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Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review :: What Makes A Ghost?

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The challenge that most Ubisoft games face today, is that they feel like two, three beans in the same pod. If you have played one, then you have played all. This hits Ghost Recon Breakpoint even harder because mechanics aside, it does not have a cast/protagonist/character that players can tether to across sequels. You are Nomad, a Ghost, faceless, nameless; you can be anyone. Ubisoft tries to combat that problem by bringing in Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead and Punisher fame). It makes some other changes too, like removing AI companions and implementing a microtransaction store that sells pretty much everything in the game for ‘player convenience’. As you might expect some of those decisions work, some of them don’t. Let’s find out which is which.

Story & Narrative

The story in Ghost Recon Breakpoint takes place on the fictitious island of Auroa. Used as the petri-dish by tech billionaire Jack Skell, Auroa acts as a template for an ideal society that promotes innovation and progress in a sustainable manner. Of course, nothing that good stays that way too long, and you are deployed onto the island when a US Ship sinks near the coast and the island itself goes dark. En route, you are attacked by a mindless army of drones, crashing your helicopter and leaving you stranded on the island to fend for yourself.

From that point, the narrative moves on 2 fronts. One is the constant back and forth between technology and humans (one of the favorite Ubisoft themes), as different factions in the game take different stances on the extent and use of technology in everyday life. In one particular exchange, Nomad tries to deride a scientist for creating a combat drone that can run on sustainable energy sources for practically infinite time, to which the scientist responds that they initially developed the drone to help in pollination. Its almost jarring that such a deep conversation is just an optional dialogue option and can be followed by something completely unrelated with no visible effect on the player or the NPC, and ends up reeking of half-cooked ideas instead of smart writing, which I think it would have been if it was better implemented.

The other front is your personal war with Walker (played by aforementioned Jon Bernthal). Walker is a former Ghost (someone you had worked with no less), and the leader of ‘The Wolves, the highly trained militia group that has taken over Auroa. When you are not collecting intel for Jake Skell, you are locked in a tussle with Walker’s forces, exploring his motivations and his history with you through missions and flashbacks.

A constant complaint with Ubisoft’s narrative is that the villain is not a big part of the story. They appear at the beginning and then they appear at the end after you have cleared zones and lieutenants by the bucketload. That’s not the case with Walker as you would encounter him frequently before, during or after a story main mission. This leads to some really cool sequences including one of my favourites, where the player is trapped in a Bulletproof room, while Bernthal ties to make his way in. I know it’s cliche, but just witnessing that standard Hollywood trope executed in a video game releases dopamine in me somewhere.

Gameplay & Mechanics

While the story is something that Ghost Recon Breakpoint manages to get away with. It’s the gameplay and the mechanics that you will usually find yourself at odds with. Let’s start with the obvious:


And while a lot of people will feel very vitriolic towards that decision. Granted that decision was reversed, and in its current form, that option has been removed form the store. But the more important question is, Do You Need To? In my opinion Not Really. First up the game is not that hard, even at higher difficulties Ghost Recon Breakpoint is perfectly playable through the normal grind and repeat fashion that most gamers are accustomed to. Play your cards right, and you will be gaining experience for discovering places, identifying enemies and of course disposing of them. So leveling up is not a wall that’s its made out to be but its more like the steep climb that you have walked before. Then there are cosmetics, and while it’s true that some cosmetics items can be bought only from the shop, after about 12 hours you should have enough credits to buy what you want without having to depend on the premium economy of the game. But if the in-game store is not critical, and by most accounts not required then why put that there in the first place? It’s a paradox and a theme that is recurring in Ghost Recon Breakpoint.

The game is set on an island, which presents almost all Biomes you can think of. It’s full of forests, lakes, marshes, flatlands, and hills. Plus it’s dotted by roads, buildings, flora and fauna, and of course guarded by enemies. The devs clearly want you to take the scenic stealthy route around barricades and checkpoints as you move towards your objective. But half an hour into the game you are presented with a helicopter which respawns near your base camp, which you can take out and circumvent most of the hazards the game throws at you. WHY?

The setting of the game is that you are caught in an island alone, and without help, going against a team of ghosts. But in reality, you are operating out of a Homesteader hidden base which at times can be filled with other players. The NPCs constantly complain about the lack of resources and guns, while there are people walking around armed more than Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Predator. Why?

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is based on a shooter looter principle. You kill enemies and loot new weapons/armor to upgrade your armor rating so you can take on even tougher challenges. But the generic nature of the guns and the armor devolves the process into looking at what offers an incremental +increase and equipping it. Plus, Ghost Recon Breakpoints implements the ballistic principles in combat (which I personally prefer in games), so a headshot is many times enough to down even a high ranked enemy even if it came with a low-class weapon. There is no god build in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, there is not even a bad build, there’s just a build which is adequate and un-important with no critical pieces which would define your playstyle. In which case, why the loot? Why?

I felt the shooting has improved a lot over the last iteration and felt way more snappy than the last one. On the other hand drone skills are in a weird space now as it becomes a consumable that you need to recharge by collecting resources in the game, I am still figuring how to use that sync-shot skill for a second time after I acquired it (let me know in the comments). All such skills are unlocked through a skill tree, which is pretty elaborate and will take some time to unlock completely if that’s something you want to do. Along with the common skill tree, you can also unlock special roles, 1 of which you can have equipped at any time and will award players with various passive and active perks. These role-based perks can also be upgraded by ranking up in each role, by completing specific tasks.

Between all of that schizophrenia, is the basic mission structure of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Go to point A, collect information about a gun/person/attachment/objective and then proceed to point B. In between kill/avoid as many enemies as you like.

Game Modes

All of this you can do solo. Or in online co-op mode with up to 4 players. In fact, Ghost Recon Breakpoint makes it a point to remind you that the entire game has been optimized for co-op play. If you don’t have a consistent squad to play Ghost Recon breakpoint with, then the game gives you various options to filter out your matchmaking. You can look for players depending on play style which includes “Story Missions”, “Explorations”, and even “Role Play” which sometimes may involve groups taking their roles and team chat way too seriously.

Then, there is the Ghost Wars. The multiplayer mode by Ubisoft returns. I am not a major PvP player, but since some of my mission progress was tied in with Ghost Wars I dabbled enough to know that I suck. The mode hasn’t changed a lot since the last time and involves pitting a group of players against each other, mostly in death matches situations. If there was a fan base of the mode, well Ubisoft has catered for them.

On top of all this are the raids, which are 2 hours long 4 players 150 armor level sojourns that you can undertake as end game content. And then there are faction based missions, which are daily and weekly rinse and repeat objectives to increase your faction ranks and claim faction rewards. All of this ties together into an elaborate objective screen that at times can feel like a conspiracy investigation board that you see in movies. Crowded and overwhelming.

Visuals, Sound & Performance

Which is why I think Ghost Recon Breakpoint has that minimal UI option. It also gives you the option to turn on exploration mode, which basically gives you rough direction towards your objectives and you have to use the geographical features to determine your next point of interest. I had the most fun with this mode, deciphering vague directional data into accurate navigation.

Jon Bernthal is well made and well voiced. Even in animated cutscenes, The Punisher does a good job to make the scene his. On the flip side, the good work done on Walker reflects badly on the other character models which may seem shabby at best and mannequins at worst. The graphics are nothing to write home about, they are bearable, not too bad not too good. Standard Ubi stuff if you ask me.

The one place where I am grateful for Ubisoft familiarity is the performance. I played the game on the PS4 Pro, and it rarely stuttered. I had 2 10ish hours sessions and once the game started it was fine. However, booting the game back up after you have suspended the game in Rest Mode, is not as smooth as I expected, since the game requires an always-online connection for you to play, so expect long load times whenever you start a new session.


Ghost Recon Breakpoint would have worked much better if it was a hard gritty tough as nails, single-player experience, with a focused even linear narrative with a focus on character development and the theme of man versus machine. Instead, Ghost Recon Breakpoint finds itself in a very similar spot. Mish-mashed with mechanics from different games, without one single feature to distinguish itself from its Ubisoft cousins. It’s difficult to sell this game to someone who has played Far Cry New Dawn, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Watch Dogs 2, Division 2 or even Ghost Recon Wildlands. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t offer anything you won’t get anywhere else, even Jon Bernthal.


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