“Taking on a mission in Breakpoint quickly demonstrates the game’s amalgamation of Ubisoft’s best bits, whilst keeping the experience quintessentially Ghost Recon.”
If there is one thing that the latest Ghost Recon Breakpoint beta revealed, it was that Ubisoft knows what its games do well. A follow-up to the successful Ghost Recon Wildlands, which re-launched the popular series in 2017, Breakpoint ups-the-ante and piles on the pressure for the Ghosts. After their insertion onto the island of Auroa is caught up in a surprise ambush, the team find themselves either deceased or divided in now-heavily-occupied enemy territory. Commanded by former-Ghost-turned-rogue, Cole Walker, the technologically advanced Wolves immediately have the upper hand; outnumbering and outgunning what remains of your team.
For players of Wildlands, taking on the role of the Ghost-leader, Nomad, will feel very familiar. The core mechanics and gameplay are identical to the previous game in the series, so getting started is swift and simple. New additions, however, help to support the heavier stealth element in Breakpoint, and to help the player gain a sense of ownership over their experience of the game. Most notably and most helpfully during my playthrough of the beta was the ability to camouflage yourself when prone in natural cover. Think Arnie covering himself in mud in Predator, and you are on the right tracks. In a game where you are frequently and heavily outnumbered, the ability to hide in plain sight when things go south is a hugely useful skill; not to mention an effective ambush technique.
The game’s heavily updated progression system is what helps push the ownership element of your experience. Skills can be learned and enhanced through your actions in the game, as you would expect. The new specialism system, however, helps you to push and punch-up your preferred play style; as well as diversifying your squad. Choosing a pathway from Assault, Sharpshooter, Panther or Engineer, every core style of play is catered to. Assault is the all-rounder, specialising in direct assaults and benefiting from additional health for the trouble. Sharpshooter, naturally, is aimed at snipers and offers steady aiming at range. Panther is the stealth option, getting you in and out of altercations subtlety and swiftly. Engineer gives you a rocket launcher, so not so subtle but (maybe) more fun? For my time in the game, I took on the Sharpshooter position, and found that my class lightly but effectively supported the way I wanted to play. The benefits were noticeable, but certainly didn’t make the missions any easier, with the requirement for careful tactics still taking the forefront in Breakpoint.
Taking on a mission in Breakpoint quickly demonstrates the game’s amalgamation of Ubisoft’s best bits, whilst keeping the experience quintessentially Ghost Recon. It is always wise to start with recon, with the handy drone returning in Breakpoint. Feeling like a hybrid between Wildlands’ and Watchdogs 2’s drone gameplay, checking out a group of enemies is swift, effective and refined, setting you up nicely for the combat to follow. Whether you are running and gunning or sneaking your way in, the movement of Breakpoint feels a lot like Wildlands but with just a hint of The Division thrown in; smooth, speedy and sneaky when necessary. Combat, however, is all Ghost Recon. No spongey enemies here; if you operate your team effectively and efficiently you can easily take out an entire camp without an enemy ever knowing you were there. Headshots are instant kills, too, provided your enemy is not otherwise protected. Once again, Ghost Recon proves to have one of the most realistic systems for gun combat in gaming.
The realism of Breakpoint is not all balanced in your favour, though. A vastly improved enemy AI, with advanced security systems across the map to support them, can get the drop on you as easily as you can on them. The enemy communicate, engage, trap and eliminate threats with incredible effectiveness; to the point that it is genuinely intense to move around this island. What’s more, the game’s new injury system means that one shot can be critical to your survival, or theirs. Taking on wounds and injuries will slow you down, reduce your abilities and can eventually leave you dead. You will have to make quick choices in a multiplayer scenario as to whether you heal a friendly or thrown them over your shoulder to make a swift escape. The intensity of this world and its dangers cannot be overstated. It is incredibly immersive and frequently frightening; I, for one, loved it.
Further upgrades and additions to Breakpoint include an enhances and refined gunsmith, offering even greater weapon customisation, an in-game social hub and a new currency and equipment system which allows you to make your Nomad experience unique. The social hub is integrated intelligently into the game’s story, taking the form of a hideaway in the mountains set up by locals who have been driven away from the Wolves’ insurgency. Some of the game’s richest story and characters can be found here, too, giving the location purpose for solo players and as part of the wider game no matter how you prefer to play. You can also buy equipment here to boost your character, and rest using your Bivouac, which allows you to gain a range of buffs and set up your loadout before heading back out into the wider world. These additions to the game help to round off the overall experience. It certainly feels as though every element has been thought about carefully to give players everything they need, be it solo or as part of a squad, to take on the harsh world of Auroa.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint quickly proves that it ain’t your Daddy’s Ghost Recon anymore. On the whole, it makes Wildlands look and feel like a summer holiday, as Breakpoint brings the realism and immersion that fans of the series deeply desire to the table. The beta’s snapshot of the game is a brutal and unforgiving experience, but one that was incredibly fun to play. Naturally, the game is still better with friends, but the single player experience feels much better this time around too; adding to the sense of isolation and being up against the odds that the story attempts to push. From this small experience of the game alone, it is safe to say that Breakpoint has a lot to offer for series fans.