That I waited until the game went offline for scheduled maintenance before setting my controller aside to write this review is a good indication of how much I’m enjoying Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
While the trailers made me keen to check it out, now that the Open Beta is up and running I’ve had ample opportunity to find out just what an open world Ghost Recon game plays like, and the good news is it plays well.
Although I’m a fan of pretty much every videogame to be inspired by a Tom Clancy property, not all Tom Clancy games are created equal and recently the Ghost Recon franchise has probably been the lesser of the bunch. Last year Tom Clancy’s The Division gave us an MMORPG offering while the year before Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege focused on Player versus Player online team gameplay. Both were among the best shooters of their respective years. Even Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell released it’s seventh instalment with Blacklist in 2013, practically a new release when compared to Ghost Recon’s last major title, Advanced Warfighter 2 back in 2007. With that in mind I was interested to see just what Ghost Recon’s new gameplay would feel like in comparison.
As it happens, it’s basically Far Cry (specifically from Far Cry 3 onwards) in a more realistic military setting.
Ubisoft have made some incredible games over the years, and with studios around the world and development teams on specific projects it would be unfair to suggest that all Ubisoft titles are cut from the same cloth, but when it comes to Ghost Recon Wildlands, the new foray into a vast open world, the freedom and flexibility of play styles and the backdrop of deployment in a hostile territory with only a rag tag rebellion to call upon for support all draw closer comparisons with the Far Cry series than previous Tom Clancy games.
Having said that, Wildlands delivers the co-op experience that fans have always wished to experience in a Far Cry game and unlike The Division, the AI squad makes the game entirely playable solo without you feeling as though you’re missing out.
The combat almost has more of a Far Cry feel to it as well, without so much of the RPG skill trees, and although there’s definitely the attention to detail to earn the tactical military shooter tag, the lack of a cover system compared to other recent shooters is noticeable. Similarly the vehicles in the game look, drive and handle well enough by the usual open world standard, but I found I was able to bash and crash anything from a jeep to a motorbike up and down the mountains of Bolivia without any great difficulty. Ultimately the only risk to my character’s health was in combat as I happily rolled my vehicle and slammed my bike into trees with next to no consequences at all.
When all is said and done, the decision to give so much content for the Open Beta was definitely the right decision, as the real strength of this game is the storyline, the co-op (up to four player) missions and the vast possibilities that the open world tactical gameplay offers. While it may not have the best character creation or be the best shooter or driving simulator on the market, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands has the potential to be the one of the best online co-op games of all time and the Open Beta is definitely worth checking out for yourself.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands Open Beta is running until the 28th of February and the full game will be released for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on the 7th of March.