Ghost Recon Wildlands is a Blast, Even When the Mission Goes South

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Ghost Recon Wildlands is a Blast, Even When the Mission Goes South

A VIP finally tipped us off about the drop location.

He had been stationed at a small farm off a dirt road, a mountain looming on the horizon. Our task: approach silently, eliminate the relatively small security force assigned to the VIP, and escort him back to base for questioning.

My squad of four waited for darkness to cover the valley before we began our approach. My drone skimmed overhead to tag possible targets. With everyone marked, my crew moved in fast and I eliminated the main sentry with a silenced rifle. The squad took position. I aimed down the scope. I pulled the trigger… and my bullet ricocheted off the windmill right above the enemy’s head, alerting the entire group. Oops.

This encounter — or some variation of it — is central to Ghost Recon Wildlands. You’re presented with a massive open world filled with outposts, VIPs, and missions, and given the choice to approach them any way you want.

You can go loud, dropping explosives, lobbing grenades, and firing assault rifles until no one is left standing. You can go quiet, knocking out non-essential targets and pave your way to the payload. Or you can plan to go quiet, wait for everything to go to hell, then get very loud while escaping for your life. That seemed to be what happened for me in my limited hands-on time with the game. It wasn’t quite as clean as we had planned, but we got our intel and witnessed some beautiful mayhem.

Wildlands is the first Ghost Recon game on PS4, and the first game in the franchise to feature a truly open world. After spending a few minutes with it, you can see the comparisons to Ubisoft’s other open world ensembles, including Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. Wildlands is set in a sprawling, unstable Bolivia where multiple factions struggle for power and try to resist the increasing influence of the Santa Blanca drug cartel.

The map seemed truly huge from the limited time we had with the game. Flying over hillsides in our (stolen) helicopter, you could see for miles across rich jungles and open plains, even to some snowy peaks. And as you might expect, the world is filled with stuff to do. Raid outposts, steal and tag supplies to gain favor with the locals, and maybe stumble across some intriguing opportunities: an enticing convoy of oil tankers, a piece of intel leading to a high-value target, or some weapon upgrades. Of course there are weapon upgrades.

The gunsmith is back, letting you customize gear to your heart’s extent. Unlock and add on various scopes, suppressors, stabilizers, extended mags, and grenade launchers to a huge variety of rifles, pistols, and machine guns. Make sure you pick a paint job that suits your personality, too. The customization extends to your character’s appearance: choose gender, hair style, tattoos, and outfit, and then invest in skill trees to emphasize drone, shooting, or driving abilities.

The sheer number of systems at play — especially the land and air vehicles, along with squad mechanics — means the potential for mayhem is high, and often results in hilarious, memorable moments. The tone of the overarching narrative is certainly serious, but the player created stories in moment-to-moment combat can run the full gamut from tragedy to comedy.

Although I only scratched the surface of the main missions, I was excited by the potential I saw. The world is rich, the game looks beautiful (we played on PS4 Pro, so no surprise there), and the co-op opportunities seem limitless. Ghost Recon Wildlands is out on PS4 in March, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of exceptional shared clips coming out of this…

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