The latest in the Ubisoft “Tom Clancy” franchises, Ghost Recon: Wildlands sends you and 3 AI or human teammates to the lawless narco badlands of Bolivia.
After going through the very impressive character customisation menus, we find ourselves in a cut scene in a helicopter, flying over the mountains and hills of Bolivia. Here we learn that the CIA have ended up with a deep cover agent being executed, and after an embassy bombing and then a declaration of war by a drug cartel named Santa Blanca, the Ghosts are sent in to eliminate the cartel, dismantling this huge drugs empire piece by piece.
One by one you kill the division head lieutenants which draws them out, eliminate enough of them and the head of Santa Blanca, El Sueno, will come out looking for revenge. That is the end goal, to kill him. Oh, and all of the other little guys too. There is a wide variety of missions, and whilst most can be achieved in a multitude of ways, there are some which require stealth and others that require full frontal and very swift assaults, especially where the front is the only way in. You can find gear such as new weapons and attachments for those weapons littered around in various boxes, usually in strategic locations that are used for main missions.
You can interrogate small time lieutenants and scan documents and hack computers to find those, along with kingslayer files which reveal some backstory and lore, and find “skill points” (medals which unlock new skill points to use upgrading your character and kit) and rebel operations to unlock the resources needed for those skill upgrades and rebel assistance such as distractions, recon, mortar fire and so on. The story is reminiscent of other games which feature a similar approach to taking down an organisation; Mafia 3 amongst others comes to mind, although Wildlands seems to pull it off without it going sour and boring.
What can I say other than incredible? The guns sound authentic, suppressors are not silencers, and everything fits in just right… the music in the game fits both the franchise and the theme of the area you are in, adjusting dynamically on the fly to the situation that you are in. Sometimes, you hear the music before you see the danger.
Simply one of the most visually stunning games I have seen. The sheer draw distance and details from blades of grass swaying in the wind to immense jungles and mountains you can see from miles away… In my opinion this is one of the best looking games we have ever seen. The weapons are incredibly well detailed, individual parts are modelled separately and paint schemes can be applied and weapons will even scratch over time wearing paint away. The vehicles look authentic and everything down to clothing is in ultra high quality. When it rains, the terrain changes quite dramatically and puddles look incredible even those in the mud. Together with the sound it really sells the authenticity of the details of the game.
With a solid 4 player co-op mode in place for everything that can be done in normal gameplay, and a 4 vs 4 pvp game mode coming soon, this really does not lack in that department… I know people will have wanted an open world sandbox with stupid amounts of people on at once, but that’s not really fitting of this title, and can be achieved with mods anyway.
It’s up to the player… On one hand, with the easy difficulty there’s not really a challenge at all, apart from the higher up areas, the more difficult settings such as veteran will put even seasoned Ghost Recon players to the test, with deadly accurate enemies which are capable of flanking and quite advanced tactics.
Plus, with the ever present danger of minigun wielding helicopters, and even attack helicopters at later alert stages with UNIDAD, there are a lot of opportunities to be challenged by the game. Pack a grenade launcher at all times.
I feel like I am playing Ghost Recon games of old… but in a more liberating way… open world…
It’s rock solid, stealth mechanics in place and better than ever, combat feels alive and even pistols feel deadly unlike many previous titles. Plus, drivable vehicles make for a unique feel for a Ghost Recon game. It’s different but feels like an evolution of those of old. Makes up for the mistakes that were Ghost Recon Phantoms and Ghost Recon Online. And yes, I quite liked Future Soldier. Please don’t shoot me.
Take down targets in a different order… wear different clothes… use different guns for missions… even turn up the difficulty or hop into someone else’s game and help them out. It all improves the replayability of this game, and I can foresee myself playing this game for at least several more years.
DLC is on the way too.
Replay Value: 8/10
Overall, this is one of the best Ghost Recon titles to date, in my mind second only to Advanced Warfighter 2 due to my love of the outside of campaign game modes and its choice of weaponry.
This game is very solid, and an impressive feat for the same publisher that has made some very watery and more often than not glitchy games in the recent past. If this is how Ubisoft intended to redeem itself to the players, then it’s certainly a step in the right direction. A solid game, whether or not you are into Ghost Recon or not. It’s worth at least a try.
Written by Steve