When I heard we were getting a new Ghost Recon game for the first time since 2012 (2014’s Phantoms doesn’t count), I was beyond excited.Tactical stealth action gameplay is something you don’t often see in modern gaming, and this Tom Clancy series is one of the best at it. So you can imagine my disappointment when the game I played was more akin to Far Cry than Ghost Recon. While it wasn’t terrible, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands felt like more of the same from Ubisoft.
My time with the pre-alpha build of Wildlands involved a team of two other people trying the game for the first time and an Ubisoft Rep giving me instructions through a head set. This wasn’t the most ideal set-up, but we were still a team, and we had a job to do. Our mission was to hunt down some guy wearing a hat to get a cache of documents. To make that happen, my team and I had to coordinate with each other to actually figure out who to take out, when to take them out, and how to do it. This led to a car chase to another spot where we interrogated him and went to find the intel. We then went to another base and did the exact same thing.
This is obviously a pretty basic rundown of the mechanics, but then this isn’t a particularly deep game. Yeah, your team might need to be on the same page, but in the chaos of it all, I found myself to be alone pretty often without fear of any real danger. Maybe that’s because it didn’t feel like an actual Ghost Recon game.
From the base invasions to the car chases, Wildlands feels like another generic Ubisoft open world game. I fear the game will get repetitive and worse yet, boring. I got some flashbacks of Just Cause 3 and its way of taking over bases. The only difference here is Just Cause is known for over-the-top explosions, whereas this title doesn’t get anywhere close to that level of insanity. My biggest fear is that by changing the direction of the series to something like this, Ubisoft has lost what made the series work so well. I can’t see this being something that I could play for hours. In fact, my time with the demo may have turned me off of it all together.
While a lot has changed, it’s not all bad. To start, the game supports single player and 4-player co-op (the latter is what I played). When playing with others, you can have some fun planning out your moves and how you’ll execute them, while playing alone could mean a whole different experience (I can’t really speak to that as I didn’t play that mode). Aside from that, I tried out the drone feature, which adds another level of tactical combat by allowing players to get a better read on where their enemies are stationed.
There’s also driving. While I didn’t have many issues with how it controlled, it just felt so out of place. Granted, it’s needed because the map is the largest Ubisoft’s ever created, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a Ghost Recon game and thought, “this needs a good car chase”. Vehicles are not just limited to cars; we drove motorcycles, jeeps, and even helicopters. I wouldn’t be shocked if you can take cars from civilians either. I pointed my gun at one driver and he got out of his car and ran, so they seem to have some kind of fear for you.
Overall, I just didn’t have a good time here. There’s so much promise of greatness, but its large map and new features feel like forced talking points rather than something necessary or original. I feel ambivalent about my time with this game, and that it’s Ghost Recon by name only.