That title is a mouthful…
So this is a game that I’ve been eagerly awaiting for some time, and the beta has certainly opened my eyes as to what I can expect from the full game. That isn’t to say that my time with it was awful or amazing; if anything it was a zero sum experience.
I enjoyed the return to the Ghost Recon style of game, though there were quite a few things that left me a bit puzzled.
Welcome To Bolivia
Interestingly, Ghost Recon: Wildlands feels like it might be a tonal shift for the franchise. Previously, the Ghosts were an elite group of soldiers that were sent on black operations in situations that required the best-of-the-best. Where the Rainbow Six organization functions as the United Nation’s answer to counter-terrorism, the Ghosts were the US Army’s version of the Navy SEALs. Here in Wildlands, it appears that the Ghosts have taken on a role more similar to the Green Berets. That meaning that they have been sent in to dismantle the drug operation by any means necessary, which means working with indigenous forces.
The Ghosts are being sent to Bolivia to dismantle the Santa Blanca Cartel, who is responsible for not only the production and distribution of drugs, but a spate of violence in Bolivia. What really drew the Ghosts into the conflict however was the bombing of a US embassy in order to kill an undercover DEA agent, which failed and prompted a simple outright murder of him.
Solidifying the Ghosts’ role as a Green Berets stand-in is their work with Bolivian resistance groups. There are missions in the beta that seem to indicate that the locals will be working with the Ghosts to take down the cartel, and your willingness to work with them will pay off in the form of support from those resistance fighters. Calling in mortar strikes, diversionary attacks, and having vehicles delivered are some options that are given to you if you choose to help out. What role the resistance movement plays in the game is yet to be known, but I have a feeling they will play an important role in Wildlands.
Regardless of the support of the locals however, the goal is simple: the Ghosts must wipe the Santa Blanca Cartel off the map, one kingpin at a time.
And boy is the map huge. The small playable area of the beta is just a taste of things, with the actual map itself being comprised of many different biomes that stretch for extremely long distances. I do have some reservations about how little there seems to be on the map to do, but it’d be unfair to lodge a complaint about the lack of content in a beta that is only a small slice of the pie.
What gives me a little faith is that the story missions seem pretty solid, even if they’re lacking in cutscenes. The missions seem to fit in with the style the Ghost Recon series is known for. I love the idea of a small team of elite soldiers going to war with an organization like the Santa Blanca and the corrupt government of Bolivia. There’s much potential for fun shenanigans that way.
All that said, Wildlands looks to be the marriage of the Ghost Recon and Just Cause franchises, for better or worse. With that in mind, the beta was a blast to play through, but there is a bit of a tonal disconnect in the game where you can do all manners of unforgivable things to an unsuspecting populace in the pursuit of completing an objective. The Ghosts are supposed to be consummate professionals on the field of battle, so it’s a little jarring to see your teammates gunning down a crowd of civilians because they’re in the way. I do like the anecdotes and banter that the AI soldiers exchange with the player though, as I feel it fits the Ghosts. They’re funny, but they also sound intelligent and capable.
You know, when they aren’t driving a tractor through a farm because they crashed their helicopter while trying to ram an enemy helo out of the air.
There are a few negatives that are worth pointing out. First, there are a few inconsistencies with the game in terms of equipment. For instance, when you don night vision or thermal goggles, it doesn’t show on your character, so I suppose Ghosts have some sort of implant in their eyes. Also, thermal vision in particular doesn’t seem to show off heat signatures like it should. Aside from that, there’s also the issue of allowing players to rekit themselves on the fly from the menu screen, which seems to be a bit broken if you ask me.
These are minor things I hope will be fixed.
Oh, The Glorious Guns!
Many things make a return from the Tom Clancy’s series of games however. The wondrous catalog of firearms made its way into the game, harking back to the days of games like Rainbow Six 3 and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. Ubisoft also resurrected the Gunsmith, which was introduced in the game Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Every owned firearm can be torn down into its base parts, and each piece can be changed out to make a truly custom weapon. I missed the Gunsmith so much…
Also making a return is the tactical aspect of Ghost Recon games, following in the footsteps of titles like Far Cry 3, where players can approach objectives in any number of ways. Surprisingly, Wildlands seems to hold true to the promises from its trailers, for now.
And Now We Wait
What I’ve seen so far has been promising, though with obvious room for improvement. As long as it doesn’t follow too closely in the well-beaten tracks of other open world games like Just Cause 3 or The Division, I can see it being a worthwhile game to pick up.
The truth is though that I’m not as excited as I was when I saw the first trailer, but I’m still keeping an eye on it.
I’m especially keeping an eye on the Gunsmith…
Did you get a chance to play the beta? What are your thoughts? Concerns? Let me know, and I’d be happy to pick your brain.
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