The latest instalment of the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series tries to build on the success of its predecessors by adding an open world sandbox to play in meeting with mixed results.
Set in the South American country of Bolivia, it pits the task force against the Santa Blanca drug cartel and the local military faction Unidad. The aim of the game is to cause destabilisation between the factions through a series of meticulously planned missions and of course, a bit of violence.
The sandbox map itself is vast and beautiful to play in, with varying areas from jungles to salt flats, in fact, the map is so vast it incorporates a region to region fast travel system to help you get around.
You’ll travel around the vast map, targeting individual cartel heads one at a time. A series of breadcrumb missions in each area will eventually lead you to the local boss and your target for that area of influence. All this eventually leads to El Sueno the head of the cartel and the guy you’ve been tasked with taking out. The game aids you along the way and provides direction to which cartel boss would be best to take out next.
The missions in the campaign vary between snatch and grabs, destroy objectives and reconnaissance missions, tasking you with scoping out an area or individual, of course, whilst remaining stealthy. This in itself can become repetitive as the missions lack variation and soon become a chore.
The progression and perks system is simplistic in nature and welcome at this juncture. This feeds into abilities, tech and rebel support. Like most RPGs, each tree has it’s own unique skill and ability set, so you’ll want to map out the most interesting and desired perks before deciding which path you want your soldier to progress down.
The controls, for the most part, are usable although the camera even when tweaked to the highest sensitivity setting is sluggish when using vehicles and is better left alone. The driving mechanics in the game felt a little underdeveloped, especially for a game of this large scale, in which cross-country navigation is a fundamental part of the gameplay.
The cooperative aspect of this game (and the intended selling point) I find is its main hindrance. When running with less than a full team, the game doesn’t back fill the empty slots with AI, which can leave you vulnerable on the larger scale missions. Even when player capacity is filled, it can be problematic when one of your teammates is perhaps slightly less experienced and ends up alerting the guards. In the case of Santa Blanca this isn’t too much of a problem but when it’s the Unidad force you can be overrun easily and more often than not, this results in mission failure.
When in single player, Wildlands becomes a game of sync shot the enemy. The Ghosts excel at this but in return, the player takes more of a backseat. The AI isn’t too bad when it comes to reviving you but if you push into a situation too hard don’t expect great fire support.
The game has a generally good overall feel but fails to excel in any one particular area. The setting and environment, AI and gunplay are all well developed and are as expected from this long-standing and recognised series. However, the game isn’t without its faults and the lacklustre mission variety, occasional bugs and poor driving mechanics have left a sour taste. Surprisingly, we’re seeing more players take up the single-player career mode, rather than the once highly-anticipated cooperative mode. Bare this in mind, as it may affect the game’s questionable longevity.