For years, the Ghost Recon series has been ideal for tactical players, with each entry delivering fresh combat and a neat twist on story. While earlier games have been pretty good for die-hard fans, it’s when Ubisoft started adapting with grittier fare, like Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier that things started getting really interesting.
Then came Ghost Recon Wildlands, a game that had your team taking on a drug cartel across an impressive, wide-open world. This entry delivered in spades with co-op action, as well as an abundant amount of content that kept players returning time and time again. It’s still a favorite, even with Ghost Recon Breakpoint now available.
Ever since its initial reveal earlier this year, Ubisoft had promised a new revolution for the series, with deeper tactical gameplay than ever before, along with a survival hook that really makes each battle count. But does the final game hold weight? In a way, but it also brings some troubling issues that Ubisoft may want to clean up on, if it intends to keep its fanbase happy.
Why, Carter, Why?
The game follows a different story trek over Wildlands but still has connections. On the island of Auroa, a drone manufacturer by the name of Skell Tech has promised a simple, trouble-free life for its inhabitants. “If it’s too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.” Contact with the island suddenly gets lost, resulting in three groups of Ghosts investigating to see what happened.
No sooner do they arrive, they come under attack by a mysterious swarm of enhanced enemies, with their choppers crashing. They get laid to waste by soldiers on the ground, with a returning soldier leading them – Cole Walker. Fans may recall this hero from Wildlands, but here, he has a different motive, becoming the game’s big villain. It’s up to you, a Ghost team member named Nomad, and your remaining squad to dig a little deeper and find out why this is happening.
When it comes to storytelling, Breakpoint has an interesting arc and sticks with it rather closely. That said, the missions it spins off can be a little repetitive, with your team doing the same thing more times than not. In addition, it can take a while to traverse around the world. That does speak for its scope quite a bit, but there is such a thing as “too much” ground to cover. Even with fast travel, you may feel the journey slogging a little bit.
The Gameplay’s On Point
Now, when it comes to gameplay, some Ghost Recon fans may be a little nervous, wondering if Ubisoft changed things too much from how Wildlands operated when it came out a while back. Fortunately, this is not the case, as I found the game to be very satisfactory when it comes to gameplay.
That’s because the tactical shooting still works like a boss. In fact, if you’re a newcomer, you can turn on auto-aiming and pick off squad members like a champ. If you prefer something a little tougher, you can go your own way and feel the sheer thrill of picking off foes from afar with your weapons of choice.
Breakpoint offers a heaping amount of variety, from assault rifles to sniper rifles, all of which you can modify for peak performance. No matter which way you may prefer, the sheer satisfaction of being able to take down an enemy group, on your own or with others, is still excellent.
This ties into the general mission structure of the game, in which you’ll need to track down intel based on targets, and try to get more information on what happened with Skell Tech. This can be a mixed bag, mainly because of the repetitive nature and world exploring I mentioned above.
Now, it is great to be thrown a challenge, especially with a group that’s up to task. I would’ve preferred a little more variety with certain missions, instead of “hey, get this done for me and then I’ll spill the beans on what’s up.”
I suppose that’s been a mantra for previous games outside of Ghost Recon, so I won’t hold it against the developers that much. But Breakpoint looked open to a whole lot more than what’s actually offered. Perhaps the forthcoming updates, which will be free, by the way, provide a little freshness to what you can do.
As for the progression your soldier makes with these missions, it’s good but not entirely original. It’s almost like Ubisoft knew what worked so well with The Division 2 and tried to make it work equally here. It does, in a way, but not quite to the level of satisfaction. The mission flow can feel like it’s dragging a bit, even if you think you’ll be facing your most dangerous foes yet.
It is great to try out each class and see what they bring, like the medic and its helpful healing drone and the assault class’ ability to buff things up. It would’ve been nice to offer distinctive new techniques as you progressed. Being able to bump up the one is useful, but these soldiers can do more than one thing, right?
A Whole New World, Filled With Trouble
Ghost Recon Breakpoint features, what I believe, is the largest open-world environment I’ve seen in an Ubisoft game since Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Mind you, I didn’t need a measuring stick, but Auroa has miles of terrain to cover. This is great for those that want to explore, but also a burden if you’re just trying to get from point A to point B. Even if you have a vehicle, it can take a good damn while to get to a starting position.
Fast travel does help in some spots; and being able to set up Bivouacs, or mini-camps, is also great when you want to plan ahead with your team. This might’ve been one of those scenarios where Ubisoft could’ve scaled back the world a bit. Maybe they’re going to fill in the blank space with the new content that they have planned. Guess we’ll wait and see, but some folks might be tired of the consistent road trips, eventually asking themselves, “Are we there yet?”
The in-game graphics do look nice, but they’re hardly perfect. That’s because Ubisoft left a few blemishes that are truly hard not to notice. In fact, this may be one of the most bug-laden games I’ve seen from the publisher yet, and keep in mind that I’ve lived through Assassin’s Creed Unity models that were lacking skin.
There are some occasions where you can’t make progress on a mission because the doors won’t open; and unless you can find a way around and get in on the other side, you have to restart your checkpoint – which could very well be miles away. For that matter, sometimes the hit detection can be a little bit off. Imagine having an enemy in your sights and going for that sweet, sweet headshot, and either missing them completely or hitting them in the leg, alerting the other soldiers to your position. Talk about annoying.
The rest of the graphics look fine, especially running on an Xbox One X. The lighting effects are impressive, and watching the movements of soldiers comes across with a sense of realism. Honestly, the bugs are a headache; and I can’t help but think they could use some fixing.
At least the audio is good. The voice acting, with Jon Bernthal leading the charge as Carter, is excellent; and the music cues aren’t bad either, though they are a bit on the sporadic side. The weapon effects deliver as needed as well.
Just one thing: why do some soldiers talk too much? Like, are they trying to give away intel on purpose, or are they just bored? I know Ubisoft needed to provide some level of camaraderie, but it can be a bit much sometimes. Fortunately, you have a most effective way of shutting them off with your trigger finger.
How’s the Multiplayer?
Like Wildlands before it, Ghost Recon Breakpoint features a wealth of multiplayer options. The big one here, obviously, is Ghost War, a popular mode that made the rounds in the previous game. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you’ve got the proper squad to back you up when the situation calls for it. There are other modes as well, running the usual third-person shooter gamut.
Connectivity is good, and you can get into a match right away. However, there’s a lack of difficulty balance here, so experienced players can join up with rookies. Perhaps this was intended by Ubisoft to have some players help others to adjust, but it can be annoying, especially when you’re in the midst of a good tactical match against a rival team that knows exactly what they’re doing. Here’s hoping Ubisoft’s next update has something that will balance things out a little bit.
Yes, the bugs kind of show up here as well. It’s not game-breaking (for the most part), but the sheer annoyance of missing a shot that you swore you had lined up can be a bit of a headache. The Xbox One version isn’t as bad on the glitch front as PC, but keep on the lookout anyway.
One final word of warning: watch out for Microtransactions. The game is loaded with them; and while they’re completely optional, and not really necessary for getting the most out of the game, it is somewhat annoying that they’re stacked up to the point of being a feature.
In short, this still feels like a Ghost Recon game through and through. The shooting is as satisfying as it’s ever felt, and playing with a good co-op group and cleaning house on enemy patrols never gets old. Some in-game hitches can get in the way of you completing a mission, and sometimes it can take forever to arrive at a starting point. Both of these could’ve easily been fixed by Ubisoft – and hopefully will be soon.
While the story’s new, and some of the mechanics with the classes are worth being experimental with, there’s not really much in the way of freshness here. A lot of Wildlands’ blueprints are copied, and while the gameplay is solid, it doesn’t go the extra mile in terms of sprucing things up. It’s still good, but a revolution in gameplay? Not particularly.
As much as I enjoyed looking around Breakpoint’s world, its problems are two-fold. Number one, there’s too much space to cover, even with vehicles and fast travel. It can get tiresome trying to get to a mission point and having to take a break because it’s a twenty minute journey. The second is with the glitches, which are really hard to overlook, especially when they interrupt a mission. Otherwise, the frame rate is smooth and the audio work is compelling. Plus, Jon Bernthal totally brings it as Walker.
For those looking for a strong continuation of Ghost War, I’m happy to report that you’ll find it here. Matches connected easily with the first few times I went in; and co-op works just as well with the right group. Slight matchmaking issues aside with rookie players, I found multiplayer to be engaging. There’s more where that came from, with Ubisoft bringing more content to the game.
Value for Money: 6/10
The main game has a decent amount of stuff to offer, like classes, weapons and a ton of missions to take on. The promise of free DLC in the future is a nice touch, without having to pay for a Season Pass, but there’s disappointment with the heaping amount of Microtransactions that the game offers. Again, they aren’t necessary, and you can get through a majority of Breakpoint without investing. It’s like Ubi is dangling a piggy bank in front of you going, “You want this, right? We’re pretty sure you want this.” It can be annoying to some.
Enough parts of Ghost Recon Breakpoint are enjoyable enough to give the game a modest recommendation. The multiplayer is still as fun as always and the campaign has a lot to offer, especially story-wise. Ubisoft really went deep with the game’s design, particularly on the audio front. The game is half-baked in places thanks to its troublesome glitches, problematic matchmaking, and abundant Microtransactions. If these can get cleaned up as part of a “healthy long-term life” sort of update, there’s nothing to stop Breakpoint from dominating. However, at this point, the Ghosts have a lot of problems to overcome before becoming elite soldiers.
An impressively designed world, filled with all sorts of bad guys to mow down
Ghost War is still a great multiplayer mode to jump into
The story actually has intrigued, driven by Jon Bernthal’s Cole Walker
Gameplay still feels good, provided your shots aren’t thrown off by glitches
Visual glitches cause problems with the gameplay, sometimes forcing you to restart
Multiplayer could use better balancing with rookie and veteran players
The world might be too big for its own good
Some missions will seem awfully familiar, with little change in nature
(A review code was provided by the publisher.)