Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint review – Piña coladas and a rain of gun fire

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Welcome to Auroa, a tropical island with various eco-systems and a thriving economy. Take a seat on the beach and sip cocktails while staring at the volcano off the coast. Be sure to sample the local delicacies and of course, watch out for stray gunfire.

Let’s get something clear, despite sharing some resemblances to Wildlands, Breakpoint is its own game that simply exists in the same universe as Wildlands.

We mention this because we have struggled to come to grips with this fact because the two games are just so similar.

There’s a lot to love about Breakpoint but unfortunately there is a lot to hate. So let’s dive in.

The story

You start off on a helicopter bound for the island of Auroa. Your squad has been tasked with investigating a downed tanker ship off the coast of the island but before you can so much as say John Bernthal, your fleet of helicopters is attacked.

The game picks up after you crash on the island. You’re given a few short tutorials and then tasked with walking through the world, killing off enemies and finding a safe spot to rest.

Before long you meet the Homesteaders at their home base – Erewhon.

It becomes clear that something sinister is happening on the island and Jace Skell – the owner and operator of Skell Technologies – is no longer in charge

Breakpoint does a great job of hiding its story in a fog of mystery. Each mission yields a bit more information until you acquire more clues that let you progress to the next step. Some missions can be executed in multiple ways, giving the player a bit more freedom to play in a style they prefer.

The story is wonderful and we couldn’t get enough of it. Unfortunately there are some elements of Breakpoint that detract from the excellent story telling.

Basic training

One of the reasons we loved Wildlands was it’s lack of focus on RPG mechanics and min-maxing a character. This put heavy emphasis on skill rather than gear and if you failed a mission it was more likely that you made a mistake rather than not having the right equipment.

Breakpoint throws that notion to the dogs and embraces the idea of making Ghost Recon an RPG experience. We use that term in the same context that it was used in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey. While there are RPG elements, they’re not as built out as they are in a game such as Fallout 4.

For example, picking a certain skill tree in Breakpoint doesn’t lock you into only choosing skills from that tree. As a Medic you can choose Assault skills if you like, keeping only the self-resurrection the Medic offers from that class. New abilities are unlocked by levelling up your character but your power as a Ghost comes from your gear.

Each piece of gear you pick up has a score and that score contributes to your overall power level. Gear and weapons are made available via loot chests scattered throughout Auroa. The more enemies in an area, the more valuable that loot will be, generally speaking.

The higher up in gear you go you’ll find certain perks that can help you min-max your Ghost’s abilities. This introduces something of a grind though we’re hesitant to say it inspires grinding for better gear as one-shot headshots are as effective with your first weapon as they are with your new gun.

Throughout Auroa you will discover Bivouac spots where you can rest up, buff yourself, change your gear and even request vehicles. These spots are important for the survival elements of Breakpoint which warrant a mention.

During your first few levels you will be marred by fatigue as you try to sprint to places. Walking is slow and Auroa is big, which means you’ll want to be driving a lot or resting as much as possible. Given that every person you see on the roads is an enemy, you’ll either be going off road and possibly alerting enemies when you do or hoofing it.

There are ways to combat fatigue – mainly resting at Bivouacs – but I’ve found that I often ignore them in favour of fast traveling to Erewhon, picking up a helicopter and flying to where I need to go. Is this the right way to do things? No, but fatigue and stamina are so frustrating you’ll end up doing the same.

Your character can be buffed up at Bivouac points.

Stealth is also a big factor in Breakpoint, but it’s also not.

In Wildlands one could storm a base and if you were lucky (and a good player/team), walk away unscathed. Stealth was vital in Wildlands but in Breakpoint, outside of one or two instances, it’s simply an option.

One of those instances are the aerial drones. Every so often a blip will appear on your map to warn you a drone is headed your way. You then need to either find cover or go prone and camouflage yourself so the drone won’t spot you.

Fail to hide and you will die from the smaller drones and Wolves that are dispatched to your location. It’s that simple.

These fly-overs are incredibly frustrating as for a good few seconds you are sitting in the mud, doing nothing of value. There is no XP to be gained, no way to hide while walking or crawling, hell, the thing saw me in a forest of trees for crying out loud.

Cover up, enemies are near.

However, on more than one occasion I have sprinted into a base teeming with enemies to grab an objective and made it out with one or two scratches.

While we like the ability to play the way we want to play it’s jarring when you’re enter a base filled with enemies without consequence but be spotted by a drone and face the might of Auroa.

As for things to do, there is a lot to do in Breakpoint. Aside from the side, faction and main missions there are weapon accessories to collect, blueprints to earn and gear to collect. It’s just such a pity that poor implementation hurts these activities.

Is the game fun?

Having played 30 hours of the game alone, I have to say yes and no.

Playing alone, Auroa is an inhospitable place. Unlike Wildlands which had AI along for the ride to help out with gun fights, Breakpoint boasts no such feature – you’re either playing with friends or playing alone.

There are plans to bring AI teammates back but until then you are a lone ranger and things are tough. While some will find the frustration of doing missions over and over again until they get it right, it frustrated us. This frustration with realising we either had to cheese the encounter or match-make with random players had us quit the game more than once.

That having been said, I can see how Breakpoint can be fun with friends. Some of my best memories in Wildlands involved playing with friends and this appears to be no different.

Beta testing?

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a good game but there are so many things that are jarring we simply can’t ignore them.

Early on you are tasked with getting information from an enemy. Back in Wildlands this meant offing enemies silently before sneaking in, snatching the target and extracting them. If the target was shot once it was game over.

Breakpoint lets you shoot the person and then question them as if they hadn’t taken several LMG shots to the head moments ago. It just feels odd in the scope of the game.

There are also many bugs we’ve encountered from vehicles driving over us and not killing us to enemies just staring at us as we got into their faces with a shotgun.

Hell, crafting overall is a mess with the only place to craft being Bivouacs and sitting down for 20 minutes to craft things is boring when the prospect of shooting enemies looms

It also doesn’t help that I have yet to feel the need to craft something to get an edge as the things I have crafted haven’t had a noticeable effect on my character.

There are also various gameplay glitches we’ve encountered with some items disappearing until we exit to the main menu only for them to return.

We even took a dive off of a super high point and simply fell for two minutes before landing safely on the ground because we glitched the game out.

Nothing I have said matters

With everything I have said thus far I am acutely aware that none of it matters because of the elephant in the room – Uplay+.

For ~R270 you get access to Breakpoint and the entire suite of Ubisoft games. That’s an excellent deal and no doubt the thing that will push folks to test Breakpoint out.

Breakpoint is not a bad game at all, there are some great moments marked with excellent graphics and beautiful story telling. The story is intriguing and I found myself eagerly heading to the next mission to find out what was happening on Auroa.

That having been said, the jarring systems that have been implemented and the way it fails to live up to the expectations for Ghost Recon games created by Wildlands, means we wouldn’t recommend paying full price for the game.

Here is where we’d usually say “wait a few months for the price to drop” but we don’t have to.

For those that are intrigued by Breakpoint, sub to Uplay+ for a month and test it out but we’d also ask you to try out Wildlands while you’re at it.

Breakpoint scratches the Ghost Recon itch but it leaves you with a few things to complain about.

There are improvements being made to the game as we speak and we’re sure that with care from Ubisoft, Breakpoint will eventually be on par with Wildlands – which also wasn’t perfect at launch but has become a supreme experience over time.

For now our verdict is Breakpoint is worth the price of admission for Uplay+, for console players, we recommend waiting for the price to dip before diving into Auroa.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint was reviewed on PC. Game code for the purpose of this review was supplied by Megarom Games. Uplay+ was purchased at the writer’s own cost.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.