Ubisoft started this generation on the wrong foot and faced a lot of backlashes, rightly so. They were starting to get back on the right track with fantastic games like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Odyssey, Rainbow Six Siege, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Watch Dogs 2 and Mario + Rabbids. They had created a lot of goodwill among the community with these games and all of these had some fantastic post-launch support. Unfortunately, they messed it up big time with Breakpoint.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the poster child of how to not launch a game. It started with news about the game including microtransactions from the beginning and not only it irked the community, but they were also particularly expensive and led to a bloated game that didn’t warrant them in the first place. To add to it, Breakpoint has dumbed down the gameplay, feels like generally less fun to traversal, and has some annoying gameplay mechanics despite offering a strong antagonist that carries its story forward.
Ubisoft has started to focus on games as a service model and it is not a bad thing for how they have handled their past games, but it shows its ugly head in Breakpoint. The game felt tailored to offer microtransactions despite not being free-to-play and launching as a full-priced game. A lot of elements featured in Breakpoint feel like they are undercooked and the game is rushed to match this quarter release target. The focus from the beginning was to sell a game that was not up to the mark with the promise of post-launch support, but why exactly should one shelve out the extra money to grab it at launch if the game is just not good enough during this time?
For Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft chooses to stick with another open-world location called Auroa, a fictional island in the Pacific Ocean. You play the same character as in Wildlands, a Nomad who is sent with a task to get rid of Auroa from the clutches of a rogue operator. While the main character remains the same, you can now pick a gender for it giving it some diversity. There is a limited choice of customizations available here. Users can pick from pre-defined faces, facial features, and so on.
Breakpoint continues right after Wildlands and it is set six years after the events in its predecessor. It deals with the takeover of Auroa Island which is owned by Skell Technology, the world leader in making high-quality drones, artificial intelligence and surveillance equipment. They make a mistake of hiring a former Ghost Lieutenant Colonel Cole D. Walker, who is portrayed in the game brilliantly by Jon Bernthal. He ends up going rogue after witnessing the death and destruction that he and his teammates have to go through doing military work for Skell Technology.
The issue with Breakpoint is that it has a repetitive gameplay loop. The story moves at a snail pace and not all of the cutscenes feel meaningful. It is the character of Walker played by Jon Bernthal that manages to somewhat lift the story from mediocre to something good. Most of the story cutscenes that deal with his character are enjoyable to some extent with occasional flashbacks explaining his backstory. For most of the game, you will be looking for clues to find out Walker and also learn more about Auroa Island in this process.
While Wildlands was tailored towards team-based action, Breakpoint is more about survival. The first mission in the game teaches the player how to survive in this unknown dangerous Island on their own as they struggle to get back on their feet. You will slowly understand how this new location works and learn basic survival skills. This, unfortunately, means that no AI-controlled teammates are available thus leaving the player all alone in this massive world.
Skills are unlocked gradually and divided between different classes but at the end of the day, some of the most important skills are tied to the necessary quality of life improvements that help the gameplay better–and this is purely bad game design. A lot of the skills also end up doing nothing much and serve the purpose of clicking on another checkmark to add to your journey. If the skills felt more useful and the progression was rewarding, this certainly wouldn’t have happened. Sadly, it is not the case here for Breakpoint.
The mission design is also fairly basic which tends to lead to repetitive combat encounters. As you gather intel to progress story and unlock new missions, most of them offer basic objectives that just require you to go to a location and fight with the enemies and then start on the lookout for clues. The story is told through cutscenes and files that detail intel and if you want to read more about the lore, there are plenty of documents to discover and read in the game.
Since the open world in Breakpoint is gigantic, it can take a lot of time to traverse through it. You end up spending this time trying to reach the next mission marker and while the world is impressive and offers a nice diversity of different biomes like desert and mountain, it is also a chore to go through it. This was a problem in Wildlands too but it is magnified further due to the survival nature of Breakpoint. Thankfully, one of the improvements made here is regarding the loot which now gets picked automatically. Collectibles still have to be manually picked up by keeping a button pressed but it is not a big deal.
The worst part is how Ubisoft was trying to sell microtransactions for a full-priced game. You can buy everything, from skill points to cosmetic items. It is also possible to get the items that are earned through microtransactions in the game itself but this doesn’t hide the sheer absurdity of leaving them in the game in the first place. Especially since there is a season pass in addition to yearly pass for Breakpoint so Ubisoft is already asking fans of the series to invest a significant chunk in the game itself.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is an online tactical shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris and published by Ubisoft. The game was released worldwide on 4 October 2019, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Final Score - 6/10
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is such a letdown, especially after the enjoyable Wildlands. It is hard to understand why Ubisoft made such controversial design decisions regarding this new game but it is without a doubt one of the biggest disappointments of this year.