Where do we start with a game like Ghost Recon Breakpoint? Ubisoft has placed a lot of stock in Breakpoint for its holiday 2019 release schedule, with it being the only AAA launch alongside music game Just Dance 2020, which comes out this time next month. The Division 2 arrived in March this year to mostly positive reviews, Rocket Chainsaw gave it 4.5 stars calling it “a solid third person online shooter with plenty of different options and playstyles for each type of gamer.” Though the developers and engines are different, there are numerous similarities that demonstrate that Breakpoint is most certainly following the pattern of recent Ubisoft games. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate.
Putting the Ubisoft overhead judgement aside, we want to say the Ghost Recon Breakpoint story is one of the best we’ve seen in 2019, and hands down the best Ghost Recon storyline ever. The pacific archipelago of Auroa is the perfect setting for the futuristic drone army of Skell Tech and Cole Walker’s Wolves. In typical Ubisoft open-world fashion, there are plenty of locations to explore from lost civilization structures to caves to the post-modern swish architecture that Skell Tech has been using to build its mostly A.I. army. The stage is set for Ghosts, and there’s plenty of recon to perform.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a direct sequel to 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, but there are more than enough differences to say it’s not a rinse and repeat sequel. There’s a new injury system where if you take enough damage you’ll limp until you bandage your wounds, a new prone camoflage, new ways to scale terrain, and weapon upgrading and skill perks that we’ll get into later that makes Breakpoint very different to its predecessor. Breakpoint seems to take parts from other Tom Clancy games such as The Division 2 and even inspiration from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in the way some of the map was designed. In typical Ubisoft RPG fashion, you have an XP level and a gear score level. Your gear score is typically about 10x the amount of your XP score and will depend on how keen you are to find loot either by crates, enemies that drop it, or purchasing using Skell credits or Ghost credits.
To be clear on the microtransactions in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ghost credits are not earned in-game and can only be purchased with real-world money. They can be used to buy mostly cosmetic items however some weapons and vehicles are exclusive to Ghost credits, meaning there is indeed a pay-to-win element to Breakpoint. Whether you use the weapons and vehicles to progress through the single player faster (not recommended) or to gain an advantage in the Ghost Wars PVP mode (recommended if you must), the weapons and vehicles available only to customers who spend more money will be considered an advantage on the battlefield. While Ubisoft has done this in the past with games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, we haven’t really come across it as being such a huge issue for PVP until Breakpoint. Ghost credits can also be used to purchase boosters, skins, emotes, and more, but it was mainly just the extra weapons and vehicles that we had an exception to, as it directly affects PVP multiplayer.
The first major difference between Wildlands and Breakpoint is that you’re no longer a squad of four. Breakpoint is basically a solo game with matchmaking features at this stage, though Ubisoft have said that AI teammates will be added to the game later. It was easy to find another player through the Matchmaking menu, though it’s completely random as to whether they’ll join your game or you’ll join theirs. You can jump in on any mission someone else is playing and earn progress towards it, which we found great as when it came time for us to repeat a mission on our save we were given the option to skip it.
What was frustrating though is that after removing the three useful AI teammates from Wildlands, we found it incredibly difficult to source three human teammates without finding a proper Xbox party or sending out requests from the friends list. It was difficult to join squads via the friends list, and we found the best way to fill the squad numbers is to request an invite via chat. This was wildly different to The Division 2 where players would come and go on the fly and the matchmaking search for other players would constantly be running, though it was still a step up from Ubisoft’s other shooter this year Far Cry New Dawn which had no matchmaking at all.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint introduces Bivouacs which are basic campsites where you can pitch a tent and access some menu options which aren’t otherwise available. While there’s a main base inside a cave that has a shop and missions, Bivouacs are scattered all across the archipelago and can be used for fast travel, shopping, sorting and preparing your gear and vehicles, crafting, as well as receiving 1 hour boosts like a 20% boost to stamina for doing some basic stretching, or a 10% boost to XP for jotting down some notes in your notebook. They’re also a great place to summon your team before starting a mission, though we found the new feature to be sluggish to navigate and a bit underutilised.
The XP skill tree is alive and well in Breakpoint, this time including passive abilities, consumable abilities, and amazing perks. You can only have a maximum of three perks equipped at once, so choosing which ones you unlock as you level up is vital to making sure your character is at its best. Guns are more customisable than ever, and you can upgrade individual components of each gun type by dismantling other guns for parts and/or gathering the parts in the wild. Once again, unlocking the best gun parts is done in your XP skill tree and is something worth focusing on while leveling.
We found that each mission in Breakpoint still ended up being very similar to Wildlands in that you would reach a location, send your drone up to do some recon work labeling enemies in the area, and then proceed to take them out one by one without raising suspicion. Towards the end of the game it becomes harder to remain stealthy, particularly when taking out some of the tougher AI enemies, but proper strategy was still key to completing missions successfully. With new enemies in the sky comes new ways to disguise yourself, and in Breakpoint you can now go into Prone Camo mode where your character will use whatever ground cover to disguise themselves on the ground such as mud or snow to add an extra layer of camouflage. You can still use your drone in this mode, though player movement was completely restricted.
While some parts of Auroa look amazing, others looked quite muddy and bland. The environments were hit and miss though some areas were stunning. We played the closed beta on PC and if you have a good enough PC then it’s the superior option, though the Xbox One X handled the 4k rendering quite well, locked in at 30FPS. There’s nothing revolutionary in the graphics department though, and we’d go as far as to say that The Division 2 looked a little bit better due to the level of detail they went to recreating Washington D.C. and all of its landmarks.
The voice acting is all on point for the main characters of the game, though we did notice repetition in interrogating NPC’s, as they’d give generic replies like “I’ve told you everything I know!” before you knock them out, instead of actually providing the mission information that you later read in the intel menu. It was a bit jarring not knowing whether the interrogation would be a generic line, proper dialogue or a full cut scene, as you want to make sure enemies aren’t heading your way if it goes to a full cutscene because we did experience a mission failure due to the NPC dying during one.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is another solid instalment in the long, long line of Tom Clancy games. While it contains disappointing pay-to-win microtransactions, the game can be thoroughly enjoyed for 100+ hours if you’re the kind of person that loves to explore and take on tougher enemies. There’s plenty to do in Breakpoint, and with all the new features we found it to be better than what Wildlands was like at launch. In theory, this means Breakpoint will be a much better game in the coming months and with seasons of content already in the works, we’ll be keeping an eye on how this game evolves.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Ghost Recon Breakpoint on an Xbox One X console in 4K; it can also be purchased on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC platforms. For more information, head to the official Ghost Recon Breakpoint website.
- Captivating story with Hollywood grade acting - Cool new drone AI tech to fight against - Matchmaking with another player was quick
- Shut Up And Stop Trying To Take My Money! - Matchmaking with more than one other player was nearly impossible.