I’ll admit I was pretty shocked when I first saw Ghost Recon Wildlands and had concerns that somebody had put an action game into my tactical shooter. But after watching a live play through of one long mission it’s clear now that Wildlands is still a tactical game at heart, it’s just got a few more fun ways to deal with situations when the shit hits the fan.
My demonstration was a hands off one in a dark room where I watched four players explore a sizable chunk of the South American republic of Bolivia. The variety of the terrain was immediately apparent and we were assured this is Ubisoft’s biggest open world game ever. Dry salt plains, snowy mountains, lush jungles and sparsely populated towns – graphically the game looks great and it’s clear that creating interesting worlds is still Ubisoft’s biggest strength.
The demo began with the four Ghosts heading to a meeting point however they could, including speeding across the desert in a four-wheel drive and riding a dirt bike down the side of a mountain. Later in the demo the four players gathered together in a little town where they could show off how alive the world is with both enemies and regular civilians going about their daily lives.
Sometime later the Ghosts team had managed to break into an enemy compound and steal a helicopter that they could use for their primary mission of extracting an informant from an enemy base. Two players stayed in the chopper as the other two parachuted down and snuck in to secure the target. Making their escape in a sedan they came under heavy gunfire and relied on their flying allies to provide covering fire.
Dealing with the changing situations was a definite highlight of the game. Early in their mission all four players adopted a stealthy approach and used distractions and long range attacks to confuse their enemy. Later as their mission turned to hell they relied on their full arsenal and each other to survive and complete the objective. I have no doubt that expert players could execute a flawless stealth mission, but there’s also room for an all-action approach, if that’s your bag.
All that said there’s no getting around it, there’s Ghost Recon in the title and with that name comes expectations. I’ve always enjoyed the series but I’m far from a purist so to me Wildlands looks like a solid game that I’m excited to check out. But if it’s a highly technical shooter you’re after you may be best to switch to ARMA III.
At the end of the day I can see where Ubisoft were coming from – they either innovate and breathe new life into Ghost Recon or they let it die on the vine. And to be fair their other shooter, Rainbow Six Siege, will satisfy your tactical action hunger.
So it’s probably wise to take Ghost Recon Wildlands for what it is – a great looking openworld military shooter that has the potential to be both an unpredictable action movie and thoughtful stealth shooter all at once.