Ghost Recon is Ubisoft’s way of showing the world that they too can share America’s dream — guns.
But this is not your willy-nilly gunplay, no Sir! Ghost Recon is for the serious folks. The ones that hide in a bush and think about health, ammo, weapon type, attachments and everything in between that spells ‘tactical’ before firing off.
Obviously, one mistake and you’ll have an onslaught of enemies spraying back bullets faster than your brain can register what went wrong. Running away always helps, but this time you’re on an island with ex-army men who know the tricks of the trade, so running is also a tactical task (we’re exaggerating, but it’s slightly true).
Now that we’ve established the premise of the game (you shoot bad guys, duh!), allow us to tell you how it feels to play Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Spoiler alert: not fun.
You can play the entire game with four friends, which is the maximum limit for one squad, so if you have a fifth buddy, they can choose to solo it, or find new friends. We’d recommend finding new friends since Breakpoint is at its best with friends. But Khumail, everything is fun with friends, right? Well, have you tried studying? What we mean to say is that the tactical feeling of approaching enemies in Breakpoint feels more immersive when you have four noggins plotting the approach. It’s fun.
Traditionally, each member of the four-person squad was assigned a class — Sniper, Medic, Assault and Heavy with each one having a perk in their respective spheres. We played as a Sniper and had a special sonar grenade among other stuff, but you always have the choice to freely switch between classes. And the progression tree is not restricted to any one class, but shared among all four, which is a very good way of imbibing freedom and flexibility in choice.
Once you find mission areas, you can find the closest Bivouac around it that serves as a ‘breakpoint’ (pun intended) before starting the mission. You can clean weapons so they work at full efficiency, change classes, upgrade gears and basically just look tactical while figuring out tactics. Just don’t call it camping — there ain’t any marshmallows.
The story mission opens up in the most overused and mundane fashion — a plane crash. And then you go about finding your video game character’s colleagues (brothers-in-arms, if you’re pretending to be tactical). From there you head to a super-secret cave which is a hub for other tactical people such as you. This hub system is similar to The Division 2 and the way Breakpoint goes about exploring that angle is exactly similar to The Division 2 as well. You get side missions, fetch quests, gun store and just about everything that makes a hub — a HUB.
The storyline is decent. There’s an island which is made into a utopia by tech heads and everything looks like it was designed in California by the Cupertino tech giant. Needless to say, everything goes south and bad guys take over the island and harass you and others with drones. Jon Bernthal, the Punisher himself is at the center of this hostile take over and interestingly, he's also a fellow ex-Ghost; so the story explores your relation with him and also how to kick drone-controlling numb heads.
Honestly, if you don’t like pretending to be a soldier then this is also not going to sway you. That said, if you’re someone addicted to army call signs and locating attractive people at the bar using clock positions, read ahead.
Movement is different in Breakpoint. Your character moves with momentum, so movement might feel a bit slippery at first, and it should because this is not DOOM. Subtle realism plays a bigger role in making things believable and this time your character will react to the terrain. Running down slopes and uneven surfaces is difficult and dangerous, at any point you can tumble like Humpty Dumpty and hurt yourself (See what we meant by tactically running away?).
Hurting yourself can create two problems — either you lose your health or injure yourself; it's usually both. Injecting a syringe will restore health, and injuries can be healed with bandages. Injuries are permanent until healed with bandages. It can cap off some of your health which insinuates that an injured soldier can’t perform at full capacity, and if it gets worse then you’ll be restricted to using only a handgun until you heal. This makes you think twice before doing anything a soldier wouldn’t.
It’s level-based progression now with new RPG elements than before — somewhere between The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Enemies have levels too! Meanwhile, guns and gear drop like seasoning on meat (Just the way Salt Bae does it). Don’t worry though, enemies are not bullet sponges, a headshot will definitely shut the lights and anything tactical will remain so. This is also a problem for Breakpoint because gun levels basically become meaningless.
The only other thing that makes a huge difference in the game is the ‘Wolves’. No, not four legged aggressive fluffies, but a group of elite soldiers that are hunting you down. They’re way superior with more tactical edge than your entire Breakpoint soldier career. With scout drones hunting you, Breakpoint always throws you in a risky position. This is similar to the Bounty hunters in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
And just like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Breakpoint also has an option to explore the game without any markers, and just follow the hints to discover the location of your next objective. There’s even blueprint treasure hunting that unlocks new guns and stuff.
Fun is a ghost
Breakpoint loses its identity very quickly. At the heart of it, it’s a tactical shooter with fantastic shooter mechanics. You can virtually take cover behind anything, but that still needs a little refinement and the guns go off with a satisfying “bang”. Headshots are almost always satisfying and that was a bigger drive for me than the storyline itself. But this too becomes problematic because Breakpoint realises its strengths and then throws enemies at you to take down like fodder. The enemy AI is as dumb as it gets. They can kill you in seconds, but their brains can’t work around ‘tactical’ stuff like: Don’t rush into the room if I am sitting there aiming at the door!
The frustration is elevated after you find out that mostly everything you do is just go from one check post to another and shoot enemies. Breakpoint even floods you with meaningless information and jargon about your next objective which feels quite forceful.
Long story short — you’ll get bored…. really fast!
Thankfully the multiplayer is worth some of your time. It’s slow-paced and consists of 4v4 player matches. Running and gunning will always get you killed faster than it took you to get into the game server meanwhile patience and thoughtful movement will keep you alive.
You can revive your fallen comrades anytime, but that soon becomes a trap because there’s always a sniper waiting for you to take the bait. There’s more tension and grit here than the entirety of Breakpoint’s campaign.
Processor: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2920X; Liquid cooled by Corsair H115i RGB Platinum
GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
Motherboard: Asus PRIME X399-A
RAM: 32GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB
CPU Case: Corsair Obsidian 500D RGB
Keyboard: Kingston HyperX Alloy Elite RGB
Power Supply: Corsair AX850
Ubisoft’s top titles have started mixing up their gameplay with each other which makes us very sad. If you’ve played The Division 2 then don’t bother with Breakpoint. It’s so close to The Division 2 that it's starting to feel like another shooter with slight tweaks here and there. We can say it’s close to realism and mother nature, for carrying out the tactical killings if you really want reasons to separate it from The Division 2, but the bottom line is that this game lacks the character that you would otherwise find in Ghost Recon Wildlands.
There’s a lot of fun waiting to be had in co-op and that’s the strongest point of Breakpoint. The subtle nuances in its gameplay and the urgency created by the Wolves have a strong impact on how you’ll spend your time in the game.
That said, we really didn’t want another Division game in our hands. Ubisoft is starting to make its top franchises symmetrical. AC Odyssey, The Division 2 and now Breakpoint, all are vast open-world games with plenty of side quests, items, loot, inventory management and level progression with the main story taking a back seat.
Content hungry folks will be happy to know that there’s even a road map for Breakpoint with free and paid DLCs and stuff like that, quite similar to AC Odyssey. It’s nice, but these are the same guys who made Far Cry 3, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, AC II and Blackflag. All fabulous and radically different in the gaming Industry.