Ghost Recon Breakpoint got a big update about a month ago called The Ghost Experience, which was supposed to unfuck what they fucked up with the game's original release. But did they succeed? Short answer: Mostly yes.
The long answer
What is the Ghost Experience?
It is basically a bunch of options to customize the difficulty and immersion level of the game. First and foremost the ability to turn off Gear Score, and with that enemy levels once and for all. Basically un-Divisioning the game. Arguably this undoes most of the damage, and it would already make the game worth playing for Wildlands fans.
Second of those options is enemy difficulty which is not new. It controls the deadliness of enemies, their reaction time, the damage they inflict on you, and how long they search for you after getting suspicious or fully alerted.
Third one is tactical difficulty, this is the first where apart from having four pre-defined difficulty settings you can also choose all individual aspects of each settings a'la carte. This one controls how many weapons and bandages can you carry, and how often you get injured when you are shot. Injury and Health are two separate things in the game. If you are injured your movement speed is reduced and with a severe injury you can only use handguns. Tactical difficulty also determines whether your health is automatically regenerated.
The fourth is about the interface, you can fully disable all loot markers, and notifications and so on individually, you can determine how obtrusive they are and whether some HUD elements only appear contextually when they are needed, or all the time. But you can go full on Ghost and turn off even the ability to mark enemies. Which is great for immersion, but a huge bump for difficulty. Much more than the actual difficulty setting.
The fifth option of the Ghost Experience is Bivouac Restrictions. It basically lets you choose immersion over convenience. In restricted mode you cannot access the in-game shop from the field and cannot spawn vehicles from thin air either. If you are a fan of immersion and don't mind wasting a little more time I urge you to try the game in restricted mode. Because if you can spawn a helicopter at any campsite in the game you basically miss out on a large part of exploring the scenery.
And finally the last thing is exploration mode. Which will be familiar from AC:Odyssey. Here you can choose whether you want to blindly follow an objective marker all the time, or actually do some thinking and map reading. In unguided mode you'll not get an exact marker showing where is your goal, you'll only get a vague description of the place describing its geographic location, or in some cases you have to find places by photographs or aerial imagery.
So does this make BreakPoint a good game?
Hell yes, now I was actually able to enjoy the game as much as I did Wildlands. Of course it still has some issues, and is far from being perfect, but I can actually find and enjoy the things that it does better than Wildlands, and while there are some things it does worse overall even the most pessimistic people will say it's not bad.
I'll not write any spoilers just describe the basic premise of the game and compare it to the story of Wildlands. If you wince at the mention of Wildlands's story or lack thereof, let me tell you that despite the common criticism I really liked it, I liked the fact that the story does not revolve around you, I liked it that you seemed more like a hired goon than a shotcaller, it made it down to earth and plausible to me. In Break Point the story is much more you centric, but not as much as to turn you into a superhero, you act more like the muscle and not the brains in it.
The setting in a nutshell: Tech billionaire buys an island off the shores of New Zealand and starts building an utopian society on it, which turns dystopian after they hire some military contractors to provide security against terrorism and spies. Your squad is sent to investigate after a cargo ship was sunk as it left the island, and all communication are severed. As the cliché goes insertion goes horribly wrong and you end as up the sole survivor if you play solo, or you can pretend there are more survivors if you want to play coop.
It's up to you to find out what has happened, and on the way you'll encounter multiple friendlies and boss enemies. But apart from the final boss (who you can choose to face at any time after you find his base) and one other the rest of the named antagonists can be killed like any regular grunt.
The story uses a little too much of the typical tropes from utopias and the topic of AI, without adding any original ideas.
Without spoiling anything my biggest problem with the story, is that it is unfinished it is leaved completely open, apart from killing a few bad apples you accomplish almost nothing, not even your main task you set for yourself at the beginning. Of course they are trying to sell you the season pass that's what it's about. So don't expect closure at the end of that roughly 50-60 hours.
I have to say there are quite a few minor but all the more impressive changes compared to Wildlands that demonstrate a striking attention to detail from the creators.
Like the weather effects, lighting, and godrays are much better, the vegetation moves with the wind, leaves fall, there is snow, rain, sunsets, dawns, full moons, pitch black rainforests, foggy bogs, hi-tech cityscapes, villas, industrial complexes etc. etc. The map is much more diverse than it was in Wildlands, and there is much more to explore. Since the island housed military bases during the cold war, it has tons of abandoned infrastructure that you can explore. It also has abandoned mines and other gold prospector towns, and even aboriginal villages. So all in all it has three generations of ruins, plus the current hi-tech infrastructure. And it felt rewarding to explore even when I didn't find anything useful at some cold war bunker it was interesting to explore these structures.
What was most shocking to me, and the fact that I only noticed it after playing the game for about 10 hours, that it has deformable terrain, the wheels of vehicles and your footsteps actually deform mud and snow in the game.
It's also A for effort on how they tried to implement descending on steep terrain. There is a pretty good mechanic for it, the animation is much more realistic than any other game, well actually no other game tried anything similar of sorts, and descending quickly or sliding down a mountain actually consumers stamina, and if you run out of stamina before stopping the descend you go into an uncontrolled roll, and can end up loosing health or even dying.
Even though the first impressions of the game were really bad. Overall the graphics is much improved, you just have to turn off a few things in the options that make it look bad, most notably temporal injection can make the game look awful in my opinion. But after getting rid of motion blur, depth of field, and this temporal injection the graphics is really much improved over Wildlands. Of course it is quite demanding as well. Playing at 3840x1600 so about 25% less resolution than full 4K the game could only push 45 FPS on DX12, and about 60 FPS using Vulcan on a 2080Ti. But IMO it was already playable at 45 FPS, but after the latest patch fixed a crashing issue I had with Vulcan it felt butter smooth at 60FPS, no framedrops, no inconsistent frametimes. The game feels optimized.
Also improved are the side missions, they are usually multi-part and more involved than simple fetch quests, they all seemed interesting enough, although some were a bit too cheesy and felt out of place in the serious narrative of the game. Of course you don't gain nothing trough them, only an excuse to waste some more time with the game, but I didn't mind wasting more time since the gameplay is good.
My biggest gripe with the game is that while they recorded hundreds of hours of voice-over for the game, some of the side missions and interrogations are not voiced properly. 4 out of 5 times when you are interrogating enemies about some mission the conversation will just be some generic placeholder lines, like they ran out of contracted studio hours before recording all of them or I don't know. The amount that is not voiced is literally a tiny fragment of all the voiced conversations in the game.
My second issue is the vehicle controls, they done fucked it up, again. Remember they already fucked up helicopter controls within Wildands in an update, but they ended up putting back the original controls as an option due to the backlash. Now they done it again. I understand that it favours the casual player who doesn't want more realistic flight model, or is even annoyed by it, but if you already did it right once at least put it in as an option for crying out loud.
The weapons, somehow gunplay feels less realistic in this, and while I'm no gun expert the recoil, accuracy and bullet drop felt completely arbitrary in this game at times. Wildlands had greatly exaggerated bullet drop, but at least it was consistent. Here it seems that some skills affect the bullet drop of your weapon. Like they didn't even think that someone would play as a sniper and try to shot enemies at high range. Because after I had my aim nailed with the bullet drop after a skill upgrade I started missing shots, and realized that it affected the weapon. There is also an arbitrary effect that if you hold the trigger of automatic weapons continually after a few seconds bullets will start going all over the place, and this is not recoil, it is something else entirely. This makes fully automatic weapons useless unless you only shot short bursts, even with the gatling gun.
I also have to count as a negative the fact that here you cannot discover locations from the air. In wildlands if you flown close enough to a base it was marked on your map, in this game the fog of war only disappears from the map if you explore on the ground. The one exception to this rule are bivouacs, those you can unlock by flying over them at low altitude. Also your binoculars does not discover locations from a distance either. You have to be closer than 1km to get anything.
The drones. I don't know how I could manage without mentioning them before now, because they are extremely annoying enemies. Especially if you play on extreme difficulty, the flying drones are very deadly. They are almost impossible to hit when they are alert, as they do very sudden random movements continously, and since they close on you much faster than regular soldiers and can fly above your cover they kill you within 5 seconds if you let them close. They are actually more dangerous in the open than in close quarters. I wish I could've had the game without any of the drones.
The aggressive re-spawning of enemies. After you clear a base and you walk away from it every soldier is immediately re-spawned like nothing ever happened. It would be nice if clearing a base would mean it remains clear for at least a day in game time. Of course if you end up being killed by the last enemy they all respawn again. So you can start from the beginning. Really annoying at times. Especially on multi-part missions. Where you have to do 2-3 or more objectives at the same location. Guess what if you get killed after 2 out of 3, the game remembers that you already done two, and only asks you to do the third, but all the enemies in the base respawn so you are still back to square one anyway.
It took me two days and a lot of futile surfing of the net until I figured out how to equip the damned binoculars. Turns out you can only equip it in certain utility slots not all of them, but the game never tells you this. And I finished two thirds of the game by the time I figured out why auto-walk didn't work in the game. Turns out it is not enough that it is mapped to a key, you also have to enable it in accessibility options. Which the game also failed to mention in the key mapping menu. But the worst offender is the objectives menu, it's hard to navigate, and the game often forces you to go into it to check some intel.
So let's sum up the pros and cons of the game:
- As good as Wildlands now
- Small quality of life improvements and attention to detail
- More interesting side missions
- Much more diverse map
- Worth exploring, lots of intriguing locations
- More immersion especially with non-guided exploration
- Weather effects and lighting
- A head shot is a head shot
- Not all conversations are voiced
- Vehicle controls are much less realistic and janky
- Menus are not the best, especially the objectives menu
- Guns are slightly less realistic than in wildlands
- Enemies always respawn
- Annoying drones
- Open ended story
- No AI squad as of yet.
overall impression: 7/10
I can't deny that I enjoyed the game, so I have to recommend it. Even if it is with a heavy heart, because I don't think we should support the live service nonsense AAA publishers are forcing on us. So my recommendation is buy the base game, as you can get at least 50 hours of fun out if it, but don't buy the season pass, let them see that we don't want it, we want finished full games that we can play at our leisure.