As the first always-online game in its franchise, Breakpoint feels less like a tactical infiltrator and more like all of Ubisoft's other sandboxes.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is, counting expansion packs, the sixteenth title in Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon franchise, the first of which was released all the way back in 2001. Although the series has gone through multiple makeovers and transitions over the years as general expectations and video game trends changed, this new entry feels both the most distant from where Ghost Recon started out and also uncomfortably similar to many other Ubisoft titles.
Like Ghost Recon Wildlands before it, Breakpoint is set in an open world environment similar to those found in games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey and the Far Cry series, featuring a sprawling landmass filled with acquirable herbs and collectible items sprinkled around enemy-controlled bases of varying sizes and difficulties which can be infiltrated in whatever manner the player (or players) desire. When experienced in single-player, Ghost Recon Breakpoint can also feel eerily reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, amplified by a focus on futuristic technologies edging on science fiction and the fetishistic way in which weapon-related conversations and military terminology is thrown around.
The story of Ghost Recon Breakpoint is told in chunks. Since the game requires a constant internet connection and would rather a player be engaging with it alongside three other people online, a majority of the provided missions are more akin to MMO-style tasks like "Shoot 10 Enemies from 250 Yards" and seem to be focused on putting players in a location and allowing them to figure out how to complete whatever additional tasks are given, such as retrieving an armored vehicle or interrogating a witness in the middle of a highly-guarded enemy compound.
Although intended for cooperative play, cutscenes do not feature additional party characters like they do in games like Grand Theft Auto Online. Instead, mission briefings and story cutscenes are delivered to the player's created character only, which can create a tonal disconnect when four people arrive at a location after blasting through enemy forces with an attack helicopter only to watch a lengthy video in which the player's own character laments with an NPC about being one of the only members of their team left alive. Much of the set-up for the game's plot is delivered in flashbacks, showing how Jon Bernthal's villain Cole Walker turned from a loyal soldier to a hardened killer, and there is an almost B-move camp to the overly dramatic way in which the various characters that inhabit Ghost Recon Breakpoint deliver their dialog.
Breakpoint also offers a more traditional form of multiplayer, Ghost War, in which players team up in groups of four in Elimination and Sabotage-style death matches. During these Ghost Wars players can also assign themselves tasks such as "Mark 10 Players" in order to achieve XP boosts and rewards. It's in these missions players seem to be at their best, working together to achieve a common goal against equally-minded enemies, and some of the multiplayer matches can become quite entertaining as each team tries to one-up the other on a tactical level, usually culminating in some sort of drone-related fight. In normal play, however, most missions with random strangers simply end up as straight firefights with very little stealth or tactical prowess involved.
This is something which will obviously vary among different teams, and, like most online games, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a much more enjoyable experience when playing with a full roster of players who have the same goals in mind. Four like-minded individuals can be hard to come across, though, and it only takes one team member firing an unsuppressed weapon once to alert an entire base. Thankfully, even in single-player the game is lenient enough that a player with enough patience can sneak through almost any area with little difficulty, save for the occasional interruption by higher level Arkham Knight-style drone tanks.
Players level up and choose new perks and abilities as they complete tasks, missions, and objectives. A nice inclusion is the ability to take ranks in multiple play styles, so a sniper character can also put points into the medic skill if they want to have the best of both worlds. Some of these perks are carried into the PVP Ghost War modes as well, but many are not. Missions are chosen from a clustered, messy menu screen which seems to accurately depict a table strewn with documents and players can select up to three objectives to "pin" to their HUD at any given time.
One of the many types of "go to a place and find the thing" missions a player can undertake is retrieving information about weapon blueprints, thus allowing them to be purchased in the in-game store. For players who don't want to go on these collection quests, those same blueprints are available to purchase in Ghost Recon Breakpoint's microtransaction emporium, in which players can buy everything from new weapons and crafting materials to arm tattoos and attack helicopters. Purchases in the Ghost Recon store are made with Ghost Coins, which a player can buy for real-world money in packs starting at a base price of $4.99 for 600. Most, if not all, of these items seem to be available in the game without purchasing anything extra, making their inclusion here even more curious and apparently geared towards players who simply don't want to put forth the time to find them.
The moment to moment gameplay of Ghost Recon Breakpoint is adequate but somewhat clunky, apparently taking cues from games like Red Dead Redemption 2 in terms of player weight and realism when applied to tasks like descending slopes and cliffs, which can often find players tumbling head over feet towards the bottom. Vehicles like cars and motorcycles vary in responsiveness but all seem to have far better traction than their real-world counterparts, which is thankful given the vastly different topographies of the game's play area. The on-foot camera is also frustratingly close by default, giving the player a larger blind spot than feels necessary in a game of this nature, and although players are given the option to vault over waist-high obstacles this can only be accomplished when the related button prompt appears on screen, with the unfortunate result of frantic escapes being cut short because the camera wasn't positioned properly to allow said prompt to appear.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game seemingly at odds with its own identity. For a series which for so long was focused on level-by-level tactical infiltration, the open world elements of Wildlands and now Breakpoint feel counter-intuitive to the directed, surgical way Ghosts have undergone missions in the past. The sandbox style of play, where developers simply give the players all the tools they need to have fun and tell them to experience the game in their own way, can be entertaining and even enjoyable at times but lacks the necessary drive and focus needed to properly convey the supposed severity of the game's plot. Players are given access to a vast landscape to explore and yet also immediately handed a helicopter and told, via their map's suggestion, they are too low a level to survive landing anywhere. Missions, objectives, and tutorial notifications flash across the screen at regular intervals, all in service of the constant grind to reach a new level and find new gear.
Breakpoint is a very pretty game, to be fair, but there's not much going on under the surface besides the now-usual Ubisoft sandbox with a coat of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon painted on it. For players who are looking for team-based tactical infiltration, gadgets, and a fairly generic story about a solider-turned-rogue, Ghost Recon Breakpoint has all of those things provided they are utilized in the proper manner. For people who just want another sandbox island filled with enemies they can shoot with a variety of different weapons and drone strikes, Breakpoint has them covered as well. For players looking for a unique, offline experience not filled with microtransactions and unintuitive menu screens, they best look elsewhere, as day one server blackouts have already seen people not being able to access their game.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is out now on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A Google Stadia version will be released in November 2019. A digital code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.