Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review — Going Ghost
Ghost Recon Breakpoint provides everything and more that fans of Wildlands loved, but the game is not without its issues.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox One, PS4
Review copy provided by the publisher
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game that is at odds with its newest additions. While it undeniably improves upon many of the criticisms the core community had with Ghost Recon Wildlands, Breakpoint does take a few steps back at times with some out of place RPG mechanics and a myriad of glitches that consistently work to hamper the moment to moment gameplay. Nevertheless, Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s focus on community and growth makes for a game that, albeit isn’t perfect, is a lot of fun.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s greatest selling point is the fact that players can dictate their own experience. Whether you want to enjoy the campaign, open-world, or PvP, everything is available right at the start and can be played into the endgame content. The amount of options is commendable but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like all of the options were given the same attention to detail.
“Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s greatest selling point is the fact that players can dictate their own experience.”
Those who focus on the main storyline in Ghost Recon Breakpoint can expect to reach the end in about 25-30 hours. That’s not including any optional side content or the completely separate PvP mode and raid. The story itself drops the former entry’s real-world location for Aurora, a fictional group of massive islands with various biomes. Aurora is home to a company called Skell Technology. Skell focuses on AI technology and this tech doesn’t mesh well after it’s stolen by a terrorist organization known as the Wolves.
The Wolves are led by Jon Bernthal’s character, Cole D. Walker, and he’s easily the strongest part of Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s huge story. The game’s customizable protagonist Nomad has a history with Walker as they both served as Ghosts in Bolivia and Afghanistan. For reasons revealed later in the story, Walker’s character abandons the Ghosts. He forms his sense of justice in the Wolves after seeing one too many “heroes” fall due to the negligence of those in positions of privilege. Walker is inherently evil and that’s clear from the getgo despite his righteous idea of justice. Bernthal plays to his character motivations extremely well, and maybe it’s almost too akin to The Punisher, but it’s always fun to see him in action.
What stinks is the fact that Bernthal’s character isn’t as prevalent throughout the game as the advertising would let on. Perhaps if the supporting cast and Nomad were as compelling as Walker, it wouldn’t be a huge deal to have this villain who makes brief appearances throughout the game. Walker mostly appears in flashbacks that are intercut with dialogue between Nomad and other characters. It’s mostly exposition and that’s a real shame. There’s a decent amount of cringe-worthy dialogue in Ghost Recon Breakpoint but it’s still a story that’s entertaining enough to see to the end.
There are some commendable attempts at building the world outside of story cutscenes. One of the most striking examples of this is when enemies call out the names of their allies that have just been shot down. There’s also unique dialogue exchanged between NPCs as you sneak through various locations. These small touches enhance the focus on stealth that Ghost Recon is known for.
The island of Aurora is massive. As a Ubisoft open-world title, players can expect an equally massive amount of side content to take on. There are so many different locations it can oftentimes feel like you’re in an entirely different game. Traveling around Aurora can be a bit cumbersome to start but as the player unlocks more vehicles and fast travel points it becomes pretty quick. There’s a noticeable focus on having some sort of travel elements since Ubisoft has paid particularly close attention to how characters move across varying landscapes. Even when you have a convenient fast travel point, it may only be the closest thing you have to your objective. Thankfully, vehicles the player has acquired can be spawned at fast travel locations.
These fast-travel locations also have another element of gameplay added to them in the form of Bivouacs, or deployable camps. It’s here where players can apply buffs in the form of experience boosts, fatigue resistance, injury resistance, and more. Additionally, players can purchase weapons and armor, craft items, and change their battle tactics before moving out. Bivouacs can also be accessed during multiplayer and they act as a surprisingly unique mechanic that works to enhance the squad-based gameplay.
“RPG elements aren’t super compelling at all and feel a bit out of place in Ghost Recon Breakpoint.”
Ghost Recon Breakpoint has a surprising number of RPG elements involved in its core gameplay loop. These elements are mostly comparable to a game series like Ubisoft’s The Division. Both weapons and armor have gear levels that are completely separate from Nomad’s character level. There are a handful of locations on the map that recommend a specific gear level and the game’s raid also requires a gear level of at least 150 before it’s even accessible. Also, four distinct classes can be used throughout the game. Nomad will start with one but more can be unlocked as the game goes on. The unique qualities between each come in the form of a special item and ability as well as some passive skills. Overall, these RPG elements aren’t super compelling at all and feel a bit out of place in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. There’s never really that same rewarding feeling that players might find in Destiny or The Division.
What doesn’t feel out of place in Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the engaging stealth-action and shooting mechanics. Some of the most gratifying moments in the game come when a player can take out a whole base without notifying any guards of their presence. Ghost Recon Breakpoint will continue to throw challenges at the player but the tools will always be provided for said player to overcome these obstacles. Drones, special grenades, medkits, and more will all be unlocked as the game goes on.
PvP is the weakest part of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. It feels like it did not receive as much polish as far as design goes when compared with the game’s other offerings. While it’s a nice distraction from the open-world gameplay, I can’t see many players opting for this as their main source of experience or gear. It can certainly act as the main source of those things despite it not being quite as fun to acquire anything this way.
What’s most grueling about PvP is the constant loading screens. Matches are long and drawn out, and that’s mostly because Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a slower game with small teams and large maps. It’s cool that Breakpoint goes for a risky stealth approach to PvP when competitors are finding huge success with run-and-gun multiplayer or battle royale. However, almost everyone in the game is using sniper rifles, and with the objective-based modes, in particular, it’s difficult to play how you want without a team that’s in constant communication with one another. The standard pinging system doesn’t help much at all. There’s also a random battle royale-style ring that closes if a match goes on for too long. It feels out of place in the game but also acts as the only way to get the game moving with the smaller teams and huge maps. There were plenty of matches where an entire enemy team would camp the corners of the map until the ring closed in and that’s just not fun at all.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint also has a ton of bugs. Like vanilla Skyrim level bugs. Textures don’t load correctly, NPCs don’t appear, spawning sometimes puts you in an inescapable location, and certain in-game physics make your character freak out. That’s only really scratching the surface but it’s widely present in every corner of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Despite the glitches, I always did manage to have a lot of fun with Ghost Recon Breakpoint, but it’s very hard to ignore the amount of unpolished content in this game.
“Despite Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s shortcomings, it was always a lot of fun to play regardless of whether that playtime was alone or with friends.”
Players might also be interested in the game’s microtransactions as this is a title that’s meant to keep you coming back for more. The microtransactions are not intrusive to the overall gameplay. If you’re a player who’s on a tight schedule, Ghost Recon Breakpoint does offer some advantages that can gear you up so you can get through the game quicker. There is no pay to win options, as gear and weapon stats are eliminated in PvP. Some cosmetic items were locked behind paywalls on day one and that sucks to see. However, if you’re worried that you’re going to be greeted with a shopping screen every time you log into Ghost Recon Breakpoint, that is not the case. Almost everything in the game can be acquired through gameplay and there’s a tremendous amount of content here that’ll offer hours of enjoyment.
As a final mentionable, the raid in Ghost Recon Breakpoint is still unavailable at this time. With that in mind, it’s not being considered in regard to the final score and verdict here in this review.
There’s a considerable amount of issues with Ghost Recon Breakpoint, however, the game has tons of room for growth as time goes on. This is a title that was built with fans of Ghost Recon Wildlands in mind. Those that are on the fence about the game might feel more comfortable buying into it as more content and patches release. Despite Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s shortcomings, it was always a lot of fun to play regardless of whether that playtime was alone or with friends. Breakpoint can only go up from here and it’ll be exciting to see how Ubisoft continues to grow the game and its community with the positives and negatives in mind.