The Ghost Recon series attempts to paint on a tacticool patina with a healthy helping of pseudo real-world geopolitics on top of a third person tactical shooter with varying degrees of success. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the latest attempt in the series that attempts to mix up the formula a bit.
In Ghost Recon Breakpoint, you play as the enigmatic Nomad, a member of the US Special Forces unit known as the Ghosts. Rather than having to endure the potential social fallout and commentary for setting the game in a realistic country like Bolivia like that in the previous Ghost Recon Wildlands, you’re deployed to a fictitious island archipelago somewhere in the South Pacific called Auroa to find out why it has gone dark.
While you’d reckon a podunk place in the middle of nowhere hardly merits the intervention of Special Forces, the kicker here is that Auroa is also the home of Skell Technologies who, in the fictional Tom Clancy universe that the game is set in, is one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of drones both civilian and military in nature. Naturally, this represents a huge risk to Uncle Sam and you, along with a team of other Ghosts are sent in to recce the place and find out what went wrong.
Needless to say, everything goes pear-shaped the moment you enter Auroa airspace as the majority of your team gets taken out by a swarm of killer drones that blow your choppers straight out of the air, leaving you and a few others as the sole survivors.
You then find out that an ex-Ghost, called Walker who is mo-capped by Jon Bernthal of Punisher fame, is the barmy chap in charge of the takeover of Auroa and who has hijacked Skell Tech’s drone tech with the help of his own private army of ex-Ghosts called, creatively enough, ‘Wolves’ in order to have a gander at world domination. Ho hum. Naturally, this won’t stand. You’re tasked as a one man harbinger of peace, justice and freedom to thwart his plans and liberate Auroa.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint – Familiar Stomping Grounds
The cookie cutter plot mostly acts as a framework for you to stage a single-person war of liberation for Auroa. You start off in the flaming wreckage of your crashed chopper with barely a weapon in your name and then have to make it past enemy patrols to the camp of the local rebels set in a mountain range. From there on in, you get to raise merry hell with the enemy and upgrade your hardware – and there’s a ton to collect – until you become the deadliest thing on two legs in the Auroa archipelago.
Underneath the scaffolding of the storyline, what you have is a combination of game mechanics from the Far Cry, the Division and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey franchises.
You essentially have a large wide game world to explore and tons of activities to do, a nexus to go back to for upgrades and purchases and in between them, a host of FedEx and scavenger hunt sidequests along with storyline missions to pursue to advance the plot – all of these mechanics are in the vein of of Far Cry and Odyssey. You also get The Division style loot mechanics too all kludged together in Breakpoint.
In between the mayhem, you’ll get the chance to score all manner of post-modern military hardware as loot. Much like the Division, what your loot resembles is completely arbitrary to its actual efficacy or performance to the point that an armoured helmet for your bonce may be completely inferior in protective value compared to a rarer baseball cap.
The same goes for weapons as well which leads to you constantly upgrading your arsenal as you go along, dumping older weapons for slightly shinier, better ones. Ultimately, most of your efforts in scoring gear are to get a better overall gear score in order to remotely stand a chance to take on the final big bad boss.
In keeping with other tactical shooters, you’re only able to carry a maximum of two long-arms and a sidearm with a choice of submachine guns, light machine guns, shotguns, assault rifles and sniper rifles to round out your arsenal.
A good chunk are generic facsimiles of real-world brands while others are completely fictitious mockups. You’re also able to customise these weapons with a host of accessories like suppressors, scopes and the like which can give a gun a rather unique look.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint – Blast him!
Seeing as this is a tactical shooter, you can’t simply go charging in like what you’d normally do in Far Cry or another shooter. For the most part, you’ll have to take the stealthy approach, sneaking in, taking out targets silently with suppressed weapons or knife work and staying out of the cones of vision of enemy guards.
Of course, if you’re trigger happy or supremely confident you can simply go in guns blazing but it makes things a lot harder as the bad guys have a much larger payroll than you and a ton of bodies to fling at you, and they will with dozens of bad guys charging in spraying their guns like it was going out of style.
Sadly, enemy AI is a mixed bag of nuts. Quite literally so as it’s rather haphazard in what it intends to do. There’s really little tactical foresight on the part of the enemy and they will happily run headlong into established killzones or clump up even in the middle of a withering blaze of gunfire.
Occasionally they are omniscient and can detect you even under cover though the stealth system works most of the time. To their credit, the enemy still have a fair allocation of hitboxes such that your accuracy is still rewarded; headshots still consistently drop targets even with a dinky gun which is what a tactical shooter ought to be.
Most mission spots on the map are widely spaced apart but the game does offer a smattering of vehicles to get about. They’re mostly for transportation purposes though as they’re loud to the point that they start attracting enemy patrols from all over the place. As you accomplish objectives in the main storyline campaign, you’ll have Bernthal glowering at you and generally showing his displeasure at your antics.
Despite its trappings of realism, the gameplay loop in the game is remarkably repetitive to the point that you’re reduced to grinding for better gear for large parts of the game so that you don’t instantly get blown to giblets by some clueless hip-firing mook. It’s a bit of a chore though as the vast island of Auroa is also surprisingly boring save for the constant trickle of enemy patrols wandering around looking to blow you to kingdom come.
They’ve included a number of monetisation options to fast track access to selected weapons, skins and vehicles in the game as well in case players aren’t too keen on grinding their way through the game. At launch, it was obnoxious to the point that people were up in arms but after several patches, they’ve toned this monetisation aspect down and now tell people if a particular item can be earned in the game or not before purchase while keeping most of it strictly optional.
Where it shines though is when you get the chance to rustle up your mates to play it in co-op mode or in the modest PvP mode. The enemy AI is still wonky at best but it’s all forgivable when a plan comes together as the immortal Hannibal from the A-Team is wont to put it and you successfully storm an enemy base. PvP mode is surprisingly entertaining as well with a level playing field as the game equalises player levels to ensure a fair game.
Minus multiplayer, the single player campaign ought to net you a good 30-40 hours of gameplay which is fair given the price of entry. As it stands, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a competently made shooter though it’s hardly one of the best.
What we liked Lots of places to explore, tight shooting mechanics and gunplay, fun co-op mode
What we didn’t Cookie cutter storyline and unmemorable characters, repetitive grinding mechanics, game world isn’t very interesting
We say A promising open-world tactical stealth shooter marred by repetitive gameplay and dreary grinding mechanics.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Developer Ubisoft Paris
Genre Tactical shooter
Available for PC, Xbox One, Stadia and PS4. PC version reviewed. Check out the official page here.