5 things to like about Ghost Recon Breakpoint | The Breakpoint positives
I like Ghost Recon Breakpoint. It has its issues, sure. I’m not going to pretend the storefront isn’t just a little bit obscene, or that the AI isn’t dumber than a bag of bricks at times. I’m not going to pretend it’s not janky in places, or that the writing isn’t some of the cheesiest I’ve seen in recent years. But I’m also not going to pretend I haven’t had a blast playing it. There’s plenty wrong with it, but in the interest of trying to celebrate the positives in Breakpoint, here are five things I actually like.
I know I’m talking about solitude in a game that’s supposed to be about the squad, marking and executing orders, etc, but just as I enjoyed the sense of being a lone wolf while exoloring the carcass of Washington DC in The Division 2, I’m also enjoying picking my way through the jungles of Auroa. Playing with others is fun, and the multiplayer is a passable distraction, but for me the meat is creeping around the underbrush, camp on my face purely for role-playing purposes, scouting enemy placements and then sniping them one by one.
It might be nothing, literally nothing, we haven’t done in tons of games before, but it still feels good to have the tactical high ground and only have yourself to rely on. If it goes pear-shaped it’s on you, and it’s up to you to dig yourself out of the shit. The atmosphere might go to pot in the unnecessary social hub, but out in the world it’s just me, my guns and the enemies in our way.
Just imagine it. Feet in the sand, breeze in your hair, the auburn glow of a perfect sunset caressing the landscape like silk, as you relax, breathe in, and squeeze the trigger on your rifle, and send a high velocity round clean through the brain pan of a scumbag mercenary hostage-taker a few hundred yards away.
Character animations can be a little janky outside of cutscenes, but those sunsets – and sunrises, actually – sure are damn pretty.
Exploring the World
To be fair, the world itself is fairly impressive. You can label it generic if you like – I mean, it’s not all that different to Far Cry 5’s Montana – but there are some truly beautiful views to savour. Not to mention that there’s alway something off the path, maybe a cave where Jonny Mercenary stashes his collection of antique boxes and, for some reason, little box of syringes. Maybe a hole in the ground with a chest in which someone has seen fit to store a pair of perfectly good military-issue boots.
There are little cabins in the woods, waterfalls and snowy mountaintops to parachute off. There are side paths and vantage points and ancient ruins, and all manner of ways to get yourself into and out of trouble. Just watch that Azrael Drone: if it spots you, it will unleash a couple of nigh-unkillable murderbots to punish you for being you. If you see it, hide.
I like sniping in games. Well, in PvE games, anyway, when I can take my time. I like scoping out a base, marking targets. I like orchestrated mayhem. When a game implements this correctly, it can be exceptional. Now, Ubisoft can do this. We know they can, we’ve seen them do it in Far Cry, wherein you can set up a distraction, maybe free a couple of caged animals, pop a few oil drums, and then pick the enemy apart in the ensuing chaos.
Breakpoint doesn’t do this as well, and the main reason is that the AI is literally too stupid to be funnelled or manipulated into a specific situation that makes planning worth it. In Breakpoint, the enemy has one and only one strategy: to pick their way directly towards you from cover to cover, allowing you to line up headshot after headshot like ducks in a gallery. Sounds boring, maybe broken. Maybe it is. But it’s also a lot of fun. There are bullet-sponge drones and robots, enemies with miniguns and armour, but almost all humans can be put down with a gunshot to the head. And taking out a cluster of enemies before they have time to react, or even plugging a whole encampment undetected, is still a god-tier feeling and another of Breakpoint’s positives.
For every time you get hit by a speeding truck and somehow survive, or plough a motorcycle into a tree and walk it off, or outright fall off a cliff and barely sprain an ankle, there’s some tiny detail that makes you nod and smile to yourself and almost, almost, forget the bad stuff.
Clothes that muddy when you roll down a hill, tyres that pick up clinging dirt, the ability to camouflage yourself with the mud from the ground, the way you throw up a hand as you stumble down a hill into a cliff face, filling up your canteen in a river or eating to give yourself a temporary buff between camps. These tiny details matter, and Breakpoint is full of them. They might seem like small comfort compared to the towering technical issues, but they’re still impressive in their own right.