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Ghost Recon Breakpoint review - more The Division Breakpoint

Alastair Grant | Sunday 29 September 2019

UBISoft have had a couple of betas for the upcoming Ghost Recon: Breakpoint game, being a fan of Tom Clancy shooters, and recently completing Ghost Recon: Wildlands, I thought I'd take a look at the successor.

Rainbow Six has always dealt with close-quarters, indoor operations (e.g. extract the hostage), where Ghost Recon has focused on the outside world, open terrain taking out enemy installations.  Breakpoint continues this theme, with a large open-world environment scattered with various checkpoints and installations that need clearing out (albeit it temporarily).

This is not Wildlands

Breakpoint pushes the emphasis on Stealth a bit more than Wildlands, no longer having an AI squad to cover your back and revive you when things go south, this is much more a lone-wolf style game, which whilst not true to Ghost Recon games does provide you with a drone that can be used to keep tactics involved.

Just like Wildlands, there are hot spots for enemy NPCs who can spot you from a long way off and instantly know that you're a hostile and not one of their own - a continual grievance of mine in open world games.  You have a mini-map that has a heat map of enemy locations and markers for detected hostiles (which is disabled on higher difficulty levels).  You have the option of "going loud" but that elicits a response from the AI which includes hunting you down.  Once your position has been given away that information is instantly available to other AI, although you still have that window from disturbing AI whilst undetected before the rest of the enemies becoming aware.

There is a liberal scattering of vehicles meaning you shouldn't ever be too far away from transport.  For an enemy with access to cutting edge technology there is an alarming number of broken down vehicles being worked on by soldiers that you can commandeer and drive away in (guess they didn't try turning the key?).  The vehicles don't feel as fun or as quick as in Wildlands, there seems to be a slight disconnect between the noise they make and the apparent lack of rotational speed of the wheels.

This is probably the end of the similarities to Wildlands.

This is The Division

The similarities to The Division on the other hand come in thick and fast.  The loot system of Wildlands, where you can unlock weapons or attachments for weapon classes, has been changed to a system similar to The Divison.  Weapons aren't a one off unlock now, you can find better versions of the weapon you already have with more magical bonuses assigned to them and you rapidly build up an inventory of duplicates with differing stats that you then have to deconstruct into parts to use for mods to invest in upgrading your weapon.  These mods do stick so when you find a better version of the same gun, your upgrades are instantly provided - somehow.

A seemingly arbitrary number is assigned to each lootable object, which gives your character a gear-level, which doesn't seem to mean anything apart from if you're not at a certain gear-level then you don't get good drops, meaning you can't upgrade your weapons.  Oh, and of course, the AI damage will scale magically with your gear-level.  I found much of the beta I was spending time trying to manage my inventory and weapons and not shooting things.  This is a bad thing.

You will also find a central hub/lobby where you can find stations and watch through lengthy and largely pointless scripted cut-scenes before going through the treacle run as you half-jog for 45 seconds to get to the exit where you can play the game.  Outside in the game you're a lone-wolf, surviving on your wits as the only man standing against the evil rulers of the island; inside there is a hustle and bustle of human players in a lobby environment, armed to the teeth in all sorts of fancy outfits.

There is a shop with a random number generator assigned to it so you can get some good stuff if you're lucky.  All of which you have to pay for, because their rebellion is not prepared to let you help without some remuneration.

The skill tree leans heavily towards The Division over Wildlands.  Where the latter was a simple case of unlocking upgrades, we're now faced with a more complex tree of perks, which once you've unlocked you have to assign into a limited number of slots.  I found it frustrating in Wildlands having to dig around my inventory for my preferred weapon for the type of situation I was in, this has been made far worse, with frequent trips into the highly complex menu system to switch your perks and load out for varying needs.

In Conclusion

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is not a stealth shooter, it's now a looter shooter and primary focus is around gear management.  The story seems to be simple, but hidden behind long conversations and cut-scenes that add little value to the game.  There must be many hours of voice acting recorded for the game.  Where Wildlands was a pick up and play, Breakpoint feels like a challenge to find the play.

It seems to be following a common theme with games at the moment, which is about loot and inevitably premium stuff that can be bought with cash or gambling.  Whilst paid-items are unlikely to be game impacting, they're now the focus of the game instead of the shooty shooty bit.

It feels like ultimately what UBISoft have done is taken the bad bits from Wildlands and merged it with the bad bits from The Division and produced a product that you're fighting against, instead of an enemy to fight.  I won't be picking up the full priced game when released (an eye-watering £50 for the basic PC edition, going up to £92 for some of that premium content).  I might have a crack at it when it inevitably drops down to a more palatable £15 in a sale, but even then, I have a long list of games that look far more enjoyable and exciting to play first.

As always, games are subjective and your mileage may vary.  I assume that the younger generation of gamers like the looting system that is so popular at the moment, which is why they keep making games like this.  For the older generation that prefer gameplay, this might be one to avoid.

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