The ghosts move from drug-packed jungle to drone-filled island in a Wildlands sequel that’s designed to push you to breaking point.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint feels like the love child of two other Tom Clancyverse titles – the military realism and high lethality of Rainbow Six Siege shacked up with the loot-loving and RPG tendencies of The Division.
The result is certainly ambitious, with a greater emphasis on Tom Clancy’s typical near-future realism, albeit infused with a loot-heavy gameplay loop. Higher lethality has the added benefit of adding much-needed weight to Breakpoint’s shooting, with projectile-based ballistics that simultaneously reward skilled accuracy (particularly at range) and make headshots, particularly against on-the-move targets, oh so satisfying.
One of the biggest detractors of the preceding Ghost Recon Wildlands was playing solo with daft AI teammates. Wildlands was, after all, a game clearly designed with strategic co-op play in mind, and it certainly played best with a four-stack of buddies.
For Breakpoint, the initial plan was to ditch the AI teammates, making for a solo or co-op approach. While the devs soon relented, and Breakpoint is set to include AI teammates at launch, it honestly feels as though there are two distinct experiences to play if you gun for the original design.
Alone, the added survival mechanics have greater meaning. Take too much damage in a fight you barely survive, and you might suffer an injury that hampers you. Health operates in a tiered system, and you need to manage factors like hydration to stay alive.
This might sound like it tips Breakpoint into hardcore survival-game territory, but it still feels accessible. It’s more that the devs seem to be incentivising ghost-like play over rewarding budding John Wicks. Assess a hostile area with drones. Plot your ninja incursion. Lie in the mud while well-armed predators patrol nearby. Then pop a silencer on your weapons. And only go loud as a last resort.
“It’s more that the devs seem to be incentivising ghost-like play over rewarding budding John Wicks.”
Have a buddy or three drop into your world with seamless co-op and your options open up. Being downed isn’t an instant back-to-the-nearest-bivouac. You can be revived. And you can be lugged out of harm’s way if you’re the kind of Leeroy Jenkins who’s caught camo-pants down out in the open.
Co-op also taps into some of the gameplay diversity found in the cleverly fluid class system. There are four core archetypes to choose from – favouring sharpshooters, run-and-gunners, ninjas and healers – each, impressively, with its own progression tree. Playing with buddies doesn’t just lead to gun envy or cosmetic FOMO, it’s an easy way to get a taste of the unique abilities of the classes you’ve yet to touch.
The best bit is that you can switch between these four classes by pitching a tent at your nearest save-point bivouac. Despite the abundance of weapon attachments, Breakpoint actively discourages you from getting too attached to any one thing, with stacks of loot to be bought, earned or found.
Like The Division, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint wants to blur the lines between solo, co-op and competitive play. The potential is certainly there in what we played. We just hope that the devs have sufficient time to fix the overabundance of jank that was evident in the recent beta. If they do, Breakpoint is primed and ready to put the ‘special’ into special ops.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint releases on PS4 and Xbox One on October 4.