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Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is the tenth entry in the long running series which this time sees The Ghosts being sent to Boliva to take down the Santa Blanca cartel who have turned the country in a narco-state and the largest producer of cocaine in the world. Now with their influence threatening to spread out of the country the Ghosts are now tasked with dismantling the cartel.
Boosting one of the largest open world environments to be created by Ubisoft, its safe to say that the company really are pinning a lot on the success of this game, especially with the hype-machine for the game being high since the disappointing presentation we saw during their conference at E3 last year. Still, following on from the previous closed Beta this weekend, Ubisoft opened up the world to the rest of us not lucky enough to get access to the previous beta giving players a chance to play through Itacua and Montuyoc, two of the 21 regions which the full game will take place over, which looking at the map, it certainly looks like the game is going to live up to its promise of having one of the largest open worlds ever.
Dropped into Bolivia, the opening mission sees your team rescuing the founder of the “Kataris 26”, the local rebel group who will provide a valuable ally in the fight against the Santa Blanca but were you go from here is really up to you with each region being represented by a different member of the cartel who needs to be located by collecting Intel files from the region. In the beta, once the cartel member has been killed, you’re allowed to move to the next region and it remains to be seen if this will still be the case in the full game. Alongside the main story missions, players can also help the rebel cause by performing tasks such as collecting supplies and taking over radio stations to help them broadcast their message which in turn provide more ally skills such as the ability to call in mortar strikes and supply drops which when things go south can really make a difference.
How you tackle these missions is really up to you so you can be stealthy surveying the area using binoculars or the drone and carefully planning your attack plan. Of course you can also just roll in all guns blazing, too, its really down to personal preference with the game refreshingly not punishing you for choosing the later of these options, and it provides a great sense of freedom to the game. You can even use the weather and time of day to your advantage with the daytime making it easier to spot your enemies while the dark makes it harder for you to be spotted.
The downside here is with the lack of mission variety, much less the game giving you any kind of direction, something which was really a nagging point when having completed the first region. I was left with no obvious direction of where to go next until it became clear that I was supposed to fast travel to the next territory. The other issue comes with playing solo as while your three computer controlled teammates might be surprisingly effective at tackling the enemy, they are useless at doing anything other than following you around for backup, and to this extent, it really makes a difference to have human teammates to really maximise your strategy.
Unquestionably, its an incredibly detailed playground that the game takes place in with the production team spending two weeks in Bolivia researching the country, and here it’s a real mixture of mountains, forests and salt flats which the action takes place over complete with wildlife such as Flamingos and Lama’s only adding to the experience while the completed game boasts nine different terrains. Its really throwing down the gauntlet to the open worlds of Far Cry while also bringing back memories of Mercenaries, which here we might get the closest thing to a sequel only perhaps without so many airstrikes.
Needless to say a sandbox game is only as good as its toybox, and here the game certainly delivers as players are given access to a huge stack of weapons as well as a wide selection of vehicles including dirt bikes, dune buggies and helicopters, combined with the fact that any vehicle in the game can be hijacked, meaning that there is plenty of variety in how you choose to get around the map or complete missions such as rolling into an enemy base on a tractor or bulldozer if the whim should take you. For the most part, the vehicles all handle well with the exception of the planes and helicopters, which without a rudder stick seem to have a mind of their own half the time. At the same time, while the handling is perhaps not as realistic as GTA V with all the vehicles having way too much traction but despite this the handling is superior to most sandbox games while the fact that its almost impossible to get thrown off the bike really helps when you dealing with the harsh terrain.
The customisation options offered here are staggering, with your weapons being able to be broken down and each part customised to either maximise efficiency or just suit your personal style. The same also goes for the look of your character with both male and female base characters offering a refreshingly robust list of tweaks, making it a huge selection of options for outfitting your character, so there should be little trouble in creating your own unique “Ghost.”
This beta has its share of bugs which is to be expected and hopefully these will be sorted by the time the final game is released as it was a fun experience while it lasted, though the lack of variety in missions did leave it a little grating after awhile. Going off this playthrough, the game at this stage certainly has potential, though its lack of mission diversity hardly has me rushing to pre-order the game, despite some fun aspects and customisation options. It’s now a game of wait and see.
Game description: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands is an open-world tactical adventure game following an elite team of US Army soldiers as they undergo a length series of mission across a number of expansive environments.