Review: Ghost Recon Wildlands

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Ubisoft for the past few years have had a seemingly usual track record of showing off a game during E3 that’s slated for release nearly 2 years later. We saw it with Watch Dogs, The Division, and we’re seeing the same with Ghost Recon: Wildlands. This reason behind this is because of extremely long development time that is put into a lot of Ubisoft titles.

Ghost Recon Wildlands has been nearly 5 years in the making, and for the past 2 years, a lot of users have been very eager to get a hold of it. Ubisoft recently had 2 beta’s of the new title, giving gamers a very small part of what the entire game has to offer. The game is officially released tomorrow, so the wait is now offer.

Our time with Ghost Recon Wildlands was on PC, and we did want to note that there are some optimisation issues within the game. It has improved since the beta, but we hope to see some game specific drivers that may help soon. We also wish to note that we have only had a few days with the game, and there is much more to Wildlands, below is our overall opinion on the game as we have played it so far.

Note*

AMD have just released ReLive Crimson 17.3.1 drivers for their graphics cards and this adds better performance support for Ghost Recon Wildlands, along with crossfire support. Drivers can be downloaded from this link on AMD.com.

Intro and Story

The game takes place in a very large fictional version of Bolivia and the game is entirely open world, with the players left to tackle any aspect of the game or area of the map at will. As we’re probably going to mention a few times through-out our review. This games is huge, and offers an insane map that is filled with beautiful environments that we felt we had to just stop for a moment and look.

The premise of the game at first, might seem somewhat convoluted, or complicated. It’s actually pretty straight forward.

The game is set in 2019, where the entire Santa Blanca drug cartel under leadership by El Sueño have taken over Bolivia and turned the entire country into a narco-state and have begun producing cocaine throughout the land. The US become concerned after an attack on a US Embassy and the affects of the narco-state are having outside the country. And so enters the Ghosts. The elite group of soldiers sent by the US to deal with the Santa Blanca Cartel, and their leader El Sueño.

This is pretty much the line up for the entire game, and from there your dropped into the country and can begin by following any general story mission that leads to the clearing of each region. Each region contains a plethora of side-missions/collectables, and most if not all contain 6 story missions. Each region (21 total) has a specific boss-like character that basically looks after things in the area.

The aim is to work through each story mission within each region and uncovering new information about the Santa Blanca in an effort of destabilising their control over the territory. Each region effectively has its own story missions, with the goal of killing or capturing the boss of said region. Each region is run differently and has a different purpose for within the cartel, to which their apart of either Trafficking, Influence, Security, or Production.

Having only had a few days with the game, we can say for certain that the story will take significant amount of time to complete. This is not only because of how big the game is, how long the story is, how many side missions there are, but mostly because of how many times we became distracted while setting out to complete a mission, and instead decided to randomly do something else. The effect this has on the gameplay is huge, but in an amazing way.

Character customisation

When starting off in Wildlands, you will first have to create your own character, and we’re pleased by a great level of customisation options that offer the ability to pretty much recreate anything, and thankfully you can change something throughout the game if you wish.

Gameplay

Ghost Recon has pretty much always been about being a elite military class shooter with as much realism as possible. While some of that principle still remains within Wildlands, it will be almost immediately noticed that this game has taken a different direction than previous titles. We can easily see this has been a more friendly version of Ghost Recon, that has been bridged in an effort to appease to larger audience.

While the entire game can be played on your own with 3 of the AI players along with you, it has to be said that playing the game with friends or others online adds a huge fun factor to the game. The randomness that we mentioned earlier truly exists within multiplayer; with the entire map being open to all players at anytime, shenanigans are sure to arise, but having much better control over how you tackle a mission is a key element to the tactical side of things.

The tactical nature of the game is surely one of the many positive aspects it has to offer, with a huge selection of weapons avaialble to unlock throughout the game. This includes a great many attachments, modifications, and paint jobs. Unlocking everything could take a very long time, but unlocking something you like shouldn’t take long at all if your willing to travel for it. The drone included from the get-go will easily provide you with a huge advantage for making your targets and planning your attack.

Taking on a mission can easily be done with a run and gun style, assuming proper coverage is used when needed, as the game can get very difficult throughout different regions. The stealth/planned approach offers a more serious feeling to the game and brings out the real tactical shooter aspect.  Sadly this is almost entirely reserved for co-op sessions, as the AI are prone to getting seen all too frequently. Controlling the AI can be a bit of chore sometimes, as they tend not to pay much attention to the enemy on their own accord and you have to spend time accounting for their mishaps.

Sometimes it may feel like your doing everything yourself , but single player can been enjoyable once you get used to dishing out commands often, but admittedly that can be cumbersome in the middle of a shootout, or tense moment. Having your AI there is mostly beneficial when your downed and need to be revived, and triggering attacked commands when driving or piloting a helicopter.

The Enemy

The closed and open betas gave us a glimpse into Wildlands, and we felt the games AI just wasn’t up to par, and didn’t really offer any significant challenge. Oh boy can we tell you how different that is in the rest of Wildlands. Each region has its own level of bad guy, and venturing into a territory your not ready to handle will easily see you getting dropped in seconds and in most case by taking a single shot to the face.

The enemy AI seems intelligent and reacts differently, in some cases however, the enemy could just stand there and start shooting, but most of the time, they venture out and seek cover, and furthermore by using proper tactics to hunt you down. We can say for sure that at night, having multiple enemies chasing you can be a bit daunting and you will find they will pop grenades, flank your position and call in some heavy support, especially in the difficult regions.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Did we mention this game is huge. It’s the biggest that Ubisoft have ever made, and yeah! travelling will be where most of your time is spent, unless you take a linear approach to the map. We find playing with others brings out the wild aspect and venturing out to the unknown becomes the real challenge, and there is a lot of unknown within Wild lands. You will find yourself begging to find a helicopter or simply fast travelling to the nearest safe house in an effort to get on with another mission. That being said, sometimes travelling randomly can bring you to some great side mission and objectives, not to mention the beautiful topography that Ubisoft have recreated for all of Bolivia. Sometimes you will find yourself in awe of the beauty of this game.

Driving is very unstable at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes quite fun. We like to think that in this fictional version of Bolivia, since there aren’t many car shops/mechanics around, realistically cars wouldn’t be in the best condition or have the best handling anyway, but none the less, once you have spent as much time driving around as we have, you won’t be slighted by the steering and will find break neck speeds to be fun in the curving roads. However, it would be nice if you could shoot while riding bike, at least with a pistol.

Planes and helicopters are a similar story, and like most games have a learning curve. Having ever piloted a helicopter in a game, then your probably off to a great start, but either way, it doesn’t take long to ease into the controls of Wildlands, and like we mentioned above, there really is a lot of travelling within the game, and so you will get plenty of practise.

Wrap Up

This is a big game, and we mean big. It has a long story, which may be drawn out and over the top at times, but offers enough to keep you interested. There is a massive amount to do in this game, and we have barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer, but ultimately what we have touched on so far has been tremendously enjoyable, but our time with the game has been mostly with co-op, as we see this part really offering the most.

Having a game this large and taking on a mission with as much tactics as possible hasn’t quite been possible with games of late, and thankfully Ghost Recon Wildlands does it beautifully. It’s nice to shoot an enemy in the head, and have him go down and not require 4 clips to kill him. The difficulty in the game is tactics and how you approach the enemy and not just how long it takes to kill each of them.

Wildlands offers an amazing tactical shooter experience that excels with co-op gameplay. The game can feel endless and brings out hours of fun and just considering how large this game is, it will take some time to tackle everything before having to repeat even a single mission. We have spent more time on this game than other games have taken to complete, and we have only ventured into a few regions so far. We’re extremely pleased with everything Ghost Recon Wildlands has to offer and look forward to playing it more.

 

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