Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the latest entry in the Ghost Recon subfranchise, and as such, carried with it a lot of expectations. At its core, it manages to meet a lot of these expectations, but it also drops the ball on more than one occasion. Ghost Recon Breakpoint puts the "tactical" in Tactical Shooter but fails to stand out in nearly every other regard.
The game shines in its combat, and that's mostly because it's incredibly similar to Ghost Recon Wildlands. Players will need to choose their targets, utilize stealth, and use their Breakpoint class abilities instead of just blindly charging in. Over Wildlands, Breakpoint makes two major improvements that add to its tactical factor: injuries and stamina.
If players take enough damage or get hit in certain spots, they will become injured, which will worsen from minor injuries to critical injuries. This impairs movement and will eventually down the player, forcing them to often consider whether they should fall back and heal or press the combat. Stamina affects combat to a lesser degree, but if players aren't watching their water consumption, they can quickly find themselves in trouble when exploring mountains or running from enemies, somewhat building upon Wildlands' PvE combat in Breakpoint.
From there, Ghost Recon Breakpoint begins to deviate from its core formula, introducing various weapon rarities and gear. Those who have played Tom Clancy's The Division will be familiar with this system, but it doesn't really work here. Regardless of model, all snipers feel the same, all SMGs feel the same, and so on and so forth. Players simply need to keep gathering improved weapons and gear to increase their gear level to progress throughout the game.
While players need to understand the tactical situation before heading into every fight, the enemy AI isn't particularly challenging. Ghost Recon Breakpoint's enemy tactics seem to prioritize brute force, so players who can find an easy spot to manage this when caught would perform better than those who try to take them all on at once. That said, players will still feel a high level of power when facing these enemies head-on, even in the worst of situations, which serves to undermine the combat and the story both.
The story has two major components: missions for Jace Skell and missions to take on Lt. Colonel Cole D. Walker, played by Punisher actor Jon Bernthal, and his pack of alpha wolves. Walker brings the story to life in every scene he appears, but otherwise, the narrative is unremarkable. The major twists and revelations are either predictable or little more than shock value, failing to capture what should otherwise be a captivating story.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint also introduces RPG elements into its story, giving players a few dialogue choices. They feel dialed-in more often than not and give the story no more depth than before. At its worse, it can be incredibly detracting and totally immersion breaking, which is the opposite of what dialogue choices should do, and doesn't seem to have any effect on Breakpoint's multiple endings.
Design-wise, the island of Auroa also seemingly accomplishes the opposite of what it should. Ghost Recon Wildlands managed to capture the beauty of wartorn Bolivia, but Auroa quickly becomes just another location. When flying across the island in helicopter, there is nothing that draws attention, makes it feel inspired, or captures the beauty of the fictional setting. This may also be in part due to the graphics, which don't seemingly meet current-gen standards, and muddies a ton of the locations and surroundings of Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint also features a PvP mode called Ghost War that feels as equally uninspired as the setting of Auroa. The maps do nothing to stand out, and the tactical approach in PvP ends up with a lot of downtime. Sure, there can be some tense moments and the progression here gives a ton of reason to play it, but at the end of the day, it just feels like something that has been tacked on for the sake of being tacked on, much like Breakpoint's now-removed microtransactions.
Overall, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a good game but struggles to establish itself or stand out in a genre that is already small. It tacks on too much from Division's loot system, random game design choices, and RPG elements, muddying what Breakpoint is exactly meant to be. It can seem like a Looter Shooter at times but fails to capture what makes Looter Shooters great. It can seem like a heavily-story focused RPG at times but drops the ball on delivering either a story or good, consistent RPG elements. It is a Tactical Shooter at its heart, but that seems like something Breakpoint is actually unfamiliar with in the end.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for the purposes of this review.