Success is a hard thing to follow up with sometimes. Expectations are high and the pressure to top them can be a lot. Often times, a good follow up to a great performance is seen as a failure. It shouldn’t be. Ghost Recon Breakpoint falls into this category. It’s predecessor, Ghost Recon Wildlands, sold very well and had a loyal fanbase playing it for a few years. I know I came back to visit Wildlands after all the free DLC was added. It seemed like a logical conclusion that Breakpoint would have also done well.
Breakpoint did not do well and had a lukewarm reception when it launched last fall. To a certain extent, I think this was fair for a few reasons. First, there were some bugs ad glitches in the Breakpoint initially. I encountered a few myself when I played through it but they weren’t too bad. Next and more importantly, no one was asking for a new Ghost Recon game. The Division 2 and Far Cry New Dawn had both come out earlier in the year and filled that open world shooter void for a lot of people. I think a lot of people weren’t craving more in the genre, especially from the same publisher. That being said, if you are looking to fill that void, Ghost Recon Breakpoint may be just what you need.
In my opinion, the story is where Ghost Recon Breakpoint shines. It follows up the last DLC of Wildlands. This time, the Ghosts are sent to the island or Auroa in the South Pacific. It is filled with the latest technological wonders and drones developed by Skell Tech. John Bernthal lent his voice and likeness as LTC Cole Walker, a retired Army officer that was hired as a military adviser to Skell Tech. Walker went rogue after he became disillusioned with the path the world is going down.
This isn’t just your typical “good guy turned bad” story. While that is certainly part of it, there is a lot more going on in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. In addition, there are several different factions on the island, each with their own agendas and goals. The different groups added a good variety of story to Breakpoint. Some of the interaction with them is part of the main story line and some of it is through optional side quests. The story had me hooked. You play as Nomad, a soldier that served alongside Walker in the past. I felt the betrayal that you feel as Nomad towards Walker. After a few hours of playing, I was hooked.
Like it’s cousin The Division, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a third person shooter. However, Ghost Recon focuses more on stealth and long range tactics instead of using cover. There are a few changes that Breakpoint made after Wildlands. Initially, I didn’t care for them. There were a few features I really enjoyed in Wildlands and were absent in Breakpoint. Mainly, these changes revolved around the recon drone you can use to scout and the player classes. After a little while, I was alright with the changes since the drone is more balanced and the classes only dictate a few abilities and not the majority of them.
Overall, the gameplay in Breakpoint is very similar to that of Wildlands. Find your objective, get there, stay hidden and recon, and then use stealth to eliminate targets quietly. So, if you liked what you did in the prior title, you should enjoy than you should enjoy Breakpoint. In addition, the loot system changed for the better. This time, you have a gear level which is determined by the average level of your weapons and armor.
Gear, Gear, Gear!
At it’s core, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a looter shooter. It may focus on stealth and sniping, but the gear system is centered around improving your kit and increasing your gear level. Refreshingly, this gear system isn’t a grind like it is in other games since you are able to purchase the weapons you want on demand (they do require you find the blueprints).
Unlike other games, if you make an improvement to range or damage for a weapon, it is permanent even after you ditch the lower level weapon for a higher level one. For example, if you have a level 25 MP5, you can improve the range, handling, damage, etc. All of these upgrades you apply to the MP5 will be applied to ANY MP5 you pick up later in the game. In addition, you can find blueprints for all the weapons so you can easily buy the same weapon at higher item level.
You also have weapon tiers that will improve some stats of that particular weapon. For instance, you make pick up a AK47 that is a higher tier quality than your current one but may have an additional handling bonus. The great part about the gear system is that you don’t have to worry about maximizing DPS since almost all enemies can be dispatched with one head shot. As it is, this gear system is probably my favorite of any games I have played in the looter shooter genre.
Odds and Ends
There are some features and skills I saw no use in using. The prone camo feature was nice in theory, but I didn’t really find much point in using it. There were also a ton of skills that I unlocked simply because I had skill points to spend but nothing pressing that I needed. For me, this is common in games. I find what I like and stick to it without getting too creative. That is not the same for everyone though. I am sure some people found uses for skills that escaped me. That is one of the joys in having a robust skill tree and gear system.
Stay Focused and on Task
At first, I was intimidated by the massive map, numerous objectives and poor direction given. However, I decided to stick to only story missions. This clearly defined my tasks and let me cut right to the chase. In addition, this method also took me to many of the areas where weapon blueprints were so I ended up getting them without having to go out of my way. I think if I had tried to do everything, it would have been overwhelming and I would have lost interest. I played some with friends and it made things more interesting since I couldn’t control how quiet they were. Overall, I found the play and systems in Ghost Recon Breakpoint to be enjoyable.
Graphics, Sound and Music
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a beautiful game! The music really hit the right notes in tense times and wasn’t overbearing. It added to the immersion of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. In addition, the sound effects were really well done and added to the realism. One thing I noticed and appreciated was the dialogue between the NPCs both in and out of combat. The lines don’t seem as canned as they are in other games. For example, the NPCs will say things like “They got Jones!”. They also talk about the same kind of nonsense you expect soldiers to talk about while they are standing around waiting for something to do. Some of the dialogue really reminded me of my time in the Army and I appreciated that.
From what others told me, Ghost Recon Breakpoint had a lot of bugs when it first launched. I did encounter some bugs, but none were game breaking or unique to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. One time, I fell through the ground and out of the map once but I have done that in other games as well. Also, I once had an issue where I couldn’t hack a terminal because my character kept trying to grab an item that wasn’t there. I fixed this by aiming my weapon a few times. The last issue I ran into was on a couple occasions I was trying to snipe an enemy while using my thermal vision. I couldn’t hit him even though my sight was right on him. So I turned off the thermal vision and after a second or two the building’s HVAC rooftop unit appeared in front of my target.
I can’t say for certain if the performance issues I noticed where Ghost Recon Breakpoint issues or Google Stadia issues. I played the whole game on Stadia and that may account for the glitches. It is also worth noting that on Google Stadia, there is a Stream Connect feature which allows you to see what your teammates are doing real time. This is extremely helpful in coordinating attacks. As I said before, none of the bugs were game breaking nor did they take a long time to resolve. It appears Ubisoft has fixed a lot of the issues Ghost Recon Breakpoint had at launch.
The Final Verdict
In general, there are some really good bones to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. It is far from perfect but it’s equally as far from terrible. As a single player experience, there is a lot to do and a good story. If you can find some buddies to play with, it’s even more fun since you can really get into some hijinks. I think Ghost Recon Breakpoint came out at before it was completely ready and before people were hungry for another open world shooter from Ubisoft. That being said, if you liked Wildlands and haven’t played Breakpoint yet, you should. It is a Good game. There is a lot of content and this could be a good game to play before the new games of 2020 come out. I enjoyed Ghost Recon Breakpoint and look forward to the additional content that is coming for it!
Review code provided from Ubisoft on Google Stadia.