Wildlands' sequel will definitely keep you entertained if you're just looking for more of the same, but also shows that quantity often comes at the cost of quality.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands took the popular franchise in a completely new, more open direction two years ago, and has become one of Ubisoft's biggest successes. Ghost Recon: Breakpoint builds upon this while also implementing more ingredients from the now well-known Ubi-recipe, with a loot system, a heavier focus on RPG-mechanics, and some fan-requested features. That doesn't necessarily make it a much better game for everyone though.
Much like Wildlands, Breakpoint doesn't offer much in terms of an engaging story. The plot is very thin, and most characters feel so artificial and shallow that they had us cringing through several sequences and conversations. Maybe it's this that makes Jon Bernthal's Cole D. Walker stand out. His presence can be felt in pretty much every scene, which made it a bit easier to venture through the story without skipping the otherwise B-movie-esque cutscenes.
Then it's a good thing that Breakpoint's gameplay is basically the same as Wildlands, with a few improvements and additions for good measure. You'll still be running, driving, and flying your way across the new archipelago Auroa while doing missions or just exploring every nook and cranny for the outstanding amount of collectibles between gunfights. What's different is the inclusion of drones and survival mechanics, both of which help the game feel fresh and entertaining. Where most human enemies will die from a shot to the head or a few bursts to the body, the armoured drones are far more menacing both in terms of firepower and resilience. That might be why the new injury and prone camo systems work as well as they do. Having to bandage up or heal while enemies close in or are firing at you is exhilarating, and rarely gets tedious due to lack of resources or anything like that.
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Not that you have to hide behind cover all the time. You'll still feel like a force to be reckoned with, whether it be in a stealthy way or an approach that would make Terminator or Rambo seem like girl scouts selling cookies at your door. Being able to hide in plain sight by covering yourself with dirt or mud while enemy patrols are all but standing atop of you, before executing a flawless surprise attack, continues to feel cool even tens of hours into the game. The same can, to some degree, be said about the gunplay. Both the sound and feel of the different weapons are good, and watching fleshy bodies fall to the ground and drones exploded in a burst of flames is as satisfying as ever.
It helps too that Breakpoint lets you customise your character in a whole bunch of ways. Gunsmith obviously makes its returns and allows you to modify all of your weapons in different ways as long as you've found the designated attachment in the game world or bought it from the shop. It's far from as extensive and polished as similar systems in other games, but it at least makes it easier to make a loadout that suits the four different specialisations that can be upgraded in their own skill-tree. Even your clothes might include a few perks, depending on their rarity, but these are usually so minor that they probably won't be especially noticeable for many of you.
One of the aspects that will be noticeable in a bad way after a few hours is Auroa itself. Sure, the more diverse environments make the first hours go by in the blink of an eye, but it soon becomes clear just how empty and unpolished the world really is. By all means, you'll come across patrols and a ton of collectibles, but when you notice the same enemy types, placements, and strategies, the feeling of déjà vu and monotonous repetition is sure to overwhelm you. Even the aforementioned collectibles just seem tacked on, as they're often an absolute bore to read or listen to. Then it's not worth struggling with the controls and HUD every few minutes either. Trying to pick up a collectible when it's near a vehicle, body, and scalable obstruction? Good luck with that when the two-button prompts will likely give you seizures the way it changes between drive, cross, carry, and take without you moving an inch.
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Having an interesting loot system might have helped a tiny bit, but even this part of the game feels like filler meant to entice people to spend money on cosmetic items or just watch numbers get higher. We don't think the game felt especially grindy because of this, but why even have a gear score when most enemies die from a shot to the head? And why implement it instead of just focusing on smart tactics, i.e. the thing the Ghost Recon series used to be all about, when fighting the more challenging drones? Not all games require loot systems and outdo themselves in terms of scope and mechanics, Ubisoft. Topping this with a load of technical issues like pop-ins, loading textures, weird animations, stuttering framerate, weirdly unclimbable objects, and incredibly dumb AI make us think that Ubisoft is pulling a meta-joke on us by calling it Breakpoint.
This might be why we've spent more time in the multiplayer mode Ghost War than we did in Wildlands. Playing around with the same shooting mechanics against and with other players puts all the focus on the best parts of Breakpoint. Every class and type of player has a role to play, and smart tactics are necessities to beat your opponents. Carrying your friends away from danger as you feel the crosshair of your enemies on your back, marking the other team with your drone to make the job easier for your sharpshooter or flanker, or just having every fight feel different makes Ghost War a real treat. It brings all the best parts of Breakpoint to another level.
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is definitely a fun game at its core, but its identity crisis and focus on quantity over quality shines through in a way that lessens the experience. Those of you who still enjoy Wildlands and are just looking to have more fun shooting stuff with friends in a more diverse world with a few new mechanics to spice things up a bit will definitely get what you're looking for. The problem is that those of you who've grown tired of Ubisoft's well-used formula, Ubi-ed out if you will, where stuff like a loot system, collectibles, and even the story just feels tacked on should definitely look elsewhere.
6 / 10
Shooting feels great, A wide variety of options and possibilities, Ghost War is a lot of fun.
Very boring story, Auroa feels sterile and empty, Shallow and tacked-on loot system, A bunch of technical issues.