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[auroa archipelago]Review: Punishing flaws can’t save ‘Ghost Recon Breakpoint’

Update time:2021-08-15 22:45Tag:

  To say that “Ghost Recon Breakpoint” is overwhelming would be an understatement. With the sprawling archipelago of Auroa to explore, dozens of icons on the screen and a plethora of menus to navigate, the open-world shooter isn’t the most streamlined of games.

  It’s clunky and riddled with bugs. The story and dialogue can be cringe-worthy at times, but despite all its flaws, it has a way of keeping players hooked. Credit the gameplay, which carries over much of the foundation established in “Ghost Recon WIldlands.” Although it’s missing a critical component with computer-controlled partners.

  That means “Breakpoint” relies heavily on the cooperative experience. It’s a game that needs to be played with friends. Going through the campaign solo is doable, but it will be slow and sometimes painful slog.

  The campaign follows a special ops command named Nomad, whom players create. It’s their avatar as the character survives a drone attack and must figure out what happened to the South Pacific archipelago of Auroa. A tech magnate named Jace Skell turned the islands into his own technological libertarian paradise. He developed weaponized drones and other advancements and those technologies have been commandeered by his security forces.

  Led by Cole Walker, a former Ghost, the forces who call themselves Wolves have taken over the islands and they have plans for Skell’s technology. As Nomad, it’s up to players to stop him by freeing members of Skell’s company and eliminating Walker’s lieutenants.

  That’s a process that starts out with a big learning curve. “Breakpoint” throws a lot at players initially, and they’ll need stealth and patience to overcome the shortcomings of their character. Players want to exercise caution and plan out ambushes with their online partners, but as Nomad gains experience points and skills, the progression system opens up options.

  “Breakpoint” becomes easier as players level up and choose among four classes: field medic, panther, assault and sharpshooter. These archetypes cater to different play styles and give players a special ability, a class-specific item and various proficiencies. They fulfill roles within a squad but players shouldn’t feel tied to them. They can switch classes depending on the team makeup or goal. The special ability is the most noticeable difference between the classes, but the talents and items have a much bigger impact, especially when tackling harder objectives.

  This progression system isn’t as rigid as other games, and that’s a drawback for “Breakpoint.” The reason for this is that the game dabbles with loot mechanics. As players complete missions and open chests, they find better guns and armor that scale to a gear score. The possibility of finding upgraded gear keeps players invested in the campaign, but without the benefit of distinct builds and talents, players just look for the highest number regardless of the stat-boosts tied to the gear.

  The classes feel amorphously muddy. That allows players to feel like they can compete alone, but at the same time, it curtails the longevity of “Breakpoint” and player experimentation with the systems as they look to build the best version of Nomad.

  One of the more enjoyable elements is the mission design, which is freeform and gives players objectives that evolve during each task. Often, players are asked to search for a target or gather a specific source of intel. Accomplishing that goal involves scouting with a drone and identifying trouble spots and creating a plan that almost always never goes right.

  Missions start off smoothly but often devolve into outright chaos. It happens with human partners. They make mistakes. One person will get spotted by an enemy and that adversary will call in reinforcements, and soon enough, a simple plan to rescue a scientist explodes into a gunfight across a campus. If playing with randomly selected allies, it’s almost always a disaster. “Breakpoint” is best played with buddies who have a rapport and patience with each other.

  With that said, the campaign has plenty of content and variety. Most of the time, players will be tracking down key Skell figures and defeating the Wolf bosses guarding them. It takes players to a variety of locales such as defunct submarine bases, occupied tech campuses underground headquarters. The missions offer objectives and scenarios that are different enough that it won’t feel too redundant, but they also contain plenty of bugs that mar the experience.

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  The glitches will cause some players to replay missions repeatedly. An escort subject may not move to the designated area or killing a boss may cause a mission to fail. “Breakpoint” will frustrated players. On top of that, the writing is hokey in places and convoluted in others. Players don’t really bond with the quest givers and the story is predictable. The team wasted the performance of Jon Bernthal of “Punisher” and “The Walking Dead” fame.

  Still, it’s the gameplay that shoulders much of the load in “Breakpoint.” The game with its accompanying player-vs.-player mode are fun experiences, but there is too much holding things back to make the game enjoyable beyond the 20-plus hours fans will pour into the campaign. Instead of focused open-world shooter that does a few things well, it’s a sprawling mess that will need some refinement over time before it gets better.

  2? stars out of 4

  Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

  Rating: Mature

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