Ghost Recon Wildlands, the latest instalment of the great Ubisoft saga, is about to hit the store in a few days and last weekend I had the opportunity to test the open beta.
I must admit that currently, Ubisoft is one of the best and most prolific software houses out there: with titles like The Division (at the moment one of my all-time favourites), Watch_Dogs 2, For Honor and Rainbow 6:Siege during 2016 it basically filled up the entire landscape of home entertainment (don’t forget Steep, another recent Ubisoft title, although not a shooter) . When many months ago I found out that a new Ghost Recon was due this year I booked it immediately. I “discovered” the saga back in 2009, when a few friends gave me Advanced Warfighter 2 as a present for my birthday, and after that, I really loved Future Soldiers that I also reviewed on this very blog many moons ago.
It was, therefore, a pleasure, but also a shock, to learn that a new, yet very different Ghost Recon, was almost ready to be played. How did it go? Let’s discover it together.
The game is very different from its predecessors: as always its gameplay is based on the movement of a team of 4 people and it can be played totally as a solo player (the other 3 team members are then AI controlled) or in any online combination with the entire party playing online co-op.
Unlike Future Soldiers you don’t need to meet in a lobby prior to start and friends can join at any time. The similarities with the other games of the saga end here, being this title a huge free-roaming, open world game. In addition, the Ghosts are not part of a military elite anymore nor are they involved in warfare operations, but they are “civilians” which infiltrate a foreign country to destroy a drug cartel.
Besides all that, Wildlands sports a controls layout that is fairly different from what was becoming a Ubisoft standard, so now I am playing 3 different Ubisoft game at the same time (this one, The Division and Watch_Dogs 2) and my confusion level is at its best…
The most noticeable feature, in this department, is the “cover” mechanics: unlike Future Soldier and, once again, unlike The Division and Watch_Dogs 2, safe spots to hide or cover will not be displayed on the screen, nor an automatic cover-to-cover mechanics are implemented. I must admit that this “lack” of controls struck me at first, but after a few hours spent playing the game I consider it like an enhanced feature since it adds realism to the game simulation. In other words, there’s no one holding your hand and if you want to survive in this extremely dangerous environment you will have to knowingly take cover like in real life.
Being this an open-world title you will have to face very big distances and to do it you can use a whole bunch of transportation means, including aircraft and helicopters. Actually, subtracting an aircraft (or helo) to the cartel and giving it to the rebels will weaken the former and allow you to get support from the latter, so it is highly recommended (actually, many side quest will ask you to do just that).
Too bad the flying mechanics are often totally unrealistic (I actually landed with an aeroplane on a short unpaved runway in a way that not even a UFO can do), but who cares! This is not a flight sim and the game does very well what it is called to do: shooting and killing.
The aim of the game is killing the people who are in charge of the 4 different pillars of the cartel: production, smuggling, security and influence. Each of the pillars has its leader, which of course has many helpers.
Defeating them will put you in contact with El_Sueno, the big boss behind the entire cartel. I bet it won’t be an easy task to take him down, so the game promises hours and hours of fun and challenges. This is a title which will be mine on day one but only time will tell if it will be able to become my new favourite against The Division.