Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands has been eating up the lion’s share of my time over the last week and a bit.
Ubisoft’s digital imagining of Bolivia run by the Santa Blanca drug cartel is beautiful and more importantly, it’s huge. This, dear reader is one of the reasons our review of the game is so late.
The map is massive, and the amount of leg work required to obtain and complete missions will eat into a sizeable amount of your free time.
The story has also really impressed me. The cartel members I’ve had to clamber through to reach the final boss, El Seuno, have been incredibly interesting and I’ve quite enjoyed discovering more about them as I progressed through the game.
My worry about this game was that it would turn out to be a clone of Ubisoft’s turbulent release, The Division. After clocking close on 30 hours in the game I can safely report that my fear was irrational, and I sort of wish that Wildlands borrowed more from last year’s maligned MMO.
Contain your gasps of shock for a moment and let me explain.
I, on the other hand quite enjoyed the game. Yes, enemies soak up bullets like a dried-out sponge and grinding can become tiresome after a few hours, but I keep going back to the game because I enjoy the thrill of seeing an enemy drop a Gear Set item after laying into them for what feels like hours.
You see, while The Division’s main story comes to a close rather quickly, there’s this motivation to get better for things such as The Dark Zone or Incursions or just simply getting better at the main missions so that you can complete them on Heroic difficulty.
Basically, after The Division’s main story ends, the real game begins.
The feeling of progression in The Division has just become better with time. Where there was once an XP cap at level 30 you can now earn XP that unlocks item crates.
The gear score system has folks grinding missions over and over again to get that perfect piece of kit and if that isn’t to your taste, the Dark Zone offers up a challenging PVP/PVE experience. There is just always something to do on the plague ridden street of Manhattan.
I just don’t get that feeling from Wildlands.
Levelling up feels like something that was ganked during quality control, as skills are unlocked through other means.
Weapons can be discovered easily by locating one piece of intel in each province. If that sounds too much like a chore for you, just scroll to the locked weapon you want and the game will tell you in which province you’ll find it. It’s all just so boxed-in and makes everything feel so empty.
Even worse is that so much of the story is built around the main boss El Seuno that, come the end of the game, I’m not sure why I would want to bother with the bosses I missed.
I feel like once I put a bullet between El Seuno’s eyes (I’m not sure how the game ends but one presumes that stopping the head of a drug cartel requires nothing short of gunpowder and lead) there is no reason for me to return to Bolivia.
As I’ve pointed out however I still need to finish Wildlands and write the full review and who knows, maybe there’s a twist, I haven’t seen coming or a loose end that needs tying up that will have me sipping at the Wildlands cup daily as I did with The Division.
Right now though all I really want to do is jump back into Manhattan and grind for gear.