The first weekend of February gave us the closed beta for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, an open world game where you get to choose how you want to defeat the drug cartels of Bolivia. Laura, Di and Jaz got the chance to try it out. Here are their thoughts:
I’ve never played a Tom Clancy Ghost Recon game before so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Wildlands. It’s the first open world game in the series and I can say that if we only saw 1/24th of the game world in the closed beta, the world in the actual game is going to be BIG! Luckily there’s vehicles all over the world that you can steal and drive around like a crazy person to get to your destination. The bikes are particularly fun but also lead to some spectacular crashes.
The game can be played either single player, or with up to 3 friends, but after playing the beta I wouldn’t recommend single player. The side missions are quite repetitive and I didn’t find the story of the main mission hugely gripping. But the game really shines in multiplayer mode. There’s something deeply satisfying about stealthing into a base with your teammates, syncing sniper rifle shots to remain undetected. It’s almost even more fun when you mess up and get detected, shots coming from all sides as you Rambo your way through the bad guys!
Wildlands reminded me of a lot of games – and all good ones. With the four-player co-op feature, I was transported to my Payday 2 days when communication and planning was key to getting a mission done. Having the ability to plan your attack by using a drone to scout first seemed reminiscent of Watchdogs 2. And having all vehicles at your disposal to drive – or accidentally trash, as was my case – brought me back to L.A. Noire where the pedestrians would shake defiant fists at my wayward driving. I didn’t expect that you could customize your character to such a great extent as well. But that was a super-bonus for me. I mean if you’ve got badass moves, you should look the part as well, right? It helped to feel invested into my character, especially with the added feature of the skill tree.
As for the open-world aspect, initially I was a little thrown off-course. There seemed to be so much ground to cover from one mission to the next. But I guess if you have the ability to pilot anything that moves, then you probably want an excuse to have to do that. It just seemed like a lot of world where there was nothing but sightseeing to be done (although admittedly, the world does look very pretty). I found it a little gratuitous, but then again, others may like that you can squeeze in some chicken-shooting and offroading in between missions.
All-in-all though, it was a pretty fun ride.
I’ve been sort of excited about this one. I really enjoyed (and still enjoy) The Division and was keen to try this one out. As primarily a solo gamer, I had fun sniping from afar, doing synchronised shots with the AI guys and listening to the missions and playing the game like I always play open world games – do all the side missions first! One of the main concerns other solo players had about the game was the AI characters helping you out. Well, let me quell your fears, fellow soloists. The AI Ghosts are an obedient lot. Except for the perfect sync shots and reviving me when I died, they would let enemies run past them as they crouched in bushes and waited for my orders, which never came. There’s a pop up wheel where you can choose orders such as “Fire” and “Hold” etc. so, they’ll help you out quite well when you order them to, but if you want to fight alone, they’ll let you do just that.
When it came to gaming with friends, that’s when the adrenaline rushes came way more frequently. Whether it was a missed shot or accidentally getting spotted, humans (which I am one of them) are a lot less perfect than AI. But that’s where playing with friends became fun. I had a moment of hubris where I saw three enemies trying to flank us so I decided to go and kill them. Turns out these enemies were a little harder to kill than other enemies I had encountered and while Laura managed to snipe one, she couldn’t see the other two. Massively low on health with the words FALL BACK blaring across my screen, I managed to melee one and then as the third and final guy came upon me I saw my life flash before my eyes. And then he was dead. In among all my screaming, Laura had trained a scope on me, and the poor ill-fated enemy found himself between her crosshairs. My life was saved.