Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review: A Satisfying Tactical Shooter with Survival Aspects
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a massive game. You're going to get lost when you first few steps out of your haven location called Erewhon. You find the place shortly after the introduction of the game where you get shot out of the helicopter by the rogue Ghost agents who have taken over the Auroa island, led by Cole Walker. He's an ex-Ghost Agent with a chip on his shoulder for his comrades who died doing the bidding of others. You assume the role of Ghost leader Nomad who has a history with Walker, and it's your task to learn what happened to the Skrell CEO, Jace Skell, and take Walker and his wolves down.
The game offers a blend of unique tactic-based combat, full of lootable gear you're going to need to raise your overall gear level. Breakpoint takes a few notes from The Division 2, leaning on players wanting to get their gear level to go higher and higher. With plenty of ways to do so with a massive island of content and even more on the way, Breakpoint offers a satisfying journey with a few hiccups along the way.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint's Story
Unlike Wildlands, Breakpoint takes its time to develop the villain far more than making him out to be this evil entity. Walker is a sympathetic patriot who wants to do what he believes is right, even if it means getting his hands dirty. The Punisher's Jon Bernthal, who portrays Walker, can convey this through superb voice acting talent and the small gestures and huffs of frustration. There are low undertones throughout the story, and the writers spend their time making him out to be a person, and they do it well. It makes the ending far more satisfying, and it provides a lusher experience.
There are decent moments where Walker provides a rousing speech to your character while you progress in the story. It builds up with certain things going on through the game. It gives a brief exposition of the history between Nomad and Walker quite a bit.
Along the way, you're going to interact with several of the locals, uncovering the mystery of the island. Given the amount of time you're going to spend doing faction and side missions, the writers kind of skip over these moments a bit more. However, it's not too unexpected because the larger story is a bit bonkers. Regardless, the writers do well to make the small moments between your character speaking to the NPCs far more meaningful than in Wildlands.
Players are not going to be talking about the story when they finish the game. They're going to discuss Walker, and what he stood for with some even leaning more towards him. Bernthal's acting stands out, and I'd love to see him play another video game character in the future. What players are going to discuss are the antics they and their friends get up to in the game.
All About The Multiplayer Experience
You can play the game entirely by yourself. It's what I did while I ran through the game, running through bushes and ambushing small groups of enemies while they patrolled in the inside of their base. It was fun, exhilarating, and it felt like I could take down an entire unit without any of them knowing I had ever been there. I felt like a Ghost agent, up until I got spotted.
When you get spotted, you're running as fast as you can to the nearest piece of cover and making sure you try to lose your foes. Unfortunately, in the age of high-class technology, you're going to find it challenging to blend into the shadows. You might avoid the enemy units, but they have drones patrolling the skies the entire time. You're going to run into Azrael Drones. These drones patrol the skies, ever vigilant and consistently locating you if you can't find a piece of cover or dive into a mud pile. When they find you, your position is compromised, and wolves are on the way.
Now, if you were to have three other friends with you, things might change it up. Most of the vehicles in the game benefit from having another person to sit in the gunner chair with another person driving. Even the passenger seats feel viable. When you're on the ground, you can have a sniper on the ridge pointing out and marking targets, making it easier for a handful of friends to sneak their into a base without anyone seeing them.
Breakpoint encourages you to bring in a couple of friends to play the game. You're not going to miss out by not having friends with you, though. You can certainly play the game start to finish without them, but you might feel like a handful of vehicle features are missing if you do or some situations force you to think a bit more on your toes. You certainly don't want to play the game on a higher difficulty without a few hours of experience under your belt by yourself.
Survival Gameplay and Adding Gear Levels
If you do get forced to run away from a position or have to roll down a hill to avoid detection, you've likely gotten fatigued or found your character severely injured. Thankfully, the game provides you with simple, easy to take care of tools to rid yourself of these problems. You can lose more fatigue by visiting one of the game's resting points called bivouacs, but you have a water canteen to get rid of parts of it. Refilling it is simple, and you're not going to find yourself spending hours wrestling with a low stamina bar.
Do you have a critical injury? Don't worry. Because you're a skilled Ghost operative, you can handle it yourself and patch your body up real quick. But you're going to exposed, especially in a firefight. The critical injury mechanic makes it, so you want to think twice about taking on specific engagements. If you get in over your head and take a severe hit, you're going to need to find somewhere to heal yourself before the enemy closes in around you. Again, if you were to have friends, you'd have a pair of people covering you while you handled the bandages.
You're also going to locate resources throughout the game, but you don't have to spend too much time grabbing them. The Breakpoint team made a wise decision by having your character run over the pieces to add them to their inventory rather than making animation. It's an excellent quality of life piece I remember whenever I saw a resource piece pop into my inventory. It felt great, and if I ever needed to find any resources, I didn't slump in my chair going through the usual grind.
Some players who have stuck with the Ghost Recon series since the start might feel it extremely strange to find the game comes with gear levels. A player's Gear Level gets determined by an average total of all the gear pieces they're wearing. Players raise this number by looting new pieces of gear off of enemies, by looting gear caches they find in enemy territory, completing missions, and building new weapon pieces from blueprints they earn.
Overall, the gear system does build on the content of the game. Players have a visual goal and watching the numbers get bigger is satisfying. The best part about it is the world levels up with you. While select locations are always going to have a specific number attached to them, such as distinct Wolf bases around the island. But the average soldier is going to raise their level to match the players. However, some can quickly get around this by delivering a perfect headshot to a foe. This technique doesn't work on bosses or specific enemies, but players can take out an opponent with a quick shot to the dome. Sure, it may seem to make the gear level useless, but if you miss that headshot and you're now in the middle of a firefight, you're going to be glad you didn't rush to the end of the game to fight those high-level bases.
So Much To Do, So Little Time, A Massive World to Explore
Auroa is massive. There's no way to get around it. Luckily, you have plenty of methods to get around that make traveling useful. Additionally, the number of bivouacs in the game makes jumping from point to point quick and straightforward. You have the option to spend time in each part of the island, enjoying the scenery and taking everything in while you drive through it. But you don't have to do that. I did that a handful of times and was content to listen to the forest and avoid the patrols walking through the grasslands and roads. However, when I needed to get to a location, I could take a fast travel point at any time and made my way there.
There were times I wanted to enjoy the environment. Breakpoint is beautiful. If you're a sniper, you can spend time looking through your scope at enemies or catch some long-off animal galloping through the forest or grasslands, kicking up dust in the middle of a gorgeous afternoon. I took a few moments to enjoy the sights, sitting down to relax after taking out an enemy outpost and merely relaxed with a cup of coffee. Running around Auroa was great, and the sights made it all the while more wonderful.
You may have to adjust the graphics for those playing on PC, but after you get the correct estimates, you're going to find some peace on an island full of war.
The Hiccups Along the Way
Not everything was fine and dandy during my time with Breakpoint. An important point some people are discussing revolving around the game is the number of microtransactions associated with, and how you can quickly gain blueprints for guns you'd otherwise have to earn. Because I had to earn all of mine, I never felt the microtransactions were a huge issue. For players who may not have the capacity to spend 40 hours a week to a certain game, and could maybe spend an hour or two a night, slowly playing with friends, it makes sense. The microtransactions are not a big issue because they're not going ruin another player's experience.
Yes, players who purchase a blueprint can build a gun and then take it into Breakpoint's PvP mode, Ghost War, but all of the stats go away. A player can have the absolute best weapon in the game, but if they don't know how to use it or make a simple mistake, another player fighting them with some of the starting guns they find are going to be able to take them out. The microtransactions are a choice, and if it helps players enjoy their single-player experience, more power to them.
The level of a time commitment the game calls for feels exceptionally daunting. Even with a full week dedicated to the game and covering it, there are plenty of things left to do and explore. For those who want to get their money's worth, Breakpoint has it. You're going to find enemies patrolling the game, making it difficult to traverse if you're going to level up some gear, and you're almost always going to get sidetracked.
I almost always diverted from my original path to do something else. I may have wanted to do a side mission, but I then discovered this small base with some potential intel I could use to find a new attachment or a new bivouac location to add to my fast travel list. There's quite a bit to do in the game, and gaining gear levels feels a bit like a chore. You're going to see the numbers steadily going while you play, and taking on stronger enemies is excited. But staying on task was tough.
PvP and End Game Content
You can bypass the main quest line of the game jump into Breakpoint's PvP games called Ghost War when you first arrive at Erewhon. There are not too many modes available at this time, with two standard modes, Elimination and Sabotage. It's a best of three matches. New players can fight it out amongst players who started way before them because all of the gear numbers go away. Players still get their weapons and attachments, but the levels don't matter. It's up to player skill and team tactics to win the day.
When wrapping up the game, there are still tasks for you to do, a gear level 150 raid available for players, and faction missions available who those who want the rewards. As I said, there's plenty to do in Breakpoint, and getting sidetracked comes with the territory of building a massive game. For The Division 2, it made sense, but at the launch of Breakpoint, some players may not know precisely what they want to finish first.
There's plenty of planned DLC, though. Ubisoft has their Year 1 Season Pass available right now, and it's going to add new story missions, gear levels, raids, and pieces of content every four months. If you're playing with friends now, get through the game, and drop off it, don't worry. You're likely going to return because you hear of a brand new raid challenge to take on. Ubisoft has become professionals in making their games lasting for their player base. Take as many breaks as you'd like because chances are you're going to return to the game and have a backlog of stuff to do, and it's exciting to think about.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a great game. It's going to take your time to chew through it, and you're going to struggle to know what to do first. You're going to sympathize with the villain, but the story won't stick around with you. The game is an exciting survival tactics game I want to play with my friends, planning out every step we take. I want to play the game where we crash through the front gates, taking out all of the enemies. I also want to sit on top of a mountain, marking foes for my friends to avoid or take out while they sneak into a base, providing covering fire with my sniper rifle.
There are several ways to go about playing Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and you're going to get your money's worth. Even if you drop off the game after a few weeks, you're going to have plenty to come back to. Ubisoft knows what they're doing to make a game satisfying and to appeal to their player base.
I cannot recommend the game enough for groups of friends who want to play games together. Breakpoint is a wonderful title and worthy notch in Ghost Recon's franchise.
Disclosure: This review was written using a game code provided by Ubisoft.