Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands (initial review)
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is finally upon us, and after months of anticipation, players hungry for some Ghost Recon action can finally sate their thirst for what is shaping up to be one of the best open world co-op experiences of 2017. Thanks to Ubisoft combining the best working elements from each of the previous games in the franchise and borrowing a few from other Ubisoft titles, the game is already looking to be the best in the franchise to date.
You play as an elite squad that has been sent into Bolivia to take down the Santa Blanca Cartel which has entangled its corruption into almost every component of the country. This will take more than just eliminating El Sueno, the head of the Cartel. You must completely dismantle his network by interrogating, capturing, or killing each of his generals, lieutenants, and captains if you want any hope of restoring Bolivia’s crime-free infrastructure.
I don’t even know where to start when talking about Wildlands, but that is almost synonymous with the game’s design. You start out smack-dab in the middle of the map and must rescue one of the resistance’s rebel leaders. After completing that mission, you can pretty much go anywhere you want at any time. The world map is broken down into multiple sectors, and each one has its own missions, cartel leader, side missions, upgrades and intel.
The world is populated with enemies, and NPCs you come across are usually having a conversation, performing an action of some kind, or just sleeping. It’s very rare to find anyone who is just standing still or walking on a predesignated route to nowhere specific. The civilians will always react to combat and will cower in fear or run/hide when sensing danger. Your targets, for the most part, all have a unique identity and backstory, all of which is given to you in short videos so that you have more info on who you’re currently hunting.
You’ll need weapons to hunt, and Wildlands does not skimp on that. Each weapon has its own breakdown of customization and multiple parts that will affect everything from clip size to noise reduction. However, to upgrade these weapons, the parts are all scattered across the world in accessory cases that can be found easily by interrogating certain NPCs or finding information sites across the world. These sites will be your compass, and once you find this info, it will populate the map with more objectives whether it’s vital cartel info, weapon cases, or rebel missions. All info is good info in Wildlands.
There are also skill points to collect or earn. With enough skill points and supplies (found in side missions and all over the map), you’ll be able to improve your character and weapons including improving steady aim and hip fire, expanding drone life and range, and reviving your teammates faster.
Co-op Is Where It’s At
If you’re playing this by yourself, please stop. Go out there and find some friends and have them join you, or you can join other players online. Your AI teammates are okay, but when things go down, you’ll be wishing that you had more order options. Ubisoft Paris developed this game with co-op in mind, and if you a team that’s very into coordinating strategy, this is when you’ll have the most fun. (You can also barge in if you want to be the typical action hero.) There are plenty of story missions that will require you to really plan your attack. In one mission, we had to spy on a target using a drone, and that meant sneaking around without getting caught. If we did get caught, the mission would fail. After many failed attempts, it really made us focus and forced us to communicate at all times.
There are many missions to accomplish and criminals to take down in order to get to El Sueno. We have been playing for many hours over the weekend and have only been messing around in three districts. To give you an idea of how big the map is, there are 21 total districts.
If you didn’t enjoy the Open Beta even when playing with friends, then the full game won’t likely change your mind. I’ve also noticed that our Nerd Reactor colleagues who aren’t patient enough are turned off by the stealth/teamwork aspect. However, if you have a group of friends who won’t go Leeroy Jenkins on you, then you’ll have a wild ride with Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
Check out the launch trailer then grab three of your buddies and get out there dismantling the Santa Blanca cartel.