Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Impressions of the Beta

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( Thanks to Ubisoft for sending me a code for this closed beta. Many thanks.) 

Part of the allure that comes with the Ghost Recon brand is the exotic locations, as well as the stealth options and sneakiness that comes as part of the game. In order to be a part of the United States Special Forces, you must remain hidden and be secret. Your name will never be revealed, and nobody will know of your existence except for the US Government, and lastly your work will never be recognized as your fellow soldiers in the Armed Forces. But on the upside, you get to travel to the most exotic of places and get to assassinate the most colorful of people.

For this next installment, Ubisoft is pulling out all of the cards and returning Ghost Recon to the days of Jungle Storm and Island Thunder where stealth and getting the jump on your foes is key to surviving. Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes place in South America, in a nation where it’s known for it’s beautiful vistas and breathtaking animals. Instead, of spending time with For Honor, I chose my time with Ghost Recon: Wildlands within the closed beta that’s going on right now, what follows is my one hour hands on with the game:

During my time with the game, I took part in some pretty cool scenarios within the game and I got to spend an hour with my best friend and got to play co-op with him and these moments made me excited for the game’s release next month. The best part of the game is that you can make your character unique and your own, I care about character creations within games like Fallout or Mass Effect but Ghost Recon’s character creator is unique, it has tons of awesome options that range from hair, beard, facial structure, and equipment. Multiple camos and colors make an appearance here, these options are available for every single item, and these options also range out to locked items that you get from completing missions and you can also gain access to the character customization in caches that are scattered throughout the world.

I spent like 20 minutes messing around with the character creation, I decided to roll with a male operator that looks like a Delta Force badass. My character had equipment and looked the part of a member of Delta Force before I rolled with my friend , the impressive amount of character customization items made this the most enjoyable character creations I’ve used since Fallout 4.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands embraces the open world tactical realism of the first couple games, like Jungle Storm or Island Thunder but also in many ways, it’s loose and more action focused. This entry is a mix between Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Ghost Recon 2 set in a massive open world where you can go anywhere and do anything. For example, it was night time and my friend and I stumbled upon a camp which we had to destroy, it had tons of enemies, I marked them and played the sniper role as my friend went in and tried to evade the enemies.

I took out a sniper rifle and attached the suppressor on it, and waited on his mark. Shot after shot rang out in the dark, the enemies were confused and he set the explosives and as soon as he did, he was spotted and reinforcements arrived to take him out. I took them out with a sniper, this time without the suppressor attached and he hopped into a vehicle to come get me. As soon as I hopped in, enemies were chasing us and we were driving and shooting as we went on the road. This became one of my favorite parts of Ghost Recon: Wildlands. While he was driving, I was gunning out of the passenger seat and with a press of a button,  I was doing a drive-by until my friend crashed the vehicle in a tree. It’s exhilarating to do a drive-by, because the shooting feels really good.

As a longtime fan of Ghost Recon, dating back to the OG titles like Jungle Storm and Island Thunder and a hater of bullet-sponge enemies, I can say that the combat this isn’t like The Division’s and the enemies aren’t bullet-sponges. The combat here is reminiscent of the older titles, instead of the 2013 title.

The combat is highly tactical and brutal, with some killer melee animations. Headshots kill, so do chest shots, you don’t need to unload a full clip like in The Division here. You can sneak into camps or recon the camp, much like Jungle Storm where you have to be silent and coordinate with your team, it’s definitely a callback to Jungle Storm or the older titles from two generations ago, like Ghost Recon 2. Combat is easy and if you snap to aiming down the sights, you’ll be drawn into a first person view but you can snap back out of it and return to third person view, it’s seamless.

My complaint for now is the cover system, which is automatic and doesn’t work as well. I was hoping that this game would take lessons from The Division and it’s cover system, the cover system in the Division is very fluid, smooth, and is easy to snap in and snap out of cover. It’s one of my favorite aspects of The Division, it’s kinda disappointing to not see that smooth feature implented but I hope once the game releases next month, it will change and reflect more of The Division’s mechanics.

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The scope of Ghost Recon: Wildlands is huge, it’s the largest open world that Ubisoft has ever created in their games. In the closed beta, there is a small section of the map that is accessible and the game is doing smart things, it’s a very large and very big world where you can do anything and go anywhere. It’s impressive.

Different landscapes comes with different gameplay mechanics. For example, do you want to take a peek at that camp over there or see what’s at that airfield, climb on a top of a rock and take out a small drone that’s able to tag enemies in a Splinter Cell: Conviction sort of way and go in stealthily. If your objective is in the forest, you can crawl along the earth in a ghillie suit and take our enemies in a way that is very reminiscent of Jungle Storm.

I’m really liking this new Ghost Recon, it’s been a while since Future Soldier released and I didn’t really like that game and didn’t enjoy what the series was becoming, but I’m glad that Ubisoft is taking a smart approach to this and returning the franchise back to it’s roots.

Make sure to tune in next week for my thoughts on the closed beta.

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