Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands Review
Light the match. Burn the Santa Blanca Cartel to the ground. Nobody will know who held the Flame.
From the get-go, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands boldly states; Some are Soldiers, We are Ghosts. Do not overlook this. It is not just a clever payoff line. It means a great deal and should already tell you how you should be playing the game. Developed by Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment (A Ubisoft Studio known for Tom Clancy’s Division), I took part in the Closed Beta and the Open Beta, and I am well pleased with the final version, which I have been playing since 3 March 2017. As a long-standing fan of the Tom Clancy Series, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is how I have always expected a Ghost Recon game to play out. The true experience in the game comes from remaining undetected, plus it rewards you with Double XP for completing your objectives (if you were not already force-fed enough on the stealth emphasis of the game).
The Solo Campaign
The setting of Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes place in Bolivia, in which you get to fight your way through 21 Provinces, one of which is Itacua (starting zone), as you destabilize The Santa Blanca Cartel. They have self elected themselves as the ruling Government, oppressing locals into growing and culturing Cocaine for them. The Santa Blanca are led by the ruthless badass, El Sueño, who is better recognized by everyone as the “baddy” with the cross tattoo’d over his face. (See the War Within the Cartel “Baddy” List)
Destabilizing the Cartel is split into effecting four “wings” of their operations from within, namely Security, Influence, Production and Smuggling. When you start off in Itacua, your main targets (Buchon’s) for the region are a sadistic couple, originally surgeons from local clinics, now hired to use their knowledge of the human body to brutally exploit the human pain barriers through ruthless torture. This falls into the Security Wing of the Cartel, as mentioned, which is being overseen by La Yuri and El Polito. The main reason for starting in this zone, is due to one of your undercover agents being brutally murdered by this couple, which initiated Operation Kingslayer (bringing down the Cartel).
As the Ghost Squad, you have many powerful weapons of war at your disposal. You are an elite team of individuals with highly sought after skills. In the beginning it is advised to spend your Skill Points quickly to level up your Character’s Skills and devices, like the Recon Drone. You can also upgrade and completely customize your weapons to suit your play-style.
Along with your “passive” skills you connect with the local Rebel Force, the Kataris 26, who you aid by securing resources and supplies for, and in trade, you unlock their aid by calling for forces to join you in combat, raining down a Mortar Shower on your foes or even calling for a vehicle at any time during play.
While you drive a vehicle through an enemy camp, you can order your Ghost Squad to Assault enemies by leaning out of the windows and opening fire, which is especially useful when taking on a Convoy or taking out those pesky Snipers. Each of these skills can also be upgraded to be more lethal as you progress.
Zones and Play-Styles
Briefly mentioned above, each province is under the control of a Buchon within the Cartel, which eventually leads you to the “Head Honcho” running the main wing. With Security, that Head of Operation is El Muro, who was El Sueño’s best childhood friend. The Security wing has 5 Provinces. The Influence wing has 4 Provinces. The Production wing has 4 Provinces and the Smuggling wing has 6 Provinces. If you are counting you will notice there are 2 remaining Provinces, and these are Optional zones within the game, which I have yet to discover, as I have at the time of writing this review, only destabilized the Cartel by 21%.
As if dealing with the Santa Blanca Cartel was not difficult enough, they have enlisted the skills of the “local muscle” and formed a group called The Unidad, who are basically an army that “tolerate” the Cartel as long as they do not fight within their ranks. Kind-of like a, “sure, we will look the other way as long as you leave us be” situation within Bolivia. Let it be known, these guys are not to be messed with, and you really need to plan your strategies properly if you are forced to enter one of their compounds to question one of their officials.
Each Province is filled with useful content to uniquely aid in leveling up your Ghost, items like Weapon Cases (I got a Sniper Rifle Bro!), Accessory Cases, Skill Points and Bonus Medals. Then you also have a few side missions you can tackle for the Kataris 26 to boost you reputation with the locals. While you play, the game is gathering information on how you play, and slots you into one of three Play-Styles, either Stealth, Assault or a combination of both, but I am classified as a Gunslinger. You also get a few other titles like, Ranger, Commando, Gurkha, Overwatch and Scout. These all are based on your Average Kill Distance and Tactical vs Stealth Kill Ratio, mine being 32m and 35% vs 31% respectively. These statistics are updated every 15 minutes, to help you monitor your game-play.
Lastly, there is a store that you can access via your Character Screen under the Skills Tab. You do this by going to the Boosters Activation Option and then purchasing credits, which you can then use to buy all sorts of treats, including the Season Pass.
Multi-Player and Co-Op
There is not a dedicated Multi-Player Mode, but rather at any point in the game, you can access the Public Matchmaking Mode or create a Private Squad and carry on with your missions without your AI Ghost Squad and have them replaced with either random players or three of your “friends list” buddies.
I had a lot of fun today playing alongside a group of players from Egypt. We made a really good team and with the use of our mic’s, we literally burnt the Cartel to the ground at a rapid pace. Communication is key though, as you no longer have your “Rally On Me” or “Open Fire” commands like you do in the Solo Campaign, and timing your insertion and distractions are vital. We found ourselves deep within Production Territory and had to stick close together, otherwise being overrun would have been an inevitable fate. As you can see by the screenshot, we barely got out in one piece with a chopper, which is very tricky to maneuver while piloting.
The Matchmaking System functions very well and does not interfere with your game while you are in the cue. Waiting times are relatively short, which is refreshing for online games these days, as many of them make you wait for ages. Could it be due to the popularity of the game or rather a testament to a properly planned out server structure?
Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands was released today, 7 March 2017 and has rapidly gained a vast amount of players. The graphics are rich and stunning while roaming and exploring the sandbox terrain of Bolivia. The sound is fine tuned and very unique, making you feel like you are really in what is described in the game as a Narco State. I did not experience any massive bugs other than realizing, you should not accidentally land a chopper in water, because the propellers suck the vehicle into the depths and your Ghosts deploy their parachutes and just hang around above the water (lol).
The game is available at BT Games on PlayStation 4 and on Xbox One for R899.00. I am not afraid to state, this game is worth the cash. It is wildly enjoyable and well rounded. Call me bias for being a Tom Clancy fan if you want, but Ghost Recon: Wildlands will stay on my “To Play” list for a long time to come.