Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: Grand Theft Bolivia
To call Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands “just another Ghost Recon game” would be doing it a disservice.
The first game from this series that I played was Future Solider on the Xbox 360 and while it was tough as nails I enjoyed it.
Wildlands takes many of the aspects I loved in Future Solider and Wildlands adds a lick of paint, a few mechanics that have become common place in games released in the modern era and plonks you in the heart of Bolivia.
If you missed the open beta that ran from 23rd February to 27th February don’t worry, we didn’t and we like to think the limited time we had with the game gave us a decent perspective on what to expect come its 7th March release date.
Let’s get something clear from the get-go. Wildlands is more of a co-op game than a single player experience. Sure, you can go it alone but you’re cranking the difficulty up if you happen to that.
The reason for this rests largely in how your AI teammates behave. There are systems in place to tell them to move, to gather on you, to remain still but you soon discover it’s rather limited.
For instance, the first mission in the open beta sees players rescuing Amaru, a hostage who has intel on the Santa Blanca cartel.
Playing alone my AI cohorts and I arrived at the location and I approached the farm house where Amaru was located. I deployed my drone spotted the enemies dotted around the location and set to work offing them one at a time.
It wasn’t long before the enemies started to notice the pile of corpses growing ever higher. Like a fool I realised my team wasn’t with me so I told them to rally on my location.
A massive gunfight ensued and Amaru was caught in the cross-fire.
The problem here was that I didn’t know how to tell my Ghosts to go prone and sneakily enter the area. A simple tutorial that isn’t comprised of three screenshots that don’t tell you much of anything is all I really ask Ubisoft. I do suspect that this lack of tutorial has something to do with the fact that the game was simply an open-beta so I’ll keep this gripe a gripe until the full game launches.
It’s not just the Ghosts that ruin your carefully planned assault. Should you be sniping enemies in a compound and Rebel Forces (the folks that are seemingly on your side) happen to drive past a gunfight will break out nine times out of ten and your assault will be ruined.
To my mind the best solution to this is getting your mates to join you in the game, but who’s to say my friends will always be game for a trip to Bolivia when I’m keen.
Tools of the trade
My greatest fear for Wildlands was that it would be a The Division clone. Happily, it isn’t.
Instead Wildlands feels like a cross between Far Cry, GTA and Ghost Recon. Defeating enemies requires a tactical assault. Of course you can go in with a storm of bullets preceding you but you will soon discover that bullets hurt a lot and if your team can’t revive you you’ll spend almost a minute telling them what you can see from your point of view before fast traveling back to their location.
In terms of that tactical assault, players have access to a drone which can be used to scout out an area and tag enemies. Binoculars can accomplish the same thing but I find the drone is more enjoyable and effective when scoping out the terrain. Both of these items can be upgraded to improve vision at night, have longer range and be more effective at pin-pointing enemies. There are also a myriad other tools such as C4 to unlock as you level up your ghost.
To get around the expansive terrain players can steal cars, helicopters and airplanes to get around the map but be warned, if you upset the Santa Blanca Cartel or the Unidad Forces (armoured enemies with lots of fire power and a lack of forgiveness should you crash into them) you’ll get a “wanted level” that feels like it was plucked straight from GTA.
As in GTA escaping the enemies line of sight and hiding until the danger clears will get you back on your mission without officers in tow.
There are some things that do need improving, for instance driving in a car or flying a helicopter needs some work. For the most part it feels as if you’re driving a leaf down a raging rapid with nothing but a twig for steering. A word of warning, the Lamborghini-esque vehicle is terrible on the Bolivian roads.
It wouldn’t be an Ubisoft game without side missions, points to capture and regions to unlock and Wildlands continues that long standing tradition of keeping players busy. Aside from the main story mission you’ll find quests that can unlock skill points or you help the Rebel Forces and unlock special things such as Mortar attacks.
It all feels a bit like busy work and smacks of the events in The Division which you needed to complete in order to get new skills and move up levels.
There are also enemy encampments that can be cleared out but rather than them becoming occupied by the player and rebel forces they simply yield weapons, skill points or points that can be added to improve the Rebel Forces.
Thankfully the main story is incredibly engaging and I found myself telling my team mates to shut up when El Sueno started speaking on the radio, trying to think of ways to tear down his empire.
In the short time I had with Wildlands I had fun. There was enough variety in Bolivia to keep me occupied for a few hours before the tough as nails enemies made me rage quit. It didn’t take long for me to jump back into the game however and I am seriously considering putting down the R799 Ubisoft is asking for my own copy of the game.
The game’s story is one that intrigues me. If you’ve watched Breaking Bad and Weeds the idea of taking down a massive Cartel that uses fear and religion to control its territory and force the people of the land to become prisoners in their own homes might appeal to you.
There is also a level of realism to it all, headshots are dangerously effective while a shot to the knee will leave an enemy limping. Missing a shot on a sniper you’ve been waiting to get into position is terrifying as the sound of alarms fill the air and bullets tear through your hiding place in the long grass.
If you’ve been itching for a game with a compelling story and you’ve been impressed by what you’ve seen from the game thus far Wildlands might be up your alley. As always however, if funds are tight perhaps hold out on keying your credit card details into uPlay, at least until the full game is released and you can read our full review.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Open Beta was played on PC.