Ghost Recon: Wildlands is Ubisoft’s largest open-world game to date
First announced at E3 2015, Ubisoft’s largest action-adventure open world game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, is now available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Developed by Ubisoft Paris, in collaboration with several other Ubisoft studios, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is an open world, tactical shooter entirely playable with up to four player co-op or single-player from beginning to the end.
In Ghost Recon: Wildlands, you have complete freedom to complete missions in whatever fashion you want. Will you choose to move quietly in the night, go in hot at dawn? Or, work together to execute a sync-shot that takes out enemies in one fell swoop? Each choice has a consequence, and you’ll have to improvise or adapt your plans to ensure completion and success of each mission.
After playing the Ghost Recon: Wildlands beta in late February, I was impressed at just how massive Ghost Recon: Wildlands’ world was. The controls felt natural, and most of all—it was fun to play. Needless to say, I was hungry to get my hands on the final game.
The Ghost Recon series moves in a new direction
In Ghost Recon: Wildlands, you are part of a legendary U.S. Elite Special Operations team known as the Ghosts. Bolivia has become the largest cocaine producer in the world. The vicious Santa Blanca drug cartel has turned the country into a narco-state, leading to fear, injustice, and violence.
The Santa Blanca drug cartel has bombed the US embassy in La Paz attempting to kill DEA a special agent who has been under cover for six years. Instead, he is kidnapped and tortured to death. This action of treachery upgrades Santa Blanca’s status to a terrorist organization and puts them to the top of the Ghost’s threat list.
As part of Operation Kingslayer, the Ghosts are sent behind enemy lines to wreak havoc and break alliances between the cartel and the corrupted government. To do this, you will have to take out El Sueño, the leader of the Santa Blanca drug cartel, along with 26 cartel bosses.
It’s clear to see just by the storyline that Ubisoft is moving the Ghost Recon series in a new direction. I loved the “What if” aspect that Ghost Recon: Wildlands story delves into. Exploring the possibility of a single cartel who has complete power over the entire cocaine trade is intriguing—be prepared for the ups and downs you’ll encounter as you make your way though the game’s storyline.
Open world tactical gameplay
If you are new to the series, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is an open world, tactical shooter that utilizes a third person perspective. It’s the first game in the series to feature an open world, which includes nine different types of terrain, such as forests, deserts, mountains, salt flats and a dynamic weather system along with a day-night cycle. Unlike recent games in the series, Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes place in a modern-day setting—four years in the future—similar to the original Ghost Recon.
As a direct result, the weapons and items in the game are based on weapons and gear used today by military forces around the world. Though, Ghost Recon: Wildlands does feature some original equipment, such as UAV Drones that can be used to tag and reveal enemies and objectives. With over 20 regions to explore, there is never a shortage of things to do in Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
To reach your objectives you can travel across this massive world via helicopter, dirt bikes, dune buggies, or by foot. To be honest, controlling the helicopter and land vehicles can be a little daunting at first. It takes a little while to master controlling them before you feel comfortable. Though, once you do master the controls, it’s smoothing sailing.
Much like myself, I’m sure you are curious as to how the AI of your teammates is in the game. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. Your teammates are actually useful and listen to commands that you can give them such as sending them to a position, or getting everyone to regroup. The sense of comradery amongst your group is well portrayed. With loads of little stories and jokes being told between your teammates at regular intervals.
Freedom to play how you want
Unlike previous games in the series, Ghost Recon: Wildlands does away with set-piece missions for an open-world approach. Ghost Recon: Wildlands uses its extensive map to house both mission hubs along with the locations and installations where you complete those tasks. The game doesn’t limit you by requiring just one specific way to complete your objective.
You can use long-ranged or short-ranged weapons, melee combat, or stealth to get the job done. I liked this freedom that Ubisoft gave us, as it really allows you to experiment and see which method works for you the best. This new style gives you a more natural approach of letting you choose how and when to attempt a mission.
Missions generally begin with a boss hunt. Each of the game’s regions have a boss whom you must learn their identity and lure them out from hiding. To do this you have to complete four to six missions, which involve a combination of any of the following: locating and interrogating one of the bosses assistants or family members, blowing up objects, taking out people, or taking a picture of an important document.
After a while, you’ll start getting that déjà vu feeling when playing your umpteenth mission. But, what makes Ghost Recon: Wildlands gameplay so compelling is when something goes wrong on a mission—which is quite common. The complete chaos that follows, is some of the most fun I’ve had in a game in recent memory.
A beautiful world awaits you
Ubisoft’s previous experience in open-world games has certainly paid off in Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The visual presentation of the various environments are well detailed. I loved the dynamic weather system along with the day/night cycle, which made all the game’s environments gorgeous. Character models are well detailed, and the facial animations for in-game cut scenes are good.
However, there are times when you will jump from a helicopter and parachute down only to see the enemy’s base flickering in and out. On the other hand, the game runs at a fairly consistent 30 frames-per-second on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. So I can’t really complain about the games performance.
PlayStation 4 Pro owners will get the premium Ghost Recon: Wildlands experience. The game runs at 1440p on a 4K TV, and renders a supersampled 1080p image buffer on an HDTV. Additionally, PlayStation 4 Pro owners benefit from faster loading of the game’s world assets, which means pop-ins are significantly reduced along with better texture filtering and shadow effects.
Unless you’re in a car, the music is mostly absent until you get into a heated firefight or are on the verge of being spotted. Interestingly, the radio consistently plays in Rebel or Santa Blanca vehicles. So, it often feels like the locals are running around with broken radios.
Seamless co-op fun
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is completely playable in co-op online. Ideally, you will want to grab three of your friends to play. Or, you can play with random online players via the game’s matchmaking system. Its worth to note that the matchmaking system will match you with others no matter how far into the story they are.
I’ll have to hand it to Ubisoft, Ghost Recon: Wildlands’ co-op experiences is one of the smoothest in recent memory. Friends can jump in and out seamlessly, and its fun to work together with others.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands provides countless hours of exciting open-world shooter gameplay. But, co-op play is where you’ll get the best experience the game has to offer. The world in which you play is massive and there is always something to do. Aside for the minor graphical glitches, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is one of my favourite games out this year so far.
If you are a fan of tactical based shooters and love the Ghost Recon franchise, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is right up your alley.
+ Fun co-op gameplay
+ Huge world to explore
+ Character customization and weapon load-outs is impressive
– Missions begin to feel repetitive after a while
– Some graphical glitches
– Learning curve to handling the vehicles can be frustrating
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)
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