Ghost Recon: Breakpoint – Quantity Over Quality
Coming into Ghost Recon: Breakpoint I had high hopes for the game. The Ghost Recon series has always been one that I enjoyed, and while the transition to the open world in Wildlands wasn’t perfect, I hoped it would have been a stepping stone to a truly great game, much in the same way that The Division 2 learned a lot of lessons from The Division that helped to make it a great game on launch. Unfortunately, it seems like Breakpoint has taken a bunch of different systems from different games and shoved them all in one package, resulting in a game that is not only full of things that you can do but filled with things you may not be bothered to do at all. Despite the faults in the game though there is fun to be had if you can make it past the inherent design flaws.
Breakpoint takes place on the Auroa archipelago, a fictional set of islands that became the home of Skell Tech, and was billed as a utopia of self-sustaining living combined with the freedom to pursue technological advancements. Unfortunately, something happens, because of course advanced tech-based utopia’s never ever have anything that could possibly be put to nefarious uses, and Auroa goes dark. You and your team of Ghosts are sent in to figure out what happens, but straight away the shit hits the fan and you find yourself hunted by The Wolves, well-equipped soldiers that are led by a former Ghost who shows no hesitation in executing his former teammates. It is up to you to find out just what is happening on Auroa, save the day and get revenge for your fallen soldiers.
While the story sounds interesting if you are anything like me you will spend more time just wandering around, killing soldiers and looting for better gear. That in and of itself is not a bad thing, but that is the sort of activity that players should be doing in the end game. Despite the death of my soldiers and the plight of the original residents of Auroa, I just can’t bring myself to care enough to do the missions. Sure a dude is being chased by Sentinel soldiers and he needs saving. I’ll get to it…. eventually. The fact is, the game doesn’t convey a real sense of urgency to go out there and do the main storyline missions. I put part of this down to the way it is all represented on the map. No matter what you are doing, whether it is looking for blueprints for weapons, faction missions to help the people of Auroa or even the main story missions, everything is represented by dots on the map. At least in Wildlands, they gave the lieutenants and boss characters different icons to set them apart. The other reason I am not that interested is that a good number of cutscenes have issues when you are watching them.
Back when I played the closed beta in September I commented on the cutscene dialogue cutting off mid-sentence. Somehow this issue still exists in the completed game, but now it gets even better. I always put the subtitles on in games, that way I don’t miss any conversation if the dog is snoring like a chainsaw next to me while I am playing. Now for some reason, there are basic errors in the subtitles of the game. Nothing major mind you, but words appearing in the subtitles that are definitely not spoken by the characters. As far as I can tell this is not for condensing to make the subtitles fit on the screen. How this happens when the people putting the subtitles in would, in theory, have a complete script of the game is beyond me.
The gameplay is really a story of two very different halves. If you are playing solo good luck to you. Breakpoint states that it is optimised for cooperative play. Even though you are a lone soldier fighting for Auroa, the developers expect you to tackle the game with friends. Which is great if you have friends that are playing the game, or at least have friends in general. Me, I like to play games online with people I know. If I don’t have anyone I know online, I would rather play the game by myself. The problem is, when playing Breakpoint solo it seems like the most viable method of play is as a sniper. You pick off everyone you can see, moving around when they are alerted to stay hidden. Then you creep in to pick off the last few stragglers with an assault rifle or SMG when you are sure you won’t get annihilated. Going into an outpost that has more than 3 or 4 soldiers in it is a very quick way to get yourself killed. The result is 20 minutes of playtime to clear out an area so you can go in and find intel that sends you off to a brand new location. Rinse and repeat. Yes in Wildlands everyone got annoyed with the limited banter between the 3 A.I. teammates, but at least when the bullets started firing they were at least good for getting you back on your feet so you could take everyone else out.
The most fun I had with Breakpoint came during the time I spent playing with our illustrious editor Matt, and our semi illustrious deputy editor Paul (which you can view on the site as well. I recommend it, well worth a chuckle). The same location we cleared out in 5 minutes took me over 15 by myself picking off enemies at a distance. This goes back to the game being optimised for co-op, and while there was a lot of trudging between points and destroying our own vehicles. I had more fun during that time than I had up until and beyond that point. The other problem in basing the game around a co-operative multiplayer is that people won’t always be playing at the same time as their friends. Due to the time I had put into the game for this review, my gear score dwarfed my fellow soldiers, and while it made it easier to take a few extra hits while reviving Paul once again, I was also dropping enemies a lot faster because my weapons were more powerful. There was no balancing done in the game to make things a bit more even, reducing Paul to cannon fodder while Hewso and I cleaned house.
As I mentioned earlier, Breakpoint throws in a whole bunch of new mechanics for players to make use of. Firstly, following the trend of every other major loot-shooter out there is the introduction of gear scores. The premise of this I would assume is to make the game last a bit longer for most players. If you try and take on enemies that are of too high a level you will find yourself dead pretty quickly, so finding new weapons and gear to buff up your strength is a given. If you have the blueprints for a specific weapon you can craft it yourself using the in-game currency so that your preferred weapon will keep pace with your gear score, but to do that you will need to find the specific blueprint first. On top of the weapon crafting you can craft yourself other tools to help you in your journey, be they grenades, mines, lures and assorted rations that will give you temporary stat boosts. But you don’t need to use them. In fact, it was rare for me to use anything other than my guns and I did not eat one ration at all. It just feels like it was crammed in there for the sake of it, and some of the gadgets you can craft or find in the world, such as the sync shot drone that instantly takes out up to four targets that you designate, are locked behind a skill perk before you can use them.
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is a serviceable game that may scratch the itch for those who want to be a lone soldier sneaking their way through enemy territory, but overall it feels like a big step backward after what Ubisoft did with Wildlands. With a mix of new mechanics that feel like they were thrown in for the sake of it, the result is a lot of potentially cool features that are going to waste since you don’t need to use them. While I don’t hate the game, I find it hard to recommend to anyone as it stands right now. Maybe wait until it hits the bargain bin to pick it up, and grab a second copy for a friend so you have someone to help you get the most out of the game.
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint was reviewed on the PS4 with code kindly provided by Ubisoft Australia