Impressions: Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s Immersive Experience improves the game
To say that Ghost Recon Breakpoint has had a bit of a rough ride would be a severe understatement. As we noted in our review the game’s initial launch was plagued by technical hiccups, balancing issues, and Ubisoft’s misguided attempts to shoehorn in RPG-esque systems such as gear score and colored loot tiers. That initial launch was later followed by a Terminator-themed event which, while serving as a fun distraction, did virtually nothing to fix Breakpoint’s underlying flaws.
Ubisoft promised it was working on major overhauls to bring Breakpoint more in line with fan expectations, but those same fans knew that such overhauls would take time, and their patience was already stretched thin. Thankfully, the game’s recently launched 2.0 update has delivered a double-whammy of new gameplay components which finally make the game worth revisiting. Along with a new ‘Deep State’ story campaign featuring Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher, the 2.0 update includes an ‘Immersive Experience’ which transforms Breakpoint into the highly replayable tactical shooter it was always meant to be.
The Immersive Experience
The Immersive Experience is part of a larger initiative that was rolled out via the 2.0 update and which Ubisoft has appropriately dubbed the Ghost Experience. Through the Ghost Experience, Breakpoint players can choose from two pre-designed “templates” for how they want to play the game or make a customized template using a series of modifiers drawn from both pre-built templates. The two templates are as follows:
Regular Experience – The game’s default state with gear score and colored loot tiers
Immersive Experience – Gear score and loot tiers are disabled, players can scavenge new weapons from defeated enemies
On its own, Breakpoint’s Immersive Experience should give more tactical players the challenge they crave with the added benefit of not having to deal with gear score or tiered loot. The real beauty of the Ghost/Immersive Experience templates, though, is in how deeply they can be customized.
If the standard Ghost Experience templates aren’t quite to your liking, you can tweak them using a series of different settings and modifiers. The list of components that can be tweaked in this fashion ranges from basics like the game’s difficulty and whether gear score and tiered loot are enabled down to more granular options like whether you lose remaining ammunition when reloading or whether your character can carry one primary weapon at a time or two.
This in-depth customization not only makes Breakpoint more appealing to players who were put off by the gear score and tiered loot systems, it also makes the game more accessible since players can still engage in co-op while retaining their own customized settings. If your buddies lean toward hardcore realism but you prefer a casual shooter experience, that’s totally fine. Your buddies can disable the HUD, crank their stamina consumption and risk of injury up to max, and have a ball. Meanwhile you can soften those rough edges by giving yourself unlimited bandages, increased health regeneration, and any other player-friendly modifiers you deem appropriate.
To be clear, the Ghost Experience and underlying Immersive Experience don’t address every one of Breakpoint’s flaws. The enemy AI is still highly aggressive and somehow able to pinpoint (and keep tracking) the player’s location with even the slightest misstep. Though tweaking the right modifiers does at least mean that a failed stealth attempt no longer devolves into a cheap death and/or many minutes spent slogging through tedious gunfights.
It should also be noted that Breakpoint’s PvE raid and PvP ‘Ghost War’ mode still require that gear score and tiered loot be enabled, so keep that in mind if those are the features that initially drew you in. If, on the other hand, you prefer sticking with the game’s open-world PvE story content, the new Deep State story campaign is the perfect playground in which to give the Immersive Experience a test drive.
The Deep State Campaign
While all Breakpoint players can access the Deep State campaign’s opening mission for free, the full campaign is only available to those who either purchase it separately or own the game’s Year One Pass. This is because, unlike the disappointingly brief pair of Terminator missions, Deep State is actually a sprawling and in-depth mini-campaign that spans eight missions and provides roughly 6-8 hours of content.
Deep State is also heavily Splinter Cell-themed, allowing players to earn a number of different Splinter Cell cosmetic items and take title update 2.0’s new Echelon class for a spin. The Echelon, which utilizes the iconic Splinter Cell Sonar Goggles along with a Shock Pistol gadget and stealth-focused passive abilities, is just one of two new classes that have been added to Breakpoint’s roster. The other new class is the Engineer, a support class which focuses on drone mastery. The Echelon and Engineer are technically free additions to the game, but Year One Pass owners get early access to them both and don’t have to unlock them with skill points first.
New cosmetic and gameplay additions are all well and good, but one of Deep State’s biggest selling points is the return of the legendary Splinter Cell himself, Sam Fisher (once again voiced by Michael Ironside). Unlike his brief cameo in Ghost Recon Wildlands, Fisher is a constant presence throughout the Deep State campaign, working alongside the player’s character, Nomad, to track down and capture a dangerous new enemy known only as The Strategist.
If getting to fight alongside Sam Fisher wasn’t enough, Ubisoft ups the stakes for Deep State even further by teasing players with a major story reveal right from the get-go. Midas, one of Nomad’s squadmates from Wildlands who has been MIA ever since the base Breakpoint campaign’s opening helicopter crash, is apparently alive and in The Strategist’s clutches.
Players who aren’t totally up to date on their Ghost Recon lore may struggle to feel the same urgency towards Midas’ plight as Nomad does, but it’s still a worthy effort to move Breakpoint’s story forward. Back in Wildlands, many of the story-themed special events (including the Splinter Cell one) felt too disconnected from the game’s main story, so it’s good to see Ubisoft paying homage to its Splinter Cell property while also fleshing out Breakpoint’s narrative beyond the scope of the main campaign.
Turning A Corner
Between its new Ghost/Immersive Experience gameplay modifiers, Deep State story campaign, and the massive amount of additional tweaks and fixes it has made to the core game, Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s 2.0 update has done a lot to put the game on its proper path. There is admittedly still work to be done to ensure this new momentum keeps going strong, but for now Breakpoint finally feels like a game worth investing in no matter what your individual player tastes are.
Some fans may find it frustrating that it took Breakpoint roughly half a year to reach a state where it finally feels like a proper tactical shooter worthy of the Ghost Recon legacy, and they’re certainly entitled to their frustration. However, those who also love a good redemption story will be happy to see the great strides Ubisoft has taken to right Breakpoint’s listing ship, especially since they now get to directly experience the fruits of those efforts.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint struggled to find a proper identity when it launched last October, but thanks to some massive 2.0 overhauls and a helping hand from Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher, the game’s spectacular second coming is outshined only by its bright and promising future.