Ubisoft has made an industry out of open-world games over the last few years. While Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry have gotten most of the press, it’s important to remember that Ghost Recon has been quietly waiting to re-emerge. Ghost Recon Wildlands is the latest entry in the series, one that hews close to the overall Ubisoft formula. The purpose of this Ghost Recon Wildlands review is to take an objective look at the game, including its atmosphere, characters, and story.
|Type of game:||Tactical Shooter|
|Multiplayer/Co-Op:||PvP and Co-Op|
|Total Play Time:||52 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core i5-2400S 3.3 GHz or AMD FX-4320 4.0 GHz
GPU:NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660 VRAM 2GB
RAM: 6 GB
OS: Windows 7/8/10
HDD Space: 24 GB
The World of Ghost Recon Wildlands
To better assess the world of the game, we must first take a look at a few factors. These include the game’s atmosphere and location, main story, main characters, and the downloadble content released after the game’s launch. These elements come together to create a game that’s largely been positively reviewed by most in the gaming press, though attitudes towards the game have cooled considerably since the game’s initial launch.
Atmosphere & Location
Wildlands takes place in a heavily fictionalized version of Bolivia. While there’s relatively little connection between the country in the real world and how it is represented in the game, the game’s version of the world is nonetheless beautiful. It’s clear that Ubisoft put a great deal of effort into creating a topography that feels real and varied, as well as one that’s quite a bit of fun to explore.
It’s absolutely one of the best modern-day open worlds out there. There’s the usual amount of terrain bugs and glitches, of course, but all in all this is a world that’s relatively easy to explore.
In terms of influences, it’s very hard not to view this game as pulling very heavily from Ubisoft’s own back catalog. Bits and pieces of this game feel very similar to games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, both of which are very successful open-world games from the same company.
The game also pulls fairly heavily from fiction starring special operations groups, especially those games and movies that also fall under the Tom Clancy banner. It’s not that the game isn’t original, but rather that its original elements are heavily built upon structures already familiar to its creators.
Saying that the main character of Ghost Recon Wildlands is a flat character would be a bit of an understatement. Nomad is very much a blank slate for the player to superimpose himself or herself onto, something that’s clear from the amount of customization one can go through to make the perfect character.
Once you’re done customizing, though, Nomad remains a fairly no-nonsense special operative, one who will see the mission through despite the cost. There are a couple of decisions that the player can make along the way, but for the most part every player will see a very similar Nomad to the one who appears in the game’s opening cut scene.
Unfortunately, the flat characters do extend to the rest of the supporting casts. The rest of the Ghosts are basically just player-commanded NPCs with generic names, while the remaining characters fill the role of mission-givers and sometimes the role of hostages.
The enemies are fairly generic as well, taking on roles with which most players will be familiar from various stories surrounding the drug trade. It’s quite clear that compelling characters were not a goal here, but rather that players have the freedom to interact with the world as they see fit. In providing a blank slate, Ubisoft has allowed the player to shape the main character’s story in a way that the plot cannot quite match.
Ghost Recon Wildlands returns the series to the modern-day and places players in charge of a special forces group. Within the fiction of the game, a group called the Santa Blanca Cartel has risen to power in Bolivia, turning the nation into a narco-state and raising concerns across the world. After a bombing at a US embassy, the United States initiates Operation Kingslayer and sends in the Ghost Recon fireteam. The mission of the team is to take out the cartel and the organization’s leader, El Sueno, by tackling various missions and assisting the local resistance. Along the way, the team will encounter a narrative full of twists and turns.
In terms of story, there’s relatively little here that hasn’t been seen before. The Ghosts are dropped into Bolivia with basic supplies and little support, both of which will change over time. Missions are given by various NPCs throughout the game, and beating one mission will generally unlock more in the area.
The mission structure isn’t static, though, and the Ghosts are given a great deal of leeway to free the area in any manner they see fit. In many ways, the structure’s similar to that of Just Cause – liberating the area isn’t necessarily the main mission, but it can make life much easier on the Ghosts.
In terms of mission structure, most missions are the same. The Ghosts are given a target to either destroy, recover, or otherwise engage and are given relative freedom as to how that should be accomplished.
You can be stealthy or highly destructive depending on your play style, but the game does reward smart tactics with easier battles and quick victories. Most missions can be more successfully finished if the player carefully observes the area using his or her various tools, positions his or her squad well, and uses a modicum of stealth to complete objectives with a minimal amount of engagement.
DLC & Expansion Packs
Ghost Recon Wildlands had three major pieces of downloadable content. The first, Narco Road, is essentially a continuation of the main story and follows the Ghost Recon team as they infiltrate and take down the remainder of the cartel. The second, Fallen Ghosts, sees the team take on a rival group of ex-special operatives who are attempting to seize control of Bolivia. Both are similar to the main story and aren’t necessary to enjoy the full experience.
Ghost War, which is free, is a four versus four multiplayer mode. This mode introduces new character classes and abilities, and it’s a great deal of fun. While the mode certainly isn’t necessary for those who only enjoy the single-player aspects of the game, it’s free and it is absolutely a must-have for those who love player-versus-player tactical combat. If you’re only going to download one piece of DLC for the game, it should absolutely be Ghost War.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is a solid game. How much you enjoy the game really depends on how much you like tactical combat and how you feel about Ubisoft’s particular type of open-world game. There’s nothing revolutionary here for players, but the experience is solid enough that it does warrant a play-through for open-world or tactical combat fans.
Have you played Ghost Recon Wildlands already? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment and let us know what you’d like to add to our Ghost Recon Wildlands review.