Ghost Recon: Wildlands has the setting of the South American Republic of Bolivia in 2019. In this fiction, a cartel of the Mexican path, known as Santa Blanca, practically invades the country, which is now overwhelmed and it is where the Ghost team arrive to save the day. In a dungeon with Karen Bowman, a covert agent of the CIA, the special command leads the operation of Kingslayer, whose objective is to disarticulate the band, a plaza and a buchon at a time, until arriving at its leader, better Known as “El Sueño” – although the character rather looks and acts like a nightmare or, already of loss, like one of the dreams that you have when you are choking.
The issue is the first controversy of this game and it is more than obvious that this is not a proposal suitable for minors. But, aside from the restrictions, the controversy lies in making a matter as scabrous as the war against drug trafficking, the axis of a video game. Videos and TV recur in this title often without the reason why they are cataloged like an apology of the crime, but it would not be uncommon for someone to be uncomfortable with the matter and, although this is not the space to debate the morality of the concept, consider it important to do this so that you do not get surprised or offended without warning.
The game has ghoulish and other comic moments
Now, one thing is the concept and another is the tone. One would expect that in the case of narcos, the feel of the experience was even more sober than that of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which was not especially spring. However, Wildlands conveys a plastic, overly Hollywood feeling that dilutes the macabre of events and it is sure to blow the heads of the warlords of political correctness. That is to say, you will not feel in a realistic documentary, personally, that is even more disturbing to me than the very decision to open the game to such a delicate matter because the treatment at times seems playful, satirical … even caricatured.
I had not been in the Wildlands world for half an hour when I was already listening to generic regional music on the radio and I saw people hanging by the window of the car, but beside me one of my comrades was telling jokes and then talking about their divorce and then another of the ghosts will start talking. Regardless of the language, the characters express themselves with an unnatural accent. When you throw a grenade, for example, your ghost sometimes says something like: “Eat shi*, cul*ros”. That gets you out of the dive and makes you think about whether you’re in a game or a machete movie. You do not know if the game is serious or not. I honestly would have preferred Ubisoft Paris to commit to a vision and to give the environment consistency, instead of lowering things and making them feel … rare. But well, it’s not like this is going to completely ruin the experience, I just say that Ghost Recon: Wildlands would have been a better game than having 100% bet for seriousness.
But how do you organize a cooperative title of tactical action and role elements in the open world? Well, for my taste the structure is one of the success since it is familiar but has several fresh nuances that prevent Wildlands from simply being perceived as Far Cry in the third person and with 4 players simultaneously.
Talking about large open worlds is already a common place but believe me when I tell you that the map in this game is massive and the idea is to eliminate the leader of each province. We speak of dozens of regions with topography, biomes and different criminal chiefs. But since you and your fellow ghosts are outsiders who do not know where anything is, the first thing on the agenda is always gathering data. As soon as you set foot on unexplored terrain, Karen communicates with you to explain a little about the place, and the map also shows question marks, as well as yellow icons in the shape of a folder that indicate the point where you can find information about the ringleader of the plaza, either in the form of computers or people of interest to whom you must interrogate to get you in the right direction.
Each leaders constitutes a piece in the organization chart of the cartel; a piece that is responsible for increasing the influence of the gang, provide security, produce drugs, facilitate contraband, and so on. So, as you eliminate leaders, you not only get close to “El Sueño” but you disrupt the criminal machinery in the process. Simply put, the design of the game structure genuinely makes you feel like a cop behind the track of something getting bigger.
Now as Wildlands is designed precisely so you can approach your missions with ease, it suffers a bit in the narrative because each regional leader plays a different role. So when you eliminate it, you do not feel that you are making much progress in history, but rather you know an isolated piece of the argument and the situation gets a bit worse when playing cooperative because of the distractions of sharing the experience with people who are talking about other things or, paradoxically, they are so absorbed in the mechanics that they do not want to stop to watch a video. In short, the argument is not brilliant and it loses a little on the scale of the game and the social character of its proposal.
But returning to the subject of information, this is not only the key to downsizing the cartel leaders, but also to unveil points of interest on the map. That is, instead of forcing you to reach a high place like a cathedral or a sad tower, Wildlands asks you to attend people who can give you information or capture small-time traffickers whom you can interrogate so that they give you information and 1 of 3 items of interest in the area, whether they are shipments of supplies, accessories for your weapons, new arsenal, skill points, and so on.
Every mission accomplished in Wildlands brings experience; with experience level ups. With each level, you release segments from the upgrade tree and receive the typical points to purchase, but skill points are not the only requirement to access these rewards, but you also require supplies and medals. Why? Because there is a faction of resistance, a guerrilla that opposes the cartel and corrupt government but, like all good resistance, lacks resources, so you will give them. There are medical, food, communication and fuel supplies; you find them all over the map and you need a specific amount of them to unlock abilities, while medals translate into bonds as a 15% firmer pulse when using your sniper rifle or the ability to carry 25% more ammo. To summarize, the game design is interesting and motivates you to explore the world. It does not reinvent the wheel, but it feels a bit different and consistent with the concept of the game.
With The Finger on the Trigger
On the surface, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a typical third-person shooter game, but underneath there are several elements that gives the title its own identity, starting with the fact that you not only control your character, but interact with others Ghosts, whether under the control of the machine, whether it is a trio of unknown players or a group of friends. It may seem a minor aspect, but each of these modes of play is a completely different experience and I will go into it a little later.
Moving is an intuitive matter but not as fluid as I would have liked. When you are indoors or around a corner, turning feels a bit heavy and, for a map with a rugged and full of shapes, climbing or descending a vertical is also uncomfortable. Rather stumble and I’m sure you’ll die several times trying to get off somewhere. I do not know how difficult it would have been to implement it, but adding a rappelling ability would have been very useful and congruent with the subject of special forces operatives, whose downhill videos abound on the internet. In short, you do not have this, so climbing has more in common with Skyrim than with UNCHARTED, and the same applies to vehicles that you can sometimes push through a vertical almost unnaturally.
Motorcycles, boats and planes are easy to use and responsive enough. That said, all cars are snacking or, in other words, feel as if they had 5 year old shock absorbers and. But the unforgivable, for my taste, are the helicopters.
Another element that could be a little better was the coverage. Putting you behind an object is basic in a game of shots and here is a contextual issue that often works without problems but not always. If you run upright and approach a wall high enough, your character will adhere to it automatically, which is important because once in that state, you can shoot without seeing or peering to aim from a corner and return with a single movement. The annoying detail is that if you run upright to a concrete containment wall – of those mediums with yellow and black stripes – your character will not bend down to cover itself automatically. The vans are also not a valid body of cover, Even if they are as tall as a basketball hoop. This is because of the windows theme, but honestly I would have preferred that my character stick by default, leaving me the decision to point the windows with a simple step back.
Before going to the game, it is also essential to talk about gadgets, especially the drone, which can improve as you advance in the game and serves to detect enemies but also to designate areas of bombardment with mortar. You have various shooting modes, either fully automatic, 3-bursts or semi-automatic. You can unlock the night vision that really is very useful; thermal vision that is even more useful; use explosive plastic, grenades and a selection with over 50 weapons ranging from assault rifles to shotguns, through sniper rifles, submachine guns and specific weapons models that you can not modify.
The editing menu, on the other hand, is intuitive, clear and useful. As happened since the last title of the series, when it comes to editing a weapon, it appears disarmed on the screen with categories assigned to each component and statistics with colored bars that show with transparency and intuitive design how a piece is better than another, whether it optimizes by much the handling of the weapon, its penetration, its scope, the noise that it produces, the damage it causes, and so on.
Personalization is a strong point of experience and goes from the practical – as in the case of weapons – to the aesthetic that, in fact, is the first thing with which you stumble because before you set foot in Bolivia, you have to design your character with multiplicity of features but also combinations of equipment that, although they do not play a role in ghost performance, allow you to project different attitudes in addition to your personality.
I tried Wildlands alone for several hours, especially at the beginning, when I wanted to assimilate the rules of the game and, to my surprise, it was a pleasant experience; not unlike an Advanced Warfighter or Future Soldier with the added advantage of doing things at your own pace and under your rules; with the level of seriousness or finesse you want.
The quality of your final experience will depend much on your accompanists
Our bots respond with solvency, are accurate and if they are delayed, the system teleports them to reach you automatically. You sacrifice the excitement and flexibility of the human squad because your bots can only tell you where to go, whether to wait or meet with you and to shoot. There are some in the tree of improvements designed for this type of solitary experience, which increase the aim of your bots, resistance, number of synchronized shots or number of resuscitations that can give you before you die. Wildlands will last 10 or 15 hours but here you have a game with activity volume for about 50 hours.
The second alternative is to play with unknown companions. My experience with this mode was categorically bad but you could run with better luck. The matchmaking works well or at least better than For Honor or Battlefield 1 – which was an ordeal – but I immediately came across the typical drawbacks of the online experience: noisy players whose headset is glued to the radio of their home, the baby crying; silent players who do not revive you; players with microphone who do not speak, and so on. If this were GTA, maybe there would be so much trouble, but Wildlands is supposed to be a tactical experience. Needless to say, there are none. Under the current design, many people prefer to rush things, do what they want and that kills much of the experience.
At the end of the day, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a game that I can recommend to you if you are going to share it with your friends and those friends who are willing to work as a team. If these conditions occur, you will have moments of real excitement, laughter and very satisfying action. As a solitary experience it is a good game but it will become exhausting long before reaching the end and with strangers I doubt you will enjoy it. The tone of the experience and some design decisions definitely could be better, but in general I consider that the game fulfills its goal that is to give you fun playing in team and refresh the formula.