Breakpoint: More Tame Than Wildlands
I was so excited about the Ghost Recon: Breakpoint announcement. That’s because there are a lot of great things to say about Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I’ve said it time and again, it’s one of my favorite games. When it comes to Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, I have much less to say. I’ve participated in the Open Beta weekend, and have come away feeling very disappointed. I do have some good things to say about Breakpoint, but I have more misgivings about it.
First, the good. The game continues to offer astonishing visuals. The south pacific scenery is breathtaking, and the high-tech buildings and equipment look sleek and original. The story carries over seamlessly from Wildlands, and I think that brings more immersion to the table. One of the greatest improvements is the durability of vehicles. No more street signs that will tear a chunk out of the front end of your vehicle. There is a little more realism with the physics, (at least from a vehicle perspective) and a lot of small brush and obstacles are ignored. This is a welcome upgrade in Breakpoint. Finally, I want to add that it has improved since the previous beta weekend, so problems are being addressed, and progress is being made.
I’m going to skip over the bad, and get right to the ugly. The game feels like it has a lot of low effort timesinks. It gives you busy work to do just to keep you in game, as opposed to giving you actual content.
Part of what I liked most about Wildlands was the fluidity of the gameplay. Breakpoint takes that fluidity and ties a chain around its neck. Instead of bouncing from region to region, meeting Bowman in safehouses, Breakpoint keeps you coming back to Erewhan. While you’re in Erewhan, there’s no sprinting or rushing from quest giver to shopkeeper. You just do a very mild jog around the place, which is frustratingly slow. Breakpoint also introduces actual gear that has stats, which gives it a looter shooter style timesink. Crafting is yet another new timesink that seems out of place in a game that is (presumably) focused on combat. There are materials you gather in the wild (bananas, saltpeter, etc) which you use to craft things. You’ll also need to spend time finding sources of fresh water to keep your stamina up, the abundant salt water will of course not help. While you’re looking for this water, and the crafting mats, and your loot, enemy drones fly overhead forcing you to stop what you’re doing and into hiding. Yet more waiting. Just imagine the gameplay of Wildlands, except you have to stop every 5 minutes to perform some menial task, or sit still doing nothing. There are still fast and furious gunfights and car chases, but the in-between moments are a whole lot more tedious. Suffice to say, the theme of the game is hurry up and wait. For someone like me who abhors too much stealth gameplay, Breakpoint might be my breakpoint.
Turning the game into a looter shooter is a tossup for me. There is undeniably a niche for stealth shooters, but looter shooters tend to be a lot faster paced. If you like slower paced shooters, and don’t mind spending time grinding, then this game could be for you. Or you could just go play The Division 2.
Whatever genre Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is aiming for, I can’t tell if it’s hit the mark or not. I can see the familiar Ghost Recon path to open world shooter, but it’s covered in speed bumps. It’s got these survival elements on top of looter shooter mechanics, and these two constantly pull against each other in practice. Looter shooters are fast and flashy, while survival games are slower and gritty. Breakpoint is exactly like this in rising and falling action. Brief moments of fun broken up by longer periods of frustration. I’ll be watching development closely, hoping that the old gameplay breaks out of this new mold. While Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is a game I might pick up someday, it won’t be on launch day, and not at full price either.