Originally published at: https://gamingtrend.com/feature/reviews/ghost-recon-breakpoint-offers-a-unique-twist-to-the-series/
Ubisoft has been hard at work creating the sequel to Ghost Recon Wildlands. The sequel takes place on the fictitious island of Aurora, which happens to be the center of attention when a U.S. Naval ship is sunk off its coast for reasons unknown. Your objective is clear: infiltrate and neutralize any threats that may arise.
Unfortunately for our Ghost, which is the name of your operative, you find yourself in a situation where you’re crash landed and looking for survivors. The inhabitants of Aurora are trained killers, and they don’t allow visitors. Your mission took a new turn: stay alive! You can expect situations where your limits will be tested, which is why the name of the game is called Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
As a huge fan of Ghost Recon Wildlands, I was beyond excited to get my hands on Breakpoint. After closely following its development and going to Ubisoft events, I was really impressed with what I was seeing. The idea of a lone operative on a made-up island made me a bit nervous, but I was open to the idea. In my opinion, and I’m sure many others’ opinions, the design that makes the Ghost Recon games so great is the settings. We usually see places based on real world locations, like Bolivia for Wildlands. It helps create an atmosphere that you feel connected to. Some of the coolest moments in Wildlands were trekking through the beautiful world of Bolivia. The world felt alive, and you wanted to make a difference in it. After many hours of the game, I’m sad to say that the idea behind the island of Aurora was a big mistake.
To put it lightly, the world just feels dead. The island is made up of both military personnel and regular citizens who work on the island for a man named Jace Skell. Essentially, everyone is connected to Skell in some way. With that being said, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the world. There are no major towns, and there are no cars on the road which just feels off. I hate to keep coming back to it, but Wildlands nailed the atmosphere. It had bustling cities, traffic, and settlements all sprawled out across the map. Like I said before, it gave you that sense of realism that Breakpoint just doesn’t deliver.
Now for some, having open landscapes and places to explore are right up your alley. If that’s you, then I can assure you that you will get lost in the beauty this game has to offer. Albeit mostly empty, Aurora is perhaps the most visually stunning map I’ve seen in a video game. It’s hard to tell the difference between the game and real life at times. The views are truly unique, and offer some really cool scenarios when tackling missions. Whether it be storming a compound in the mountains or holding off waves of enemies on the beach, Ubisoft nails the visuals in this game.
I was glad to see Ubisoft acquire some big names for Breakpoint. Most notably, Jon Bernthal plays the main antagonist Cole Walker who has a thirst for blood. Honestly, I think he does a fantastic job in this game. He plays his typical self, which is a badass who calls his own shots. It’s not everyday that you’re running away from The Punisher in a video game.
The story is more in-depth than Wildlands. In Wildlands, most of the cutscenes took place in a safe house, where we could expect the same thing. In Breakpoint, there’s a closer attention to detail. We have gritty flashbacks to war zones, helicopters going up in flames, and tense moments between characters. This was a big plus for me. I always wanted more of a narrative driven game, and Breakpoint delivers in that aspect.
For the overall story itself, it’s definitely unique, but it gets lost in repetitive gameplay. In a preview I wrote a while back, I made some big claims for this game. After the first couple hours of the story and some side-missions, I thought this game was going to be a massive success, possibly even a contender for game of the year. Well, unfortunately if you’ve played the first two hours of the game, you’ve basically experienced just how deep this game goes. The first few missions are exceptional, but things get tiresome very quickly after that. I was very disappointed with the mission structure of this game. It’s a shame, because the story was very well thought out. Going to an island to investigate a technological “utopia” is a brilliant idea. Especially with the world we live in now.
For starters, Breakpoint feels like a game that got lost in development. We see survival mechanics that really feel more like a burden, and a mission structure that has you guessing quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using my head while playing a game, but I don’t want to have to guess where missions are going to be every time. Ubisoft gives us an option for ultra realism where you have to figure out where things are across the map based on descriptions you get from people/intel. It sounds cool in theory, but it was executed poorly. I found myself looking for that last person or computer many times during the story because I couldn’t figure out what the clues were saying.
Breakpoint is full of eye catching moments. Watching my character react different ways to the environment was really neat to experience. When in a crouched position, the character will hold his guns in different positions, based on what’s happening around him. If there are enemies close by, the gun is slightly raised, making it easy to pick off enemies who pop out. When there isn’t anyone around, he’s more relaxed. There’s even an animation for stumbling down a hill. I appreciate small details like that.
Building off of small details, the gun play and sound design resemble Wildlands in a good way. There were no major steps taken to make it different, and I think that’s okay because Wildland’s design was good enough. The weapons handle differently, as they should. An AR is a lot easier to control than an LMG, so it’s nice to see Ubisoft continue with this trend.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with Breakpoint is the addition of RPG elements. To break it down, Ubisoft’s The Division is an RPG game which involves grinding it out for better gear, making it to where you can play better against higher level enemies. I think The Division is a great game, but I don’t play Ghost Recons for their RPG elements. I play them because they feel real in a sense. I don’t like looting and trying to level up my weapons after securing an objective. It really takes away from that sense of realism I mentioned earlier.
Another thing I just completely don’t understand is the idea behind the currency of this game. I get it, you need a way to purchase weapons, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to play the open beta, Breakpoint offers this shared world aspect where you have a safe zone from enemy combatants. In this safe zone, you get a chance to buy guns and gear in this game from some vendors. What doesn’t make sense to me though, is why would an operative who’s trying to save everybody in the safe zone be bothered with going out in the world to collect money for that M4 on the wall. They treat this area more like a supermarket, rather than an area that’s trying to survive.
Breakpoint is it’s best when you squad up with your friends/other players. Executing a sync shot feels as good as ever. Ubisoft makes it really easy for the players to interact on the battlefield, adding in systems such as pinging mechanics and complex sound designs. In a world that’s not too engaging, having others to experience the game with really brings in a lot of unique situations. It’s obvious that this game was made to be played with others, which really leaves a dent in the single player experience. For me, it’s a whole new game with a squad, in a good way. One experience that I had while playing with some friends left us just staring at the screen in awe. We perfectly executed a few synchronized shots, and manage to take down a high level base fully undetected. Everything felt so smooth and fluid, as well as tense trying to remain undetected. It’s moments like that that make me truly appreciate Breakpoint.
Breakpoint continues the PvP component that Wildlands introduced, which is titled Ghost War. Players can expect two modes, elimination and sabotage, played out on a number of different maps located on Aurora. What separates this Ghost War from the previous installment are a few additions that make things a little bit easier for the player.
The first new addition, which is my personal favorite, is a shared progression system. The character you use for the campaign is the same character you use for multiplayer. All your gear, weapons, and skills seamlessly carry over and make it to where you can level them up through the course of the matches. It makes things a whole lot more convenient for players. Instead of creating a new character and grinding it out for different weapons, you can simply just use your main character and use everything that was equipped in the main story.
Another new addition that I found to be beneficial for players was a system that brought more action to multiplayer matches. If you played Wildland’s Ghost War, I’m sure you encountered matches that seemed to be drawn out forever because the last person was hiding on the other side of the map. A few of the multiplayer devs openly addressed this issue with me at an event in San Francisco, saying, “One of our core philosophies coming into Breakpoint’s Ghost War was to ensure more active gameplay”. One of the ways they achieved this was by adding in a closing circle that forces players into a smaller area. Think of it as a battle royale feature. With this new system, players can no longer just hide at the back. Instead, the circle will eventually start to creep in, drawing the players closer together. It helps create some tense and unique conclusions to the matches.
I feel as though Ghost War is good, but it’s not great. For me, it’s a little bit too simple. What I mean by this is that many of the matches are too similar, even with new systems added in. For a game as big as Breakpoint, it would have been great to see large scale modes that utilize vehicles. We have these 4v4 modes which are cool and all, but it just seems like wasted potential at this point. It’s almost as if Ubisoft settled, instead of taking a risk. They have this awesome huge map that’s gleaming with potential. I hope that somewhere down the road, Ubisoft uses it. I’ve always said that a battle royale mode would be perfect in a setting like this, but time will only tell.