The open beta for Ubisoft’s new tactical shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, just launched and I have spent a fair while playing it, or rather, experiencing it. So, I’m going to run through some of the things that work really well, along with some of the things that work less well. Obviously, this is not a review for the full game because it doesn’t release until March 7th, so a lot will have changed by the time it launches, but I just wanted to run through some of the things in the beta that really caught my attention.
For starters, the gameplay is astonishing, it feels realistic and brutal, whilst maintaining a feel of the player having complete control over situations, as long as they plan their attacks carefully. The stealth elements of the game are thrilling, you feel like a true badass when you execute an attack after sitting on a hill marking your enemies and calculating the optimal way to storm a hideout and wipe them all out. Equipped with a drone, which is becoming a staple of a lot of games nowadays (appearing prominently in a lot of the biggest games of last year), you can plan your attack far from any risk of being spotted, allowing for coordinated attacks with your team.
One feature that feels a little lackluster is a feature called Sync Shot, which works by marking enemies so that you and your team can coordinate your shots, all firing on separate enemies at once. Which works really well in single player, where your team is programmed to follow orders and back you up. However, in multiplayer, Sync Shot feels pointless. There are too many things that can go wrong, your teammate can miss, which, I learned, happens a lot, or they could just choose to disregard the order for a Sync Shot altogether. In single player, it has another flaw in that when you start out, you can only Sync Shot one extra enemy, which really only allows you to take out two enemies at once, which is pointless really when you’re up against a checkpoint guarded by some twelve guys with machine guns.
Multiplayer is fun, without a doubt. However, it can feel a little hit or miss, because you know that when you play single player that your team is only as good as you have upgraded them to be but online, your team can make mistakes, mistakes that can cost you a mission. The multiplayer is focused on the main campaign, where every mission in the game is playable both alone or online, which can be either public multiplayer or with your friends. This requires the use of voice chat, which is fine when playing with friends you know, but when playing with strangers, they may not even speak your language, you have no idea if they will just act alone and ruin a plan you spent ages setting up. This is not actually a fault of the game, more a fault of the players, but it still feels like multiplayer is more of a hindrance than a help.
The open world is massive, even in the area shown in the beta. You get a feeling of true scale, with literally hundreds of enemy checkpoints and hideouts scattered along the way towards main story objectives, each one requiring you to plan out a strategy to bring down. You don’t feel like the game gets boring whilst you drive in a variety of vehicles around the world, because you find yourself stopping every few miles to take down a group of bad guys. Speaking of the vehicles, the variety of things you can drive is vast. In the first few hours of the beta, I found myself traversing the world in cars, bikes, trucks, tractors and a helicopter (which was horrible to control). Most of the vehicles were really fun to drive, with some of the best controls for cars I have found in a while (except the helicopter), although you really don’t need a car to explore the world, as running through bushes like a lethal rabbit is just as fun.
Graphically the world is stunning, with the huge environments looking super realistic without feeling uncanny valley. The weather and lighting are dynamic, when night falls, you rely on your night vision to ambush enemies with the cover of darkness. When it rains, the droplets splash when they hit the dusty roads, every tiny detail of this world feels like it was made with care and precision. Even at a beta stage, this looks like one of the best looking games Ubisoft has made.
The game doesn’t hold your hand and guide you, which actually doesn’t work very well. Since there is no tutorial mission you feel like you get dropped in the deep end without any support, which means that on your way to taking down the first enemy stronghold you feel lost as you pass through heavily guarded checkpoints with no real idea of how the game’s basic mechanics work. In the first few minutes of the game, I had died about four times, before reaching the first actual mission of the game, I attribute all of these deaths to my lack of knowledge about the actual controls of the game. Admittedly you pick them up pretty quickly but it is very trial and error and you learn through dying over and over again. I don’t like games that hold your hand through tedious tutorial levels, but when a game doesn’t even explain the controls, it annoys me.
In conclusion, this feels like it could easily grow into one of the best games from Ubisoft. So much of this game left me astonished, it was honestly just a lot of fun, but it is flawed and I feel like the flaws are things that won’t be fixed by the full game, which is a shame, but I feel like I could get used to the things in this game I’m annoyed by, because overall this game feels like one of the most enjoyable games I have played in a long time. Despite its flaws, Wildlands provides intense action and genuine entertainment. For more like this, keep it G33k.
Bolivia, a few years from now: this beautiful South American country has become the largest cocaine producer in the world. The influential and vicious Santa Blanca drug cartel has turned the country into a narco-state, leading to lawlessness, fear, injustice, and violence. The cartel is on track to becoming a major underworld power and global threat.An all-out war is not the answer. A surgical, stealthy, lethal approach is the only way to stop the disease at its source. The Ghosts, an elite US Special Forces team, are sent behind enemy lines to wreak havoc, destabilize, and eventually break the alliance between the cartel and the corrupted government.Facing an almighty enemy in a massive and hostile environment, the Ghosts will need to make critical moral choices and engage in tough battles to complete their mission – their grittiest and most dangerous operation to date.Ghost Recon Wildlands Releases March 7th