This past weekend saw the release of the private beta for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Select players, media, and pre-orders could play the beta from Thursday 5th until Monday 9th September. The beta was privy to PC players only, although the game will be available on PS4 and Xbox One upon its full release October 4th. I had a few hours to play the beta, so I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the good, the bad, and meh for Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Jon Bernthal! Strange as it is, the media campaign for Ghost Recon Breakpoint has almost exclusively focused on the games antagonist. Bernthal reprises his role as Cole D. Walker from Ghost Recon Wildlands, only this time he’s gone rogue. Live action trailers and in-game cinematics both focus on Walkers turn to the dark side. Compared to dry and fairly unlikable Ghosts, Walker is a ball of charisma, intensity, and honor. The only let down? We’re stuck playing the boring old good guys, while Walkers wolves seem like a far more interesting outfit.
Tension! The high tech island of Auroa is home to an entire fleet of militarized drones. Now serving Walker, these mechanical nightmares are constantly patrolling air and land. (They also serve as the reason why we can’t escape the island.) If you find yourself caught in the open, a recon drone will quickly identify your position, and scramble your radar. Blinded and panicked, it will take less than 30 seconds before a heavily armed wolf squad finds, and kills you. They are absolutely lethal, and trying to take them on solo is folly. This makes travelling between missions and locations all the more tense. We actually feel under threat, something that Wildlands missed out on.
Auroa! The real winners here are the people of Auroa. The islands natural beauty is spectacular to behold. Sure, they may be under the rule of a rogue US Special Forces Officer, but hell, can’t be much worse than democracy can it? Ubisoft Paris have crafted an impressive landscape. Nearly every biome you could fight through is represented. Salty marshlands, forested hills, coastal cliff tops, and a snowy, mountainous spine running north to south along the islands interior. Of course then we have the various towns and villages; dilapidated and quaint, while the Skell Research buildings are all futuristic plush. The locations always feel varied.
Choppers! Why can I so freely fly a helicopter around this modern island fortress? If the population are so threatened, that they have taken to hiding in mountains refuges, and if moving freely on foot is so difficult, why the heck can I just boot around in a chopper with nary a worry. Surely, the islands drone security forces can detect unauthorized flights on the island? Surely the hunter teams, or armed checkpoints can hear my helicopter, and look up? Apparently unidentified foot mobiles are more of a threat to security than heavily armed men in a helicopter.
Cover! The fluid cover system feels very awkward. Rather than having a button-push system a la Division, Gears, or Uncharted, the developers have stuck with the same floaty uncomfortable system from Wildlands. Grabbing cover under fire should feel quick, and fluid. However, when your character entering cover safely is determined by the push of a multi-directional analogue stick, a slightly angled push can cause instant hurt. All too often I got jacked, because instead of moving left or right along cover, my Ghost stood up, and caught a face full of high velocity happy pills.
Missed Opportunity! Ghost Recon Breakpoint feels too much like its predecessor. Admittedly Ubisoft have improved on every aspect of Wildlands, and the new features also add to experience. The bivouac system is a nice touch. Injuries can accumulate and hamper player movement, increasing tension as you exfil from enemy occupied territory. As always, the weapon smithing is a key feature, expanded on since the last title. Unfortunately, these points are under-written by a dose of disappointment. Imagine what may have been, if the writers had actively tried to craft a more memorable player experience. Instead of playing it safe, why not expand on the survival elements. Within 30 minutes of beginning the game, you will find yourself tearing around Auroa on a scrambler, or SUV, whistling past armed men, who do little but look confused.
I would welcome a more desperate start to the game. Perhaps we could spend the first few hours of play on the run. Nomad would traverse from hideout to hideout, avoiding enemy hunter teams, and scrambling to find surviving team mates. Instead, we’re left with something that feels fairly by the numbers.
Overall though, I had a very positive experience Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. As an open world shooter, it seems well crafted, with multiple mission types, and an investigation system for uncovering tasks not given by NPCs. There’s certainly a lot to look forward to, but I hope that the few niggles present, don’t detract too much from the overall experience.