The latest instalment to the Ghost Recon series, Wildlands takes the classic tactical shooter and throws it into a massive (really massive) open world. After a single American agent is captured and tortured, the Ghosts are sent in to take down a big drug cartel in Bolivia.
It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a great game either. It’s fun, I enjoyed it, but, to put it simply, I never had any drive to finish it.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a game that’s wide open and lets you go where you want to go and shoot everything up (or snipe everything, if sniping and sneaking is more your thing). The first area feels pretty linear, but after you defeat the first boss, BOOM all the other 20 areas are suddenly there for you to go out and do what you want, taking away that linearity the first six missions gave you.
Now you can choose almost exactly who you want to target first and which part of the web should go down before the next until you finally get to the boss of bosses, El Sueño. You don’t have to bring down the whole web before you can face him (but you get a ‘better’ ending if you do).
Even so, after taking one look at the map you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of gameplay that you have to go through. All that time you have to commit to even get anywhere near the ending.
To be completely honest, I enjoyed The Division more – which is not an insult, because I really did enjoy The Division. Right now, The Division has a pretty cool RPG and levelling system (granted it’s been tweaked quite a bit since launch), the weapons feel better and the world big enough. Also, the clothes are way better and I simply feel cooler playing it. Though unlike The Division, Wildlands includes an exciting range of vehicles (including tanker trucks and tractors) so the world does need to be big. But when the world suddenly opened up I was hit with a deep, sinking feeling.
I’m sure many people would love this. A massive playground to sink many, many, many hours into. I, however, do not have many, many, many hours. And I like to finish games. Perhaps this is simply not the game for me, and I’m sure there are people out there who have the time to eat this all up.
Naturally, Wildlands is a whole lot more fun with friends. Here is a game that has a super long list of story missions for you to complete. Plenty of things to do with friends without feeling bored. Though, as with all co-op mission games I’ve played (take Destiny and The Division for example), I’ve found that if you do play with friends, you miss out on what the story actually is.
Now, the missions. If anyone tells you that the missions are repetitive they are lying. They can feel repetitive if you go about your business in your usual playstyle, but there are several different types of missions and side missions that you can choose from at any point. You can go from shooting up a yard of baddies, to stealing vehicles, to speeding from point A to point B under a time limit, to taking down convoys whenever you feel like doing it. And as you travel across the map the landscape changes and many areas look and feel different from each other.
Playing solo, however, I got bored. The story, while occasionally interesting, didn’t quite draw me in. Without the fun and extraordinarily good feelings of working together with friends, the game became stale. When I did play with friends, however, oh man! The thrill of a perfect synced shot and the team talks before a raid were amazing. The world really is made for two to four player co-op.
If you don’t have any friends, there is a matchmaking system and you can join in on anybody’s game at any time (but you can privatise your lobby if you don’t want random strangers jumping in).
So this is a good game – with friends. But I wouldn’t say it’s a great game. The world is done well, with the rivers and the rocky inclines. There are plenty of weapons out there for you to find (though, you can stick with your original loadout if you want to). And there are many different vehicles to choose from! The motorbike is by far the best. The tractor comes in a close second.
If you’re going to get this game, I recommend finding a friend who is willing to play it with you … for a while.