For many fans of tactical shooters, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise has consistently hit the sweet spot between hardcore, “one-shot-one-kill” realism and more fanciful mechanics. The last chapter, Wildlands, favored an open world design over smaller, directed levels. Coming in early October, Breakpoint adds a layer of potentially controversial RPG-like elements to the game.
Breakpoint is set on an island utopia broken all sorts of bad, the kind of ideal and obviously flawed community that only a high-tech gazillionaire could envision. The map retains the expansive open world feel without being overwhelming or diffused of content and, of course, the game is infused with all manner of drones — which play a significant role in many aspects of combat — and near-future gear. Things go south right away and you must infiltrate, investigate and survive.
Moment-to-moment gameplay — either solo or in co-op squads — feels roughly similar to the past entries, whether the mechanics are main story missions and shorter side missions, tagging and dispatching enemies, shooting from cover or stealth takedowns. This time around, in addition to various human enemies, there is a wide range of autonomous drones to contend with and a number of weapon mods and tracking gear to accomplish the task.
Where some pushback is expected is around the decision to add character classes, levels and leveling to weapons, and even to lock some engagements to a specific gear level requirement. While stronger enemies are tagged with a skull icon, there is no indication of their level and Ubisoft insists that skill will trump gear level when taking down foes. For many players, these mechanical changes may make the Ghost Recon franchise feel like every other shooter out there and less about tactics, skill and savvy, too reliant on having a leveled weapon or playing the “right” class for a mission.
I came into the closed beta very late and sadly had a limited amount of time to explore the game but I enjoyed the slightly hackneyed story premise and challenging action, which felt very typical of Ghost Recon. While its production values somewhat suffer in comparison to recent action games like Gears 5, Breakpoint promises to build on the changes made in Wildlands and move the franchise in the direction of other tactical shooters, while hopefully retaining enough of its singular DNA to please long time fans.