Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Review – Open World Guerrilla Warfare

The much anticipated release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is finally upon us. We spent all weekend playing and you can read our review to find out what we though of it.

The Ghost Recon series has seen nine previous installments, dating back to 2001, and most releases were reviewed favorably. The series has always been a third person tactical shooter, with first person aiming and a wide variety of firearms to choose from. Stealth has also always been an option for game play and Wildlands follows this same formula and adds in a huge open world map. The series had been moving progressively farther and farther into the future, with the last release making it to 2024 and, in turn, had some not-quite available tech and weapons in use. Developer Ubisoft Paris decided to come back to the present, somewhat (2019 anyway), and in turn decided to go with present weapons that are currently readily available on battlefields around the world.

The game takes place in Bolivia in July 2019. The country has become increasingly unstable as the Santa Blanca, a previously minor Mexican drug cartel, gains more power and influence within the county to the point where Bolivia has become a narco-state and the world’s largest producer of cocaine. The rise in power of this drug cartel concerns the United States Government, as Santa Blanca’s influence has begun to spread beyond Bolivia. The last straw comes when a bomb targets the U.S. embassy in La Paz and its intended target, DEA agent Ricardo “Ricky” Sandoval, is kidnapped, tortured and then killed by the Santa Blanca.As a result, the United States initiates Operation Kingslayer, a joint operation between the CIA, DEA and JSOC, whose goal is to take down Santa Blanca cartel.

The story itself is well written, with deep characters and plot lines that could very well be seen in real world situations (it is a work of fiction, though). From the top of the chain, and all the way down to the bottom, each cartel character’s backstory led you to feel little remorse for their final outcome, and a few of these folks deserved much worse. There was one dim witted fella that we almost felt sorry for due to his low IQ, but his apparent lack of morals was enough to outweigh any feelings of empathy we may have had.

The game is meant to be played with up to three friends in multiplayer co-op, but that shouldn’t give the developer an excuse to not give us some backstory for our AI teammates if we decide to go it alone. These three guys should be our closest friends in the world since we are living with them 24/7, but yet we have no real interactions with them in-game. other than directing them where to go and what to do. The AI seems competent enough as long as you give them simple directions, but we felt they should have at least had some friendly banter with ‘inside joke’ type of feelings. In a game with such a great story, the developer missed the mark on this one point.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is first and foremost a tactical shooter. With that being said, it’s also so much more than that. The game being set in a huge open world, with an upgradeable character, team, weapons, and gadgets makes the game seem more like a true RPG than any shooter we’ve ever played, with maybe the exception of the Metal Gear series. Your character starts out fully competent, but earning or finding and spending skill points will make your soldier even better. Things like Increasing stamina, steadier aim and stealthier running, to name a few, make your soldier a better all around killer. Having teammates that are tougher and can revive you faster is always a plus, and you can spend skill points on them as well.

A soldier is only effective if he or she has good intel and can recon areas in advance of any attack. You are given a basic drone to start with that is fully upgradeable and can eventually become lethal. Its range and battery life are limited to begin with, but once you start spending those skill points, the thing should become a major strategy tool as you’ll be able to mark up to three enemies for a Sync Shot (where you and all three of your teammates take out four bad guys at once), or you can just find and track all enemies in a given location, allowing you to stealthily move through that area. Your drone is probably the second most important tool at your disposal, second only to your firearm of choice, so you might want to get that thing upgraded as quick as possible.

Whether you decide to go it alone or play co-op with friends online, you can also have the rebels backing you up in a variety of ways by completing side missions. These folks can bring you cars and choppers, launch mortar attacks, fight along side you, or help you spot all of the bad guys in a given location. Finding and completing all of the side missions for these Rebel Ops makes your rebels stronger and gives you access to more and better items. All you have to do to find these missions is to find a Lieutenant and force him to spill the beans, or find a laptop to hack, or just ask a friendly citizen with inside information. 

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is the first game in the series to have side missions, and if you are a completionist, you will be busy for quite some time. Side missions are unlocked by finding intel and interrogating the Lieutenants we mentioned. The intel can also reveal hidden skill points and Rebel Ops as well as gun cases containing special weapons and bonus medals that grant you improved stats. You could just bull rush your way through the game, just completing the story missions, and be done pretty quick, or you could take your time and find all of these missions, completing them as you go. Most people will probably fall somewhere in between, but finding those skill points and bonus medals should be a top priority.

Upgrades also require different resources such as fuel, food, medicine and communication tools. these things can be found all over Bolivia and you’ll need to tag these items for the rebels to come pick up. If you have time to kill and aren’t able to jump in the full game, there’s a cool mobile app called Ghost Recon Wildlands HQ for iOS and Android, that you can earn unlocks and resources in, and then send those resources and items into the game via your local network. The guerilla game is text based and ties into the main storyline. While it’s not necessary to know the info in the mobile game, having the extra resources sent into the full game is a plus.

The world of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is huge. Luckily for us there are plenty of vehicles to get around in and these range from dirt bikes to small planes, to full on Blackhawk like helicopters. Getting across the map can take a while if you are trying to drive a car or a truck, but jump in a chopper and you’ll be flying across it in no time. Unlock the parachute and you can drop in on a target quickly and effectively, and if it’s dark, quietly and unseen. Attack choppers can be an effective weapon as well, but beware of the ground based defenses in some more advanced areas of Bolivia. Surface to air missiles are around and that’s not usually something you want flying towards you.

Ghost Recon Wildlands HQ Mobile

The graphics for the game are gorgeous with a level of detail that brings the county of Bolivia to life. From the snow capped peaks, to the creeks and rivers of the valleys, the game really looks and feels like it’s set in a living, breathing country.

Developer Ubisoft Paris has taken a well known franchise and redefined it. Instead of moving farther into the future, they created a present day country, in the throws of a revolution, and dropped you right into the middle of it, and we are glad they did. Well done Ubisoft Paris. Well done.