Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is the tenth game in the Ghost Recon series, a series of action shooters that has gone through many stylistic and narrative changes over the years.
With Wildlands, Ubisoft Paris have gone closer to the series’ roots, opting for a more realistic and authentic approach in both the setting and story as opposed to more recent games in the series which have become more futuristic and overwrought. The game takes place in Bolivia in which you are part of a special forces unit tasked with overthrowing the Santa Blanca, a drug cartel who have grown in power and influence with ties to government conspiracy and the power to turn Bolivia into a narco-state. Having never played a game within the series and being enticed by what sounded like an exciting premise for a game I was eager to experience this first hand.
I will start by saying that the developers of this game have managed to craft a gorgeous game world with Wildlands that, although often barren of things to do, doesn’t fail to be a treat for the eyes. Many games of this genre seem to only opt for a more darker colour pallet, as though drab, dull colours instantly signify a game of grit and visceral merit. Wildlands instead provides players with a realistic yet vibrant playing environment that is true to the geography and atmosphere of Bolivian culture and landscapes while also being eye catching and enjoyable.
The game also controls very well, both in the manoeuvring of vehicles and use of weapons in the game. Cycling through weapons when in a tricky situation is straightforward and player friendly so as not to cause frustration, instead allowing players the ability to jump straight into the game and feel comfortable from the off. The game also provides players with a wealth of different vehicles, from cars to planes, helicopters to bikes, all of which have a real weight to them yet don’t tip too far into the realm of hyperrealism, which often removes the enjoyment of driving in game. The effort the developers have put in shows, giving players strong gameplay that actually increases the enjoyment of the game.
However, despite its strong gameplay and art direction Wildlands does fall flat in several areas, namely its narrative and characters. While playing the game I unfortunately found none of the characters particularly compelling or of any interest. Without this I found very little motivation within game to assist in the dismantling of the drug empire or even show any empathy for any characters. This lack of empathy for me creates a lack of connection with the game itself and removes any chance of tension or drama in a story for me that should be brimming with this. Which leads me onto the story and missions themselves.
Although the premise for Wildlands promises so much in the way of excitement, story and depth I feel that the game falls short in providing players with much reason to continue through the game. I unfortunately found that after an hour of gameplay I had exhausted what could be done within the game. After a while I realised all I was doing was going from one location to kill Cartel members, then driving to another location to do more killing of Cartel members, and so on and so forth. The game does also give players stealth type missions, and there are side quests in which you can steal Cartel trucks, but overall I found the actual missions in game to be somewhat tedious and repetitive.
This came as something of a disappointment, as the game had a lot of potential to be a more entertaining and interesting experience. I will say however that playing multiplayer online with friends definitely brings out the best in this game. Having a group of you with a shared purpose and mission does create a more enjoyable dynamic within the game and provides the thrills that I only wish had been present in the single player campaign. Instead what I found here was a game that was confused as to what it wanted to be: A gritty, visceral action shooter or an open world sandbox experience with dark humour, which I found to be very ill fitting to the nature of the game. One particular mission feels like it came right out of Grand Theft Auto, in which you have to send a drone in through a bedroom window to secretly film a pimp confessing some rather suspect things he’s done with a cat’s leg. The mission is played for laughs, but falls flat, considering moments ago I was just hunting down a pair of notorious torturers hiding in a secret torture facility under a cabin.
Overall this game is a missed opportunity, boasting a gorgeous open world to explore, strong gameplay mechanics and an enjoyable multiplayer option. However, what let’s this game down is its weak narrative and characters, as well as the lack of diversity within the missions themselves. The game also suffers from an identity crisis, which makes the game feel confused and unsure of itself. Wildlands relies too heavily on its Multiplayer, making it a game worth considering if you have people you can also play this game with. Outside of this however, the single player campaign failed to match this.