces unit appropriately called “Ghosts”, the real world equivalent being something like the American Delta Force. As one of these Ghosts your missions usually range from counter terrorism operations to sub defuse, even sabotage.
Ghost Recon has always taken the approach of a slower paced squad orientated CO-OP shooter. Stealth, teamwork and your edge in advanced equipment. Making the difference between you literally becoming a Ghost often being outgunned and outnumbered. The slower pace and tactical gameplay may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the series has always found a niche hard-core fan base.
That fan base that was somewhat disgruntled to Ubisofts last release in 2012 of Ghost Recon Wildlands, which saw players thrust into a biome diverse open world Bolivia in the year 2019 (a new approach for the series traditionally being a fairly linear affair). It also toned down the Ghosts equipment from High tech HUD’s and light reflecting camouflage, something that combined with thermals it made you some sort of pint sized Predator. Instead switching to an assortment of more modern equipment and a skill tree to sure up your stealth capabilities.
Which an open world stealth game similar to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in aspects doesn’t sound bad! It had the chance to be something great! Sadly it fell short, with the shoddy and downright annoying at times AI. It’s difficult to traverse hollow open world and its large boring “???” busy work map location, not even mentioning its variety of bugs and disjointed forgettable story. That’s not to say there wasn’t any potential there, in fact it added some nice additions and features that see a return in Breakpoint. This includes Character and weapon customisation even with some of its own additions to the formula, sadly it brings a lot of these old issues plus a whole bunch of new ones.
Breakpoint can be broken down into two main modes (technically three with the raid). Open world story or Ghost war 4v4 objective based/elimination PVP which can be fun but needs some work, especially with its net code but thankfully levels the playing field somewhat besides the weapon micro transactions. Instead doing so in terms restrictions on certain items and perks as well as emphasising on the unfortunately underdeveloped class system in which there are currently four in the form of the Field Medic, Assault as well as the Panther and Sniper. Each class has different minor stat buffs as well as some specific class abilities and perks, the medic being able to self-revive for example, these can be switched between at any time too which is a nice addition also the loot you earn you bring back to the story mode. The same applies to story mode loot for Ghost War.
The raid, which hasn’t been released at the time of this review, due to an odd choice loot system, that really doesn’t seem to do much at all, as enemies die from headshots (like they should) which results in it just feeling like a useless element. More so as none of the gear does anything interesting and is just incremental number increase and colour change which for the most part it can be upgraded too, but it doesn’t affect anything too much hopefully this will change once the raid mode is released.
The story takes place on the fictional privately-owned island of Aurora after a US vessel is sunk off shore and with no response from the Skell Tech Corporation and its CEO Jace Skell. Skell Tech Corporation, looking to make the world a better and safer place with the obvious solution heavily investing in apparently easily hacked and repurposed military grade drone tech. You assume the role of Nomad, the leader of a task force of thirty Ghosts sent to investigate what’s happening on Aurora. You and the two other helicopters accompanying are quickly brought low by a sudden drone swarm attack.
Avoiding patrols of the “Wolves”, a mercenary group who have took control of Aurora and have seized control of Skells drones. Lead by an Ex-Ghost named Walker, played by Jon Bernthal does a great job in the time you see him on screen, (Way underused). Playing the good guy gone rogue as he often does. A no nonsense introduction of him executing a former Ghost collugues with a remorseless apology. Walker has a past with Nomad which is explored in flashbacks throughout the game. You take to arming yourself, investigating other crash sites as the sun rises. Breakpoint again shows potential of this idea, stranded spec ops team surviving behind enemy lines, out equipped and out gunned with no way out, trying desperately to get reinforcements. Especially with additions like fatigue making you need to eat and drink to keep your stamina up even suffer severe injuries causing your health bar to reduce and you to limp. Although these ultimately feel tacked on and never really present any issues as they are easy to avoid making them feel unnecessary. A new bivouac camp system has also been introduced, located throughout the world they allow you to craft and apply buffs, spawn vehicles or even time skip for night infiltration. A lot of this comes off half-baked but ultimately some of the potential shines through.
This strong introduction quickly falls apart as you arrive at Breakpoints version of a social zone you would find in Ubisoft’s Division. Arriving in Erewhon looking for a way to get reinforcements, suddenly you’re greeted by a bunch of other Ghosts running around, other players… The weight of the potential story and any potential immersion. It gets worse from here, prepare for awful models and textures for anyone who isn’t Jon with dialogue randomly cutting out it also decides to include pointless dialogue options. Just becoming a slog to the end, making Jon’s strong performance all I was playing it for story wise, Walker defiantly being the best character on offer.
Despite the poorly executed story and the numerous other issues I’ve mentioned is there anything redeemable here? Is there any fun to be had? Sure the most fun I had was in the story modes open world playing Co-op with my buddy flying a helicopter across the huge map. Landing next to a compound just as night falls, scouting it out with drones equipped with thermals marking snipers and patrols. Only to descend into the base one of us usually taking up a sniper position up on a building, taking out any would be guard posts or snipers before sweeping through the base knocking out lights, taking out guards in sync with a pair of well-placed rounds to the head of an enemy, or gruesomely animated executions John Wick style before disposing of the corpses. Successfully wiping the place with no alerts is satisfying. These moments are few and far between and is where the game truly shines but are often ruined by the poor A.I or glitches and tacked on elements like loot that don’t belong here.
Feeling like a mishmash of half thought out ideas and reused Ubisoft game mechanics, the few potential elements of a fun open world Co-op stealth game that shine through are quickly washed out by the inclusion of the ridiculous micro transaction store. The store not only can offer advantages but limits player individuality severely and drip feeds unlocks on the customisation front for those not willing to front up the dough. Locking out assets made and used in the campaign behind a pay wall. This is while charging £60 (£99 for the “Ultimate Edition”.) For a broken glitch ridden game with no sense of true direction or even a core experience. With the removal of aspects that don’t belong here while doubling down on what makes this a fun co-op stealth game (plus a lot of patches) Breakpoint could get somewhere …but in its current state it’s got to be a pass.
A Xbox One Review Copy was provided by Ubisoft