Over the course of this past weekend, we were invited to go hands-on with the upcoming sequel in the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise, and now, it’s time to share our thoughts regarding the upcoming title, including how war has changed.
When I first saw that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands was about to change the series for better or for worse, I was somewhat unsure about how the series going open-world would make it feel as it had once before with its laser focus on being a military simulator using squad-based mechanics and a war-fueled narrative.
But we got that exact experience, one that took every lesson Ubisoft’s teams had learned from their past experiences. While I wasn’t sure how I felt about the approach at first, I grew comfortable with it, no longer concerned about how the series had changed. I enjoyed it and it was what I remembered the series to be despite the linear story progression having been removed.
Stepping forward several years later and here we are with another entry in the series, this one focusing on Jon Bernthal’s role as Cole D. Walker, a former Ghost leader turned rogue after having joined the Wolves. The story expands upon the ending events that took place during the final free-content release for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint will see to it that war has changed
From the opening seconds of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint; Ubisoft ensured that I knew several things had changed from start to finish. One, they ensured that I knew survival was a key element of the game. My character, Nomad, would need water, rest, and medical attention in the harsh and dangerous lands of the fictional island of Aurora.
Secondly, everything – literally almost everything – is about to kill you the moment you step foot on the island. A new tech giant has come to call this island home, silencing anyone that seeks to turn their backs on them, and even allowing Cole D. Walker and his Wolves to be deployed about the island.
Your foes are as lethal as you are, they’ve been trained like they are a member of the Ghosts, and they even have almost the exact same tools as you, except theirs are bigger and much deadlier than yours. Their lethality is justified, allowing for a truly electrifying experience as you coordinate through every mission alone or with a squad in cooperative play.
With the addition of drones coming into center focus, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint heavily focuses on the emphasis on the growth of technology and the military uses that they might have. This goes for you as well, allowing you to take advantage of enhanced drone technology as you progress.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint brings survival to the forefront
During the course of this past weekend’s Closed Beta test, there were a few things that stood out as prominent features we’d not seen in the series once before. The first major feature is the survival aspect of the game. The biggest portion of this newly added feature as body awareness in the kind of damage that you took.
While I had a chance to see little variation in where the body damage awareness system was in play, it is hard to see how many variations of this there will be. The most common was leg injuries, making it hard for Nomad to get about, often time leading the character to limp about, struggling to aim, or even fully recover from their injuries.
The added changes is an interesting feature, giving some depth to bodily injury, and playing on the survival aspects of the series. Another is dehydration, requiring you to keep tabs on your canteen, which, unfortunately, if it runs out does have serious repercussions when you find yourself hiking up and down enemy bases or sprinting about to avoid detection.
Survival, however, also emphasizes upon your use of stealth and gunplay in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
In Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, it should come as no surprise that stealth is a fundamental element of the games. The Ghosts are a tactical unit, they are never to be seen, heard, or known about outside of the fact they exist. One of the key elements that does come into play is, of course, stealth.
Weapons do come in a wide array of weapons that have silencers, ones that don’t, and even equipment to aid you during your missions. These come in as distraction devices, the use of your drone, or simply good teamwork that lets you set up a synchronized shot. To aid in this department, weapons can be upgraded, enhancing their stability, range, recoil, and even reload speeds.
While these upgrades are minor, in the beta at least, they felt as if they mattered, carried some weight to them, and even enhanced the overall experience when wishing to keep using the weapon you are. That aside, weapons feel great, each one feeling completely unique from the other. Weapons come with a modest amount of recoil, damage, and range of their own.
While this does sound a bit of a step back from previous entries (to some extent), weapons do feel more impactful, more balanced, and readily focused towards Ghost War (Battle Royale) when it becomes available in the full-launch of the game on October 4th, 2019, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Now, let’s get to talking, there’s still a lot more you need to know.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is an audiovisual spectacle with solid performance points
One of the things I can’t help, but acknowledge, is that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is an absolute marvel to listen to and look at while you’re playing. It’s performances are on par with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 with visual designs that are on par with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
While this might seem slightly off-putting to some, trust me when I say this: It works and it works rather well. I never found a moment where my game would crash, framerate drop, or even dip in visual fidelity even when explosions were happening, the rain was falling, and lightning lit the sky.
This includes how the terrain responds to your impact. I wasn’t expecting to see boot prints in the mud, tire tracks in the grass, or trees to break against the impact of a vehicle. I also wasn’t expecting to use the terrain as I did for cover from drones zooming about overhead. Having that ability added to the overall sense of depth to the game.
Just don’t expect the island of Aurora to be as friendly as it is deadly. Both are overwhelmingly true and the design depth becomes apparent rather quickly. You will find that the story sticks true to how lethal the drones that the Wolves use are just as lethal as they appear. Cole D Walker and those he works with want complete control of the island and they do so without hesitation.
Some of the design depth goes clear down to swarms of drones seeking to destroy a helicopter if you zoom about too close to a locked-down region or base. Who needs a rocket launcher when a swarm of drones seeks to destroy you themselves with less of a chance of missing? Terrifying I know, but this is the reality of what a completely locked-down island looks like.
It wasn’t just while in the air either. The drones were as lethal as they can be and it was emphasized upon this very fact throughout the design of the island. You’ll find drones everywhere. Literally, everywhere. They protect bases, convoys, VIP’s, and various other regions. If you see a plane scanning above? Prepare for the Wolves to be following. Just like Ghosts, they will hunt, they will seek you out, and they will eliminate you at costs without hesitation or discrimination.
But… While there was a lot of good to be said about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, we had some minor issues too
Even with all the good in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, we have to admit, there was some bad that stood out more profoundly than the rest. Vehicles, they didn’t handle well at all. More-often-than-not, we found them to be stiff, sometimes overresponsive, and difficult to drive from point a to point b, oftentimes having to stop the car, turn, and then go once again.
Two-wheeled vehicles experienced this more than vehicles with more than four axles. Motorcycles were extremely hard to handle, making it so we always opted for the helicopter, the nearby truck, or even car. It was easier that way due to how they handled and how they felt over-exaggerated while we played.
Another issue isn’t one that plagued vehicles, but rather, the character itself. Much like any game that has wall-hug based mechanics, we found the ones here to be even more problematic than what we had experienced in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 or even Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Our characters would often hug to anything they could while traversing the side of a mountain, hiking up it to the best of our ability only to find themselves rolling down the side of it, tumbling the entire way. Injuries would be sustained, rendering our characters limited in what they could do, and our ability to move about even more-so hindered due to the fact our characters were exhausted from their tumbling trip as well.
All of this due to a stupid rock we encountered along the way, more than once on various hills or trekkable mountainsides. Sometimes the bugs would come in the form of nothing loading in what-so-ever, including vehicles, enemies, or our mission goals for faction missions. Sometimes we’d complete the mission, escorting our target out of the area of conflict, only to have them randomly die outside the zone, leaving the mission incomplete.
We know many of these issues will be fixed when the launch of the game occurs, but the bugs existed, and it is worth noting that they are there for the intent of having them worked on pre-release.
Speaking of missions – let’s actually talk about that for a second before we wrap things up
One thing I’d like to mention is that the mission structure from Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands has been improved upon with great care. Missions are easier to track and come in a variety of mission types. There are faction missions, which appear as time-based missions that will arrive on a daily or weekly base.
Each of those missions grants you faction experience, which in turn, rewards you for your time invested in the missions themselves. Character customizations such as tattoos, cosmetic headgear, glasses, etc, will be unlocked through your progression of their reputation tree.
Trust me when I say this: It’s like a micro-battle pass you don’t have to pay for, just play, unlock, and be on your merry way while being rewarded for your participation in those missions. The faction missions aside, you also have the ability to undertake various other story missions, Ghost War missions, and even tutorial missions, all of which reward you for their completion in one way or another.
Some will grant you experience, some with talent points, and others with the equipment you can use throughout your adventures. The only downside of the beta? We didn’t really get a chance to test the Ghost War as we had wanted, which seemed to have a resounding effect on the overall game.
It’s time to prepare for dust off, Nomad. Aurora needs us – The Conclusion
When said and done, our time with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint was absolutely fascinating and has shown that Ubisoft has taken a lot of the critical feedback from Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recond Wildlands to heart.
The overall experience is fascinating, gripping, and feels like it’s going back in the right direction in order to bring the game back into a true military simulator once again.
Bugs aside, it’s a riveting experience, one that leaves us hungering for more ahead of the title’s launch on Oct. 4th, 2019, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. You can visit the official Ghost Recon Breakpoint website today to find out more about the game.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.