In 2017, I had the opportunity to review Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, the first game I’ve reviewed for LifeisXbox. As a big fan of the Ghost Recon franchise – and almost everything that carries Tom Clancy’s name – the game is still one of the best games of the generation for me. Ever since I watched the first trailer for it (and boys… just remembering it triggers some good memories… with ‘Friction’ from Imagine Dragons playing in the background), the hype for the game reached sky high! So, when they announced this sequence, you can imagine how hyped I was to have the opportunity to review it. Acknowledging that, our boss and Chief Editor Dae Jim let me do this review for you. Thank you, boss!
For those unfamiliar with the name, Tom Clancy was an American novelist famous for his many books about espionage and military-science storylines. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, having passed away in 2013, but he left us a fictional world that can only be compared to the best authors of our history (yes, Tolkien, I’m talking about you): a world know for strong militarism, before and after the cold war, which lead to the increase of tension between nations, extremist groups and the use of numerous (and secret) task forces in missions around the globe. This is the background for numerous books and movies like The Hunt for the Red October (1984), Patriot Games (1987) and The Sum of All Fears (1991), just to mention the ones I’ve watched. In the gaming world, we can thank Ubisoft and him for several games like the Splinter Cell series, Rainbow 6 series, H.A.W.X. series, The Division series, EndWar and Shadow War (the two only games from the list I haven’t played). And Ghost Recon series, which the last installment we are about to know.
Developed by Ubisoft Paris, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is an indirect sequel to 2017’s hit, Wildlands. The comparison between both titles will be inevitable, so I’m leaving a link for it here in case you don’t know the first game. Breakpoint changes its former country, Bolivia (which didn’t like at all the way it was represented in the game), for the fictional country of Auroa, an archipelago in Pacific Ocean lair of Skell Tech, a technology company created by Jace Skell that aims to build on this island what he calls the Society 2.0, a society that uses unparalleled technology to provide a better way of living to all its population. And they succeeded, making Auroa prosper like no other place in the world! But when Skell Tech was a victim of a terrorist threat, its CEO contracted Sentinel, a security company to ensure the safety of all the territory of the island. But something changed when Lieutenant Colonel Cole Walker, a former Ghost who rebelled against the team, joined Auroa as a security counselor. With his team of special ops, the Wolves, they started to call the shots in the country. Auroa’s technology and building capabilities were turned into weapon manufacturers, which quickly provided the Wolves with state-of-the-art weapons and defense capabilities.
When a US cargo ship mysteriously sunk in the island vicinities, unable to establish contact with Auroa, CIA initiated an operation called Greenstone, where a team of 32 Ghosts, the icing on the cake of US Special Forces, were sent aboard the USS Wasp and, from there, they should infiltrate the island via helicopters to investigate what happened. Leading these troops, we find you, Nomad, the squad leader who dismantled the Bolivian Cartel of Santa Blanca in 2019. But before you reach the island, the helicopters of the team are taken down by the island defenses. You survive the crash and will now need to rendezvous with other Ghosts and discover what happened. Now it’s up to accomplish this mission. Gather all the Intel we have at your disposal in this review and resume your mission, Ghost.
What do you do? In Ghost Recon Breakpoint, you will explore the islands of Auroa while fighting enemy forces and accomplishing missions to your allies and try to discover what happened in this country. It’s an open-world third-person shooter with stealth and RPG elements we will discuss further in this review.
If you follow news about videogames on YouTube, Twitter or any other social media, I’m almost sure you have already gotten in touch with complaints about Ghost Recon Breakpoint regarding its bugs and, especially, the in-game store. The GAAS strategy taken by Ubisoft plus the countless bugs (that gave it the nickname of Bugsoft in the past) may have jeopardized the release of their biggest title of the year (or at least, the most expected by me) and compromised its sales. But calling it ‘the worst game of the year’, ‘the biggest disappointment’ and other things like some YouTube channels have been doing is very overrated. You, our LifeisXbox reader and friend, deserve to know the truth to decide if a game is worth your time and money and that’s our objective here. We try to be respectful to all studios and especially the people behind each game. All bugs will be dealt with, I’m sure of it. I’m a big fan of Ubisoft’s games and they have a good history of correcting their games when needed (have you played Assassin’s Creed Unity after all the patches it received?). Just keep in mind our review for Breakpoint is related to the game as it is at the moment of publishing and some of the things pointed in this review may not be the same when you play it in the upcoming days, weeks or months. We are all against the bad practice of releasing unfinished or buggy games to correct it later (especially by large studios like Ubisoft), but that’s what we must deal with today. Unfortunately. That said, let’s continue for our review.
- The world of Auroa: Bolivia was astonishingly beautiful and well represented in Wildlands. Now in Breakpoint, Ubisoft takes the next step into creating a world that’s even more impressive. The different biomes, the climate change with rain and fog, the use of light and shadows, the building’s interiors… There are so many things worth praising that I could continue with this list indefinitely. Although there are some aspects that could be better like some visual bugs (more about that later) and weird animations (like the vegetation reaction to the wind), Ubisoft delivered a game in which atmosphere is immersive like few out there. And for those who really care about visuals (and have an Xbox One X), you have the option to choose between resolution or fidelity (frame rate). A truly brilliant job done here!
- Music for my ears: Or better saying, sound-effects for my ears! The music in Breakpoint is only present in a few moments. While the strives for creating the better atmosphere possible, it delivers some ear-blowing ambiance sounds of the nature, gunfights and an exceptional voice work for its characters – with a special mention to our nemesis, Lt. Colonel Cole D. Walker, who has the voice (and face) of the actor Jon Bernthal, The Punisher. Is this good enough for you?
- One adventure for each player: The freedom of forging your own adventure, already present in Wildlands, has been widely improved in Breakpoint. Besides the story missions, here you can explore the world looking for equipment pieces and blueprints, search for lore items that explain the transformation process Auroa has been through (and are quite interesting for building up the atmosphere) or do some factions missions to help some of the locals of the island in timed missions that will grant you some interesting loot. Do you like to fully explore a game world or do you prefer to focus on the main story? That’s ok: the choice is all yours. Just keep in mind that’s a lot of things to do here, that I assure you.
- The game hub: Yes, there are locals on this island besides the enemies, if you’re wondering if. Most of the minds behind the company who didn’t support its ‘new philosophy’ flew and, aside from the settlers, are now living in a small refuge hidden from the company’s drones. This refuge works as a game hub were Ghosts that survived the crash can find shelter and do missions together (co-op mode) or fight in the Ghost Wars (PVP mode). In this hub you can talk to NPCs (there are few, but the interaction with them is interesting) to learn more about the lore and to unlock missions. These locals try to keep the economy running with stores where you can buy weapons, equipment, and cosmetics with the virtual currency (Skells) you get by exploring the world of Auroa, eliminating enemy drones and soldiers or accomplishing missions.
- The multiplayer: These hubs (yes, there’s more than one: the main one is in the refuge, while others can be found in bivouacs – temporary campsites for troops in the open air) were you initiate the multiplayer was a master’s play in my opinion. I know other games have already done something similar before like Destiny and Warframe, but few of them feel as natural as the one in Breakpoint: It inserts the multiplayer mode in the story and the world of the game in a believable way. At the moment, there are only two multiplayer modes in Ghost Wars: Sabotage and Elimination, both 4×4 game modes in a small fraction of the game map (but large enough to stay challenging and interesting). In the upcoming weeks (my guess), Ubisoft may introduce the Incursions, special operations like the Raids in The Division or Destiny, with temporary time for you to accomplish that may give you some interesting loot and boost to your character and classes. It’s worth mentioning that the character you play in Ghost War will have the same equipment and skills he/she has in the story mode, but with a few buffs or debuffs to make things more balanced. And now we mentioned the player classes…
- Loot shooter meets RPG: By exploring the world, accomplishing missions and, essentially, killing enemies, your character XP (experience points, I’m sure you know it). Accumulating enough XP, your character levels up, giving you one ability point that can be used to unlock classes, new equipment or abilities you can assign to your character. There are four classes in the game, each one with a different focus: Field Medic, Assault, Panther and Sharpshooter. Field Medics can cure and reanimate team members with his cure drone. And even revive themselves – but not in PVP. Assault can use lethal gas grenades and have more resilience and resistance to damage. Their proficiency weapons are Assault Rifles and Shotguns. Panthers – the class that carries the true spirit of the Ghost Recon series: stealth – have an invisibility spray that protects you against the detection by drones and can use a smoke grenade to stun enemies and disappear. When using this class, handguns and SMGs equipped with silencers won’t have damage reduction. Lastly, Sharpshooters have sensors to detect enemies and can inflict more damage to drones with their special ability. Their weapons of choice are – guess what? – Sniper Rifles and DMR (designated marksman rifle – I didn’t know this name either). You can change your class at bivouacs on the map or in the settlers’ hideout. You can also customize each class to work as different loadouts for Ghost War (what’s highly recommended). Each class specializes in a different class of weapons, but nothing prevents you from mixing your equipment according to your preference: you can play as a Sharpshooter that uses a shotgun and a light machine gun. I promise I won’t judge you.
- Customizing your arsenal: The guns in Breakpoint are highly customizable. You can attach (or detach) accessories like silencers, under barrels, scopes and so, granting you can always find the weapon that suits your needs. The accessories you use tweaks the weapons status granting more (or less) stability, range, capacity, recoil and damage They can also receive paint jobs and skins because everybody wants to enter a secret base with pink-shinning guns and leave undetected. The weapons have rarity levels, from common to legendary, with the higher tiers giving interesting boosts to your character.
- Too easy for you? The introduction of different difficulty levels was a nice addition to the game formula. This way, those players who feel the game needed more challenge and increase enemies’ precision, lethality and overall ability, spicing things up. For a more realistic experience, you can deactivate the guided mode, which indicates your objectives in the map, and play in the exploration mode, in which you will need to trust orientations based on the map to locate your destinations. After I finish my review for the game, I’ll play the game again in this mode. It’s going to be legen – wait for it – dary!
- Customizing your character: You start your adventure in Ghost Recon Breakpoint creating and customizing your character. His or her genre (adding the option to play as women was great!), and physical appearance, hair and face details. I may be wrong, but although the models are good (really good!), I believe there were fewer options than in the previous game. No, it doesn’t consist of a big problem, but I’m used to having each time more options – and not less.
- The (expensive) game store: Yes, you can use real money to make things easier for you and unlock weapons, customization pieces and items earlier in the game. I don’t really like this idea, but I won’t condemn you who does it (after all, that’s your money, not mine). And I’ve seen loads of tweets complaining about it, but I believe they are unfounded: since the game aims to balance things in the Ghost War mode, you will end up being the guy with the cool-looking equipment that can be eliminated by a noob. And those items (or packs of items) aren’t cheap, keep that in mind if you want to be the fancy warrior on the battlefield.
- Where’s my squad? Breakpoint is clearly an online co-op-oriented game. I say this because while we free roamed in Bolivia in a squad of 4, in Auroa we are a one-man army when playing alone. The absence of company – even though they were bots – made the experience much more… lonely. I remember how the chitchat between the members of my squad was good to the atmosphere of game. Now, the only voices we hear while exploring Auroa are from enemies ready to be taken down. They try to compensate it with the addition of drones to perform synchronized kills, but things worked better when we had other soldiers by our side. Can somebody please give me a hug?
- Driving around? You better call an Uber: It looks like the programmers responsible for implementing the drivability in Breakpoint attended to driving lessons at Watchdogs Driving Academy. I understand and totally agree with you that the focus of this game isn’t on driving cars or bikes around, but with so much ground to cover, you will spend a lot of time inside vehicles. So, the driving experience should be a lot better in this game. Controls are unresponsive and physics is unrealistic, making driving through the mountain roads something really annoying. My advice: whenever possible, use helicopters to travel!
- Bugs galore: Ghost Recon Breakpoint isn’t short on bugs, unfortunately. But thankfully, most of them aren’t game-breaking. MOST of them. During my time exploring Auroa, I’ve witnessed many different bugs and errors varying between comical and annoying like my characters entering the ground (but returning before reaching the abyss there’s beyond every game world), walking underwater like there was no water at all, NPCs floating, my character performing execution animations while the enemy was two steps away from him (from now on, I’m changing his name from Nomad to MacGyver) and characters and other players popping up in the hideout (the game hub). I’ve seen NPCs who bought their driver licenses provoking accidents and crashes (there was a funny situation where a car with some sentinels inside was trying to avoid a truck stuck on the road. They went around it, heading towards a cliff. When the car was about to fall, it stopped and the soldiers inside it suddenly were standing on the car). I’ve faced a lot of lag in short videos that explain your abilities in the upgrade screen. But the only bug that really compromised my gameplay happened when the tagging feature stopped working for apparently no reason. After closing and reopening the game, there it was back at work. I also had issues connecting to other players to try the co-op to the point I was unable to play it. On the other hand, the Ghost Wars PVP mode was very smooth. It gave me the impression that the quality control was enjoying their vacation in the period before the release of the game.
Although all the depreciation towards Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft outdid themselves again, creating a massive and alive world that’s pleasant to explore, especially if you have a good group of friends to play with. It isn’t very original, but it brings everything that worked well in Wildlands to the next level. And right from the beginning this time, with a huge PVP mode that, if it receives just half the attention and dedication Wildlands PVP mode had, it will have everything to be one of the best of this generation. The game isn’t free of bugs – no sir – but I’m sure they shall be dealt with in time, making the already great experience with this game even better. In case you are still in doubt, YES I DO recommend this game for every player who enjoys a great tactical shooter or just enjoys the freedom to things and missions on its own pace. See you in Auroa, Ghost!
Ghost Recon Breakpoint ReviewRafael
Written by Rafael
Xbox writer for LifeisXbox
Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.