Introduction 

"Welcome to Auroa, we've been expecting you." With a warm welcome, so began my journey through Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Ironically, a few moments later, I discovered the welcome was not so warm, and I was once again fighting for my life and back in the familiar world of the "Ghosts." 

For players who have played Ghost Recon Wildlands, you will know what to expect, for those who haven't, you are in for a wonderful journey and hours of fun in this expansive high-tech playground. 

Setting 

Ubisoft's latest outing in the Tom Clancy universe, once again features the "Ghosts" a highly trained Elite Special Forces unit, deployed across the globe in areas of conflict, to fight terrorism and generally be the good guy.  All of which is done clandestinely, without taking any credit. 

Our latest adventure sees the Ghosts deployed to the south Pacific Archipelago of Auroa. A series of islands bought by a young technical genius turned entrepreneur (Jace Skell), as a place where he can research cutting edge technology and generally make the world a better place. 

When things don't go to plan, a US Navy ship is mysteriously sunk near the islands, followed by the islands "going dark" with no communications, the Ghosts are sent in to assess the situation.  

The initial cut scene blends seamlessly into the character creator, which has a host of options for your character. Once your character is created, you will find yourself alone, on a remote part of the island, surrounded by enemy, with little or no weapons, and only your skill to survive. 

The Game World 

As someone who played Ghost Recon Wildlands, it's hard not to make a comparison. The games are similar, but Ubisoft have put a lot of work into making Breakpoint a deeper, and more rewarding gaming experience.   

The game world is rich and detailed, and packed with places to explore and things to do. Right from the get-go, the world is open to you. There are no walls or invisible barriers (except for one of the islands that seems reserved for end game activity) 

The world detail is jaw dropping. The detail on leaves and trees, Reflections in puddles, sunlight streaming through the trees as the sun rises, the depth of snow as it crunches beneath your feet, the list goes on. 

The things that really stand out, are the things you don't notice at first, because they look so "normal", then you realise the level of detail. Ice on your weapons, lying half buried in deep snow, or mud when you actually cover yourself for camouflage. Subtle changes in the weather, or the colour of the sky with the day night cycle. All of which looks natural, and adds to the immersion of this amazing world. 

From the misty dense jungles of the rain forests, to snowy mountains of the frozen tundra, the time, care & attention to detail that has been put into crafting this world is amazing, and it really shows. 

The Game mechanic

The game itself sets out to frame a story, and to let you, the player, decide where to go, and what to do next. There is no shortage of missions to take on, any and all of which will add towards your XP, and in turn your skill level. The missions are pinned on an objectives board, which you can access through your menu system. Missions are broken out into the overarching story of "Skell Technology" and the events currently taking shape on the islands, faction missions, and side missions. 

Skill Progression

The Skill progression is now twofold. There is the traditional XP and skill point system, that many will already be familiar with, each level gained will award a skill point that can be spent on one of the many skills available to customise your playstyle with perks. You can also now choose one of four specialisations to suit your playstyle, these are Assault, Sharpshooter, Panther, and Field Medic. Each come with their own unique skill. These can also be levelled up by carrying out the various requirements that are related to the role.

The second part of the levelling is a "Gear Score" which can be increased by looting various crates found placed around Auroa or picking up new gear and weapons as enemies now drop loot. 

The gear drops as it would in any good RPG, with varying degrees of quality. Standard or common being the basic, then Uncommon (Green), Rare (Blue), Purple (Epic), and Yellow (Signature/Legendary). This mechanic brings a somewhat "shoot & loot" feel to the tactical shooter, which seems to add to the overall feeling of reward when levelling. The gear that drops seems to be in line with the level of equipped weapons and gear you have, and is often a few levels higher, which results in steady progression, and a real desire to hunt down those crates, or to infiltrate that enemy camp to get all the gear you can.

The Player Hub "Erewhon"

As you make your way across the island early on, you will encounter a new feature that Ubisoft have added to the Ghost Recon Franchise, in the form of a player or social "hub". This really works well and serves as a launch point into Co-op or PVP play, along with providing access to the local shop, bivouac to rest up, and a place to converse with the locals of the islands, and gain intel, and uncover new missions.

The player hub works better than the lobby system in Wildlands, and keeps you immersed in the game world while you get your party together, set out on either co-op or PVP missions, or just hang out with your friends. It becomes your base of operations through the game, with various characters you meet returning to Erewhon, who then provide missions and story progression.

Missions

The missions come from various sources. There are the main story arc missions, then there are Faction missions, which you get once you meet with certain faction leaders throughout the islands. These allow another level of progression in the form of Tiers. 

The missions themselves are timed and are generated each day or so. They add XP to level you on a tiered system that resets every 60 days. This provides yet another opportunity to pick up extra items including gear and vehicles by completing these missions within the allotted time. 

Along with these, there are side missions, which will generally offer XP and, or some in game currency. This can be used in the player hub to purchase items, consumables, weapons and gear.

Blueprints

Another mission type, leads you to search for various "Blueprints" hidden across the map. The location of which can be found by interrogating the enemy, or asking locals, when the have a small "I" displayed over them for Intel. Once you unlock the blueprints, you can then purchase the item in Marias shop. Blueprints will offer access to various weapons, and attachments, so it's a good plan to get your hands on some of these early on in the game

Travel

Travel around the island is accomplished in several ways.  Firstly, you can walk which is great fun, as you continually run into enemy, who not only provide a great opportunity to improve your specialisation, or even increase your all-important gear score depending on what they may drop, they often are the catalyst for satisfying gunplay, and CQC stealth take downs.

You can also take almost any vehicle you find and use it to get to your destination. Driving in my opinion has improved a bit since Wildlands. However, there is still some work to be done here. Some of the cars are not as responsive as they could be, but remember this is not a driving game, it's a tactical stealth shooter, and to be fair Breakpoint plays to its strengths. 

One point of contention for me though, was the Helicopters, which I felt had been "dumbed down" to the lowest common denominator. This is not a deal breaker by any means, but a flight model more in line with the earlier Wildlands would have been better, or at least the option of kicking off the training wheels and really flying the chopper.

Finally, there are the bivouacs. These are campsites that are plentiful around the island, and unlocked by visiting them, when you see their "smoke stack" while travelling the world. They can be used once unlocked to "Fast Travel" in much the same way as the rebel bases in the previous Ghost Recon Wildlands. Camping at a bivouac gives you access to various buffs, crafting the shop and your garage, to select a vehicle that will be deployed outside the bivouac when you strike camp. 

The Bad Guys

The enemies in breakpoint are varied. They range from a PMC called "Sentinel" who are a bunch of regular soldiers, through to the Elite soldiers known as "Wolves" lead by Col. Cole. D. Walker. Walker may be a familiar name with some, as he was himself previously a Ghost. Now turned rogue, he is an imposing character, acted and voiced impeccably by the brilliant John Bernthal. 

The AI makes things interesting. When the soldiers hear a shot, search parties are sent out to actively look for you. The ever present "Azrael Drones" are the "eye in the sky" that continually patrol Auroa looking for intruders. If they spot you, they will signal the deployment of a pack of Wolves to hunt and kill you, so when you see them, go prone and get out of sight.  There are several other drones and automated turrets that will try to stop you in your quest, keep an eye out for them, as the can provide gear and parts of exceptional quality when destroyed.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft have in the past had their share of hits and misses, and though they generally do put the work in to resolve any outstanding issues post launch, I can honestly say that having played both the Technical Alpha, and the Beta, the developers have really polished the game for final release. Except for the (very) occasional frame drop, the game runs incredibly smoothly on the Xbox One X and looks stunning. The control system was also enhanced before release based on feedback from the beta, so the player character Is now much more responsive. 

Overall

Overall, I have put in just over 60 hours to Breakpoint at the time of writing, excluding the weekends put into the Technical Alpha and the Betas. I am around half way through the main story, but that's mainly because I keep getting (pleasantly) distracted by the myriad of other activities that are available. I'm not rushing through it, choosing rather to stop and smell the roses, and take in everything there is to see in this amazing massive world. 

There is so much to say about this game, that I could write for days on it. Some of the experiences I have had, have really made me laugh out loud and record the action to share. The tension, and panic as I have been spotted by an Azrael drone and try to make my escape while being relentlessly pursued by the wolves. 

The sense of accomplishment as the first yellow, or Legendary piece of loot drops after a kill. The relief after sneaking through around 20 guards to reach the helipad on the east side of the complex and escape with the objective.  

Parachuting onto roofs and silently taking down guards to infiltrate a complex and hack the computer. I have found myself even unconsciously holding my breath while I steady the aim of my sniper rifle and take a shot. I have lost sleep with this game, playing late into the night and getting up early in the morning, time and time again. It's a game that is both a tactical military shooter, and a great RPG. It is a joy to play, and it will keep me playing for a long time to come. "A Must Have Masterpiece"