Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One and PC
I used to love everything Ubisoft touched. Whether it was Far Cry, The Division, or Rainbow Six, ever game in every series felt like a smash hit. Unfortunately, Ghost Recon Breakpoint feels like a bland amalgamation of everything that's come before it, electing to pick and choose from previous franchises rather than evolving into a natural successor for the once beloved Tom Clancy series.
It would be harsh to paint the entire game with the same brush, there are still some genuinely enjoyable mechanics and gameplay features to Breakpoint, after all, but they're sadly overshadowed. The few positives that remain have the monumental task of holding back a tide of technical issues, design flaws, and questionable monetization.
The biggest problem with the gameplay, though, is that nothing feels new. And I don't just mean that every mission and sidequest feel identical - although that is, sadly, true. No, within the first few hours of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, it became wholly apparent that I'd done this all before.
Tell me if these Breakpoint tasks sound familiar: You'll scout locations that need to be liberated, silently picking off whoever you can, before going loud to mop up the rest of the stronghold; You'll constantly unlock new guns and gear that is marginally better than your current loadout, with the option to upgrade and tweak your weapons' attachments; You'll fight your way into a compound, only to hold your position when reinforcements arrive.
In case they didn’t ring a bell, these are all stereotypical features of Ubisoft’s other franchises, particularly Far Cry and The Division. Thankfully, we have surpassed the era when every map needed to be expanded by climbing dreaded towers to reveal the fog, but Breakpoint still falls back on a number of other Ubisoft tropes.
This is all so disheartening because there are glimpses of a good game hidden within Breakpoint. John Bernthal's signature gritty persona has been well-captured and elevates the game’s cutscenes, the shooting feels satisfyingly responsive and stealthy, and the degree of customisation options available to you is astounding. Sadly, these high notes are often short lived.
Take the gunplay, one of the best parts of Breakpoint; it’s largely overshadowed by the lack of health in the Ghost Recon universe. Enemies either offer negligible challenge, dropping instantly to a single round to the head from any weapon, or swamp you in seconds to completely overwhelm you. After 20 hours with this title, I honestly felt like I'd only had one or two truly engaging firefights. Every other encounter felt like a blowout in one direction or the other, which quickly gets old.
If I sound frustrated, it's because I genuinely am. I was dying for a fresh taste of what Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2 gave us more than a decade ago, but Breakpoint isn’t in the same league; It feels like it’s been callously stretched into a "live service" title - and had numerous features carelessly tacked on - simply to drive revenue, with wanton disregard for the heart of the series.
This is most notable when you step into the social hub for the first time and see an ocean of other players scurrying around in front you, flying directly in the face of the narrative that you're one of a handful of soldiers trying to fight for survival on this remote island. It's a massive disconnect between the narrative and the gameplay, and it isn't a one-off occurrence.
Having said this, the multiplayer aspect of Ghost Recon Breakpoint is definitely its saving grace, with a wide variety of missions to do with friends, whether co-operatively or in Ghost War, the PvP mode. With friends, it has similar social appeal to giants such as The Division, Destiny, or even Red Dead Redemption 2 draw from, though Breakpoint’s struggles with identity, performance, and repetition might make it difficult to secure a full party.
There have already been some patches since launch, but even to this day there are still issues with unnecessary load times, animation bugs, missions that need to be restarted, missing textures, and even guns that go missing entirely! These were all experienced on a PS4 Pro, no less, so I shudder to think how it would perform on a default PS4 system.
When you factor in the myriad of micro transaction options available in the in-game store – ranging from cosmetics, to time savers, to outright buying weapons – and the fact that server connectivity affects access to the single player portions, it’s easy to see why Ghost Recon Breakpoint has received such a tepid reaction from critics and the community.
Being a live service title, there is always room for future improvement, and if Ubisoft can repair their fans’ trust with impactful updates and free DLC, I’m sure Ghost Recon Breakpoint can get itself back on track. I certainly hope so, as seeing it fall by the wayside like Anthem would be a sorry legacy for this once great franchise.
- Xbox One