Ghost Recon Wildlands Review – Co-op at it’s Best
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
My three friends and I had our four-man special operations team kitted out with some of the deadliest weapons CIA money could buy. Coincidentally, we’d just learnt of new drug operation that had sprung up, while visiting one of the small towns that dotted the Bolivian countryside. The cartel had bodaciously set up their narco compound just outside of the town, so we swore to rid the poor civilian peasants of the drug vermin. Plus, it would give us an opportunity to try out our newly purchased hardware.
We crept up onto a cliff peninsula overlooking the compound and began marking targets using either binoculars, or “Zippy.” Zippy was our cute little drone that we used during most of our reconnaissance phases, and she had performed her duties well. We spotted eleven tangos in all—mainly your standard issue drug cartel goons, but also with a couple of ex-special forces types mixed in, who had been tempted by the allure of easy money.
After we’d designated our targets, we silently performed our sync kills. Our bullets sliced through the humid evening air like whispers on the wind, dropping our adversaries where they stood before they even knew what hit them. However, a few enemies remained, having deviated from their patrols to saunter inside buildings within the compound. So we waited…and waited…and waited some more. Finally, they eventually emerged, one by one, only to meet the same fate as their drug brethren.
Too easy—we thought.
So, we ratcheted up the game’s difficulty to the maximum level and tried the mission again. This time, whilst we were performing our reconnaissance, a large truck carrying what we assumed was a drug shipment, came rumbling down the dirt road that lead right to the compound. It in turn was followed by a cartel SUV with a machinegun mounted on top of its rooftop.
We had one of our men dash down to the road and place a landmine at the compound’s entrance, on the same side of the approaching vehicles. As the truck rolled over it, it exploded in a brilliant fireball, and the SUV came to a halt. Unfortunately, the SUV spotted us and began spraying bullets in our direction. This wasn’t going to be so easy…
As you can see, Ubisoft’s newfangled open-world tactical shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, can be a game that offers lots of replayability. Very rarely have I had as much fun playing a game’s missions over and over again, as I have with this one. That’s because you can play the game as you want to play it—everything’s up to you and your teammates (unless you’re playing with AI squad mates in single player mode).
You can approach an objective covertly, and utilize suppressed guns and stealthy takedowns, or you can go louder and assault it using more traditional combat tactics. And depending on the difficulty, should they spot you, enemies won’t just look startled for a couple of minutes and then go back to their patrol routines. They’ll literally comb whole areas while looking for you for lengthy periods of time. And if they come across any bodies of their fallen comrades, be prepared for a long search indeed.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is set in a fictionalized version of Bolivia, where an extremely violent Mexican drug cartel has come down and taken over. And when I say taken over, they pretty much control every facet of life in the beautiful South American country. In reaction to this, the U.S. has sent Special Operations Forces down to the country to liberate it, and of course, exterminate the cartel. But it won’t be easy—the local police and military forces have also been corrupted by the cartel, and are hostile towards your operators.
Fortunately, you have a tenuous alliance with a group of local rebels who are the main form of resistance to the cartels and their corrupt accomplices. But in a culture infused with machismo, the men of the resistance aren’t too happy about accepting help from a group of “Yankees.”
Ghost Recon Wildlands’ map is truly gigantic, perhaps the largest ever seen in an open-world game. And after just a single hour of gameplay, it felt really lived-in and real to me. Civilians go about their daily tasks, or sit around and talk to one another. Cops shake the poor down in impromptu circumstances that aren’t scripted yet give a cinematic vibe the proceedings. Rebels console one another, or talk about how much they miss their homes, or how what they’re doing is worth fighting for. The sheer amount of work that Ubisoft has put into building this digitized version of the South American nation is staggering to witness.
Gameplay mainly consists of choosing a mission, gearing up with arms, ammo, and all assortment of gadgetry, and then setting out to the mission area of operations. Once there, you can decide how you want to tackle an objective. The beauty of Ghost Recon Wildlands’ gameplay is that random events can (and usually do) happen that can cause things to go south real quick. Therefore, a sort of cinematic sensibility emerges that distinguishes this open-world game from most others. It feels dynamic, reactive, and totally immersive.
The visuals on hand are absolutely stunning—and this is coming from a gaming geek who poured untold (I’m actually afraid to admit how many) hours into Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. A phenomenal game in its own right, The Phantom Pain did well what it did well, but didn’t offer much in the way of diversity. In Ghost Recon Wildlands on the other hand, you have everything from lush forests, arid deserts, steamy jungles, rolling foothills, craggy cliffs, and lofty, snowcapped mountains. The environments are extremely varied and well handled.
Although Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands will probably appeal to more of the casual gaming crowd, there are still plenty of opportunities for the utilization of advanced covert tactics and careful planning. If you’re playing with a group of friends (I think the ONLY way to play), it can be one of the best co-op experiences available. There is also purportedly in access of fifty hours of content to be played through, although that number could go up depending on how tactically you play it. I’m very happy that Ubisoft has finally gotten the Ghost Recon franchise back on track.