One of our most anticipated games of 2019 had to have been Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. The incredibly underrated and infinitely-fun Wildlands was a great entry in the long-running tactical military franchise, but while Breakpoint manages to introduce some interesting new mechanics, the core gameplay that made Wildlands so enjoyable is noticeably neglected.
Now, it’s known that comparison is the thief of joy, but it’s hard not to compare Breakpoint with its predecessor, given that its a direct continuation of the story and systems from 2017’s entry. The problem is, whereas Wildlands offered player a lot of agency and freedom, with safe houses scattered around the map which allowed you to keep the momentum of the game going, Breakpoint requires players to go back and forth to one game hub (in this instance, a secret cave, which in itself isn’t very interesting) to pick up missions. It becomes a bit tedious, and even with a fast travel feature, you still have to wander around the sporadically laid out mission hub and engage in rather dull conversations to gather mission intel.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s fun. The gunplay feels good, the movement is a bit more dynamic than Wildlands, and players even have to take into account their stamina, as a depleted stamina bar will cause you to fall down hills and cause damage. The injury healing mechanic is like that of Far Cry 2‘s, whereby, if you lose a particular portion of your health, you’ll need to repair a wound in order to fill your health gauge again. It does take a bit of time, so you have to find cover or a safe spot to do so – however, when injured, you’ll limp or have trouble sprinting. So, you’ve got to tackle scenarios a little more tactically.
These injections of realism are fantastic additions to the tactical gameplay, but one can’t help to think there’s something missing from the scene: AI teammates. While most Ghost Recon games feature four-man teams, Breakpoint doesn’t feature any form of AI compatriots at launch, so if you’re not a fan of playing online or lacking friends to play with, you’ll be running through the game solo; but keep in mind, it’s always-online, so you’ll have to have an internet connection to play. It almost forces you to try and play with other people online, and it’s clear from most of the mission layouts that they’re not meant to be tackled alone.
This doesn’t help the difficulty of the game, especially with the new high-tech enemy types. Instead of shooting low-level terrorists, you’re now tasked with taking on highly-trained soldiers, drones, and robotic tanks – and while that’s fun, when playing solo, you have no AI partners to help spot enemies, revive you when you’re downed unfairly, or even act as bullet-sponges when things go a bit sideways. One can say these things make the game a bit easier, but Ghost Recon has always been about operating a spec-ops team, and when there’s no team, things feel a little hollow.
There is an online PvP called Ghost Wars, which returns from Wildlands after being added post-launch. It’s a fun distraction, allowing you to test out the different classes’ buffs, perks, and gadgets in 4v4 matches on some diverse maps. It’s not necessarily going to replace your favourite online shooter, but it does offer a different spin on the twitchy-shooter gameplay, giving you something a little more tactical.
Ghost Recon without AI teammates is like Need for Speed without cops – it’s part of its DNA. Yes, you can play with other real world players online, but the fact that there’s no AI squad-mates to order around or pull off the trademark synchronised shots is admittedly bizarre. There are some great bits in between all the convoluted systems, with an intriguing story (despite robotic, B-grade cutscenes) and an expanded gunsmith, which allows you to upgrade weapons or deconstruct unused guns for crafting parts. With all that said, there’s a good game beneath Breakpoint‘s unavoidable rough edges, but perhaps its best to wait for a patch to add AI teammates (Ubisoft are reportedly working on it) if you’re looking to play Breakpoint solo.