Noob Reviews: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
This review with be based on console gameplay only.
There will be further posts that go into more in -depth analysis of specific areas coming soon.
What is Breakpoint?
Set four years after the epic Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, which was released in 2017. We find ourselves back with Nomad in the year 2023. Having been dispatched to the island of Auroa, Nomad at the head of a team of Ghosts (aka the 5th Special Forces Group) have been trying to locate a missing naval vessel.
Unfortunately whilst trying to infiltrate the island, the Ghosts’ helicopters come under heavy assault and are torn from the sky by swarms of drones. And this is where your adventure as Nomad begins. Taken down behind enemy lines, alone and with no access to the outside world. You must fight to survive. You must fight for answers. You must defend the innocent and find a way to tell the outside world just what the hell is going on.
Continuing on in the same vein as Wildlands, Breakpoint is a tactical shooter, however, this time your adventure is set in a vast online open world that you can either explore in co-op (with friends and other random players you meet in Erewhon) or solo. Unfortunately unlike Wildlands, Breakpoint must constantly be connected to the internet for both solo and co-op play. There is no offline mode.
In addition to the main campaign (PvE), you also have an optional mode called Ghost Wars (PvP) and a brand-new mode launched at the end of November called raids where four players are thrown into ‘Project Titan’ and attempt to overcome some of the most challenging firefights and bosses on Auroa. One thing I will just mention about the raids is unfortunately they can not be run solo or with public matchmaking (like Division 2). So you must have a four player team ready to go to join. Raids are also PvE only.
What is this Erewhon you mentioned?
Erewhon is the main social hub in Breakpoint where you can meet random public players, catch up with your friends, buy gear and also receive the majority of your missions from various NPCs. You can only access Erewhon once you have completed the tutorial for Breakpoint which as part of its course will bring you to the location.
Erewhon as well as the main social hub also is a key aspect to the homesteaders (a faction in the campaign) who are hiding from Sentinel and the Wolves. Led my the mysterious and charming Mads Schulz, it is a haven for those in need. Funnily enough, Maria Schulz (his wife), is also the store owner.
You mentioned that you can play solo or in co-op. Do the AI teammates make a return if I play solo?
The short answer to this is no. At present there are no AI teammates like in Wildlands. There has been a lot of grumbling from the community about this, but we will go into that separately. Long story short the development team are looking at adding them back in.
For now, one of the key aspects of the AI teammates in Wildlands was to help you take down multiple enemies at once, this is still possible with the help of sync shot drones. These small drones can be deployed up to three at a time and will act just as your AI teammates did. They will mark a target and then will execute said target either on your shot or the press of a button. The big difference between the sync shot drones and the Wildlands AI teammates is the drones do not need to change position every few seconds for a better line of sight, which to me, makes them beautiful little bundles of death. Personally, the AI teammates in Wildlands used to get on my nerves.
- Screenshot of the sync shot drone -
So how does the game play without AI teammates or co-op if I want to play solo?
In one word beautifully. I was a bit worried as to how the game would handle, how it would feel and how challenging it would be. But after 150 + hours of gameplay I love the solo aspect. The lack of backup, firefight support and the general sense of companionship the AI teammates gave just ups the tension. Every move needs to be planned out and carefully considered from different points of view. But not only does it heighten the tension and suspense, when pulling off a perfect stealth clearing of a base or VIP snatch and grab you feel like you earned it. You feel like it was deserved and I think it feels a lot more rewarding.
How can you travel around Auroa?
Although fast travel is still a thing to help you travel large distances in mere seconds, you always have your own two feet or an array of land, air and water based vehicles.
Although planes are few and far between they do exist alongside a large assortment of both armed and unarmed helicopters. Water based vehicles range all the way from large luxury boats to small rubber dinghies. And the land vehicles come in all shapes and sizes too. Whether you be looking for a motorcycle, sports car or APC, there is something for all.
My personal favourite means of transport, if you can get high enough, is the sky diving and parachute.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official Announcement Trailer -
- Official 4K Gameplay Trailer -
As mentioned above we also now have access to raids. The first raid was launched across all platforms at the end of November. To access it you must have a minimum gear score of 150 and a team of four players.
- Official Raid (aka Project Titan) Trailer -
Okay so admittedly the trailers look good, tell me more…
First and foremost even since launch in October there has been a lot of amendments to the character customisation, not only can you choose your gender but you can use various pre-made or purely custom character models. In addition to these, you can also unlock special skins via the Ubisoft Club, faction battle point system or via the in game store (using microtransactions) that allow you to become even more unique.
When playing through Breakpoint the skill tree from Wildlands returns but is much larger and now facilitates the introduction of four classes (Assault, Medic, Panther and Sharpshooter) which you can choose between as you wish. Classes can be changed at bivouacs, Erewhon and between Ghost War matches. In addition to the skill trees and classes you can also pick perks to compliment your playstyle, whether they be faster health regeneration, more damage against drones or proficiency with a specific weapon type. You can use three perks in total at anyone time and again these can be swapped out as and when you choose from the inventory screen.
- Screenshot of the available perks -
What is the difference between the classes you mentioned?
Assault - The assault units are the front-line units and as such receive the benefit of additional health and slightly increased damage dealing with certain weapon types. Their utility item is a gas grenade that deals area of effect damage (AOE) over time. Their class technique (True Grit) allows players to take even more damage and improve the recoil of their weapons for a short period.
Medic - Medics are the support units that make every team a successful team. Patching people up and keeping them running for as long as possible. Medics come equipped with a special utility item that allows them to heal others. Additionally they can revive faster and move bodies faster (so drag people into cover quicker in the middle of a gunfight to heal them properly). Their class technique (Field Medic) also allows medics to revive players with their drone from a distance. This same technique if available, can also be used to revive the medic themself.
Panther - Masters of stealth and close quarter combat (CQC), panthers are infiltrators that have the ability to hide themselves from drones via their unique utility item (Cloaking Spray). Whereas their class technique (Cloak and Run) will allow them to deploy a smokescreen to evade all enemies for a short period.
Sharpshooter - Sharpshooters do their best work down a scope. Long range shots and single shot weapons are their tools of trade. With a utility item that allows them to fire a sensor grenade that auto tags all enemies in its area, they are perfect for scoping out new areas. Each use of their utility item allows six sensor grenades to be launched. The class technique for sharpshooters (Armour Buster) is a brilliant addition to this class, which for three shots, will increase bullet penetration. Perfect for taking out larger enemies, vehicles and drones.
- Screenshot of the in game class descriptions -
A fifth class known as Engineer, who will specialise in heavy weapons and the use of drones, is going to be released shortly. This class will be accessible to everyone but players with the year one pass will receive access to them a week ahead of everyone else.
What do I do to get access to the class techniques?
It will varie depending on the class you pick but there are normally certain actions that get you quicker access to the technique than others. For example the sharpshooter is rewarded more for long range shots, head shots and drone kills. Whereas the panther is rewarded more for CQC kills whether it be with a melee weapon or ballistic weapon.
Whilst we are on the subject of classes, each class also levels up differently. So first and foremost you can level up both in PvE and PvP modes, however these are two different paths to levelling up and do not share the same goals. For each class you will be set a series of goals, such as get x kills with x type of weapon. Kill x enemies in x amount of time. When you hit all the goals for your current level, you will then level up and be presented with your next challenges. Personally I have levelled all four current classes up to level ten (their max) and some challenges are a lot easier than others to achieve but half the fun is the challenge in accomplishing them.
Earlier you mentioned a bivouac. What’s a bivouac?
Bivouacs are essentially rest locations scattered all across the open world where you can boost your stats for a short period, access the store, craft inventory items, change your loadout and class or call in vehicles. You can stumble across these as you explore, be directed to them as part of a handful of missions or even get their locations from NPCs or picking up documents in the world.
- Some examples of the bivouac functionalities -
Does the gunsmith from Wildlands make a return?
Yes it does. The gunsmith is back in full force, allowing you to customise everything from barrels to scopes and grips to paint job / camouflage. Unlike Wildlands though, Breakpoint has adopted the Division approach to weapons and in addition to coming in various types (of say assault rifle) and groups (light machinegun (LMG), sniper rifle (SNR), designated marksman rifle (DMR), sub machine gun (SMG), assault rifle (ASR), shotgun (STG) and pistol (HNG)) they also come in rarity too (common, uncommon, rare, legendary etc.).
Depending on the rarity of the weapon it will have randomly assigned stats of varying degrees. So say for example a common weapon may have a 2% increase to health regeneration and 5 handling. A legendary may have 8% increase to health and 30 handling.
- Screenshot of my in game DMR in the gunsmith -
Although many people have cried wolf about Breakpoint been pay to win (which we will go into in-depth in another post), although you can buy a variety of weapons in the microstranstion store (as opposed to the Erewhon store) anything you can buy there you can find in the real world except for a handful of very rare weapons. With regard to Ghost Wars (the PvP mode) no matter the level of your gear, when you join a PvP match, everyone’s gear score is averaged out and given the same score so you are all on an even footing. Even some of the perks and special abilities people can unlock at higher tiers, have been taken out of PvP (you can tell these by a small note in their description) as to avoid any unfair advantage.
What types of enemies can we fight?
As you may have been able to tell from the trailers (and some of the post above) there are a few different types of enemies. Unlike Wildlands drones play a huge part in the enemy arsenal this time around. Whether it be small annoying little drones with sirens on that alert enemies to your position or huge behemoths that are essentially battle tanks and act as mini bosses in different areas. There are a variety of drone types to encounter and overcome, my personal tip, make sure to keep your EMP grenades topped up.
In addition to the drones there is a human element that also comes in two main factions (Sentinel and The Wolves) and then various shapes and sizes, from snipers and breachers (CQC shotgun troops) to drone operators and large juggernaut type units with heavy armour and a gatling gun.
Are Sentinel and The Wolves the same?
Sentinel is the main generic enemy force that you will come across during your travels, they are mainly the ones kicking in doors and terrorising the islanders. The Wolves on the other hand are the elite units. Cole Walker’s hand-picked warriors which he has trained himself. They will quite literally hunt you if you are spotted by certain enemies, and they also protect the most important of areas (in addition to their own camps you can come across).
One thing I will also just mention is that The Wolves also have some interesting mini bosses, these are Silverback, Rosebud, Flycatcher and Yellowleg. These four are the lieutenants who answer directly to Walker and have their own special mission chains before you can get to them. And don’t get me started on the Walker boss fight… Just be warned… They are the top wolves in the pack for a reason.
Just a side note...
When fighting the enemy forces you also now have the ability to use the environment to conceal yourself for ambushes and if timed correctly, to avoid pursuers. Below you can see an enemy unit moving towards my position and then literally walk right past me. The third screenshot is an example of how when hiding in different weathers, such as rain, there are different levels of detail and immersion compared to when I am hiding out in a dry open area.
Below those examples, in addition to the large arsenal, rations and utility items such as grenades and mines; both the night vision and thermal vision return for both yourself and your drone. I have added in three screenshots to show the difference between normal vision, night vision and thermal vision.
Can you give us an idea of the story?
Without going too much into spoiler territory, as mentioned above Nomad and the Ghosts are dispatched en masse to look for a missing naval vessel when they are torn out of the sky by swarms of drones. Cut off, behind enemy lines and with an impenetrable drone wall that will destroy anything coming into (or trying to get out of) Auroa. Nomad must find out what is going on and find a way to relay this to the outside world so that they can send help. The only problem is, not everything is as it seems. Where at first Skell Tech (the company that owns Auroa) appear to be the enemy, they are in fact been held hostage and made to work for Walker and his 'associates.'
Having tired of war upon war with nothing truly been resolved, Walker has decided to take up the mantles of judge, jury and executioner and bring an end to the current political and social structure of the world. Reshaping it into one of his own design.
In addition to the above (which is a minimal spoiler explanation) there are hundreds of side missions, faction missions and faction support missions that admittedly even after 150 + hours I have not yet had the pleasure to experience them all. What makes it worse (but in a good way) is faction support missions are changed every day and the faction missions themselves (slightly longer but with better rewards and individual stories that lead on from one to the other) are added every two weeks. These faction missions are referred to as chapters and you can always find the most recent chapter in your journal or replay previous ones you may have missed.
When was it released?
Breakpoint was released on all platforms on the 4th October 2019.
Who created Breakpoint?
- Official Ubisoft Live Action Trailer - The Pledge ft. Jon Bernthal -
What do you think of Breakpoint so far?
There are quite a few different opinions and rumours about Breakpoint doing the rounds, the people whining the loudest are saying it is a broken and buggy mess that should have never seen the light of day. Others say that it is a decent game that needs work. Personally I am strongly on the latter side. Breakpoint takes all the best parts of Wildlands and improves upon them, giving the game a very solid and reliable base on which to build. Don’t get me wrong, it has a few issues with glitches and performance, however, based on over 150 + hours across both Xbox One (standard) and PS4 Pro, it is a nice little game.
Some of the big bonuses for myself are the actual lack of AI teammates. The AI teammates in Wildlands drove me mental having to relocate every few minutes when sync shot-ing. They had a habit of finding their own ways into a base which would often lead to alarms been raised. And their randomly spawning next to you broke immersion. The fact you are alone, behind enemy lines and effectively a one man (or woman) army is thrilling, exciting and so rewarding. Don’t get me wrong the co-op and playing with other people is fun, but playing solo can also be a great experience. It’s just down to individual player’s taste.
Although I was not a huge fan of the weapon and armour rarities to begin with they have grown on me. I think it would be more beneficial though to get rid of the system to appease the masses, but keep the levelling to the weapons. So just to clarify this point, for every weapon there are variants such as rare, common and legendary etc. but you can also upgrade every specific make of a weapon (such as the HTI sniper rifle or TAC 50) to mark (MK) 1, 2 and 3. With each level up it increases reload speed, damage, handling and range. Although the rarities we could live without, I think the levelling for the weapons truly allows you to customise and put a lot of work into your favourite types of weapon in addition to just the scopes and barrels. It almost adds to the personality of your equipment. That been said, again with each rarity come some special bonuses like health regeneration and handling that varie heavily between what you pick up and what you craft, which especially when you are starting out, can really help.
Although I have just talked about weapons, the melee takedowns and sheer scope of melee weapons (karambits, hunting knives, utility knives etc.) available in Breakpoint is fantastic. Especially if you like to get up close and personal when taking down enemies. Again it really compliments your playstyle and adds a sort of uniqueness if not character to your Nomad. I will just point out that to date I have not spent anything on microtransactions but use weapons I have unlocked via the
faction battle points, found in the world, bought from the store in Erewhon or received as unlocks from the Ubisoft Club. You can get weapons from many places before you even look at the microtransactions and not wanting to blow my own horn here, but I have some of the most powerful weapons in the game. Although we will go into microtransactions fully in another post, don’t buy into all that rubbish about microstransactions make the game pay to win. For the majority of items, anything you can buy in bundles, you can find in the game barr some rare or unique skins. True it takes a bit of extra grind and effort to get them but that is the beauty of how they changed the microtransatction state since alpha and beta. Microtransactions are no longer a core mechanic, but are still there as an option for people to use if they do not want to (or have time to) put the effort in.
- Example of the battle rewards you can earn for free in game -
Overall even since launch when there were so many people trying to get online it crashed the servers, the game has come on in leaps and bounds. Constantly been patched, worked on and tweaked. Ubisoft have been very open about their roadmap and are actively engaging the community for their views, opinions and what they should work on as a priority to further improve the game (we will go into this in another post as there is a lot to cover). The game itself (at least on console) is stable, has a great array of mechanics and as you might be able to tell, I absolutely love it and can not wait to see where it takes us next.
- Screenshot of my Xbox One Nomad -
- Screenshot of my Xbox One Nomad on the statistics page -
What overall rating would you give Breakpoint?
Although there are many changes of varying sizes hitting Breakpoint quite soon I will give it a solid 4 out of 5.
I will keep the details and my opinions on the changes for another post but to date the gameplay is fun, combat and mechanics are smooth and the exploration and RPG elements are fun to learn and master. In my opinion Breakpoint takes all of the good aspects of Wildlands and just continues to build on them. Although it came out to scathing reviews and still is getting pounded by a barrage of dislike from some people I honestly would recommend it to people to try out, especially whilst it is on offer for just under £30 at most retailers (as opposed to its normal £50).
Thank you very much for checking out the review I hope you enjoyed it. Admittedly everyone has a different opinion and all I can do is encourage you to try out this gem for yourself and see what you think.