Ghost Recon Wildlands:
Another generic Ubisoft game hidden under the fan favourite tactical shooter or bold step in the right direction for the multiplayer driven generation?
First let me take you back to the halcyon days of old, where multiplayer meant inviting your friends over to sit uncomfortably, staring at half or even a quarter of a screen, going slowly blind but forging memories and bonds in the process. Where video games were something you bought and then owned forever as long as your console worked.
Flash-forward to today where games with split-screen are considered ‘old tech’ and online multiplayer is the norm. Where playing with your friends is determined by how fast your internet connection is and how many people aren’t using it. While purchasing a video game is now more like signing a contract: A contract to constantly provide meager offerings in the form of not-so-microtransactions in order to stave off the inevitable server shutdown; Rendering your game as nothing more than an overpriced coaster.
So back to the topic at hand.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The game puts you in the shoes of Nomad, leader of an American Four Man Special Ops Unit brought into the lush wilderness of Bolivia to take down the Santa Blanca Drug Cartel; The Cartel who are running the most successful worldwide cocaine empire ever seen. As Nomad and his team of Ghosts, you are tasked with carefully dismantling the cartel starting at the bottom and working your way up the hitlist to the big cheese himself, El Sueno, a man who looks like the result of taking Vin Diesel and The Rock and throwing them fast and furiously through a tattoo parlour. The game also throws in the regular story cliché’s; the classic villains perspective cutscenes to try and force some sympathy towards the Cartel and its morals. Corrupt police fought by a small rebel group thrust unto you to help at every twist and turn. All this tied up in the industry standard by the numbers revenge plot. All this pulls the simple plot in every which direction leaving it a jumbled jargon in need of a kicking to at least give it the impression of having some focus.
Enough about the ‘estranged’ story and onto what Tom Clancy Fans want, Gameplay, and here is where the reason for this games existence is revealed. Following the events of the tutorial you are given free reign of the immensely expansive and beautifully rendered map of Bolivia, split into regions, of which you are free to explore until your heart is content from the very start. Each region houses a high-ranking member of the Cartel that you have to track down by completing story missions in that region. These missions are free to complete at your leisure and at your own tactical discretion, whatever way you want to play;
The Tom Clancy way: stealthily infiltrating, assassinating and retrieving documents.
The Shooter Way: ramping up to the front door in an armoured vehicle guns blazing.
or the more likely,
The “F**K THIS” method: stealthily marking and picking off enemies from a distance with a silenced sniper rifle before some guard magically spots and pinpoints you, hundreds of meters away in a ghillie suit in the middle of the night, resulting in a whiplash decision to run in guns blazing anyway.
Each of these story missions adds Intel as to the targets identity or location, culminating in a boss mission. These put your skills to the test, requiring one of the above approaches but usually with a twist and here is where the game undoes its own hard work. While forcing itself to stay grounded in realism the boss fights are completely anti-climactic, rewarding you with the boss’ specific weapon, which are unmodifiable overpowered paintjobs in essence.
But fear not. It’s not all empty jungle and lackluster assassinations. Remember folks it’s an Ubisoft game. And it wouldn’t be an Ubisoft game without … collectibles and side missions. And it’s got plenty of those, only this time they don’t feel tacked on, forced or shoehorned in, well most of them. They feel organic like they belong in the world. In addition, another Ubi-Troupe is missing. Towers. Climbable structures whose sole purpose it to magically reveal the locations of collectibles and missions. These are instead revealed by much more world friendly means; Intel Documents and Interrogations, which are in themselves only discovered by searching for them. Upon finding one of these reveal methods you can search exclusively for locations of five types of icons;
Supply Raids – High Value and High Volume resources used in the skill menu in order to unlock
upgrades and progress skills.
Rebel Ops – Missions which, when completed, unlock or upgrade Rebel Abilities such as
targeted Mortar Strikes, Area Recon, and Distractions.
Skill Points – Skill Points, Used to Unlock Skills, Duh.
Weapons/Parts – These are base weapons or parts which can be equipped on the fly or at any
Cartel Medals – These are enemy medals which unlock an extra level of specific skills once that
skill is fully upgraded.
You may have noticed something with the collectibles. They all improve or change up the gameplay instead of being there purely to extend the length for those compelled to tick every box and 100% everything. Feeling bored with the story, why not do a supply raid? Feeling morally compelled to help, why not do a Rebel Op? Getting bored playing the game as a ninja, why not find an LMG or Grenade Launcher and become a one man walking tank? And if you’re getting bored playing solo with three of the most useless wisecracking hat racks ever to grace gamers with their presence, why not search your gaggle of groupies, pick up to three of them and take your shenanigans online to become a truly elite fighting force. Coordinating your assaults together, strategizing and regaining some of the lost aspects of multiplayer gaming. The game begins to unveil its potential here, staying up late with friends, ignoring the passing hours and immersing yourselves as you mark and execute together, infiltrate together and rage at each other when one of you inevitably gets spotted and you get surrounded by a hail of gunfire before you can begin to say “goddamn it Mark”.
Considering the worldwide commercial and E-sport success of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, A Team-based PvP tactical shooter, Wildlands has a big name to live up to and unfortunately fall short in most aspects. Especially when it comes to the one gaming troupe we all hate, Microtransactions.
The Microtransactions range from £2.59 to £71.99 for in-game currency, used in the store to unlock outfits, vehicles and worst of all, weapons and parts, all of which are available in game provided you go looking for them. All this equates to is spending money to make a game shorter, which as gamers, is the exact opposite of what we want.
Overall Ghost Recon Wildlands is a beautiful game done decently but is unlikely to be remembered given the huge market of games coming out in the coming weeks, between Mass Effect : Andromeda and South Park : The Fractured but Whole, Wildlands will become buried in time under its own ambition, a game trying to do everything, ends up doing nothing. The story is mediocre, the gameplay is solid enough but in a world full of open world sandbox games, Wildlands needed more than just a fresh coat of paint on the typical Ubisoft formula. As a single player game; story progression is slower than an uphill snail race and about as exciting. It has a feel of Metal Gear Solid V in it but it lacking its deep and immersive story keeping the repetitive gameplay from becoming tired. As a multiplayer game; it’s missing the fun of Borderlands, the excitement of Destiny and the tactical necessity of previous Ghost Recon games.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon : Wildlands is worth picking up … in a few months’ time when it’s in the Preowned section of GAME for less than £20.