My first glimpse at Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands came a couple years ago in the form of a cinematic trailer being broadcast in the center of Ubisoft’s booth. It was enough to leave a lasting impression though. Since then I’ve been patiently waiting for a chance to get some hands-on time with the game and see if it delivered on its promise of open-world action and exploration within the bounds of a traditional, tactical Tom Clancy title. Well, I finally got my chance to get my hands on the game, and I’m pleased to say it’s looking like Wildlands will live up to its hype.
Outside of the traditional Ghost Recon gameplay, Wildlands seems to take its cues from several successful titles including its Ubisoft cousin, Far Cry. Right away you’re thrown into a massive open world full of options and a vast and exotic world to explore. The game takes place in Bolivia and has you facing off against a drug cartel that’s decided to move on in and take over the country. They’re known as Santa Blanca and they do not mess around.
You’ll take down their syndicate by completing the main story missions to cripple the Santa Blanca generals and taking away their infrastructure in side missions that have you stealing their supplies. The way you choose to take on your challenges is completely up to you. You can literally approach any situation any way you see fit, tactical or not. That’s right, you can go the sneaky recon route of using your drone to spot enemies in a compound, timing your shots with your teammates and using stealth to infiltrate enemy bases. Or you could just go in guns blazing and kill anything that moves. Although the latter will more than likely bring down more pressure than you can handle in some situations since the game still skews itself towards getting you to use your squad tactics to get through missions. But it’s not like you can’t just roll up to a base with a tank and start blowing stuff up to complete a mission and you’re still gonna fail. You really can take on anything any way you want to.
The missions themselves will have you doing things like rescuing prisoners to get intel from them, taking out supply convoys by running them off the road, stealing planes full of supplies, defending guerilla radio broadcast satellites from destruction while they deliver their message of revolution, and you’ll even get a chance to steal some sports cars from drug barons. To help you along the way, you’ll have a team consisting of AI partners or real-life friends who can hop in and out at any time. While many of the tactical aspects of the game are easier to pull off when you’re commanding an efficient AI team of trained agents, Wildlands really shines in four player co-op. It’s like playing a more nuanced version of Borderlands or GTA Online in a lot of ways. Hopefully, players will be able to get matched up with like-minded partners depending on their play style, but there was no sign of any sort of matchmaking options at least during our demo.
On top of open-ended missions, Wildlands give you a ton of customization options as well. You’ll be able to make your own personalized Ghost agent and outfit them how you see fit. As you find and unlock weapon caches on the world map, you’ll be able to use the gunsmith mode to customize your arsenal and unlock new guns. And you can skew your skill tree to favor your play style, such as spending your skill points on improving the range and battery life of your drone or boosting your stamina so you can soak up more bullets.
Overall, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands feels like a game that’s looking to give people a broad range of experiences that can cater to the anxious player who just wants to run in Leeroy Jenkins style and start messing stuff up while still giving the legacy players the strategic and meticulous options that they’re familiar with. Wildlands genuinely feels like it’s going to be able to give both players what they want along with a vast and awe-inspiring open world to explore. Like they’re handing you the keys and telling you to drive but you pick the destination. I personally think it has a great chance at bringing a new audience into the world of Ghost Recon, and with drop-in/drop-out 4 player co-op, it’s bound to get the attention of gamers the world over. Wildlands will be coming PS4, XBox One and PC this March.