Review: Ghost Recon: Wildlands (PS4)
Back in the early 2000’s the Ghost Recon series was hailed as one of the best tactical shooters on the market. People loved the fact that missions took place in wide open areas and you could tinker with almost every aspect of a mission from the type of ammo you wanted to use to exactly how you wanted to approach your objective. The series lost a bit of that realism over the years and it started to feel more like a generic cover-based shooter that was less tactical than a barrel of dried peaches. A reboot of the franchise was desperately needed and it looks like Ghost Recon: Wildlands has stepped in to do the necessary wetwork.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast
The game sees you take control of your very own operator that you can fully customize. Once your operator looks like a gear magnet that just ran through a few army bases it is time to head out to the beautiful vistas of Bolivia. Bolivia may look gorgeous but thanks to a powerful drug cartel known as the Santa Blanca it is not a place to stop and take a selfie. The Santa Blanca rule over the land with a heavy hand, controlling local law enforcement and even the military to become a Narco-State and the biggest producer of Cocaine on the planet. The cartels arrogance and influence keeps spreading until eventually they blow up a U.S Embassy in the region forcing the United States to break their silence and get boots on the ground.
Instead of sending in hundreds of troops into the country causing an international incident they implement Operation Kingslayer, a joint operation between the CIA and DEA designed to dismantle the cartel from the inside out. A covert op such as this one calls for a team that can be invisible but get the job done and so the Ghost team is sent in.
What happens in Bolivia stays in Bolivia
Ghost Recon: Wildlands was designed around playing co-op with up to three friends and forming your own fire team. I played a few games online with some buddies and had an absolute blast. We might not have been the stealthiest Ghost team ever but we all had big grins on our faces at the end of a play session. The game’s design leads to plenty of opportunities to work as a four-man unit, one mission saw me do nothing but control the drone to tag enemies and direct the other three guys on the ground. Batman would have been jealous at how stealthy we were being ’til I accidentally hit the grenade button and blew our cover, literally – it wasn’t the first time either.
Stealth Grenades for the win
The online experience was a thoroughly enjoyable one but what surprised me the most is how much fun the game is to play by yourself. Usually games designed around co-op feel lackluster when you team up with AI but Ghost Recon: Wildlands manages to be just as fun with friends as it is with your AI buddies. You can give the AI basic commands as well as use the sync shot system that when used properly leads to some very satisfying head shots. The region of Bolivia is massive and as you would expect there are plenty of things to do outside of the main story to help you level up your operator and acquire the best gear.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is certainly a good-looking game thanks to its beautiful landscapes and vistas that push the boundaries in terms of detail and draw distance when it comes to open world games. I was surprised at how well the game ran on PS4 after playing it on a beefy PC rig as well which saw massive framerate dips to the point where the game was difficult to control. The PS4 has none of these issues and you can expect a smooth 30 FPS for most for the experience. Audio is also very impressive, rattle off a few AR rounds in a valley and you will hear the gun fire echo for miles. You get the feeling that every weapon sound was captured from its real life counterpart and it really make a big difference in the game because the weapons sound as violent as they are deadly.
The Ghost Recon games of the early 2000’s prided itself on realism and accuracy and I can see that the developers wanted to take the series back to that. Weapons sound and react very realistically with bullet drop playing a big role when it comes to pushing distance. All the weapons deal damage the way you would expect them to with a single well-placed shot to an enemy’s chest dropping them straight to the ground. Even big brands in the tactical apparel world such as 5.11 are present in the game which was a pleasant surprise because most real-world operators trust 5.11 gear to perform in any conditions.
The Pew Pew life
I have been a massive fan of games like Rainbow Six, SWAT and Ghost Recon for years because they consider things like realistic bullet penetration and velocity in their games and I am happy to report that Wildlands is no different.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands has left me more than a little satisfied and I couldn’t be happier with the new direction the developers have taken. The open world Ubisoft formula works very well in a game like Wildlands and as a co-op experience you will be hard pressed to find something as fun to play with friends cooperatively.
A strong narrative coupled with a massive and hostile open world as well as more guns and gear that you could shake an ammo box at makes Ghost Recon: Wildlands a must play for fans. Even as a newcomer to the series consider yourself lucky that you get to jump in with Wildlands because it really is one of the best games in the franchise to date. No fun is lost online or offline and you will truly feel like a Tier 1 operator as you tear through Bolivia kicking ass, for me that is a Mission Accomplished.