Rating: M for Mature
There are times when franchises have to refresh themselves lest they get stale. You do not eat bread from the same loaf for ten years; why should your games be different? Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon did this in 2017 with the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. This refresh paid off quite well, and the same open world design was implemented in this year’s sequel: Breakpoint. Time to see if this pony is one trick.
Violence: This is a third person shooter, naturally guns, grenades, and the like are used frequently. Blood sprays when people are shot and drones explode. Your character can sustain devastating injuries such as broken limbs either through combat or by not watching where they are going. Some cut-scenes depict torture through beating and stabbing.
Language: Curse words—such as f*ck, d*mn, sh*t, as*hole—and their variants are easily thrown around like the pigskin at the Super Bowl.
Sexual Content: Some sexual dialogue is used referring to bodily fluids, sex toys, and doing the horizontal hula hula.
Drug Content: Syringes are used to heal wounds and revive teammates. Some NPCs are seen smoking.
I will just cut to the chase. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a mess, an amalgamation of half measures baked into a product that feels like a cheap knockoff you would expect from the App Store—specifically a knockoff of another Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is actually great. Ubisoft has literally become the kid in class cheating off their own wrong answers for the test. There is so much wrong done with this game that it needs to be broken down by what has been right before.
Ghost Recon has always been a franchise about a military squad taking on missions around the globe. Stealth and smart tactics are always intended to save the day. You are to rely on them as much as they rely on you for their orders. Most of these titles are solo affairs, but your squad is usually smart enough to follow your orders so they can survive the mission. No matter what, your squad always has your back from mission to mission. But in Breakpoint, instead of having AI squad mates, you are one person alone.
HOWEVER, there is a social space in this game called Erewhon (pronounced air one, like the Jordan’s). In this hub, you see various other players where you can see each other’s appearance and gear. If you do not have a squad from the get go, why is there a social space? Social spaces are for games that are designed to have you see and interact with other players no matter where you go in the game. You never meet players out in the world except the players you are playing with in your squad. This game just does not have its mind made up; either it is a social experience through and through, or it is a gritty solo story about a soldier struggling to survive.
This game requires an online connection at all times, and the social space is literally the only reason I see for that function to exist. Wildlands could be played online or offline, you always had a choice. Whether you were connected or not, you could play. In this game, if there is no connection there is no play time. Tom Clancy games are built on both amazing single player gameplay and awesome multiplayer experiences that are distinct from each other. Rainbow Six does its own thing and Ghost Recon has its thing. This game is Wildlands dressing up as The Division for Halloween.
That leads me to my next point, concerning the weapons and gear. In previous Ghost Recon titles, you are given the option to use either what was recommended or what you want. In Wildlands, you are given starter gear and you can find more guns and attachments to suit how you play. While each of these guns are different, there are not multiple versions of the same gun where one shoots harder than the other…which is exactly what Breakpoint does. Every crate you find in the world will feature at least one item that either shoots harder or wears harder than the clothes or guns you currently have equipped. The Wildlands guns are each unique and are changed by what you equipped on them, not by some arbitrary number that the game tells me. I saw stats go up and down based on what I put on it whether it, was a different stock or foregrip. Breakpoint‘s numbers-based system has no right being in this game. Attachments and the user make the gun effective, not the other way around.
When it comes to actual gameplay, Breakpoint is very much like Wildlands, namely the gunplay and driving. The problem is that new limitations are now in place. Instead of being able to sprint for infinity, there is a new fatigue system that will stop you from sprinting unless you take a swig from your canteen. If you fall, you can break a limb and your mobility is limited. While these are neat ideas leaning into the survival underdog story set in front of you, they do not line up with what actually happens. I made a head-on collision into a tree expecting a deadly injury, but received merely a broken bike and minor health damage. Injuries in combat, while more severe, are quickly healed when the area is clear. Instead of a persistence of my condition that made me feel like I was scraping by by the skin of my teeth, I felt like I would be fine if I just killed everyone. In Wildlands, if you leave the area the enemies will pursue you to the ends of the earth. But here, even if there were persistence, it would not matter much since you have an unlimited stock of bandages that heal all wounds.
When it comes to the world, Auroa is a lifeless and dull place to explore. People are scattered here and there, wildlife is seen less often, and there are enemies everywhere. No matter where you go in the world, someone will try to kill you. While the threat was also constant in Wildlands, it is balanced out by seeing civilians trying to live their lives in constant fear of the cartel. There is tension and an ever-present feeling that an attack could come from anywhere. That tension is gone here in Breakpoint, as I could easily avoid enemy engagement going from one side of the map to the other if I played my cards right. Even the characters and performances feel phoned in. Nomad’s new voice actor sounds like a guy trying to make his voice deeper like Star Lord when he meets Thor in Infinity War.
Not everything is bad though. The story is an interesting tale of a soldier struggling with the betrayal he is suffering at the hands of his one-time comrades. One of the mentioned traitors Cole D. Walker, played by Jon Bernthal, is awesome. He is a ruthless and cunning individual with his own team to counter the Ghosts, the Wolves. They are smart and they do not stop, and it is terrifying. They are smarter, more accurate, and take more damage. You do not want to mess with these guys.
Another thing done well is that the world map works like it does in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. If you do not know where a place is, you an either discover it for yourself based on landmark clues in Exploration Mode or have it marked for you in Guided Mode. As you discover the world, you can find places for your character to rest or see where a place may have some great loot. Either way you play, something cool could be hiding right around the corner.
In the end, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is amalgamation of half measures and bad choices. What looked to be a gritty survival mystery about how a loyal soldier can turn to heartless traitor turned into a mess of connection issues and one foot in and one foot out. No idea added to or removed from the solid foundation of Wildlands is implemented in the best way. It is all half baked, and poorly mixed. If this game were a food, it would be the world’s lumpiest batch of cornbread. Just go play Wildlands instead.
The Bottom Line
No sequel has been a bigger cliff dive for me than Breakpoint; just go play Wildlands instead.