Back in the late 90’s, as a young teenager in the west of Scotland, your recreational time was either drinking on the streets or attending the local under 18’s disco and asking multiple girls throughout the evening to “Nip yer pal”(kiss your friend in English). Although both these activities I had become quite fond of, something was missing from my life.
I discovered Counterstrike in a local Internet cafe, and the days of hiding the smell of stale cider from my parents were behind me, no longer would I be seen with a girl with hooped earrings and rip off tracksuit bottoms, now you would find me amongst the outcasts of the town, all smelling of BO and having underdeveloped social skills, crammed into a small room playing Dust2 on repeat knowing the outside world would not bother them.
This weekend, I felt similarities to myself as a teenager with Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta. Whilst I’ve enjoyed playing popular online games like Overwatch and Rocket League, something remains missing from my gaming life. With the tactics of Rainbow 6 siege, The exploration and RPG qualities of the Division and the world that Far Cry creates around you, Wildlands may just be the Ubisoft game I have been waiting for.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is an open world tactical shooter set in the Tom Clancy universe of the same name. Unlike the future setting of previous titles, Wildlands has you commanding an elite team of soldiers called the Ghosts into current day Bolivia, with the hope of stopping cartels that have assumed control of the country. With a functional character creation introduction and an overdramatized cut scene, I’m ready to see what Bolivia has to offer.
Wildlands looks and feels immediately like an open world Ubisoft game, I was immediately presented with a waypoint on my map of which I had to travel to start a mission. Taking a local 4×4 I proceeded to drive through the country roads with my AI squad in the car admiring the real world setting but already feeling infuriated with the poor driving mechanics the game offered. Like recent other Ubisoft titles, the driving is sluggish when driving slow, and over twitchy when at full speed. Simply the car does not always go where you want it to go and you never feel as fully as in control as you would in GTA5 for example. When I arrive at the waypoint ( a small outpost) I was presented with a small tutorial on how to pilot my drone, by far the game’s most interesting mechanic, pressing up on the D-pad allows you to pilot a drone for a short time in full 360 degrees flight, marking enemies and deciding how to approach the mission ahead. The drone itself has a battery and range of use meaning you have to decide where is best to launch whilst keeping your squad away from danger. I proceed to carefully sneak through the area taking down each enemy with a carefully placed headshot from my silenced pistol, The outpost was mine with little effort.
Character Movement was quite clunky at times. The game has a different cover system to the Division. If your crouching and move near an object that can be utilised for cover, your character will press up against it. And the same goes for walking around corners or peeking around corners, There was some frustration getting used to this after hours in New York. Shooting can be done in either first or third person modes with classic recon ‘shoulder-view’ switching available. I thought this area was very well refined. Including hit-boxes on targets. I Did not experience any target clipping or scenarios where I was shooting targets but was not registering. Overall the game has some of the most satisfying shooting of any game I have played recently.
When I noticed my friends coming online, I decided to invite a few of them to join me in Bolivia. The Co-op play that the game is intended for has it’s the best moments. Hours were lost as we slowly made our way through the beta’s missions including defence of a radio transmitter, freeing a hostage and a predictable fetch quest, liberating outposts and flying helicopters to our next objective. At no point did we have any connection issues and the joining to the squad was seamless and easy to activate.
Overall I have enjoyed my time in the jungles of Bolivia. the beta left me satisfied and turned a game that I may have picked up, to a game I cannot wait for. I may not be the King of the internet cafe anymore, but when Wildlands releases I will be king of the jungle.