Ubisoft has its fair share of open world games, and for the most part they do a great job of making those open worlds enjoyable to explore, while giving you tons of activities to keep you hooked to the game. And Ghost Recon Wildlands is a definitely a good open world game. It’s not without its faults, many of which have been repeated in past Ubisoft games. However, the game is fun, looks absolutely fantastic, and might be the biggest, most dynamic open world game Ubisoft has made yet.
Set in Bolivia, the you play as one of four Ghosts, while the other three can either be AI controlled or or controlled by up to three other players to play the game cooperatively. Your mission is to take down the narco hierarchy in Bolivia, primarily the Santa Blanca cartel, by eliminating its leaders and finally the head, El Sueno. Let me just say this straight up that the story is forgettable. You’re basically there to fuck shit up, and the main fun of the game is by getting creative in doing so.
And this is where the core difference in Ghost Recon Wildlands and previous Ghost Recon games comes up. While the previous games strongly emphasized strategic and tactical gameplay with strict penalties for not doing so, Wildlands allows you to be stealthy, but if you want to, you could go all out and wreck havoc all over the place. The usual arsenal of weapons is complimented by an array of gadgets, accessories, and tons of customization.
Playing it stealthy was my favorite way of playing Wildlands, but when I did have to resort to a gunfight, the game never felt lacking in that regard. And that’s not an easy thing to pull off. Vehicle chases across long stretches, with helicopters in the sky can get really intense, and are a ton of fun. However, quiet moments of scoping out an enemy outpost, tagging targets, syncing shots to take them out silently were also extremely satisfying.
The overall map is immense, bigger than even Grand Theft Auto V’s, and has different eco-systems, ranging from jungles, grasslands, tundras, salt flats, and more. There are main missions that will take you across all of these regions, along with tons of side missions littered all over the map. While the main missions are where the set-piece moments happen, for the most part a lot of these side activities are fun, and act as enjoyable diversions. Apart from the cartel, you’ll come across the corrupt law enforcement who will come after you for creating a ruckus. Then there are the rebels who will seek your help in supporting their cause.
The gameplay truly stands out when everything just fits together, and works well. Sadly, because of the game’s scope and ambition, it does not always do that. AI companions can disappear, while you still hear their dumb jokes played out as if they were sitting in the vehicle with you. Other open world jank pops up all over the place which can severely break immersion. None of that is game breaking, but definitely contributes to an inconsistent overall experience.
The level of openness is staggering though. Getting from place to place on foot, cars, helicopters, and parachutes is easy to do. Weapons feel great to use, and stealth options are many. This truly is the biggest, most open and diverse Ubisoft game. It has just enough to justify being a full priced AAA game, and that’s just not enough in the rich landscape of video games in 2017.