Impressions: Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s Terminator event does little to improve a still very flawed game
When Ghost Recon Breakpoint launched last October, we found it to be a serviceable yet unfocused RPG/tactical shooter hybrid which ultimately didn’t do the Ghost Recon series justice. Moreover, Breakpoint exemplified developer Ubisoft’s worst tendencies when it came to homogenizing its games with artificial (and grindy) RPG mechanics, so much so that the studio wound up delaying three upcoming games as a direct result of the newest Ghost Recon’s disappointing sales numbers.
Now, several months later, Breakpoint has received a second wind of sorts with a currently ongoing in-game event that directly links the game’s narrative to one of the most iconic action franchises of all time: Terminator. It’s certainly not the first time Ubisoft has layered a recognizable action franchise onto its Ghost Recon narrative (Breakpoint’s predecessor, Ghost Recon Wildlands, pitted players against a Predator after all), and for the most part the event’s new story developments (as thin as they are) are actually pretty compelling.
However, returning players who were hoping that Breakpoint is in a more stable, balanced, and user-friendly state than it was four months ago are in for some disappointment. The Terminator event can be fun on its own, but experiencing it means also having to subject yourself to the same frustrating flaws that were present in the game’s original launch.
Fight for the Future
The bulk of the new Terminator event consists of two story missions that (as of this writing) can be played back-to-back. The first mission, titled “A Storm is Coming,” sends players to a Sentinel base where they have to gather intel on a mysterious woman who, if you listen to the ambient chatter of the local Sentinel troops, is apparently ranting about stuff like “machines from the future.”
The intel players find leads them to a convoy they have to ambush so they can interrogate some soldiers, and finally to a medical facility where they rescue the woman in question: a scrappy young soldier named Rasa Aldwin. Rasa quickly explains that she’s from the future and that she’s on Aurora because she’s trying to stop Sentinel from manufacturing Terminators and ultimately contributing to the end of humanity. The player’s character, Nomad, is naturally skeptical, but Rasa barely has time to finish her spiel before a T-800 Terminator shows up in the (artificial) flesh and starts shooting at anything that moves.
After making a quick exit, Rasa leads Nomad over to her hideout (which is conveniently quite close to the facility they just escaped from) where she hands over a special marksman rifle called the MK14 Termination that can actually damage Terminators. It should be noted that once this story moment is reached, all weapons can technically damage Terminators, but the MK14 Termination deals bonus damage to their weak spots.
Obtaining the Terminator-slaying weapon concludes the first story mission, with Rasa heading back to the player’s main base of operations, Erewhon. Speaking with Rasa triggers the second mission, “Clear Sky,” which involves delving into the actual Sentinel facility where Terminators are being produced. Up until the event’s conclusion on February 6, players can also participate in daily missions where they hunt Terminators at specific landmarks and/or secure materials needed to upgrade the MK14 Termination’s stats.
Completing the two story missions, finishing daily missions, and slaying Terminators encountered out in the wild all contribute to an event-exclusive Battle Rewards track which unlocks themed cosmetics, weapons blueprints, and vehicles. Once the event is over, the two story missions will still be available (they’re a permanent part of the game now), but the daily missions and (we assume) event-specific Battle Rewards items will be taken out.
The Price of Progress
As cool as it is to see Terminators invading Breakpoint’s Aurora setting, it’s also disappointing to see that virtually none of the game’s major launch issues have been addressed. The AI for enemy Sentinel troops is still horribly imbalanced, leading to many instances where a single wrong move causes an entire army of hostiles to zero in on your position and relentlessly hunt you down even on the game’s easiest difficulty setting.
Bugs, visual glitches, texture popping, and other clear cases of poor optimization still abound, and while they’re usually not severe enough to crash the game or noticeably disrupt a typical gameplay session, they make one wonder what Ubisoft has been doing for the past four months. Perhaps most egregious of all, Breakpoint still automatically locks equipped gear to a class-based preset and forces players to visit a bivouac to change those presets so they can then dismantle/sell the gear whenever they find better replacements.
This automatic gear/preset locking is a frustratingly obtuse and archaic mechanic to deal with, one which slows gameplay to a crawl and directly clashes with the gear score system that actively encourages players to constantly seek out upgrades. It’s mind-boggling to think that, after several months, Ubisoft still hasn’t implemented some sort of tweak or fix that makes the gear presets system easier to deal with, but hey, at least now we have Terminators, right?
Right Idea, Wrong Focus
It’s great that Ubisoft is at least committed to updating Ghost Recon Breakpoint with fun new content additions like the Terminator event, but it’s also hard to appreciate such additions when the core experience is still so fundamentally flawed. As we noted in our review, Breakpoint has the potential to be a great tactical shooter, but four months after launch it’s really no closer to realizing that potential, and Ubisoft can distract players with flashy in-game events for only so long.
Die-hard Terminator fans may get a kick out of squaring off against unstoppable T-800’s and unlocking some cool Terminator-themed items, but if Ubisoft really wants to start winning players back, it needs to show that there’s substance to back up the flash. Ghost Recon Wildlands managed to sustain a thriving and engaged community over multiple years not only because of its themed events but also because Ubisoft was willing and even eager to give players the tactical experience they craved.
We don’t expect Ghost Recon Breakpoint to suddenly become a great game overnight. But, if after four months all Ubisoft has to show for its efforts is a brief Terminator-themed event which has a total duration of barely a week, that doesn’t bode well for the fans who legitimately want to invest in the game long-term. It seems safe to assume that players would much rather see major overhauls and improvements for the core game rather than flashy event-based distractions, but at this point that’s a call only Ubisoft can make.