A Noob's thoughts on 'Moving Forward' with Breakpoint
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Since launch, Breakpoint has been bombarded by both negative and positive reviews, in situations like this with such a torn community and player base, it can be hard to make up your own mind on whether or not to buy the game. Needless to say, £60 is a lot to gamble on a game you are unsure about.
Luckily for Breakpoint though, Ubisoft have recently been engaging the community and player base via Twitter, in-game questionnaires and forums to try and find out what some of the primary complaints were and how they can make the game better. Below is their open letter to the community (original is available here) and some of my thoughts.
(1) Technical State Of The Game
The end of November patch was launched as promised, and although it did not fix all of the bugs, it has fixed quite a large amount of them. As mentioned, the stability was inferior on the launch weekend but was quickly fixed and back up and running correctly within about two days (if that).
Although many describe Breakpoint as a 'broken and buggy mess' this is far from the truth. Admittedly there are still a few issues, but as I mentioned before, they are disappearing quickly with regular patches and updates.
(2) Post-Launch Content
Personally, when reading through this section, what jumped out at me first was the 'dedicated to supporting Ghost Recon Breakpoint in the long term.' Even having born the brunt of the criticism and feedback so far, the development team are wishing to amend what irks people the most and turn Breakpoint into a successful game instead of cutting their losses and moving onto another project. Ubisoft if anything has a track record of doing this (bringing games back from the brink) with other titles too such as Rainbow Six Siege and For Honor.
Having played the Project Titan raid I must say it is quite enjoyable, however, it is really (current) end game content as you need to have a minimum of 150 level gear to be able to enter. Meaning the majority of new or casual players have been unable to try the raid so far. I think with a difficulty tweak, and perhaps the gear requirements level dropping to around 70, it would be more accessible to more people. Alternatively, you could also have the enemies in the raid scale their difficulty to match to an average of the player ranks in the group.
What I have also found with the raid is that it is a mandatory four-player group to raid with, with no option for public matchmaking or the ability to enter solo or with a lesser number of teammates. This also puts people off. A public matchmaking system for the raid would be easy to implement as you could use one similar to the Ghost Wars selection. This again would make the raid more accessible to the lower level players or those who prefer an otherwise solo experience who may not have three in-game friends to join the raid with them.
Unfortunately, the Terminator event mentioned has not come out yet, so I am unable to comment on that, however, if the special events were like those from WIldlands it will be a blast I am sure. I loved the Predator and Splinter Cell special events so much.
(3) In-game Economy
I am not too sure about section 3. When it comes to the in-game currency as in the currency you can collect from the open-world; it is easy to come by. Whether you are taking it from dead enemies, finding it in caches or selling unused gear and resources from around the world (like gold and opals) - acquiring quite a large sum of money in a short amount of time is possible with a minimal grind. As an example, an armed gunship from the shop in Erewhon is 57,000 Skell Credits. It took me about four hours to collect this just as I played and explored without having to go looking for credits. As I said, I am not too sure how much more simplified or accessible they can make earning in-game currency without spoon-feeding players or giving them an in-game allowance of x amount of credits per day.
On the flip side, you could also see the tales of rampant microtransactions to be a problem in the game, making Ghost Wars and Breakpoint pay to win; this is complete nonsense. Although there are microtransactions in the game, they only allow you to buy a few rare skins (that have no impact on gameplay stats) and bundles of weapons and resources. All of which can be found in the open world if you look for them. True some are easier to find than others. The way I see them, the bundles available are purely for the players who have perhaps a limited amount of time to play or those who want to access everything now, as opposed to having to put in a minimal amount of grind. I say a minimal amount of grind as there is an equipment section of your journal that if you choose to enable it, will put a map marker where specific attachments and gear pieces are on the map. All you have to do is go in and get it.
(4) AI Teammates
I think my views and opinions on the AI teammates are quite well known but just in case; I will say (and happily standby) the fact that the game does not suffer without them. In my opinion, the lack of AI teammates in Breakpoint builds the tension, suspense and even the thrill of large scale gunfights or stealth infiltrating a base. In WIldlands, the AI teammates were a liability in most situations. That said, the community has requested they be added back in, and it is nice to see, that even after been identified as ' a major undertaking' the development team are willing to put in the work to meet people's requests where they can.
(5) Freedom of Choice
Within this section, the development team do pick up quite quickly on the 'polarized reactions from the community,' when it comes to design choices. I believe this is where the majority of the community are truly split. Admittedly when I heard Breakpoint had implemented the rarity system for gear from the Division series I was concerned by how well it would work out within the Ghost Recon universe, but it was implemented quite well. I did, however, tend to find that bar the additional random stats added to weapons depending on their rarity, it was the levelling system that had the most significant impact on weapons.
Although rarities come in the usual common, uncommon and legendary ranks (to name but a few), the levelling system allows you to upgrade any weapon to (currently) mark 3. As you progress from standard to mark 1, for example, each new tier brings an increase to damage, the weapon's effective distance and reload speed (to name but a few). Every time you unlock different marks per weapon (say for example on the HTI sniper rifle) they then apply to every HTI in the game that you pick up from the dead, buy or find in caches etc. Admittedly the rarity system adds little to the game, but I do hope they keep the levelling system as it adds a lot more customisation to your weapons in addition to what the gunsmith already has to offer in the way of attachments and camo paints.
Continuing on from this, the development team also mention the new survival mechanics (such as the bivouacs, ability to camouflage yourself in various environments and perks). I believe all of these have been a lovely addition (to the solo experience especially) and can challenge you to plan and manage what you need to take with you when setting off on missions. Admittedly I found my favourite past time seems to be hiding beside paths, then jumping up from a camouflaged position and ambushing patrols.
Overall though, from Wildlands to Breakpoint, the best aspects have been taken from Wildlands and built upon in Breakpoint. I do admittedly though look forward to 'a more radical and immersive version of Ghost Recon Breakpoint.' I think this may be like the survival mode from Fallout where everything from fatigue to hydration has to be monitored, but again it would only serve to build upon an already varied and enjoyable base game.
Although there was a sixth section, it was merely a conclusion to their community letter from the development team and can be found here if you would like to read the original letter in full. That been said, there were some statements they made that grabbed my attention...
"Big changes can take time to make sure they are done right, but we still want to be as transparent as we can about the current state of development."
That really is something we do not see enough off from larger developers these days, and it is nice they have been forthcoming. To me, it gives the impression the development team want Breakpoint to be loved. They want it to be popular. They want that connection to the community. This is just another reason I wholeheartedly would endorse this game to anyone who asked.
"To all of those who have jumped in and to those who are thinking about joining us – please continue to share you feedback. This is only the beginning and we look forward to the future together."
One of my pet peeves, when reading Reddit posts and talking to people on stream, has been how many people are bitching and whining about Breakpoint, but going purely off of hearsay and having not played it themselves. I think the best way for anyone to make their mind up is to try it themself and I look forward to more prey... I mean players... Joining in the Ghost Wars fun.
Overall I thought the letter was informative, thought-provoking and gives a strong impression that the development team and Ubisoft know where they want to go with the game. I hope they stay true to their course and can implement what they have planned so far. Overall I will be sticking with Breakpoint and am excited to see where we go in 2020 and beyond.