When Ghost Recon Wildlands released in early 2017, it is fair to say the initial critical reception was lukewarm at best. The series was going in a fresh new direction and not everyone was on board. Over the next few months and years, more and more players joined up with their friends and found a real gem that gave them a spectacular open world and an unmatched level of freedom. While not perfect it was lots of fun.
Having found a healthy base of happy players, the expectations for the series were much higher when it came to the sequel. Players reasonably expected Ubisoft to simply take that blueprint and make a few improvements. What happened was it got overloaded with new systems for leveling up and customizing characters, weapons, skills, and gadgets.
While the new systems offer lots of extra choices. They are a bit confusing when they all hit you at once, and ended up being a little off-putting to some. Thankfully I had the beta behind me so I had a small head start but can understand the issues raised.
What isn’t clear right now is how these systems will pan out over the next few months as new content and updates keep dropping. Perhaps they will eventually turn out to be one of the things players keep coming back for.
The main campaign echos familiar modern themes around our over-reliance on intrusive tech, and the increasing worries from handing over so much control without knowing their vulnerabilities.
The story kicks off as your team is sent to investigate a helicopter that was shot down just off the coast of Auroa, an island that is home to Skell Technology. skell is a massive tech company founded by Jace Skell and deeply involved in the development of AI. En route, your own transportation is also shot down by the automated Sentinel security. After the crash landing you crawl to safety, get patched up and enter the tutorial portion that will teach you the controls, the new progress systems. but it is generally there to ease you into the gameplay. Depending on your play style this can take anything from 20 mins to a few hours, if like me you like to explore.
Reaching the “Cave” (which doubles as the player hub) marks the end of the hand holding. This Player hub is a strange choice, having it in the middle of the island in-game is jarring. You are meant to be this lone team caught behind enemy lines. But there is a cave full of other players running around showing off zany outfits. It just doesn’t fit. If it was a pre-game lobby then it would be much better. While it doesn’t impact the rest of the world it seemed oddly placed.
Coming out of the Player hub / Cave is the start of the real game. A pop up at this point will tell you about turning off the assistant mode. Turn it off. When it is off, rather than mindlessly following a series of different colored mission markers you have to follow clues, study the maps, gather intel and chat with the inhabitants to figure out where to go next. It is much more enjoyable. Couple this to the new more realistic pacing and survival mechanics really brings home the feeling of elite forces on the back foot.
After that, it opens up into a nice familiar Ubisoft game. You are free to explore and pick up missions or side quests. Jump into a multitude of vehicles and discover an ever-growing and expandable arsenal of weapons. Find allies on the island and help them to liberate the different enemy strongholds gradually getting stronger as you free more real estate. The main story lasts about 40 hours but that can be buffed out considerably with collecting and side missions. Extra content like raids are planned in the future and they should give this even more life.
The whole game is playable in single-player but it is way more fun with friends. It is designed with others in mind and at times this hinders the solo player. Respawning ages away and the lack of synced shots (you don’t have AI buddies this time) are just some of the gripes.
The 4 v 4 PVP modes didn’t do enough to capture our imagination and pull us away from island exploring. We might return once finished with the island. If you do decide to go into this PVP world, take note that all the weapons that can be upgraded with MTX are “leveled”. This means that guns and gear all have the same stats. If you decide to spend on MTX, do so knowing that it only gives you an advantage against enemy AI.
Overall: Being realistic about it, if the open-world Ubisoft format is not something you like, then this game won’t change your mind. If you do happen to be one of the millions of people who do enjoy this style of game, then it has everything you want. Lots to do, lots of ways to do it. and lots of player choice.
Get 4 friends together and enjoy the freedom Breakpoint gives you because we had a blast playing it.
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