In case anyone was wondering how to “df sf dasasdffd dasfdas dfas sfasdf asdf sf dasf fasdf asdf sf dasf asdffddasfdas dfas sfasdf asdf sf dasf” in the PlayStation 4 version of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, it’s right there in the controller configuration section of the menu. Share button. Mystery solved.
I’ve only played about five hours of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, but I’m having a fun time crawling through the fictional island of Auroa’s mud, strategically clearing bases full of soldiers and drones, and even hopping into a little competitive multiplayer. My colleague Heather and I got together to break down how this game works and talk about what we like and dislike so far.
In the video above, we discuss Breakpoint’s new bivouac system, which lets you craft new gear and grants your character buffs. We also talk about gear levels and new survival mechanics while we complete a main mission. Check out the video to see the game in action and hear our thoughts.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is here, or is it hiding in that bush over there? Whatever the case, Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Tom Clancy video game canon is here with plenty of loot to find and bases to assault. Breakpoint brings a lot of improvements over 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Cool character creation, tons of weapon customization, an actual villain. But it’s also rough in other areas, less of a delicious action milkshake and more like a gritty military sludge.
I’ve played around five hours of Breakpoint today, waking up and diving right into the action. On the one hand, it’s a surprisingly chewable and chill action game. On the other, I feel like I’ve been here before. Breakpoint isn’t a game out to shatter the mold; instead, it wants to slide comfortably into it. That’s great if you’re looking for some tactical action but if you’ve played a military shooter before, then you’ve basically played Breakpoint. No amount of user-interface overhauls or big name actors can change that. I’m in for a long haul but here are some initial thoughts.
Maybe We Won’t Start A Diplomatic Incident This Time?
Okay, the bar is admittedly low here but 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands had some serious problems with its setting and villains. Set in Bolivia, it focused on a Mexican cartel that somehow took over the country and transformed it into a narco-state. It was sleazy and racist, with caricature Mexican gangsters traipsing about a Bolivia that wasn’t much like Bolivia at all. It was so bad that the country of Bolivia filed a complaint to the French embassy (publisher Ubisoft being a French company, of course) and considered legal action.
Breakpoint opts for a fictional setting: the island of Auroa, which has been taken over by former “Ghost” operative Cole Walker (portrayed by Jon Bernthal.) It’s a sort of tech-libertarian paradise where a company working on automation and drone technology was eventually seized by Walker and his cohorts. It’s generic, but I’ll certainly take that over the shitshow that was Wildlands. And hey, it’s nice to have an honest to God villain this time around.
Ghost Recon Has Been Taking Notes From Destiny and The Division
While not a full-blown loot shooter, Ghost ReconBreakpoint leans further into that direction than its predecessor. There are a variety of weapon rarity levels, and you have an overall gear score based on the quality of your equipment. Taking on Walker has a recommended gear score of 150 or higher, and much of your time is spent not only on story missions but slowly upgrading your character’s power. This is a bit different from Wildlands, which was far more focused on letting you choose the weapons you like and going from there. Don’t expect to get too attached to your gear in Breakpoint. I was upgrading, swapping out, selling, and disassembling tons of weapons and armor right from the beginning of the game.
Normal Mode Is Pretty Easy
If you’ve played plenty of shooters, don’t expect Breakpoint’s normal difficulty to offer much of a challenge. While there are tougher enemies—Walker leads a platoon of spec ops “Wolves” who love to hunt down the player—it’s nothing you can’t handle with a marksman’s rifle and some well-placed shots. All your weapons can be suppressed, and Breakpoint hands you a precision rifle in the first mission. If you can aim and click your mouse, the early game (and presumably much of what’s to follow) will seem straightforward.
The Structure Is Different
Wildlands built itself around a core loop where players would do a few odd jobs to gain access to a high profile cartel lieutenant who they’d confront to gain more intel on their leader, El Sueño. It was a little bit like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Very loose, not tons of story. Here are some bad guys, go take them out. Breakpoint splits activities into different paths: a main story path, missions for Auroa’s various factions, side quests, other events like high level raids. This means that you can focus directly on the main story if you want. There’s less screwing about and trying to unlock new missions. It gives Breakpoint a welcome momentum that Wildlands didn’t have.
I Might Be Able To Fight The Final Boss Right Away?
You can immediately tag a mission to confront Walker right from the start of the game. The main tasks are to interrogate enemy officers for intel on his location and to, if you can, level up your gear to the appropriate level. I’m not entirely clear on how this all works, and it’s possible that officers don’t show up until certain story beats. However, the idea of a playthrough that ignores all the intrigue for a mad dash at the villain is really exciting. Chances are that it doesn’t work that way, but I would love for it to be possible.
All Games Should Let You “Pin” Objectives
To help players manage their various tasks, Breakpoint allows them to pin up to three objectives to their interface. For me, this has meant a pin for my main story task, a pin for one side mission, and final pin marking the location of a nearby weapon blueprint. It’s as simple as going into your pause menu, hovering over a mission, and tapping spacebar. Super useful, easy to reference whenever you want, and great for tracking Breakpoints’ numerous distractions.
You Don’t Need To Wear Ugly Gear
Breakpoint’s focus on swapping out gear means winding up with some mismatched looks. If you find yourself walking around with half a ghillie suit and a crummy flop hat, you can hop into the menu to change your appearance at any time. You’re still mostly limited to tacticool gear, but if you don’t like a particular pair of pants all you need to do is select a new look. If you have better looking gear, simply transform the higher quality stuff into something easier on the eyes.
There’s An Exploration Mode
Lifting a page from Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey, Breakpoint has a guided mode and exploration mode. The first places a marker on your map leading directly to your objective, the other asks you to decipher clues and peruse the map to find where to go next. It’s a neat touch for customizing your gameplay experience, even though I think it’s better to play guided in this case. Breakpoint’s map isn’t always easy to traverse; knowing exactly where to go speeds up an otherwise slow process.
Something’s Up With The Graphics For Me
I’m playing Breakpoint on PC and while everything runs smoothly, there’s some strange stuff going on with the graphics. It’s hard to explain but there’s either some depth of field stuff going on or a filter applied to things out of focus. Whatever the case, it’s given backgrounds a pixelated look that’s honestly distracting me. It’s not affecting my aim and I can soldier on without many problems, but I’m hoping that a few tweaks in the options will get rid of whatever the hell is going on.
This Could Take A While
Five hours or so isn’t a lot of time with a big AAA video game these days, but I’ve been focusing on the main story quest and was dismayed to see that the statistics screen said I’ve experienced 0% of the overall story so far. Maybe it’s a bug or a factor tied to the fact I’m playing a Ubisoft-provided review code before the game is supposed to be available in my region. Or maybe Breakpoint is that huge. I’d be more excited if the story wasn’t a standard behind-enemy-lines tale. Breakpoint s okay so far, but the prospect of untold hours of scowling soldiers and moody Jon Bernthal one-liners is daunting. All in a day’s work, I guess.
This week Ghost Recon Breakpoint releases, letting players explore a large open-world map as super tactical soldiers. If it is anything like the last game, it also means players will be able to cause all sorts of mayhem using vehicles and explosives.
I enjoyed the gameplay of the last Ghost Recon game, Wildlands, but the world felt so boring and the story never hooked me that I stopped about 60% of the way through. I’ve been tempted to go back and finish off the last leaders of the Cartel for a while now. Maybe I should do that before I play Breakpoint? Or maybe I’ll skip Breakpoint and never play Wildlands again! Who knows?
There’s more coming out this week beyond a new and big Ubisoft game. Warsaw looks like a cross between World War II and Darkest Dungeon. Destiny 2′s big new expansion drops this week, alongside the jump to Steam. And for Ghostbusters fans out there, that game from a few years back is being remastered for current-gen systems. I remember liking the first few hours of that game and hating the rest of it. Maybe I’ll like it more on new consoles?
Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:
Monday, September 30
Chop Is Dish | Switch
Blockoid | PC
Fallen Empires | PC, Mac
Nobodies | PC, Mac
Duck In Town – A Rising Knight | PC, Mac
Balloon Fighter | PC
Cube World | PC
Ten Days To War | PC
Spaceland | PC
The Lost | PC
Tuesday, October 1
Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation 2 | PS4
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep | PS4, Xbox One, PC
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World | PS4, Switch PC
ReadySet Heroes | PS4
80 Days | Switch
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition | Switch
Lanternium | Switch
Super Crate Box | Switch
Hunting On Myths | PC
Particle Wars | PC
Wednesday, October 2
Asdivine Kamura | Xbox One, PC
Warsaw | PC
We Were Here Too | Xbox One
Spooky Ghost Dot Com | Switch
Marginalia | PC
Norman’s Night In | PC
Drawn Down Abyss | PC, Mac
RaceXXL Space | PC
The Long Return | PC
Thursday, October 3
Neo Cab | Switch, PC
Legrand Legacy: Tale Of The Fatebounds | PS4, Xbox One
Candleman | Switch
A Hole New World | PS Vita
Paranoia: Happiness is Mandator | PC
Fault: Milestone One | Switch
CASE: Animatronics | Switch
Galaxy Champions TV | Switch
Cubixx | Switch
Tic-Tac-Letters by POWGI | Switch
Hexagroove: Tactical DJ | Switch
Hero Of The Forest | PC
Hexxon | PC, Mac
Endless Fables 4: Shadow Within | PC, Mac
Alive 2 Survive | PC, Mac
Friday, October 4
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint | PS4, Xbox One, PC
SlabWell: The Quest For Kaktun’s Alpaca | Xbox One
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the follow-up to 2017’s popular and controversial Ghost Recon: Wildlands, kicked off its closed beta weekend yesterday, letting players who pre-ordered the game take on two early story missions and a host of side missions that ostensibly will give players a clearer picture of what to expect when the game launches October 4. Almost immediately, players have been polarized over what’s arguably the game’s most prominent new features: its new gear system.
In a shift from Wildlands—which itself was an open-world reinvention of the more level-based Ghost Recon franchise—Breakpoint now has weapons and gear with levels, much like your character. The average level of all your gear contributes to an overall gear level, which gives you a rough idea of what kind of challenges you can take on. According to Ubisoft, the forthcoming raid mission is the only game content that will be locked behind a gear level limit, and enemies do not have a visible level attached—just a skull noting that their gear level is significantly higher than yours, and you’d better prepare for a tougher fight than usual.
SomeGhost Reconplayers consider this antithetical to the franchise ethos, which is predicated on realistic, tactical play. “One shot, one kill” is what, they say, people look to Ghost Recon for. Their argument is that It’s not supposed to matter what level your weapon is at or what kind of perks their character class has—if your character sends a bullet to another one’s head, that’s all it should take. From a messaging standpoint, Ubisoft seems to agree.
In a lengthy Q&A published the same day the beta went live, Ubisoft laid out its rationale for the RPG-style gear system, noting that it’s not meant to detract from the series’ brand of tactical shooting. For human foes, higher levels just mean they’ll spot you faster and be a little bit more lethal, taking an unspecified but slightly higher number of body shots before they go down.
“Whatever the human enemy level, you will always be able to eliminate them with a single headshot, as long as they are not wearing a helmet,” the post reads, “in which case you just need to land a shot once to remove it, and then a second time to take them down.”
The operative word there is human. Breakpoint is set on a tech magnate’s private island, and taking on a variety of autonomous drones is a big part of what goes on. It’s also Breakpoint’s out for having missions and areas that do scale based on gear level, although Ubisoft states that lower-level squads should still be able to take them on as long as they’re ready for a challenge. To which…sure. You can also technically beat Dark Souls naked with a single club, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Ubisoft’s argument for implementing this system stems from user data that indicated most Wildlands players found a weapon they liked and stuck with it for almost the entire game. This new system, the company says, encourages players to swap out weapons regularly and see more of what the game has to offer. It’s nice on paper, but if Ghost Recon is the skill-based shooter that Ubisoft says it is, and the tactical fantasy players seem to want from it, then players sticking with a gun they’re good at using seems a little bit like a problem that doesn’t need solving.
Similarly, classes feel like an addition made for the sake of having another thing to add in post-release content, the way Operators are added to Rainbow Six Siege or Specializations in The Division 2. It’s not that they aren’t fun—I like having the option of being a medic or a heavy weapons expert, but that’s also because I’ve acclimated class systems after years of playing shooters with them. If I think hard about it, there’s nothing particularly Ghost Recon about how they’re implemented here.
Despite these substantial changes, Breakpoint still feels tremendously satisfying to play. The trouble is that with its new class and gear systems, Breakpoint moves into fashionable areas of big-budget video games that aren’t entirely simpatico with Ghost Recon’s hardcore style. Figuring out how well developer intent meshes with player feedback is one of the purposes of beta tests like this—and it’s almost certain that players will figure out how well this early version of Breakpoint aligns with what Ubisoft says the game is meant to be.
Here’s one thing I’m certain of: Breakpoint’s new gear makes Ghost Recon a much more compulsive game, appealing to the big dummy in me who loves seeing numbers go up. I don’t have a problem with that, but there are also dozens of places where I can get that feeling any given week. Ghost Recon should feel different, right?