Picture this. One of your favorite sports teams had an amazing off-season. The team, on paper, looks incredible. Then the preseason starts but things look a little off. Players that are supposed to lead your team to victory seem to be struggling. “It’s just the preseason, they’re taking it easy”. So you buy tickets for the home opener, wrapped up in the hype behind one of your favorite teams. Then every single player goes down with an injury and the backups accidentally launch a ball going 90 mph at your face. This is my Ghost Recon: Breakpoint journey in a nutshell.
Let me just say, I loved Wildlands. While repetitive, the gameplay loop was fun and mechanically sound. I would have gladly signed up for more. Ghost Recon, to me, always leaned on your AI squad mates and being able to position them as needed. They’re gone. Sure, you can co-op with your friends, but I don’t have many friends (sad face emoji). They might be added in a future update, but who knows. During Wildlands, I used the “Sync Shot” ability liberally. Now, I’m limited to the amount of drones I can carry, which is seven. Considering there are usually four times that many enemies in the bigger bases, they run out quickly. Then it’s you versus everyone else. You can try to stealth the missions and sometimes it works. That is, until you run into a drone. These new enemies are there for…well, I’m not entirely sure of their purpose. Mostly they suck up bullets. By the time you destroy them, even with the correct skills and leveled weapons (more on that mess in a second), they’ve alerted the entire island and your Ghost persona is thrown to the wayside. It’s infuriating.
The weapon system has drastically changed as well. It more resembles The Division 2 but with less variety and more confusion. You’ll pick up several of the same weapons just with a new number and color. A level 147 SMG has the exact same stats as a level 18 SMG. A level 126 baseball cap has the exact same resistance as a level 23 ballistic helmet. The whole system is incredibly vague. Enemies also level but a headshot, with any weapon, is a single shot kill regardless of any of the numbers or colors in front of them.
The game doesn’t make the scoring system entirely clear. If the enemy has a higher gear score than you, they’re able to deal and absorb more damage than the player. That’s it. Some gear offers bonuses at higher color levels. And you can customize your character with whatever outfit you want, assuming you’ve picked up said helmet or pants. It’s kind of like transmogging from WoW or Diablo 3. Also worth pointing out is the ability to increase weapon stats through the gunsmith menu. These will carry over to the same weapon for the duration of the game. So that MP5 you upgraded early on will carry over its upgrades to the MP5 you find later in the game. However, even maxed out, the statistical gain is minimal. Confused? I am and I wrote it.
Story wise, the game is at least interesting. You crash land on an island, and you’re the only survivor. You need to find out what took down your choppers and find a way to either get off the island or call in support. Jon Bernthal plays your main antagonist and your relationship with him is explored through several flashbacks during the main missions. Honestly, this is the only thing that kept me going. There are different factions that you can help out during the game, which is how you can earn different pieces of gear (not that it matters if you don’t). I did some, but I could have done zero and I’d probably get about the same gear in a crate later in the game. Side missions add a little bit to the overall story-line but if you skip them, you aren’t losing out on much either.
While seemingly the same engine as Wildlands, performance is a mixed bag. Sometimes the views are breathtaking and sometimes parts of the environment don’t render. Then there are the bugs. I’ve had enemies show up in cut-scenes, allies emerge from vehicle crashes burned and horrifying, and vehicles flipping endlessly after hitting a small rock. All hilarious. Your mileage may vary but probably not by much given the prevalence at which they’ve been reported. Ubisoft has patched the game a few times and while I did notice fewer instances of the hilarity, it still exists.
This was a tough review for me. When the game was announced, my hype meter was through the roof. Then I played the alpha and it took a substantial hit. Then after the closed beta, another hit. Finally the open beta and I thought “Oh my God, this is going to suck!“. I was mostly right, and I hate that. It’s most definitely a Ubisoft game, but it’s the hot dog version of one. All of the worst parts are ground up and shoved into the intestine that is the Ghost Recon franchise. And then microwaved. Then served without a bun. And slightly cold. But we’re hungry and still eat it…and then immediately regret it.