Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is finally out. After spending countless hours trying to liberate the island of Auroa, it's time to compile my thoughts for the latest Ghost Recon game. Here is our official review of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
A Looter-Shooter Disguised As A Survival Game
Earlier this year, Ubisoft generated a ton of buzz when they revealed the first cinematic and gameplay trailers for Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Both generated a feeling of hopelessness, excitement, and sense of awe as we watched Nomad stealthily try to make his way around a fearsome band of enemies. To cap it all off, they eventually introduced the main villain of this story, Jon Bernthal.
As you can imagine, the hype train was rolling strong from announcement and only increased with subsequent trailers. The problem, however, is that’s not what Ghost Recon Breakpoint is...at all.
Despite all the fanfare, all the previews that epitomized stealth, Breakpoint is more of a looter-shooter than it is anything that remotely exemplifies stealth. Using the same format as its Ubisoft brethren, The Division 2, Ghost Recon Breakpoint consistently rewards you with new weapons and blueprints to find more, bigger and better weaponry and armor for your arsenal. Now, you may be thinking, “Matt, that’s literally what every game does. How does that make it a looter-shooter?” Great question, beloved reader. It’s because the entire game consists of relatively simple missions that require little stealth. Therefore, the focus inevitably turns into finding new and interesting things. Then, choosing which weapons and armor had better perks to hunt super easy enemies. In fact, I found myself doing this very early on and had to force myself to actually jump back into the story.
Furthermore, what makes Breakpoint not much of a stealth game are the AIs. For context, the location you’re in is supposed to house the elite of the elite soldiers that turned on their country because they were disgruntled. However, the enemies are anything but elite. Sure, the band of Wolves are terrifying to encounter at first, but they aren’t around most missions to warrant any sort of stealth. Instead, you’re forced to face off some of the weakest AI enemies I’ve ever seen.
On many occasions, I’d just stand in the same spot, piling up the bodies because they’d all approach me from the same spot. In real life, any elite soldier would think, “Oh, there’s a dead body. Maybe I should try another way to get to my target.” Not in Breakpoint. These elite soldiers just run up the same staircase, until I eliminated everybody and had my run of the compound. Furthermore, even from far away, I would snipe targets, which would send his comrades into a frenzy. They’d run around until they hid in the exact same spot as the person I killed before, leaving them exposed. It became so easy and predictable, I’d just shoot one guy and then target just to the left of the front right wheel of the car they’d inevitably hide at.
Plus, the civilian AIs are just there for show, mostly. When you sneak into a place, they’ll get shocked and yell, “Can you leave me alone?”, “I’m getting really tired of this.”, or “Oh my gosh!”, but they wouldn’t alert a single guard. I thought I was liberating the employees, but most seemed content with their new Marshall Law-enforcing overlords.
For these reasons, I couldn’t classify Ghost Recon Breakpoint as anything more than a Looter-Shooter. Which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t what we were promised. As Looter-Shooters go, it’s fine and can be addicting to find new gear but it’s nowhere near as good as Division 2 was/is.
Starring Jon Bernthal Who Tries His Best to Elevate a Weak Story
Jon Bernthal in Breakpoint was undeniably a massive get for Ubisoft. The star of The Walking Dead, The Punisher, and so much more has made a name for himself as being one of the biggest tough guys in Hollywood. So, having Bernthal be the big bad in Ghost Recon Breakpoint seemed like an absolute slam dunk. The good news is, Bernthal is great in the role. The bad news is, his performance is the only thing carrying the weak story.
Breakpoint’s campaign has about as much emotion as a brick wall. You can tell the Ubisoft team behind it was working so hard to craft enough emotion to give the gamer a vested interest. Except, they barely built a single relationship. Early on, Bernthal and the Wolves would travel across the island of Auroa killing Nomad’s team members and Skell Tech employees. The NPCs and Nomad would look on in shock and horror, but as the gamer it had 0 effect on me because I had no emotional attachment.
Breakpoint then tries to build that emotional connection by presenting flashbacks of Nomad and Walker (Bernthal) so that the eventual meet-up is that much more impactful. However, because Nomad is just such a stoic character and the writing is just...not great, it ends up being Bernthal who produces anything worthwhile. I suppose that’s what we should’ve expected, but I would’ve liked to have seen our main character go toe-to-toe with Bernthal’s character in a meaningful war of words and feel the impactful weight they were going for.
Elite Combat Mechanics
So far this review has been mostly negative, but Ghost Recon Breakpoint isn’t all bad. The Ubisoft game features a major positive in Combat Mechanics. With this game, Ubisoft wanted to get back to the basics with how we eliminate targets. Shoot them in the head, they’re done. Shoot them in the helmet, it comes off, shoot them again, they’re out. Consequently, it made for a much more realistic, smooth experience in terms of gameplay. Especially when compared to The Division 2, where any enemy with body armor can be downright unstoppable.
Furthermore, I found literally every weapon easy to use and accessible, which in itself is a major achievement. Most games with the slew of weaponry Ghost Recon employs would have those few Mozambiques, if you will. Where they may be rated well but are ultimately useless and uncomfortable. As an elite soldier, like Nomad, it’s only right that every weapon be good for him to use.
That, along with the brutal stealth kills, are what made Ghost Recon Breakpoint for me. Plus, it’s easy to have fun in the absolutely gorgeous landscape of Auroa. It’s just a shame that the simplistic AIs and weak story just don’t hold up enough to be an all-encompassing great game.
Not the Intense Survival Shooter We Were Sold
I love Looter Shooters. Destiny 2, Division 2, Borderlands 3, you name them, I’m probably addicted to them. That said, however, that’s not gamers were expecting out of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Granted, developers should make the games they want to make. If they wanted Breakpoint to be a Looter Shooter, alright then. Do you. That’s just not what we were sold on and that’s the problem.
The Ghost Recon series has been known for being a stealth-centered game, but there’s no need for it in Breakpoint. Early on, from announcement to the selling process, Ubisoft put tremendous focus on stealth by delivering an incredible announcement trailer that was all about hiding in the shadows and striking when you found an opening. Then, the gameplay that followed focused on coordinated strikes from the shadows in 4-player co-op. When the game was released and we didn’t get that, advertisements changed to have Lil’ Wayne sweep stealth to the side in favor of a more aggressive style.
These type of shenanigans aren’t cool. As gamers, we spend a lot of money to experience the type of games we want to enjoy. To deliver a game that isn’t at all what we thought we’d be getting just isn’t right. At least with the Division 2, we knew that we were in for massive firefights. With Ghost Recon, we’re supposed to be focused on stealth and feel impactful consequences when that stealth is shattered, but that’s just not the case with Breakpoint.
My hope is that Ubisoft learns from the mistakes of Ghost Recon Breakpoint to help future games. It appears they already have, as they did away with microtransactions after the public went into a frenzy about it. Perhaps, the next lesson they’ll learn is to properly promote what a game is, rather than what they want it to be.