With the Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta released I was able to get some hands-on time with the game, and I must say my first impressions are pretty good. To get you up to speed if you have never played a Ghost Recon game before or know nothing about it, Ghost Recon has been a game series that focuses on a group of covert soldier’s tasked with a mission no normal military division could handle, so in come the Ghosts. With each iteration of the game it has evolved and changed with time, the past two games (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Ghost Recon Future Soldier) both centered on the standard four man squad and took place in a near future setting with linear level design, Wildlands however is a little different from past installments.
Ghost Recon Wildlands throws away its linear level design opting for the current favourite open-world design that everyone oh so craves. This is a first for the series so as such the game does feel different to its predecessors but different doesn’t mean bad. Ghost Recon always gave the player large levels that allowed for diverse options on how to approach the mission, this is just the next logical step in giving the play ultimate freedom of choice on how to complete a mission.
A whole new world, A new fantastic point of view.
That’s enough of what the game is, now for what the game is like. Wildlands plays like a third-person shooter with the ability to aim like a first-person shooter, so it’s a bit of a hybrid in that respect. The controls allow for smooth gameplay that you would be used to if have played any shooter in the past, however the controls do get a little complex once you go into the move advanced options the game gives you to modify how you engage in a fight, such as changing your guns rate of fire, switching between your primary fire and any under-barrel attachment you might be using and whether your using a suppressor or not, it can be kind of tricky to switch what mode of fire you are use since you can only do that while you actively aiming your weapon, so watch out for that when in combat.
Take it slow, line up the shot.
Since Wildlands is an open world game their method of storytelling reflects this. The overall goal is to take down Santa Blanca, a Bolivian cartel overlord. Before you can get to Santa Blanca you must explore the map and gather Intel on his underlings and take them down to disable Santa Blanca’s narcotics empire. Each region has its own boss to take out but you can’t pick and choose, you must work up the chain from the bottom. There is also range of optional missions that will reward you with extra resources or useful assets to help complete your missions.
Now I think this is the most important question that people will ask, single-player or multiplayer? First let’s talk about single-player, not everyone will be able to play with friends all the time, so just replace them with 3 A.I. teammates that will always be there for you. In the single-player experience you will be accompanied by 3 teammates that will help you and follow your orders with the use of the command system. Let’s talk about this command system for a second, I like the ability to give commands but I don’t like how you give them. To give a command you hold down the command button and then a radial menu will appear, you can then scroll through the different commands to give, this is slow and can be dangerous if done in the heat of combat since you are vulnerable and can’t make any other action while the command window is open. Honestly you only need to look as far as the previous installment, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, to see how giving commands should be. Wildlands shares the same 4 commands you can give with Future Soldier, move to a targeted location, open fire, hold position and regroup, but Future Soldier bound these commands to their own individual buttons and as such didn’t stop you from preforming other actions while doing so. If you are not going to stop or slow down time while in a command window like in other games, you need to be able to give those commands quickly and without interrupting play.
These are my only friends but they will never leave me………. ever.
Okay that went on a little long but I feel it was important to mention, now the multiplayer experience which I feel was the intended method of playing Wildlands. Any game played in co-op with friends is always fun cause you can create cool and unique moments that wouldn’t be possible using A.I. companions. Creating a co-op session is as easy as dropping into a friend’s game if they are already playing or joining a lobby before ether of you have started. In single-player you will always have 3 teammates to work with, in co-op you will only have as many people as you do friends, so if it’s just you just you and one friend their will only be two of you, take this into account when planning on how to engage in a fight. Co-op is not without fault, now granted this review is based on my experience with the open beta so things could change in the final version but there are some things to look out for. First not all aspects of the world are synced between players, for one player the weather might be sunny with clear skies while their co-op partner has overcast with some light rain, night and day seem to be shared but not weather. The same goes for wildlife, even though enemy positions and actions are shared, wildlife such as chickens and pigs are unique to each player’s game, it’s not that one person might have a chicken around and the other doesn’t, it’s that whatever one person does to their chicken won’t happen in the others game. While these are minor inconsistencies and not game braking, they should still be fix so both players are having to same experience.
This isn’t an easy job.
Looking cool with friends.
The last important detail to mention is performance. To start off, this game look beautiful and sounds great, this doesn’t really change between what platform you’re playing on. Consoles will have an easy time getting a great visual experience because of standardise hardware but what about the PC crowd where you can have a less than stellar experience if you lack the hardware. So, what can you do if you have an older PC that doesn’t have the latest hardware, well you’ll be happy to find a very robust options menu that give you all the tools you need to alter the game for better performance. What Wildlands also does that you don’t see in other games is it give you an indicator of how much CPU and GPU the game is using. So as you lower your setting you can see the system strain lower as well until it’s at a level you happy to play at, also when changing graphical options it has a window to the right that displays how the game will look with your current setting. So you can see the what actually changes with each setting which is great when you don’t know what Antialiasing, Anisotropic filtering or Ambient occlusion does.
I love this options menu.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is shaping up to be a great game with a lot of potential but we’ll only know for sure when it releases on the 7th of March 2017. Did you play the beta? What were your thoughts? And will you be purchasing Ghost Recon Wildlands on release?
Thanks for reading, if you are curious to my personal experience with the game, I played on the PC co-op with a friend of mine. I own a high spec PC so I was able to comfortably play on the Very High graphical setting with a smooth 60+ fps, I was able to play on the highest graphical setting, Ultra, but I experienced screen tearing since my monitor isn’t a high performance monitor.