Five Hours With Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Five Hours With Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is here, or is it hiding in that bush over there? Whatever the case, Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Tom Clancy video game canon is here with plenty of loot to find and bases to assault. Breakpoint brings a lot of improvements over 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Cool character creation, tons of weapon customisation, an actual villain. But it’s also rough in other areas, less of a delicious action milkshake and more like a gritty military sludge.

I’ve played around five hours of Breakpoint today, waking up and diving right into the action. On the one hand, it’s a surprisingly chewable and chill action game. On the other, I feel like I’ve been here before. Breakpoint isn’t a game out to shatter the mould; instead, it wants to slide comfortably into it.

That’s great if you’re looking for some tactical action but if you’ve played a military shooter before, then you’ve basically played Breakpoint. No amount of user-interface overhauls or big name actors can change that. I’m in for a long haul but here are some initial thoughts.

Maybe We Won’t Start A Diplomatic Incident This Time?

OK, the bar is admittedly low here but 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands had some serious problems with its setting and villains. Set in Bolivia, it focused on a Mexican cartel that somehow took over the country and transformed it into a narco-state.

It was sleazy and racist, with caricature Mexican gangsters traipsing about a Bolivia that wasn’t much like Bolivia at all. It was so bad that the country of Bolivia filed a complaint to the French embassy (publisher Ubisoft being a French company, of course) and considered legal action.

Breakpoint opts for a fictional setting: the island of Auroa, which has been taken over by former “Ghost” operative Cole Walker (portrayed by Jon Bernthal.) It’s a sort of tech-libertarian paradise where a company working on automation and drone technology was eventually seized by Walker and his cohorts. It’s generic, but I’ll certainly take that over the shitshow that was Wildlands. And hey, it’s nice to have an honest to God villain this time around.

Ghost Recon Has Been Taking Notes From Destiny and The Division

While not a full-blown loot shooter, Ghost Recon Breakpoint leans further into that direction than its predecessor. There are a variety of weapon rarity levels, and you have an overall gear score based on the quality of your equipment. Taking on Walker has a recommended gear score of 150 or higher, and much of your time is spent not only on story missions but slowly upgrading your character’s power.

This is a bit different from Wildlands, which was far more focused on letting you choose the weapons you like and going from there. Don’t expect to get too attached to your gear in Breakpoint. I was upgrading, swapping out, selling, and disassembling tons of weapons and armour right from the beginning of the game.

Normal Mode Is Pretty Easy

If you’ve played plenty of shooters, don’t expect Breakpoint’s normal difficulty to offer much of a challenge. While there are tougher enemies — Walker leads a platoon of spec ops “Wolves” who love to hunt down the player — it’s nothing you can’t handle with a marksman’s rifle and some well-placed shots.

All your weapons can be suppressed, and Breakpoint hands you a precision rifle in the first mission. If you can aim and click your mouse, the early game (and presumably much of what’s to follow) will seem straightforward.

The Structure Is Different

Wildlands built itself around a core loop where players would do a few odd jobs to gain access to a high profile cartel lieutenant who they’d confront to gain more intel on their leader, El Sueño. It was a little bit like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Very loose, not tons of story. Here are some bad guys, go take them out.

Breakpoint splits activities into different paths: a main story path, missions for Auroa’s various factions, side quests, other events like high level raids. This means that you can focus directly on the main story if you want. There’s less screwing about and trying to unlock new missions. It gives Breakpoint a welcome momentum that Wildlands didn’t have.

I Might Be Able To Fight The Final Boss Right Away?

You can immediately tag a mission to confront Walker right from the start of the game. The main tasks are to interrogate enemy officers for intel on his location and to, if you can, level up your gear to the appropriate level.

I’m not entirely clear on how this all works, and it’s possible that officers don’t show up until certain story beats. However, the idea of a playthrough that ignores all the intrigue for a mad dash at the villain is really exciting. Chances are that it doesn’t work that way, but I would love for it to be possible.

All Games Should Let You “Pin” Objectives 

To help players manage their various tasks, Breakpoint allows them to pin up to three objectives to their interface. For me, this has meant a pin for my main story task, a pin for one side mission, and final pin marking the location of a nearby weapon blueprint.

It’s as simple as going into your pause menu, hovering over a mission, and tapping spacebar. Super useful, easy to reference whenever you want, and great for tracking Breakpoints’ numerous distractions.

You Don’t Need To Wear Ugly Gear

Breakpoint’s focus on swapping out gear means winding up with some mismatched looks. If you find yourself walking around with half a ghillie suit and a crummy flop hat, you can hop into the menu to change your appearance at any time.

You’re still mostly limited to tacticool gear, but if you don’t like a particular pair of pants all you need to do is select a new look. If you have better looking gear, simply transform the higher quality stuff into something easier on the eyes.

There’s An Exploration Mode

Lifting a page from Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey, Breakpoint has a guided mode and exploration mode. The first places a marker on your map leading directly to your objective, the other asks you to decipher clues and peruse the map to find where to go next.

It’s a neat touch for customising your gameplay experience, even though I think it’s better to play guided in this case. Breakpoint’s map isn’t always easy to traverse; knowing exactly where to go speeds up an otherwise slow process.

Something’s Up With The Graphic For Me

I’m playing Breakpoint on PC and while everything runs smoothly, there’s some strange stuff going on with the graphics. It’s hard to explain but there’s either some depth of field stuff going on or a filter applied to things out of focus. Whatever the case, it’s given backgrounds a pixelated look that’s honestly distracting me. It’s not affecting my aim and I can soldier on without many problems, but I’m hoping that a few tweaks in the options will get rid of whatever the hell is going on.

This Could Take While

Five hours or so isn’t a lot of time with a big AAA video game these days, but I’ve been focusing on the main story quest and was dismayed to see that the statistics screen said I’ve experienced 0% of the overall story so far. Maybe it’s a bug or a factor tied to the fact I’m playing a Ubisoft-provided review code before the game is supposed to be available in my region. Or maybe Breakpoint is that huge.

I’d be more excited if the story wasn’t a standard behind-enemy-lines tale. Breakpoint is ok so far, but the prospect of untold hours of scowling soldiers and moody Jon Bernthal one-liners is daunting. All in a day’s work, I guess.


  • Personally I loved my time playing the beta, spent about 20 hours. Playing feels like a healthy balance between rainbow six gun-play and the divisions character development in a massive unrestricted world.

    The biggest hurdle getting into this game was finding a direction. Its so massive that its difficult to know where to start or what to do. Once you find a direction is great, Loved the Alpine areas.

    Cant go wrong for $68 on console, slightly annoying it costs more for PC.

  • Wildlands was racist because Bolivia was the setting and had caricatures of Bolivian cartels, but the varying portrayals of Russia as an antagonist (with stereotypes abound) for the past 20+ years in videogames wasn’t? I get that evil Russians is everyone’s favourite trope, especially with a resurgent Russia, but it’s not excusable.

    If degrading Russian and American stereotypes are acceptable, then Bolivian ones are fine as well. Just because they aren’t Western doesn’t mean we can’t throw in stereotypes into a videogame, does it?

  • The Wildlands controversy was massively overblown.
    I understand why the Bolivian government took offence but I don’t think anybody actually took the game as a realistic commentary on the nation.
    The criticism of Santa Blanca felt a bit strange too, people seem to be able to separate all number of gangs, armies and crime families from their ingrained ethnic identities but for some reason a South American drug cartel was off limits for being Mexican.
    (And yet innacurate and stereotypical depictions of other ethnicities seems to be just fine when a certain empire doesn’t like them)

    Sueno was a proper villain, well designed and layered.
    The rouge former ally is basically a walking film cliche that’s been a staple since the 80’s

  • Nothing about the dead, repetitive world, pointless gear score system and a myriad of missing features (and defects)? The cheap Azrael drone mechanic? The daft AI?
    This was supposed to be a game about being hunted behind enemy lines, real impact in combat and tactical encounters – there’s none of that.

    • No squad is bullshit as well, if you can play coop then the excuse of not having AI team mates becuase of the narrative doesn’t hold up.

      The gear score is the shitest thing in the game.

          • And that’s me out of this one.

            I loved the last game, it felt like a return to the original Ghost Recons more or less. If they’re turning this into a looter-shooter with single player ‘run and gun soldier’ gameplay? That’s exactly what a Ghost Recon game *isn’t* to me.

          • I’ve been playing a bit so far and human enemies die from headshots no matter your gear lvl or there lvl (killed lvl 150 wolves at lvl 10) don’t know yet how gear lvl will apply to drones yet.

            The lack of a squad is really annoying, even though you have sync kill drones it doesn’t replace a squad, I don’t have anyone on my friends list that is playing yet so it looks like randos for me.

            The “social hub” area is so out of place as well.

          • That’s just really odd to me. I know tech advances, the Tom Clancy games have always been about cutting edge tech, but they’ve also been about squads and comradeship. When it’s just one person running around, I may as well just be pretending I’m Sam Fisher :\

            I mean that’s not a BAD idea. I’ve been wanting an open world Splinter Cell honestly…

        • They will be adding them later on apparently, after the backlash.

          The argument for why there’s no squad members is because your stuck alone behind enemy lines which would be fine if there wasn’t 30+ other ghosts running and dancing around the main base social hub thingy.

  • I don’t care. I had a ton of fun with Wildlands. And the mini boss, intel vids were entertaining and stylish.
    I’m looking forward to this one too

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