Ghost Recon: Wildlands has been out for almost a year now and I’ve only just started playing it.
This isn’t a review as such more of a write up to tell you that this £15 game is worth a lot more than that, so go and buy it with 1 or 2 mates.
I understand I’m playing it at an ideal time due to various updates and patches, and have read that it had a bit of a shoddy start. But this I’ll say, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable online coop game, especially for the price tag.
Now I’ve only played this game with friends so haven’t experienced it solo, but why the fuck would I when I’m having so much fun doing it this way!
The game takes place in Bolivia, which has become over run by the cartel, named the Santa Blanca, who have become powerful due to their drug trafficking. The cartel push America to act when they blow up a U.S embassy then capture, torture and kill a DEA agent. The ghosts are sent in to dismantle the cartel.
To be honest the story isn’t a big deal, it’s a good thing to loosely follow and enjoy but it’s only really there to give you some sort of reason to take out the cartel. On the map you have gold markers to show story missions, these are generally ‘find so and so’s informant ‘ who’s in a massive compound, or escaping in a vehicle, or defend x for a certain amount of time. These story missions are incredibly fun and often a notch more difficult than the other missions. They take a lot of planning and a few attempts. Which makes the game very enjoyable. Overall the aim is to take out the entire network of the cartel (imagine it like a family tree that you’re crossing off) and be the best ghost in all the lands. The map is full of missions to collect Intel, new weapons, steal vehicles for the rebels etc. etc.
First off these are the most cosmetic ghosts I’ve ever seen. You can change every item of clothing even down to the backpack, this actually makes it quite fun and also means me and Luke are essentially running around with men who look like gym dicks. Adding to the customisation options are the guns, unless it’s a special type of gun you can customise everything to suit your play style. I personally have a tactical gun which is useful for taking quiet, long-range head shots, a silenced pistol and a powerful SMG for when shit inevitably goes south.
As I’ve mentioned I’m purely playing this coop with Luke and another friend of ours so there’s definitely an added element of fun regardless of what’s happening in-game. What’s impressive is how well the coop works and the fact it applies to the entire game. You can easily drop in and out of the game depending on what you’re doing and who’s available – to be more descriptive we’ve agreed to only do story when the 3 of us are online, when there’s only 2 we’ll only do side missions, and switching between doing these things is seamless. There’s a bit of loading when you boot up the game but apart from that you just keep going, tackling missions, and if one of your squad drops out it doesn’t affect anything, they leave and you carry on doing your missions.
The actual game play can go from tactical ghost to just cause very quickly. However the game has pretty realistic mechanics so you can’t take that many bullets, which means when you do go just cause it often goes to shit. In a way this forces you to get used to becoming tactical and when you actually play the game this way it can be pretty rewarding and almost make you feel like a proper tactical team. There are times when I felt this was much more of an open sandbox action game as opposed to a tactical Stealth game, Ubisoft have definitely had to sacrifice some of the close proximity stealth for open world exploration and fun, this is one of the few niggles I have but it’s not that noticeable.
You get spotted pretty easily so you really do have to hide and use the environment to your advantage, taking out enemies who aren’t in view of each other and using silenced guns, when syncing this up with your mates you feel incredibly badass. The combat is really enjoyable itself, forcing you to properly use cover and not just run in to combat aimlessly (which I’ve learnt the hard way), you really do get punished when you muck up the stealth. Fortunately your teammates can heal you as long as they aren’t being shot. You obviously have grenades, mines and a whole range of big bad guns to choose from to help you in these battles so it’s not all doom and gloom when you’re in a shoot-out. You can also drive trucks and fly helicopters which have mini guns on them which can help a lot. As well as all this you can call in rebel troops to assist you, you have to slowly upgrade their abilities but they can shoot mortars, be guns for hire, act as spotters and even just be used as a distraction.
Additionally you have many items to your advantage to help you plan your attack, the most useful being your drone, which marks enemies locations (although it can be interrupted by the cartel’s tech). Binoculars offer a similar help but obviously have a more limited view depending on where you’re standing. Once the enemies are marked a red dot appears in the building so you roughly know where to approach and help you to be a sneaky little soldier.
As you play you Start to find your own way of playing and to help with this there’s a pretty meaty skill/leveling grid. There are various skills to choose from such as your healing time, drone abilities and rebel assistance (there’s also a parachute upgrade which is fucking essential) and also weapon and combat upgrades. To ‘purchase’ these you must be a certain level and fulfill another criteria which is usually have x amount of a certain material, these materials are picked up from missions and random locations and are things such as med supplies or gasoline. Anyway these skills enable you to prioritise certain features about your character depending on how you want to play.
First off the map is fucking huge. We’ve been playing a fair amount of time and I dare say we’ve explored maybe 10-20% of the map. And for a game that’s so big the graphics are impressive , actually despite the game size the graphics are good. The characters look cool AF the environments are well-built and the landscapes look incredible. There are also details added in such as good water mechanics when you shoot at a river with a copter or burn marks on the bodies inside a blown up car (eww). There is the occasional glitch such as getting stuck in a crevice, and your body being outside the car you’re driving but overall nothing ever takes you out of the game too much.
There is so much fun to be had in this game, I am yet to be bored. There’s interaction and something happening at every moment. Whether you’re tactically taking out a group of criminals in a mini base, being hunted by the uni dad (badass police) out in the open or planning a massive all out attack on a mother base. You just don’t stop running, driving or flying around to various enemies. I’d liken the open world gameplay to something like Farcry, where there’s always something happening to keep you entertained.
As I’ve said I’ve only played this with friends but it’s one of the most enjoyable online experiences I’ve had. It’s really refreshing being able to play an entire game on coop with no limitations. There’s a whole added element of fun. A lot of other games could learn from this in how it doesn’t assign itself to being 1 player or coop, it’s pretty fluid.
There really isn’t a lot I can mark the game down for, it probably won’t get boring before the end, the gaming mechanics are great and the exploration and combat is a blast. Whilst it’s not going to win any awards for original game play or story telling it’s a game that has hours of fun to be had