There is no doubt that in this current console generation Ubisoft has given us some of the best open-world experiences such as The Division series, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Personally, I’m a huge fan of both The Division and Wildlands. I’ve invested hundreds of hours and obtained the platinum trophy in both titles on PS4. When Ghost Recon Breakpoint was announced, I was both excited and concerned. Wildlands had a rough launch not only with the AI teammate controls but with the overall feel of the game.
Ghost Recon has always been a team-based tactical shooter. You play as the squad leader and assign various roles to your unit in order to complete missions with stealth. Wildlands made it more about big firefights, car chases and over the top action. With that said, fans of the franchise accepted and embraced this new direction. AI teammate bugs were ironed out along with other issues and made Ghost Recon Wildlands one of the bestselling titles of 2017. So why am I going down memory lane you ask? Because Ghost Recon Breakpoint doesn’t feel like a proper successor to this franchise.
Ubisoft wanted to make it clear that Ghost Recon Breakpoint is connected “storywise” to Wildlands when they released the free DLC “Operation Oracle” in which we are introduced to another Ghost named Cole Walker who is played by actor Jon Bernthal. The DLC achieves its goal of providing a quick backstory between Walker and our protagonist Anthony Perryman aka Nomad. If you are someone who wants to know everything in regards to Breakpoint’s story, then I recommend firing up Wildlands and playing through this free DLC.
In Ghost Recon Breakpoint, you resume control of Nomad and head towards the fictional island of Aurora along with your team. Sidenote: I have no issues with this game taking place in a fictional location, especially after the backlash they received from the Bolivian government over Wildlands cartel infested depiction of Bolivia. Aurora is owned by Skell technology, a company that develops advanced drone technologies. Over the years it has grown in population and is referred to as “World 2.0”. While in the helicopter, you get the chance to customize both the gender and appearance of Nomad. To avoid further story spoilers, I will just say that your helicopter is shot down and it appears Nomad’s team all died in the crash.
This scene is extremely powerful for the sole reason that it now turns the Ghost Recon franchise away from being a single-player tactical team-based shooter. The franchise has always had AI teammates to control and strategize with. Removing AI teammates, in my opinion, makes Breakpoint feel more like The Division. Your AI teammates have now been replaced with a drone that can be used for sync shots, scouting locations, and additional perks.
While this may sound cool for some, I personally found this out of place storywise. Why would I use a drone on an island inhabited by the creators of highly advance drone technologies? Wouldn’t they have a backdoor or some other method to remotely hack my drone? I’m not alone in the belief that removing AI teammates, in turn, removes this game from the franchise.
The fanbase made their voices heard and Ubisoft has confirmed that AI teammates will return post-launch. However, I am still baffled by the fact it was even removed. Of course, you can play co-op with friends and randoms which is perfectly fine but not everyone wants to play tactically or spend time coming up with a strategic plan on how to approach a mission.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint also introduces some new gameplay elements such as the ability to cover yourself with mud, dirt, and snow while prone. This is a great addition but feels a bit incomplete. As soon as you move you are no longer in cover. I would have liked the ability to remain in cover with the elements as I crawl closer to my targets. I would have also liked an option to perform a stealth kill from this position. I encountered numerous situations were enemies walked inches from me and there was no option to attack.
Speaking of cover, the overall cover system feels loose and unresponsive at times. Instead of running up to multiple objects and being able to properly adjust and use them as cover positions, you now just casually bump into them and never really get into cover. So instead of running up to good cover spaces, I now found myself moving back and forth along every object trying to find that sweet spot all the while taking damage from enemy fire.
For better or worse, Ghost Recon Breakpoint goes all-in on loot shooting. I’m personally indifferent to this addition. As mentioned, I’m a huge Division fan which is all about loot shooting but this is a Ghost Recon game. Do I really want this gameplay element included? Overall, I did not find it intrusive but it did change my play style. Whenever I killed a high-level enemy from a distance and a gleaming beam of light appeared from his corpse, I would instantly break cover and run over to claim my loot.
All of the loot obtained serves a purpose in the new RPG system added to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. This system is nearly identical to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. While in the character menu, you see your character center with weapons listed on the left and gear on the right. You navigate around using a circular pointer controlled by your thumbstick. All weapons and gear have different levels and classes. Besides your traditional player level, you also have an overall gear score. You will want to pay close attention to both as you progress through the game. Some areas will be unbeatable unless you have the required level and gear score. This will lead to a lot of grinding toward the later missions.
Speaking of missions, there are a plethora of side mission types to choose from. Unfortunately, I encountered odd NPC behaviors which caused some missions to fail. For example, one escort mission required me to use the mounted gun on the vehicle that we were protecting. Once I was mounted, the NPC got in the driver’s seat and drove off. I was playing with a friend who was left behind. I got off the mounted gun assuming that the NPC would notice and stop the vehicle. However, this did not occur and the NPC continued to drive off. A prompt appeared stating we had failed the mission. I also noticed that any head or facial items that I equipped would not appear within the in-game cut scenes. This was not the case in Wildlands.
Another new gameplay mechanic in Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the “Military survival” feature. Nomad can obtain minor and major injuries. These can be treated in a variety of ways and could take more or less time to heal. You can take a quick stem shot or bandage up but for more effective healing you will need to find a Bivouac. These appear as smoking areas on the island. Basically you are setting up a campground, similar to Red Dead Redemption 2. Here you can clean your weapons, drink or eat for performance boosts, craft items and summon vehicles you own from the garage. Gone are the comical vehicle drops in Wildlands.
There is plenty of fun to be had when playing Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Like Wildlands it’s a great pick up and play type of game with friends. However, all these new gameplay mechanics feel tacked on and not fully envisioned. The exclusion of single-player AI teammates and lackluster emphasis on the core franchise elements are disappointing. Ghost Recon Wildlands was a major change for the franchise but still felt like a Ghost Recon game whereas Ghost Recon Breakpoint is solely a Ghost Recon game by title.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint for the PlayStation 4 provided by Ubisoft.