It’s no secret that Ghost Recon Wildland’s portrayal of Bolivia is one seeped in controversy, but it’s also one that makes the scenic South American country more intriguing, more dangerous, and more suited to an action-oriented video game. However, as the game is Ubisoft’s biggest yet, is it really worth being crowned the fastest selling game of 2017 so far?
Ubisoft have a fantastic way of making you want to buy their games, especially those that are more tactical and require team work. It’s E3, they’re going to go all-out, and like with Rainbow Six Siege and The Division, Ubisoft’s demonstration of Ghost Recon Wildlands was as epic as you’d expect, with all four players’ giving the tactical lingo, it seemed like Wildlands was going to be an intense experience. I mean, you and three other friends can take down a criminal organisation, complete with code names! What’s more fun than that?
Well for some, something other than Wildlands might be more fun than that, especially if you don’t have other friends to play with. You see, Wildlands has a focus on co-operative play, in fact Wildlands is frankly pants without at least one team mate, and I think Ubisoft know it, too. Why? Because we received not one, but two review copies of the game. I’m not complaining, but it speaks volumes.
Diving into the game alone you’ll be presented with exactly the same missions, side missions, and intel that you would when playing with friends, however in the single player campaign you’ll also be joined by three AI operatives who are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Sure, they occasionally spot targets, offer a heal or two, and have this magic ability to not only take-down enemies from the most impossible angles but also manifest themselves into vehicles, but they honestly could be absent from the game and you wouldn’t notice.
Jumping into the game with at least one buddy on the other hand turns this game into a gigantic playground filled with more jungle gyms, sandboxes, swing sets, and more. I’d consider Ghost Recon Wildlands as one of those “make your own fun” kind of games. It’s a sandbox in the most loosest way as you can set your own missions aside from the main story, whether it’s to collect a weapon part or clear the area of Skill Points. It’s this freedom to do whatever you please, no matter what level or stats your player character has, makes this game a ton of fun.
Ghost Recon Wildlands tells a story of Bolivia being over run by drug cartels and it’s the Ghost’s job to get this organisation to collapse by slowly removing blocks from this drug-infused version of Jenga. This requires players to enter different provinces of Bolivia, finding intel, and completing story missions which ultimately end in either the boss of that particular province to turn themselves in, or die in a hail of gunfire. While the story sounds interesting on its surface, it’s forgettable. In fact throughout, the game will try to get you to feel something about your character by having your squad banter between one another, but it just feels forced.
If you’re hoping to find a rich story-driven campaign here, I’ll be frank, you’re better off looking elsewhere. Sure, there’s a story to pay attention to if you so wish, but at least for me, it was more of a dull drone that took place between one mission and the next. But this doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable. In fact, many would think that the story in Wildlands is a case of rinsing and repeating gameplay but with a new lick of pain each time, but that isn’t the case. While you are often tasked with infiltrating a base, killing bad guys, and retrieving intel, the game often throws a curveball in there requiring you to get in and out without being detected, or silently stealing a vehicle. It’s these moments that keep the game fresh and often come at the most surprising times.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like taking a van rigged with explosives and driving it through an enemy compound before jumping out, blowing it up, then having the rest of your team swarm in with an armoured gatlin-gun equipped vehicle you stole from the cartel moments earlier. At least, that may be the plan:
The great thing about Ghost Recon Wildlands is the ability to do whatever you please no matter what your skill level. Sure, wandering into a five scull difficulty territory won’t be easy going, but it’ll be an absolute hoot to do so, especially if you come away with that weapon you were hoping to find. There’s also nothing quite as satisfying as being able to silently sneak into an enemy compound to steal a helicopter full to the brim with fuel to give to the Rebels.
Visually, Wildlands has to be one of the more stunning games I’ve played on current-gen consoles and, if an accurate representation of Bolivia, shows the country in all its glory. From its thick forestry to towering mountains, the expansive salt flats to the archipelagos dusted throughout the lakes and rivers, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring landscapes. What’s even more impressive is that there are no loading screens and little to no signs that the game is loading a new landscape as you travel across the country. It’s visually and technically impressive.
There are a couple of snags, especially if a player you’re with doesn’t have the best connection. Plus we also discovered a number of little bugs throughout the game such as players being invisible to everyone in the squad, or missions simply not registering as complete unless another player leaves, though these do little to hinder the gameplay, unless you hate replaying missions, that is.
I certainly had high hopes for Ghost Recon Wildlands, and for me Ubisoft have delivered. While I’ll admit there are some aspects that could be improved, like the driving mechanics, for example, I’m incredibly impressed with what Wildlands has to offer. While playing alone doesn’t quite have the same excitement as playing with friends; creating tactics on the fly and popping enemies off in sync, it’s not the worst. However, playing with stranger, especially those who refuse to plugin a microphone, certainly is.