Ghost Recon Wildlands is a squad based Open-World First Person Shooter (FPS) with spectacular visuals, in which the players may approach the game missions and the story line from any angle they desire. Ghost Recon truly delivers the massive open world, tactical shooting experience, which never really existed in the First-Person Shooters’ category of gaming in the past. Other games such as Battlefield and Call-of-Duty remotely come close to partially exercising this feature in their games for sure, but there was not much emphasis placed on this mechanic as much as Ghost Recon Wildlands emphasizes it, and actually encourages players to use this innovative mechanic in order to get through difficult parts of some missions you and your squad might not be able to clear without.
- Fast-Paced On-Line Squad Dependant Multilayer Co-op
- Extravagant Sand-Box Environment & Spectacular Weapon Design
- Player VS. Player (PVP) 4 x 4 Expansion On The Horizon
- Monotonous Story Line With Unmemorable Characters
- Very Repetitive Without Much Diversity In Objectives
- Not Very Tactical Due To Dubious AI Behavior
Having this in mind, let’s dive right into the details! We started playing Ghost Recon Wildlands when it was still in Closed Beta, however… I remember 1st time hands on playing it at Ubisoft’s Lounge in Los Angeles. It was spectacular… of course, being a PC freak and an I.T. Networks’ Engineer, I immediately felt overwhelmed by the Xbox One Controller, as it was over 10 years I played any video game with a hand-held controller. But, nevertheless, the Demo Station had been configured with the controller instead of the actual gaming mouse and keyboard, which was absolutely fine for the occasion. However, despite this fact… the game was so awesome, I got absolutely absorbed in the open world experience! GRW really delivers on multiple levels. It’s an action adventure game, with an extremely well designed and implemented tactical-squad element which immediately addicts the player. It is one of the few games which lets you totally customize your Avatar, and make it look a lot like yourself… and that my friends makes this game much more interesting, as the people you play with are most likely the way they look in real life as well… it’s super cool!
It’s a First of Its Kind, But Certainly Not The Last! – ALPHA Rogue Gaming Network
On the other hand, right next to fun and laughter, we got the tactical gameplay, Ghost Recon Wildlands does a good job at this with mad-style! But, then again, tactical gameplay does not mean a “simulator”. A lot of times, these types of games are referred to as simulators around the Internet, but in actuality, these are just very gooey, graphically spectacular, team based, very easily comprehensible by a wide range of player base, multiplayer shooting arenas without much “real-life” consequences at the end to punish the player for making lethal errors. The worst that can happen to the player or the squad is starting over again with all the same gear, and trying the same scenario till you and your team succeeds. This is much different than a simulator, where you lose a month of loot and upgrades in a matter of 1-Raid once you get shot.
So, you end up doing “hatchet-runs” to at least get a pistol, in order to be able balance the playing field a little… just like in real life! In other words, GRW is meant to entertain the player, not simulate a life like experiences… even though, in the pre-release trailers and all the promotional content Ubisoft was throwing at fans, was really designed to push the “simulator” status, look and feel all the way to the checkout. But since the game was not really a simulator, but a hybrid between a FPS, Open-World Sandbox and an MMO… it was lacking a lot of important features in combat mechanics, such as weapon degradation, realistic bullet particle physics and environmental influence on weaponry in general. If you had a gun that shot perfectly under the summer sun… then 100% guaranteed, it will shoot the exact same way in the rain or in the swamp. This of course makes things much easier for novice players to pick up and play right off the get go, but for hardcore FPS players… it just does not fully deliver.
For example, I can land a helicopter like 300 feet away from enemy’s base we’re trying to invade, and not a single soul in the game will come over to check the landing site to see who is in the chopper. But if I land the chopper too close to the base, I will get shot at from all angles immediately to death… no warnings, no questioning, nothing, zip-zilch, nada! Another thing that was supper funny but bothersome for serious players, was the fact that you could infinitely climb mountains with cars, if the car or the truck… mostly “any vehicle” was initially able to climb the slope, you were good! You can drive that sucker anywhere! For novice and light gamers these attributes are absolutely amazing, but eventually it makes the game less realistic when you play for extended periods of time… and makes it much more “Arcady”, which in return gets tiring after playing for extended periods of time. It feels like the game was aimed more towards casual audience than more professional gamer level audience, like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege aims for. But nevertheless, it’s extremely fun to play with friends, as playing alone often gets super repetitive, and the AI of your squad is not very intelligent, even on higher difficulty levels, and really needs your micro management skills to keep them in order and get the ball moving at a more tactical pace.
So, between managing your team and being tactical… you might end up with a bullet in your skull. Therefore, having a live group is much, much more rewarding. Not counting the fact that, because you can clear areas faster when you get more advanced players in your team, you can get upgraded faster, as all weapon upgrades are directly tied to clearing certain areas in the Open-World map, which makes it that much more interesting to explore and go to certain locations. So really, depending what weapon you want to focus on to upgrade, you will encounter the boss of that area earlier eventually due to that fact, as when you clear enough areas around that region for specific weapon parts, the locked segments of those missions will start to unravel and will be able to go after Under-Bosses and Lieutenants of El-Sueno. With all these bells and whistles in mind, the game is extremely fun for about 20 hours. Once you have learned all the perks, tricks and unlocked majority of the weapons in the game, and you got comfortable with all your gear, the boredom starts to settle in.
Hybrid FPS, Open-World Sandbox & An MMO
On the game mechanics side, the game is very robust, however due to this robustness it really had a rough start at initial launch. I remember getting in the game right after it launched, and having to fly around in the Helicopter while all the rotors were stuck in one position vibrating us to death, meanwhile the pilot was running after the helicopter in the air! I mean the most ridiculous things you can possible imagine, were happening in this game. But it was amazing! Yes, it made a whole lot of players mad, but we trusted Ubisoft to patch it quickly, and they did! Can’t beat Ubisoft Support. Having said that, Ghost Recon Wildlands is a very entertaining game in addition to being super tactical as well. I would say GRW is probably the closest as far as the “in game funny level” goes to Battlefield Hardline than anything else. Maybe even funnier, as the squad based team play which is designed to constantly keep players in contact together in order to succeed, creates these magical moments of “holly crap! I’m going to pee in my pants right now from laughing so hard!!… BRB!!! Going to wash my tears off! :X”. It’s insane amount of fun, and you can do anything you want in the game… absolutely anything! You can grab a helicopter, then accept a Cargo-Mission, and ideally the game will guide you to the cargo route… however, instead of taking the regular approach, you may just you know… ram the chopper right into the cargo truck, killing few of your buddies, and the cargo truck driver… then falling out of the crashed helicopter’s window because the chopper is now on its side, and you were hanging out of it anyway… all meanwhile getting shot at by the approaching Unidad Patrol, who just happened to be cursing in the area while you decided to go Die-Hard on the poor cargo delivery Essey!… Once back on your feet, you quickly killing all Unidad, and the remaining “Thug-Life” Esseys around the cargo truck, and quickly reviving your buddies, stealing a car and hauling ass to the next mission area. All this in a matter of 3 minutes… and you and your team hasn’t even started the tactical game play yet… you’re just getting warmed up and getting the silliness out of the way for some real action coming up in the next scenario! It’s insane amounts of fun!
After about 20 hours of intense gaming and graphically mesmerizing experience however, things quickly become repetitive, and you have no choice but to improvise and act recklessly. Now, this might sound a bit like “oh, who cares”… but when you have a squad based game, that heavily depends on teammates and group stealth mechanics to be able to pull off harder end-game missions, you get bunch of players who are already bored out of their mind, who most likely completed majority of their missions and have a nice gun they like… and now they’re just rolling around running people over with cars… driving into mission areas without proper planning or stealth tactics, killing everyone and eventually failing the mission and wasting everyone’s time. A lot of times I found myself quitting the game because for 1.5 hours I could not find a good team to play stealth missions with, therefore switching to Offline-Mode, and eventually quitting from boredom. However, the recent announcement by Ubisoft in regards the Season Pass content, made us dust off our good old Ghost Recon caps for a 2nd round of Butt-Kicking! Seems like Ubisoft listened to their players and developed an Expansion for 4 vs 4 PVS gameplay, which will be released on October 10, 2017 called the “Ghost War”. This is exciting news, as a lot of the things mentioned above in regards experienced players blowing off steam at the cost of other players’ time, will almost be eliminated. As people reach endgame and have all their skills polished out, now they can join the ranks of Elite Ghosts, and play against each other for a really awesome On-line Squad-Based Tactical Shooting experience. After many hours of game-play, and many, many ridiculous and frustrating deaths… we started asking ourselves. What can be better about Wildlands? It was difficult to pinpoint the missing, unfinished and not well thought out issues, as there was so much more the game did that was amazing! But without much doubt, after examining all the facts fully and consulting with our team of gamers, we have come to few solid conclusions.
First of all, from hardcore gamer and PC Video Game Collector’s point of perspective, buying a Collector’s Box is not just for the “status-quo”. To be more specific… Collectors don’t buy the Collector’s Box just to say, “oh look I have the Collector’s Edition”. But we purchase it for the value! It absolutely needs to have value. The Collector’s Edition for Ghost Recon Wildlands, specifically for PC, which is called the “Fallen Angel Edition” was an absolute valueless item. Reason being, that the skull statue was wrapped with black cloth, and black cloth loves collecting dust… so eventually you either had to take the cloth off the skull framework to wash it or clean it up, or you had to give Santa Muerte a brief shower. In either case… “ain’t nobody got time for that!” Not to mention that the “plastic stand” was not really wood, but it was made of PVC Plastic, which really does not give that final and realistic wooden look when you look at it from up close. That was #1 reason none of our Pro. Gamers purchased the Collector’s Edition for PC. Now on the contrary… for Xbox One, and PS4 the Collector’s Edition featured the statue of the Ghost, squatting down in an aggressive pre-attack stance, in an amazingly well detailed lower base stand.
In the other parts of the world, like Australia, GRW had the (Calavera Collector’s Case), which included a Santa Blanca Cartel Skull… Headset replica of Ghost’s Audio Headset, which was compatible with PS4, Xbox One and PC, Bolivian Carrying Pouch and few other awesome collectible items. Why couldn’t the American PC Version get these items as well? Nobody will ever know! It’s classified! But… needs to be addressed, as hardcore gamers who want value for their hard-earned money, will never purchase a stick figure with a wooden base that’s covered in black Vail material that will get destroyed in a year. After all, these are Collector’s items… they need to last for a long time!
Now as far as the core game goes… the 1st thing that needs to be addressed in Ghost Recon Wildlands is the “Play-Styles”… Super important! As a player, you should be able to choose what style you would like to play with, and according to that attribute, joining other players in the game who have the same motives and play-style objectives. If this is not addressed in this version or in the future Ghost Recon titles, we will have situations just like now, where you have 4 players in one squad, and all 4 want to do 4 very different things… and only one of them will be 100% committed in that mission, as the other 3 will just not be able to play that style for variety of reasons. This will force players to FAIL mission so many times they end up with a new team after 30 minutes, to find out that the new team is worse than the previous team. Extremely important… needs to be re-visited by the development team asap to keep the integrity of the game-play and player interest.
Last but not least, the missions need to be more interactive and rewarding… even in this very “open-world” environment. It feels like, due to a lot of open world “engine generated” content, only about 10% of the missions currently have motion graphics attached to them. In other words, when you finish the mission it plays a movie. The rest are all cut and dry raids which clears up the areas for looting… in other words, loot is the ONLY reward in these parts of Bolivia. Ultimately, the game mechanics are designed to let you loot and get weapon upgrades including Intel and secret location spots for the area bosses after raiding the area. Consequently, making the entire game-play extremely boring after about 20 hours of serious game-play. I mean, how many hours of the same repetitive actions can a player take? 100 tagging animations in a day? 200? I couldn’t even handle 50 in one session… it gets super boring, super-fast. We strongly believe that every little tiny mission worthy of putting 1 squad with 4 people in it away from family and friends alone in darkness is worthy of at least 1 visual cut-scene reward that deepens the plot of the game… or else, it loops right back to boredom. You see how this works? It’s human nature. Having more movies and cut-scenes on the map would certainly correct this issue in coming titles, or maybe even in the most immediate upcoming expansions for the new batch of players, as the old-dogs like us, have already seen the story in its current state.
So in the horizon of Wildlands, lies this bittersweet experience, which leaves you stunned for the days to come. This game truly delivers on all its promises when it comes to the Open-World Co-Op experience. It’s a first of its kind but certainly not the last. The game delivers solid tactical, fast paced game-play, for broad range of players in the ages 18+. If you love shooting games like Battlefield 1 or 4, or even the Far Cry Series… this game will be a hit out of the park for you, as it will activate all your senses of survival and situational awareness. It’s a solid combination of very fluid Squad-Based game mechanics mixed with the tools, and a vast area for game-play with extremely diverse landscaping, leaving you at the mercy of your surroundings. The choices are all up to you, Bolivia is absolutely under your control… or I shall say, very soon to be! So, if you got the time and the raw computing power at your disposal to blow-off some steam on-line with few of your buddies alike… don’t even hesitate for one second to dive into the beautiful and lavish landscapes of Bolivia! And always remember… it’s called Ghost Recon Wildlands for a reason… you can either be the best Ghost you can be with super stealthy tactics, or you put on that highlight green jumpsuit and be the wildest looking bullet magnet in Bolivia… the choice is yours!