Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review – An Ever Evolving Franchise

We have spent the last week running around Auroa in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Does the game stay true to the series, or did the franchise go AWOL?

 

Read on to find out

The Ghost Recon franchise dates back to 2001 and has seen ten previous installments in the series. The series follow soldiers from Delta Company, First Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, also known as Ghosts, a fictional elite special operations unit of the United States Army under the Joint Special Operations Command. Ghost Recon Breakpoint picks up 4 years after the last game in the series, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and takes place on a fictional archipelago in the Pacific called Auroa.

Deep Storyline

The story opens as you are riding in a helicopter on your way to investigate who or what sunk a cargo ship as it was departing the island chain. You are Lieutenant Colonel Anthony “Nomad” Perryman: a well trained Tier One Operator, in charge of the group of soldiers sent along with you to investigate what really happened in this archipelago. Your chopper is brought down by an unknown enemy force, and you are left hanging in a tree while all of your group’s choppers are also taken out by a swarm of what looks like angry bats. As you work your way down out of the tree, and wade through the wreckage and carnage of your downed choppers, you come across a group of heavily armed soldiers called Wolves, being led by someone you thought was your friend, former Ghost Cole D. Walker.

The island chain of Auroa had been purchased by Jace Skell, a tech genius and founder of Skell Technology. Skell Tech was world known for its development of AI and drone technology, married together in a frighteningly deadly way. Knowing this, it was pretty obvious that your choppers were taken out by swarms of drones. It is up to you, and your teammates, to free the archipelago from the military force that has taken over the island chain, with whatever weaponry you can scavenge for, and no government support. You must unravel the truth, and kill anyone that gets in your way, and find out why your buddy Cole went to the dark side.

Storytelling Throughout the Gameplay

The story is told through cut scenes and collectibles as you complete missions and gather intel. The story is well written with an intriguing storyline and even more so intriguing characters. The voice acting and character animations, both facial and physical, are well done, and fans of the Walking Dead will recognize the actor playing Cole Walker as Shane Walsh (aka Jon Bernthal). He does a great job as the villain in the story, which isn’t always easy when all you are doing is talking into a mic. Even his walk is recognizable, so the animators did a great job of capturing his likeness as well as his facial and physical animations.

This is Ghost Recon

The game is played in the third person, and is designed for co-op play and stealth. The game stays true to its Ghost Recon roots, but also evolves into a bit of a looter-shooter in that guys you gun down generally drop weapons, ammo, or other gear and gathering it up is a huge benefit for you. The tougher they are, the better the loot, generally speaking, and the gear is usually a bit better than what you currently have equipped. All of the gear has a gear score, which determines your overall score when averaged out across every slot, and the higher your score the farther in the game you can progress and the higher ranked enemies you can attempt to defeat.

The game has an evolved weapon and gear system reminiscent of The Division series, but also with an underlying permanent level up system. The MK weapon upgrade system, once fully unlocked in your skills tree, upgrades not only the current weapon you are working on, but all future weapons of that exact same kind. i.e. Upgrade an MP5 to MK3 and all future MP5s you pick up will already be a MK3.  Same goes for your HTI or your M82, as well as handguns. It’s a great underlying system that will make your weapons more accurate, deadlier, and easier to handle, and only have to be achieved once for each unique weapon. It would be nice if additions such as extended mags, once purchased, were also automatically added, but instead you’ll have to manually add any of the desired add-ons manually every time you pick up a higher valued weapon. The add-on system is very deep, and add-ons can be found in the shop and scattered through Auroa.

The Classes of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

With Breakpoint being designed for co-op gameplay, it’s a great idea to not only understand the Class system of the game, but also utilize it to your advantage as a team. There are four classes, each with their own unique abilities and traits. A well rounded team would theoretically have one of each, but really that should be determined by your squad goals and not just let the game dictate your set-up. The four classes are Field Medic, Assault, Panther, and Sharpshooter. Each class compliments the team differently, with things like a healing drone for the medic, cloaking spray for the panther, tear gas for the assault class, and a sensor launcher for the sharpshooter. The effects generated are shared across the team, so those bad guys the sensor launcher finds are revealed to everyone, and that healing drone owned by the medic might just save your ass on more than a few occasions if your teammate can reach you with it.

Ubisoft was nice enough to send us 4 codes for the game so we were able to squad up and play through quite a few story missions, as well as attack a few bases full of Wolves. We also spent some time alone to get a feel for the differences between the two play styles. Playing solo can really suck if you try to take down a Wolf base or even some of the story missions, depending on your difficulty settings. You can unlock some little drones that give you some sync shots since there is no AI to assist you when going solo right now, but even with those going solo can be a challenge. The game truly is designed with co-op in mind, and it’s also designed to have the different classes working together. Matchmaking is available, so even if you have no friends with the game, finding some teammates is pretty easy.

Massive Game World With So Much to Do

The game world of Auroa is huge. Massive. Immense. There are side missions to be had everywhere and a team could be easily side tracked for hours, hunting folks down, gathering intel, blueprints, or weapon accessories. The missions range from a simple hunt-and-kill-without-being-seen, to multi-location searches that will have you flying across the map, with several stops along the way, clearing locations, gathering intel, and then moving on to the next location. It’s damn near impossible to focus on the main mission when there are so many other things to do, and/or kill.

Fast Travel Points Called Bivouacs

The game world does have a central hub called Erewhon. It’s a hidden cave, masked with some sort of electronic blocker, almost like a Faraday cage, so that the bad guys can’t find this hidden location with their ever present drones. Within it you’ll be able to find squad mates, buy new gear, find new missions, and start raids. As you progress through the story, more and more people move to this location, and unlock even more missions, as if you didn’t already have enough to do. There is also a special area called a bivouac (pronounced biv-wack for those that have never heard the word before) .

Bivouacs can be used to rest up, replenish grenades and such, visit the shop to purchase weapons and gear, as well as purchase vehicles or spawn vehicles you already own. You can also swap out your class while there.These things are everywhere and if you are flying around in a chopper and see smoke trails from a camp fire, be sure to fly down close enough to unlock that bivouac. They are also fast travel points, so Erewhon is always a fast travel away. They are also great for using buffs like bonus XP for 60 minutes, or increased accuracy or better stamina. There are 6 different buffs to choose from, and they help others as well. Each game session should be started at a bivouac just so you can fire up one of them. Not all bivouacs are created equal, as some wont allow spawning of vehicles due to their confined locations, so keep that in mind if you are looking for a spot to grab a chopper you own.

Shortcuts With Real Dollars

Ubisoft has decided to offer gamers the ability to pay for some short cuts via the in-game store. There are two types of currency in-game. There’s Skell credits which you’ll earn at a pretty quick rate, and then there’s Ghost Coins which you can purchase with real world cash. If you are impatient and want to unlock certain weapons right away without having to play through the game to unlock them, you can purchase Ghost Coins and then proceed to purchase blueprints, weapons, and even the material needed to upgrade a weapon to MK1, a long with vehicles and Skell Credit bundles. Everything purchased with these Ghost Coins are shareable across all three of your available game save slots. All of these items and upgrades can be acquired from just playing the game, but not everyone has the time to invest to fully reach that potentiality.

Micro-transactions have been around for a long time now, and as long as they don’t give a gamer a true advantage in multi-player (sports games are really bad about this), I have no issue with a company trying to make a few extra bucks. In the long run, it’ll help them create a better future product, while we as gamers reap the benefits of the available short cuts if we so desire. For a group of gamers that have the time to invest in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, these shortcuts really take away from the fun in acquiring the items they are selling. For folks that just want to play casually, when ever they have some free time, shortcuts make sense.

Not Perfect But Still A Lot of Fun

Ghost Recon Breakpoint isn’t a perfect game, as we came across a few glitches and bugs here and there, but there is truly never a dull moment. Playing as a group, we all shared some of the same criticisms and concerns such as the inability to bleed out if you are out of reach from a healing teammate, or when spawning on a teammate we were sometimes spawned over a kilometer away, or spawned right into an area with bad guys on top of you, emptying their automatic weapons into your quickly dying corpse. Occasionally when flying as a group in a chopper, the pilot might be 40 feet out in front of it, flying through the air in a sitting position.

Developer Ubisoft Paris took a lot of what worked great in Ghost Recon Wildlands and brought that over to Ghost Recon Breakpoint, then added a new skill system, created a better weapon and gear system, and created an awesome Class system geared towards team work. If you are looking for a team based shooter, with incredible graphics, a lot of stuff to do, and some challenging bad asses to kill, this game is for you.

 

8.5


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint review codes provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.