Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon games have always been straight-forward military-focused affairs. No call for world-crushing alien foes or laser-visioned supervillains here. This third-person shooter series has been about plopping gamers down in the boots of the most elite special ops soldiers and giving them the most advanced weapons, gear, gadgets and intel with which to approach a realistic mission somewhere in the world and get-‘er-done.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, however, is shaking the formula up a bit. Still no space marauders, and you still get a Ghost super soldier to play as, but after that, you’re on your own. Good luck!
This eleventh adventure in the series establishes a beautiful and mysterious island locale somewhere out in the Pacific called the Auroa Archipelago. It’s mysterious because it’s owned and kept isolated by a multi-gazillion dollar Apple-like company called Skell Tech, which is using the scenic island for its base of operations.
Forward-thinking entrepreneur Jace Skell tells the world that he’s mixing his skills with the genius of his brilliant inventors to create the technology for a greener, cleaner, sunnier world. What he and his crew are really doing, however, is a bit less green and clean, and a little more shady and weapons-focused.
When a tanker is sunk just off the island’s shores and all outside communications with Auroa suddenly go down, the U.S. government gets concerned and sends 32 Ghost Recon soldiers to set things right. Half of them die before setting foot on shore.
It seems that the island is protected now by a bird-like flock of swooping and swirling drones that can bring down a helicopter or sink a ship within seconds. On top of that, the Skell Tech facilities have been taken over by the very military contractors who were brought in to protect it. And that highly weaponized rogue force is being led by none other than an ex-Ghost named Walker.
Oh, and you? You’re a seasoned soldier, code named Nomad, who picks himself up out of his helicopter’s wreckage with nothing more than a limp and a pistol … and a dangerous job to do.
All of that means that survival is almost as important as being a good shot this go-round. Players must sneak through the island’s vast open map, digging up intel, finding and crafting weapons, locating surviving soldiers and local help, and figuring out how to face harsh weather and terrain–all the while somehow giving battle to an overpowering enemy.
If you don’t find the right weapons, it will affect your tactics. And if you’re hungry, wounded or simply fatigued, that impacts your ability to function and do your job. What you do and don’t have makes a difference.
That may sound like it’s all designed to give you a more realistic facing-tall-odds story to play through. And it does. But it’s not all great. Keeping tabs on your hunger, fatigue and injuries and always checking weather reports can just feel like an added grind heaped on the many, many grinding quests you must already perform.
Then, of course, there’s the scores of recon missions, extractions and assassinations that ultimately play out in a bloody gun battle. They feel more purposeful and realistic in this game as compared to many other shooters, but they’re still frenetic and messy. Depending on which sniper rifle, machine gun, shotgun or rocket launcher you’re using, a foe’s blood splashes or gushes as you might well expect. You can get up close and beat a chokehold confession out of an enemy, use him as a meat shield, or simply drive your infantry knife into his jugular several times, too.
Oh, and when you’re getting up close and personal, you’ll also watch as captives are tortured and made to scream in agony. You’ll take in some crude conversations about sex play and sex toys along the way. And you’ll hear (or, as your on-screen character spout) quite a bit of really foul language that ranges from harsh blasphemes of God’s and Jesus’ names to f- and s-words and other sundry crudities.
So, yes, this latest Ghost Recon does indeed have some new survival challenges you’ll need to live and work through. But that grinding, bloody, and foul digital life isn’t always an easy one.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.