Does Ghost Recon Breakpoint live up to the hype?
As some of you regular readers and Twitch followers might know, I love Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, a title that I came late to, but made up for it by playing the shit out it still to this day, I can easily loose myself in the Bolivian landscape for hours at a time. So when the news got to me that the Beta test of the sequel Breakpoint would be happening early September, I immediately applied and eagerly awaited the day to get into some new Tactical Shooter mayhem.
The following review is of the limited Beta test that took place from the 5th till the 8th of September, where I spent roughly 16 hours.
I deliberately stayed away from any information and trailers regarding Ghost Recon Breakpoint as I wanted to truly immerse myself into something completely new when I finally got the chance.
Breakpoint is set four years after Wildlands on the fictional Pacific Island of Auroa, which is owned by Skell Technology and is their base of operations where they produce drones for commercial and military purposes. The company aims to use the island, which has several different climates and geological terrains, as a haven for design, research, development and production of A.I. and drone technology.
After a Skell Tech drone assassinates a politician and the US government begins to investigate, the company and island cut itself from the outside world, so in go the Ghosts lead by 'Nomad'.
After being "shot down" in the opening minutes of the cinematic, you learn that the island has been taken over by a PMC (Private Military Contractor) called Sentinel and are led by former Ghost, Cole D Walker and his men the 'Wolves'.
One of the first things I noticed was how polished everything was, despite the odd glitch in graphics when turning around quickly, it looks like a fully finished and released game. The landscapes, weapons and vehicles all appear amazing, the NPC's not so much, especially during cutscenes, but overall, stunning.
The second thing was how clunky the controls were, gone were the crisp movements of the predecessor and replaced with a system where you can't stop straight away and continue for several steps and have the turning circle of a World War II battle tank (next to none), which left me frustrated more than a few times.
Gone are the forward bases of Wildlands and replaced with a main camp, located almost centre of the island called Erewhon; where the civilians of Auroa have set up to fight back against the Wolves and keep their families safe. You can matchmake, purchase/craft weapons and gear and find main and side quests within Erewhon, though unless you have a helicopter, it's a bit of a bitch to get to, fortunately I discovered you can also find missions in the pause menu.
Survival plays a huge part in Breakpoint, with your character needing to rest up, eat, drink and sleep from time to time and also injuries are now a thing.
You still get your regenerating health bar, but take too many shots, or become tired or dehydrated and you'll start to limp, struggle to aim your weapon straight, barely run or make too much noise while traversing the terrain.
You have a few options to fix these dilemmas: travel all the way back to Erewhon, or find a quite spot to perform first aid (a long process, so I do not advise to do so in combat) which won't take care of sleep deprivation. Or you can find one of the many bivouac camp sites that are dotted all over the countryside, they allow you to rest up, eat or drink, heal and give time limited bonuses during play.
One part of Breakpoint that I didn't love is the new Gear Level system, that reminded me just a little too much of The Division, meaning that you need to have a constant eye out for new equipment to keep chopping and changing your loadout to take on high level foes.
Add to that you need to also upgrade your weapons, making it a bit of a colluded mess to me, spending a huge amount of resources to improve an Assault Rifle, then 5 minutes later finding one better without the upgrades really pissed me off. I feel it wasn't needed.
Once again, like in Wildlands, the vehicles are a nightmare to drive, the cars somehow both under and over steer, and have next to no middle amount of throttle, it's all or nothing. While on any of the motorbikes I found (three different kinds) you never feel in control of it and it is taking you for a ride, a case of get on, shut up, hold on, and try to steer.
The only motorised transportation that I didn't hate was the helicopter, the controls are fun and easy to master, thought remember those trees you could fly through in Wildlands? They're gone and clipping just a few in Breakpoint renders your bird un-flyable.
One thing I can’t forget to mention, but almost did, is the map - it is huge and varied, but the beta only gave us three areas: a wooded sector, a swampland and mountain plus its surrounds. The whole map was on show and while not the largest in a video game ever, it was still impressive.
I know this review might come off a bit more negative than I was hoping, but this is honestly how I feel, I wanted to love this game in the same way I do Wildlands. While this is a Beta test, and was told that this may not represent the finished product, I know it won't be far off.
That isn't to say that I will never play Breakpoint again, it is a great Tactical Shooter that will connect with millions of fans around the world, but right now, it's just not for me, but I'm in no rush.
I'm happy to wait, watch more content roll out, the bugs to be fixed and the price to come down before I re-enter the world of Auroa. As awesome as the trailers look, this combination of Wildlands, The Division and Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater hasn't quite sold me yet,