Turning what was a military tactical shooter into a more straight forward third person shooter may strike as treasonous to many old school fans of Ghost Recon, but it simply is the state of the industry that we cannot have a triple-A game that can’t appeal to the vast majority of gamers. That said, while Wildlands is a far, far cry from the old school yore of Ghost Recon, from what we experienced at E3 it could very well be one of the stronger Ubisoft titles.
Coming as a fan of the older Ghost Recon games (from the originals all the way to GRAW), I was initially disappointed with the nature that Ubisoft Paris approached the gunplay. From the start it feels way more light and simplistic than the older games. Bullets don’t have impacts, reloading is fast and spray-and-pay usually solves the problem. As someone who was used to the more precise nature of the older games, this was a huge disappointment.
However given the more fast paced nature of engagements and high-stakes of the mission we were engaged in, this disappointment soon led to understanding as Wildlands still contains the tough, tactical and brutal engagements that the series is known for. With the increased focus on stealth mechanics, shots counted more than ever, and co-ordinating with a team of four remains one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had at E3.
Yes, it most likely will be the co-op part of the game that will be the saving grace of Wildlands, as our demo with four actual players was incredibly fun and smooth. When an attempt to execute guards silently to capture a VIP failed, it quickly turned into an improvised car chase across the lush roads of Bolivia that felt so spontaneous it had to have been scripted, which it wasn’t.
Quickly flagging the car down led to reinforcements being called, which led to a brutal gunfight that had us victorious, barely. We quickly made our way to a helicopter, where we introduced to the parachute mechanics of the game; diving from the helicopter we could choose to co-ordinate our attack on a drug lab by choosing places to land and cover, whether it be right at the entrance, in an abandoned building overlooking the lab or hell, parachuting right into the middle of the complex if you were feeling particularly suicidal that day.
If you’re not a fan of the over the top nature of patriotism and ‘America f-yeah’ style that Tom Clancy games usually carry, Wildlands is definitely not going to change your mind. From trailers that spout Ghost Recon agents as ‘the law’, to glamourizing the nature of your role in essentially destabilising Bolivia, it very much is a Tom Clancy game by nature, with no sense of irony or satire.
It does however contain what could be Ubisoft’s best open world game yet. There’s a huge sense of immersion, and unlike the Assassin Creed games and Watch Dog’s Chicago, Bolivia really does feel alive. If the side content manages to hold up and avoid the Ubisoft cliches, Wildlands could really be a stand out in a sea of open world games. It’s clear the team has taken a huge amount of time exploring the real life Bolivia and trying to turn it into a immersive open world experience, and if the full game lives up to the E3 demo we went hands on in, it could really be a deep and meaningful experience.
Wildlands is due for release March 2017, on PS4, Xbox One and PC.