Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a formulaic squad based Tom Clancy game. I could finish the review there and you would know what you were getting if you had played any Ubisoft game before.
Inspired by Rainbow Six the gameplay is all about infiltration and coordinating stealth kills. From the moment I played the beta and a friend and I synced our kill shots whilst two others were infiltrating the compound I knew what I was going to get with this game. This is the sort of gameplay I wanted but its Far Cry sized map dilutes the experience.
The story is of course ridiculous. Ignore the fact that thousands of locals have been suffering at the hands of a drug cartel. Leave the cartel to amass an army larger than most third world nations. Let someone else deal with the problem. “What, they tortured one of our own?” UNLEASH THE HELLFIRE!
Starting with a lead from your CIA handler, Karen Bowman conveniently results in more clues which also provide more clues until you have a lot of “clues” and eventually, after killing people at the clue locations you will have completed enough successful missions to confront a sub-boss. After rinsing and repeating a fair few times you end up in a final confrontation with El Sueno, the games evil bastard.
As you traverse the map, which is big like the one in Far Cry, you will be exposed to various factions that pepper the map like in Far Cry, most are hostile towards you like in Far Cry, however, you have the rebels on your side like Far Cry. There are vehicles to drive, like in Far Cry and if you speed past the Unidad (the game’s police force) they will stay where they are, like in Far Cry. If you help the rebels by marking resources for extraction they will assist you on your missions. On one mission I released some rebels from a cell and they fought for me, I thought to myself, it’s like releasing an animal from a cage in that game, Far Cry.
So it’s like Far Cry then? Well sort of. There is a huge map with missions all over it and you can choose to hit the ones you want when you want. There are factions spread around the map and locations you can clear out. For me, this felt enough like Far Cry for me to keep drawing comparisons to it.
Amassing a stockpile of weapons is an optional task that you will absolutely want to do. It’s optional because you could complete the game with your initial load out but who in their right mind would do that? You unlock a stealth sniper practically at the start of the game but what about a more powerful sniper rifle or a better scope or-or-or RAAAAAGGHGGGHG GUNS. Collecting the different weapons and attachments was something I actually enjoyed in this formulaic game.
The mark and execute gameplay is good however and it’s made easier by your upgradable drone. It felt like it was pulled from a Ghost Recon game and I guess that is where I am going with this review. Wildlands doesn’t feel like its own unique IP. It has taken bits from other Ubisoft titles and mashed them together in a not so subtle way. It feels lazy, it feels like they just grabbed bits of their other titles and slapped them together said that will do and stuck an inflated price tag on it.
I played the game solo, with an AI team and coordinating with your team is simple, drone up, mark targets, sync your kill, move forward. I can imagine playing with teammates of the human kind makes this easy task even easier. The AI appears to be retarded, I was down at one point and my AI team mate came to assist me, in full view of the enemy and was being shot while trying to get me up. It’s odd however that if you try and play online with on friend you get no AI assistance but play alone and you get 3 AI teammates. Wouldn’t it have made sense to have a four-man team regardless of how many humans you are playing with?
There is also a lot of chatter between the team and it quickly gets annoying. What should be witty situational banter quickly becomes irritating as you are trying to concentrate on your task but have to listen to unfunny and predictable drivel.
On the surface there appears to be a lot of different mission types but each plays out the same, creep forward, drone the base, mark the targets, kill who you can with a sniper rifle, disable the alarms, push in, kill everyone you encounter, grab the thing you came for, leave. It can get chaotic when it all goes wrong but other than the few car chases there is nothing to write home about.
The map is big, it looks good and being able to approach an objective from any angle or inroad you can work out is great but there is always the main entrance and a SECRET LOOK IT’S HERE BACK DOOR makes the job of getting into a base simple.
Ubisoft’s Bolivia is great for this goal driven hide and fetch gameplay and the graphics do look good. My PC is average and even on my machine the game looked good but being a Ubisoft game there are gameplay issues-a-plenty. For example, running down a slope could be fine, the same grade of slope could see you fall and die from a massive wipe out. It means getting to the mission will see you using vehicles which, are pretty bad. Vehicles in Far Cry 4 were hit and miss and somehow Ubisoft have made them more unwieldy and hard to control despite the fact that you will be using them more.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands was a safe play by Ubisoft but I think they missed the target. There is nothing different from any other Ubisoft game and I think they have missed an opportunity to break out from their open world titles of the past. This could be Far Cry or an Assassins Creed game when you look at the sprawling map. The main strength of the game is its mission diversity, which isn’t actually that diverse in that you can handle every mission with the same tactic.
This is a game then of diminishing returns when it comes to longevity, making it poor value for money. It’s a shame this game is no good, it’s a wasted opportunity for Ubisoft too who had the perfect opportunity to show us that they can do more than this and I am not sure I am willing to give them another try.