It is not often that a game comes along that makes me feel so many things in such a short period. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is one such game, and all the emotions it evokes in me isn’t necessarily a good thing. It is one of the biggest game releases of the year, but can it live up to the expectations thanks to good marketing and the excellent benchmark left by its predecessors?
No, no it can’t
Breakpoint takes place on a fictional island called Auroa, which is somewhere in the South Pacific, and sees you play as Nomad, a Spec-Ops soldier trapped on the island thanks to its high tech drone technology and some other plot devices. The story, for the most part, is sound, although a bit generic, and you have some solid voice and capture work done from all involved, including Hollywood star Jon Bernthal.
Unfortunately, a decent story and good acting can’t redeem the rest of the game, which feels like a very generic, open-world third-person shooter that’s very undercooked and riddled with bugs. The main campaign also drags on for way too long, making you not care about the plot at all. The big reason for it is you end up running all over the place to gather intel, get this person, hack a server there and the finally do the thing to finish the mission. And then rinse repeat. This is proof that longer is not necessarily a good thing, as the quality of the experience is what matters.
Unfortunately, a decent story and good acting can’t redeem the rest of the game, which feels like a very generic, open-world third-person shooter that’s very undercooked and riddled with bugs.
The game does, however, provide a lot of content, so if you do find value in the gameplay, then there’s a lot to do. It will probably also be a lot better with friends, which I unfortunately not have the luxury of doing. There are side missions and faction missions and just simple open-world exploring, which works pretty seamlessly, and can keep you busy for a very, very long time. So in terms of the sheer number of things to do, there’s some bang for your buck.
One thing everyone is aware of at this point is the incredibly aggressive monetisation that Ubisoft plastered all over Ghost Recon Breakpoint. And the big question you might want to ask is, is it really as bad as everyone says it is? Well, yes and no.
First, there’s a ton of microtransactions in Breakpoint. You can buy almost anything. If you want a particular weapon, there you go, you want a certain look, yup, all yours. The options are endless, and as is almost always the case, all the good stuff is locked behind a paywall. It’s also not exactly cheap, and you can spend upwards of R160+ just to get a couple of extra weapons and clothing gear, and that’s being very modest.
The big question though is whether it brings in a pay-to-win scenario, and the answer is not that clear cut. The thing is, almost everything can be found in the world if you just go out and play the actual game you spent money on. Sure you might not get all the fancy looking colours and clothes, but there is not a single weapon and item that cannot be earned through gameplay. But at the same time, you might get people that spent some money on Time-Saver microtransactions, giving them an edge when it comes to Ghost Wars PvP. On top of that, Ubisoft included Time-Saver DLC, which allowed one to purchase all the upgrades and skill trees but have since removed it, making it impossible to catch up to those who might have taken up the offer, warping things even more.
The microtransactions are a blight on Breakpoint, and it feels Ubisoft gave a lot more attention to the store rather than making the actual game as it is riddled with bugs and glitches which doesn’t make the game unplayable but is incredibly annoying.
For a start, I’ve come across a myriad of audio glitches and issues. NPC and character dialogue will cut out mid-sentence, sometimes a person will sound like they’re 20m away, and on one occasion the audio just outright stopped. But audio is not the only thing, I’ve managed to get stuck in environments, seen the AI completely break, including the NPC I was escorting getting completely stuck and rooted on the spot, essentially forcing me to restart the mission. Finally is the performance of Breakpoint. You get an option of running both in Performance mode and Resolution mode on the PS4 Pro, and it didn’t matter which I chose, since the framerate would drop into slideshow territory when things get busy on screen.
The game is a broken mess, and I’ve honestly not seen such an underdeveloped AAA game in some time. When it does come together, it looks rather good, but the immersion is completely broken when assets take too long to load and the framerate takes a nosedive. When you see something like this, coupled with the aggressive monetisation, one cannot help but wonder what went wrong,and whether the developers spent enough time on the right things.
The game is a broken mess, and I’ve honestly not seen such an underdeveloped AAA game in some time.
So what went wrong?
Clearly Ghost Recon Breakpoint is not the game it is supposed to be. But why?
For a start, Ubisoft’s decision to turn it in yet another live-service looter shooter might have been the wrong one. The inclusion of a hub-world, where you constantly have to go to progress the story or get faction missions and you see a bunch of other Nomads run around there just doesn’t work for the premise of being this Special Forces soldier.
What Ghost Recon Wildlands did so well was that you are this elite team of four, that goes from one place to another, slipping in and out of places without being seen, like Ghosts. And it felt so fresh and cool, moving across an interesting, well-made environment, going from one place to another, destroying the Santa Blanca Cartel one druglord at a time.
Now that dynamic is out the window, and if you play on your own, you can kiss stealth and tactics good buy as you Rambo your way through a bunch of enemies who stand between you and your objective. Playing co-op, this might be different, but due to not having any of my friends playing the game over the weekend, it was not something I could test out.
Yes, Breakpoint does offer matchmaking, but it doesn’t work. Well, it works technically, but it needs a lot of refinement. I once matched with a guy who was way under levelled and clearly not ready for this mission, and Ubisoft didn’t take language barriers into account, as having somebody shout to me in Spanish is not something I consider a good time. I get what the idea was here, and if you are lucky enough to play this game with friends, then I honestly believe it can be an incredibly satisfying experience (once the bugs are sorted).
But, I honestly believe Ubisoft made a mistake in turning this game into a looter-shooter and at the same time removing the rather good AI partners. The premise of being behind enemy lines and being hunted by the Wolves is so intriguing, but the ball was dropped on something that could’ve been so good.
Any redeeming qualities?
So with so much going wrong in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, are there any redeeming qualities to it? Well yeah. I mostly played alone, and while it is not the ideal way to play this game, I did have kind of a good time, sometimes. The story, as I mentioned isn’t bad, just a bit wrongly paced due to the mission structure. The shooting is very satisfying and Ghost Wars, the PvP side of the game, is pretty decent and fun.
There’s also a ton of things to do, and provided the bugs and glitches get fixed, making the game more playable, you will be able to play this game, as is, for a very long time. A lot of it might feel repetitive, but that is the nature of this type of game.
Unfortunately, however, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a massive letdown. All the bugs, the overly long missions, the removal of AI partners all contribute to a rather disappointing experience. The aggressive monetisation also leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth, and it almost feels like the developer was using this game as a test to see what is the Breakpoint of the consumer.
It is a shame, as there’s a lot of potential, but because of all these factors, I cannot recommend this game to anyone, not in the state it is on now, and with a clean conscience.