Saturday, 26 October 2019

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint ★★★☆☆

‘Ghost Recon Breakpoint’ is the follow up to the successful ‘Ghost Recon Wildlands’ (both from the ‘Tom Clancy’ series) published a few years ago by Ubisoft. It puts you in the shoes of a tactical soldier thrust into an open world full of people to shoot and robots to destroy. The previous entry was set in Bolivia but this time Ubisoft have created a mostly fictional island as the setting. You would like to think this is because they could have more options on how to create a varied setting but this is probably mostly due to the complaints from Bolivia's government on Ubisoft’s depiction of their country.

This sequel isn't just a “by the numbers” one by any means. There has been a distinct shift in the type of game on offer here since ‘Wildlands’ and ‘Breakpoint’ borrow many different mechanics from Ubisoft’s other flagship franchises such as ‘The Division’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’. This shift is not always for the better though, with some of the mechanics feeling stuck in at last minute whilst other elements such as microtransactions feel way out of place.

In ‘Breakpoint’ you play as an operative trying to survive on an island of a tech company that has been taken over by a military-based company.  They have turned the island into a fortress protected not only by soldiers but also an army of drones looking to hunt you down. You can play in Co-op as you could in ‘Wildlands’, but this time when you are playing Solo there is no A.I squadmates to back you up which is quite a departure for the other ‘Tom Clancy’ games.

This time around loot is the name of the game. In a system borrowing heavily from ‘The Division’, you will find many lootable items such as guns and equipment for your character that all have item scores. In previous ‘Tom Clancy’ games, you would pick your set up and stick with it for most of the game, earning attachments and almost building a relationship with your designated gun of choice. This time you'll be swapping guns out every few minutes chasing the big numbers and damage. 

This doesn't really work within this universe like it does with ‘The Division’, especially when you realise the number of microtransactions available to buy – not only cosmetics but also equipment and even skill points. I have seen bad implementation of microtransactions before but this really takes the cake. It's almost as bad as a mobile games app that throws it in your face every few minutes and after paying an AAA price for the game to begin with it just feels insulting to the player, especially as those of us with less coin (or less willingness to spend) are automatically at a disadvantage to those happy to chuck money into a virtual universe. Microtransactions which affect levelling are and always will be my main issue with modern gaming, so this was an inclusion I wasn’t too keen on. It should be noted that, due to backlash from Early Access players, Ubisoft has pulled some of the microtransactions from the store.

One welcome change from ‘Wildlands’ is the emphasis on story. The main antagonist, a previous ghost like you, is played by Jon Berthall (The Walking Dead) and puts on a stellar performance as an evil killing machine. Unfortunately, any other NPC you interact with fails to provide the same calibre of performance. There are too many bad pun jokes and cheesiness that pull you out of the experience and it feels like the game is contradicting itself, not knowing if it wants to be semi-serious SIM shooter or an action film.

Like many games that have come out recently, ‘Ghost Recon Breakpoint’ is trying many different ideas to find its place in the current gaming market. Not all of it works though, feeling at points like it’s a money-making machine rather than a true gaming experience. There’s no doubt that it’s fun, with some excellent action and stealth scenarios, but if you’re playing on your own then it almost feels like the only way you can truly do well is by giving into those damn microtransactions. 3/5

Hannah Read

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