Tom Clancy games have a special place in my heart. One of my first experiences with the franchise was when I snuck in a session of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter on my brothers Xbox 360 when I was about 10 years old while my mom was away at work (she wasn’t too fond of me playing shooters.)
Playing the beta for Ghost Recon: Wildlands brought specks of Splinter Cell and just a pinch of GTA Online, in respect to the fact that you and a small team are taking on an objective and are trying to escape with as few bullet wounds as possible, and brought it into an open world setting.
Many people have been skeptical about this game due to Tom Clancy’s The Division and the lack of praise that it received. The first thing that I will say: don’t judge Wildlands based on The Division. While both games are made by Ubisoft and look similar, they are vastly different in terms of combat and quality.
The Open World of Bolivia
There are many sights to see in Bolivia, the setting of Ghost Recon Wildlands, from the wooded hills of Itacua to the mountainous and barren Montuyoc. These were the two areas I got to explore in the beta, and with 19 other regions unavailable in this beta,
I can conclude that the game as a whole is going to be massive. During your mission to take down the Santa Blanca Drug Cartel, you will be infiltrating bases, breaching and clearing, chasing down transportation trucks and tagging supplies for the rebels. You can tackle the main missions and side quests either solo with an AI fireteam or with up to three friends. Through my experience, I would highly recommend teaming up with a friend or two and play with different tactics to see what works best with your team. What my friend and I found works well is when we each take a vantage point and thin out the isolated tangos such as snipers in towers and patrols outside the fortification. Once they’re cleared out we move in and quietly neutralize the rest of the targets. Other methods like providing cover fire via sniper and guns blazing didn’t work too well for us, but it may be exactly your style. That’s what this game is about, playing with different styles and seeing which works best for you.
Spotted a Tango: Fire on my Command
Combat in Ghost Recon Wildlands isn’t solely based on a cover fire system, although it is highly encouraged. For the most part, enemies can be killed with a single headshot or a double-tap to the chest, but with you on the receiving end, you can be downed just as easily. Strategy and planning are key for an operation to run efficiently. The game provides you with all the tools you need to ensure a that a mission runs smoothly, all you have to do is use those tools properly. Drones and binoculars are available to scout bases and mark enemies, night vision and thermal lens’ are there to assist you during night ops and you are even provided silencers to most of your weapons; just don’t forget to put them on before firing your first shot. Combat is can be clunky at times but as long as you remain aware of your surrounding you should be able to avoid landing in a tight spot. Transitioning between first and third person aiming is smooth and each perspective thrives in specific scenarios. I found myself using the third-person when clearing buildings and checking corners, while the first-person iron sights I used for sharpshooting and head on engagements. Firing a round from a distance can be difficult if you’ve never played a game with bullet drop.
Time to Gear Up
At any point in the beta, you were allowed to change up your loadout and edit what your character’s outfit. Ghost Recon Wildlands offers a wide variety of outfits to choose from, and at least 30 different colors/camos for each article of clothing. I found myself constantly changing my character outfit using every outfit I can think of, ranging from “stick out like a sore thumb” blue camouflage to Multicam with a ghillie suit on top. The character customizer gives you a plethora of real world brands to choose from such as CamelBak, 5.11 Tactical and ESS. If you own tactical gear, odds are you will find something that you own in this game. Weapon customization is about what I expected going in. Fairly simplistic but it’s enough to satisfy. You have the option simply change your sights, add a vertical grip and get a paint job, or you can get complicated with new barrels and a custom trigger. The skill tree provides options and challenge. In order to pick a new skill, you must meet the prerequisite of skill points and resources, and if you don’t have enough, you have to go out and earn it by tagging items and picking up skill points that are located in the middle of enemy fortifications.
Cons and Drawbacks
Aside from the fact that a downed chopper opened fire on my fireteam with the broken minigun that was attached to it…
… Only to find upon further investigation that the whole crew of the chopper was alive and just chillin’ out…
…I haven’t run into many issues in my experience with the beta. If I had to nitpick, the driving in Ghost Recon Wildlands is a bit arcade-style, considering that turning can be sensitive and the fact that I could flawlessly drive down a mountain without denting the car or slamming head first into a tree. Sometimes the game could get aggravating in moments when I’ve been downed, but that’s just due to lack of experience with the game itself, there is definitely a learning curve if you’ve never played this game before.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands offers an experience that hasn’t been seen in modern gaming for a while. A true rendition of taking on objectives as you please with little restraint. Besides the obvious flaws that can be polished out before release and even in a day one update, Ghost Recon Wildlands has all the opportunity to be a fantastic game upon its release. However, keep in mind if you plan to pre-order: Ubisoft doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the games that they release. Take Assassin’s Creed: Unity as a glowing example of just how broken Ubisoft games can be. I’m optimistic for the release of Ghost Recon Wildlands, and I will be getting it eventually, but I won’t be pre-ordering it or buying it day one on the off chance that Ubisoft messes this one up, too.
Did you play the beta? What was your experience with it? Sound off in the comments below and let’s talk!