Hey, I've had the privilege of helping test the Spartan Realism Mod for Breakpoint (on PC) over the last couple of weeks and it's transformed the game for me. If you're on PC and interested in addressing some of the many issues related to enemy detection, response, suppressed gun fire detection, ammo capacity, suppressor damage reduction, and much more, then be sure to check it out.
Below is my full review but if you don't want to read all that, I don't blame you... here's the TLDR...
TLDR: It’s awesome. I love it. This is not a mod for the casual gamer that wants to blow off steam taking out a base. If you’re on PC and want a more immersive, intense and realistic experience, it's fab! It’s the way Ghost Recon was meant to be in my opinion.
One of the key problems with the game is enemy detection and response time. Enemy detection is limited to about 60m under all conditions, day or night. This is pretty poor. In addition, enemy difficulty links both enemy responsiveness and lethality together, which makes it impossible to have responsive enemies and still enjoy the injury system as you die in a couple shots on higher difficulty. There was also no advantage to operating at night, as it only made it difficult for us to see, not the enemies. This is all addressed with the mod.
I have found myself being spotted at 300m by a Wolf Sniper if I stand out in the open in daylight. Enemies can sometimes spot me before I notice them… particularly if they are not talking which almost never happened before. It forces me to be more aware of my surroundings, and to be careful when moving across open ground or approaching a base or doing recon. It’s just more realistic. It also makes you easier to spot from helicopters so although I loathe the frequency of the fly overs (until I disable them through destabilzation missions) it’s realistic and you feel hunted. I now need to use the hide mechanic (screen gets a vignette) or prone camo for helicopters flying directly overhead during daylight. Be careful when on a surface which doesn't allow hiding or prone camo, if you happen to have a fly over occur, you will get spotted... which makes sense.
I now do recon from a distance with the drone and through binoculars or my optic during the day, and then run most of my operations at night to give me an advantage over the enemy. With night vision, I can now see them much better than they can see me and I can get closer without getting detected. Interestingly, the detection at night is based on actual darkness… you are much harder to detect in the shadows of a forest than under a flood light in a base. This whole darkness level detection mechanic is actually built into the game, but due to the extremely nerfed detection distances, it never plays a role… until now.
The mod also adjusts firearm noise signature and enemy detection of gunfire. There is a hard cap in the game so noise of any magnitude beyond about 200m will not be detected. Within that range, all unsuppressed gunfire will be detected now. Suppressed gunfire has also been made much more realistic. A supersonic high-velocity round (5.56 7.62, or .338) will generate real-world SPL of 150-160dB and suppressors will attenuate this by about 30dB which means even at 100m, the sound is still noticeable at about 90dB unless it’s a very noisy environment (train going by or something of that nature). So the mod also fixes this by making all supersonic firearm classes have appropriate suppressed fire detection out to 100-150m. SMGs, Handguns and Shotguns with suppressors generally fire subsonic ammunition and can avoid detection at much closer ranges as they should. This makes these firearms relevant for stealth, but the Hollywood style stealth infiltrations you may be use to are not going to work anymore.
There’s no longer any penalty for using suppressors… and there’s no longer a reason to NOT equip a suppressor on almost every firearm. In fact, player damage has been adjusted not only to overcome the suppressor penalty, but to better balance enemy sponge with player sponge. Alert Sentinel and Wolves normally require 5 and 7 shots respectively to take down. With the mod, they take 3 and 4 shots respectively which more closely aligns with Nomad’s survivability on Extreme or Advanced. And most enemies generally don’t have any ballistic armour or plate carriers (or if they do, they are head shots or sync shots only). Nomad should have a plate carrier giving him a slight advantage in survivability.
The whole visual and noise detection modifications makes firefights much more dynamic. For one, the engagement distances are more open, so your team mates and the enemy has more opportunity to move and use cover than just standing face to face or acting like lemmings. Also, the extended detection distance will draw others into combat from nearby, which can have a domino effect and make things very interesting. If you've played unsuppressed, you're already familiar with how this will play out. Firefights near roads are almost certainly not going to end well. Modest situations can easily get a lot more intense now. Picking fights in the wilderness just for the fun of it can be fun, but can also be much more dangerous than before, especially if you draw the attention of a nearby vehicle with a minigun.
Having realistic ammo load outs means you won’t run into issues if everything goes according to plan. But if you get caught in an extended fire fight, at some point, you will be trying to use whatever ammo you have left to break contact before you’re completely depleted. Fully automatic fire is now a waste of precious ammo. It’s a real risk going loud and taking on the whole base - do you have enough ammo to take on hoards of enemies and reinforcements? You might not. You need to prioritize targets and not just wing-it. Without the mod, this was never a consideration.
Health management is also very interesting now. I’m currently trying a scheme where my health regeneration is very quick, but I’m running with injuries set to “Always” on Advanced (so I can take 4-5 shots). This has an interesting effect… as you won’t go down due to depleted health bars until you are critically injured and unable to defend yourself effectively. So you effectively end up going down to multiple injuries instead, which seems more realistic and immersive to me than abstract health bars. For the first time in 2 years, I’ve witnessed a critical injury state where my head was ringing, I kept falling down, and could only use my handgun… all while playing on a harder difficulty with alert enemies. I’m sure you could reproduce this on easy or normal difficulty, but certainly not on harder difficulties. You would be dead from health bar depletion long before you had a chance to experience a critical injury. Note that if you get caught out of cover by a chain gun, you will be cut to pieces. It’s just a shame that enemies and your AI team doesn’t have the same injury system…. Now that would be immersive.
Drones are less spongy, and anti-material rifles like the TAC-50 and HTI do some real damage against hard-targets now making them relevant.
Those are the biggest changes for me. It makes the game hella more intense - and thus fun for me. In fact you might find it frustrating at first. You will absolutely need to use your team mates to sync shot and help in fire fights. You will need to pick the right load out for the mission, and do extensive recon. Engaging endless waves of reinforcements may be fun, but you won’t have the ammo for it and will die. Flying by the seat of your pants and picking off enemies like fence posts isn’t going to work with this mod.
As I said earlier, it’s the way Ghost Recon was meant to be, in my opinion.
For other game settings, I recommend playing with the Ballistic Advantage perk as per my recent testing. And make sure you have the skill that increases your ammo by 25% as that will give you one extra mag to give you 5 spare plus one in the gun. I would avoid using stealth perks as those increase enemy reaction time. If you’re using a ghillie suit, it would actually make sense to disable the mod’s added detection distance. Use a suppressor on all your weapons, it’s now essential and there are no penalties. Avoid using syringes, especially if they are set to heal injuries - although if you just want to power through a tough encounter after wiping several times, I guess they provide a good way to do that… or just turn off the mod temporarily.
I'll be very curious to hear others experiences.