Ghost Recon Breakpoint Review: A Sloppy Sequel

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Isn't that what the people say? Is there a phrase for having a lot of a good thing and tinkering entirely too much, making unnecessary changes to a proven formula in the name of difference only to tarnish the great product you already had? There should totally be one if there isn't already, because it would perfectly describe the strange and sometimes beautiful mess that is Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint.

The newest installment in the Ghost Recon series arrives two years after what is, in my opinion, easily the franchise's best outing, Wildlands, and attempts to mimic its successes. Breakpoint moves from the cartel-ridden lands of Bolivia to a tech-heavy island called Auroa, which was created to be its own utopia. Your character, Nomad, travels with a team of Ghosts to the island to investigate a mysterious boat crash, only to be shot down upon arrival. With a controversial figure from your past (played by Jon Bernthal) leading the charge, a dangerous military force harnesses control of Auroa and you partner with those left in hiding to try and take the island back.

Like Wildlands, Breakpoint puts players into a massive, majestic locale that would take hours to traverse on foot. The mountain ranges and swamps are stunning to look at, and there's some fun to be had in just exploring your surroundings. But that's where the connections to Wildlands end and the troubles for Breakpoint begin.

First and foremost, the entire menu for the game -- including the co-op and multiplayer matchmaking lobbies -- are crammed into the pause menu of your main campaign. Everything you do in Breakpoint, from customizing your character's look to building weapons to jumping in a 4v4 match to play with your friends, is connected to your pause menu. Similar to The Division, your interactions with other campaign players also takes place within your solo adventure, as the "home base" cave of Erewhon acts as a hub where everyone currently at that place can be seen. It's easy to see what Ubisoft is trying to go for with this style of immersive experience, but it just doesn't work. There's too much going on to really enjoy it, and you can't escape the madness. You just have to deal.

These issues spill hastily into the gameplay, sadly. There is too much connected to the online servers and too much attention paid to the actual settings that everything that actually has to do with you seems to fall by the wayside. Your movements are incredibly erratic, resulting in one of those "tries to be too realistic" situations. In keeping with that theme, all of the sub-menus (of which there are too many) utilize a moving cursor, trying to emulate the "real-life" experience of using a computer to sort through your assignments. Spoiler alert: It doesn't feel realistic or innovative. It's mostly just annoying.

Breakpoint wants its strength to be in its narrative, but it falls pretty flat there, too. Jon Bernthal is great when he shows up, but his character isn't anything you haven't seen before. The writing of the dialogue is horrible, the character interactions don't make a lot of sense, and all of the cutscenes look unfinished. The beauty of the scenery disappears when Nomad enters a cinematic interaction, only to be replaced with a blurry, glitchy mess. This never ceases to be jarring.

If there's one thing that Ghost Recon Breakpoint really has going for it, it's the ability to challenge yourself as a player. The missions can get repetitive at times, but the game is riddled with side quests and base raids that frustrate you in the best ways, not allowing anything to be handed over on a silver platter. The game mode that gives you clues instead of direct map locations really gives longtime shooter players a chance to test themselves. 4v4 Ghost Wars, aka the game's multiplayer mode, are also fairly challenging, because it's nothing like the kind of shoot-'em-up multiplayer experiences you'll find in Call of Duty or Battlefield.

Sadly, for all of those great challenges in Ghost Recon Breakpoint that are aimed directly at your skills and abilities, there are 14 more targeting your patience. The experience is only made more frustrating when you think about Wildlands, because the formula felt like it had been figured out. Everything was done right. A sequel to that game should've been an easy home run, but Breakpoint is more of an incredible misfire.


Rating: 2 out of 5

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.