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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review

Edited by: Jade Swann

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is an open world, first-person shooter with RPG elements, in a similar vein as Destiny or even Fallout 4. You take the role of a Ghost commander, whose team is shot down in the opening moments of the game by a mysterious, advanced swarm of drones over an island owned by the high-tech Skell Corporation. You are then hunted by an unknown but somehow familiar enemy army, wielding their own special forces weapons, training, and various hostile automations. Your mission? To find out who they are, how they got this advanced weaponry, and how to stop them.

SOME BACKGROUND

Full disclosure before I go any further: I have not played a Ghost Recon game in over a decade. While I have dabbled in Call of Duty and Battlefield over the last few years, I haven’t played more than a few hours of each. I also have only played a small amount of Destiny, though I’ve spent hundreds of hours in Fallout 4 over the past couple of years. I say all of this to show that I really had no expectations going into Ghost Recon Breakpoint — I have not played Wildlands, I have not really gotten the full taste of the Destiny-style weapons and equipment leveling system, and I had no prior experience with the drone skills available to unlock. I was green and had no idea what to expect.

That being said, I loved this game.

THE WIDE OPEN WORLD

The open world is truly enormous. I made it through about six hours of the main story, and I recall at one point needing to travel fourteen kilometers to get to an objective — which is less than half the length of the island. If not for the inclusion of fast travel and helicopters, along with a number of other vehicle types, you could truly spend an hour in real time just walking from one city, lab, or military installation to another.

One letdown I did have in regards to the environment was the lack of destructibility. The Battlefield series is the golden standard for me in this, with fond memories of blowing holes through buildings with tanks so that my sniper teammates could pick off hostiles through the now-gaping holes I just created. You won’t experience that here. You can use armor piercing rounds to try to hit enemies through crates or sheet metal walls, but that's about the extent of the destruction you can manage. Not an experience crushing thing, but significant nonetheless.

The island is littered with consumables to gather, wild animals, civilian homesteads, bivouac campsites, military checkpoints and bases, Skell technology labs, and a number of abandoned sites where collectibles can be found. The island did not feel particularly empty to me and enemy patrols keep you on your feet, though they can be avoided without too much effort. Occasionally, a drone will fly over, hunting for you and your squad mates. If it finds you, not only can it dispatch a heavy machine gun wielding drone, but it also dispatches high-level Wolves, which are the special forces teams operated by Sentinel, the evil paramilitary force prowling the island. This was basically a death sentence early in the game before I had the opportunity to get better equipped, so I had to tread lightly until I found stronger equipment and weapons.

THE GEAR

You have a gear level that is essentially a breakdown of how powerful you are, which grows as you find stronger weapons and armor. Each weapon is assigned a level, and you can have multiple of the same gun which appear to have the same stats, but could be different gear levels. I had to learn the hard way that even if I picked up the same exact weapon I was already using, I needed to equip whichever one was rated higher, even if the stats appeared the same. The enemies have their own gear levels, which the game engine compares to your weapon level to determine how many body shots it takes to take them down. Thankfully, head shots are always a one hit KO, so even if you encounter an enemy with a much higher level than you, a head shot is always automatic death. There is a gunsmith menu that allows you to upgrade weapons or equip your favored attachments, such as a red dot sight or silencer. Additionally, every attachment or upgrade you apply to a weapon automatically applies to other models of the same gun that may be a different level than what you have, which is particularly useful if you favor a particular boom stick.

Clothing works the same way. The game really heavily weighs your gear level against the world, so it is important to equip the highest level gear you find, especially early on. You can purchase skins and patterns in the game store (hello there, microtransactions!) to keep a particular look if you so desire, but I just rolled with whatever the gear I found looked like. The microtransactions are not really in your face, and I was able to find just about every gun I could have wanted in my first few hours of playing. The transactions are really geared towards skins, camo patterns, and specific, hard to find gun blueprints. You can find and unlock many of these through simply playing the game.

As you fight, complete missions, and gain experience points, your character will level up and earn skill points, which can be used on perks, passive abilities, and tech. The drones were an awesome part of the game for me. You can use them to scout enemy positions, identify and map locations of collectibles, bivouacs, and weapons caches, mark and track individual enemies, and even synchronize shots to allow you to take out multiple enemies at once. They are particularly useful if you like sneaky-sniper types like me and don’t like attracting fifty enemy soldiers to your position. The skill tree is pretty expansive, including passives and equippable perks that cover everything from fatigue resistance to drone cooldown reductions to weapon damage and reload speeds. Camping at one of the bivouacs allows you to take a temporary, one hour real-time boost to one of a number of stats, such as weapon damage, injury resistance, or stamina. Bivouacs also allow you to spawn vehicles, such as the extremely useful helicopter, as well as shop for equipment and craft consumables, such as med kits and grenades.

THE ONLINE MODES

The online PvP modes are what you expect nowadays for games like this. 4 vs 4 is the standard, and teamwork is almost required to survive. You can ping enemy locations and utilize drones just as in single player to detect and mark enemy players. If you are downed, your teammates can heal you to a certain point, bringing you back into the fray. With a headset and a couple of people you are familiar with on your side, you could really dominate multiplayer deathmatches. You can also form a squad of four to tackle the main storyline, working together to free the island from Sentinel forces — the main menu even states that the game is optimized for squad play. Vehicles are constructed in a way to push this, making single player sometimes awkward for me as I drove around in a Humvee mounted with a machine gun that I could not both drive and fire. Overall, I enjoyed the PvP game modes, though I took quite a few lumps as I adjusted to the game controls. It should be noted that I played the PC version of Breakpoint and used a mouse and keyboard as opposed to a game controller for this review.

SOME THOUGHTS

If I had to choose a few things that Breakpoint really struggles with, it starts with the interactivity of citizens on the island. There are only a small amount of folks who you can interact with at all, making the world feel sort of like Grand Theft Auto with a bunch of mindless, cowardly people yelling profanities at you and telling you to leave them alone as you walk past. The ones you can speak to are just there to give you side quests or information about the mission you are pursuing. Don’t expect a Skyrim level of interactivity here, with everyone willing to share their life stories with you, leaving their journals out in plain sight. There are tons of people in the world, but probably ninety percent of them are just in the way of your bullets. You will find hideouts or camp sites around the map, but these cannot be customized or built up in any way.

Additionally, the gear system is poorly detailed for those new to the game, such as myself. I had no idea that the weapon stats were only relative to the gear level of the gun, and I found myself using tons of ammo on higher level enemies using my favored weapon. I eventually learned to replace my M82 with another M82 of a higher level whenever I came across one. I could have saved a ton of ammo had I known that from the beginning.

Voice acting in the game is fine, and the characters offer some humor to break up the seriousness that Ghost Recon carries. The main story offers a couple of surprises, and the open world nature of the title allows you to confront the big baddie immediately if you dare, though I would recommend getting better equipped first — enemy drones and robot tanks are no joke to players with a gear level under thirty or forty. Overall, I really enjoyed the game. The massive nature of the world, along with the large range of gear customization options and a multitude of methods to conquer each mission gave Ghost Recon Breakpoint a ton of replay value for me.

7

The Verdict: Great

In summary, this open world FPS provides fun and opportunity for creativity to conquer missions. The world may feel lonely at times and it is best played with friends, but the single player experience is rewarding and can be played alone without missing out on any piece of the story. For someone new to the Ghost Recon franchise, I had a blast, and the microtransactions didn’t ruin the experience for me at all.

See About Us to learn how we score

Michael Hatcher
Written by
Friday, 15 November 2019 05:50
Published in Action

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Michael is an NC State University graduate with a degree in Biological Engineering. Starting with his first console (a Sega Genesis), he has had a gaming system every generation since, finally jumping into PC in 2015 when he decided to build his own. When he is not exploring his hometown of Louisville or walking his dog Chip, he is wandering the wilderness in one of his favorite RPG games or building an empire or business in one of the latest strategy titles. Although only in the PC gaming world for a few years now, he has dived right in and loves the larger, multi-generational community that PC gaming provides better than the PlayStation world he left behind.

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