We shared our initial impressions of Ghost Recon Wildlands on our most recent episode of The Alpha Build. But with the beta now complete, check out our full review in advance of the March 7 release date:
Over the weekend, Ubisoft released an open beta for Ghost Recon Wildlands, the latest entry in the long running Ghost Recon series ahead of its full release on March 7 so we decided to take it for a spin and share our thoughts.
Wildlands is almost a reboot of the franchise. After the two Advanced Warfighter entries and Future Soldier pushed the series far into the future, Wildland’s scope is simultaneously reduced and expanded.
Numbered levels are replaced with an open-world recreation of Bolivia while the traditional Tom Clancy plot is replaced with something more reminiscent of other explorations of the drug world like Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog or Netflix’s Narcos.
Unfortunately, our exposure to that story suggests that it may be the weakest part of the game. After a DEA agent is murdered by the Santa Blanca cartel, Operation Kingslayer is launched. A 4-man Ghost squad is sent in to overthrow the cartel and ultimately kill the “el jefe of el jefes” known simply as El Sueño.
But the execution seems off. The kingpins you’re sent to knock off to get to El Sueno seem like nothing more than caricatures in an overly serious world. Worse, the Ghost operators, Weaver, Midas, and Holt, led by your character, Nomad, are stereotypical special ops guys, drawl included, and attempts at ultra-casual banter come off as merely awkward.
Wildlands’ biggest selling point is the promise of emergent, tactical gameplay and during our time with the game, that was evident. Often a mission is simply a location and a target and the rest is left up to you. Some missions encourage a more methodical, stealthy approach while others reward you, or at least don’t punish you, for coming in guns blazing.
Vehicles are also a new addition to the franchise adding to your tactical options. You’ll often find yourself bombing through the desert in a jeep, roaring over treetops in a helicopter…or driving around in a knock-off Lamborghini. However, the handling is an area that sorely needs attention. Cars feel like they’re on the moon and at times are downright uncontrollable.
While most of my time was spent playing on Xbox One where it looks fine, on PC Wildlands may be one of the best looking games out there. Bolivia extends out as far as you can see and the game manages to make high altitude deserts as beautiful as lush rainforests. Word of warning: I’m using a GTX 970 and to get a relatively steady 60 FPS I had to take things down to “High” which is actually the second lowest setting. You may need to invest in a GTX 1070 or 1080 to take full advantage.
With the beta now over, I have to say that I’m excited for the full release. Wildlands doesn’t do anything revolutionary but what it does do, it does well. Solo play is fun, while 4, and even 2 player co-op is a riot. I recommend giving it a look when it releases on March 7th on Xbox, PS4, and PC.