Ghost Recon Wildlands sees you team up with up to three buddies, or AI controlled special forces soldiers to take down the Santa Blanca drug cartel, and especially the nasty El Sueno, the mastermind drug lord behind the whole operation. Pretty simple stuff you might think, but this game is HARD. So hard in fact that it saw me and my friends reach for the difficulty setting to drop it down to normal a couple of times. We didn’t though, we’re hard.
The game is set in an incredibly detailed Bolivia. I very much doubt it’s a direct copy of a map, but they’ve certainly borrowed and have been influenced by the architecture and rural landscapes Bolivia has to offer. The map is split up into different provinces, two of which we have completed and others that we’re battling through now. They are what I would call a standard type town, a holiday destination filled with lush villas and beaches, a salt flats area, a desert, a snowy mountainous part and more. Exploration is key, and there is a lot of space to get lost in.
Each area has a set of story missions you need to complete before moving on to the next area. Areas raise in difficulty by the way so make sure you’re equipped to handle it before moving on. Alongside the story missions are dots on the map called intel points. These points could be documents you can photograph, or a person you can interrogate, but ultimately, these points give you information on further side missions and unlocks.
There is a bunch of stuff you are able to unlock ranging from weapon, weapon upgrades and points of interest on your map. There are a large arsenal of weapons at your disposal, able to be equipped from multiple loadout boxes. However, apart from the apparent difference between assault rifles, LMGs and sniper rifles, weapons we found do not perform very differently. It almost feels like aesthetic options rather than a decision to impact your play style.
What is a shame about GRWL is the lack and ability to do anything hugely different from the last thing you just did. Most of the time the game sees you run after some kind of objective, have a gun fight with the bad guys at the objective and move on to the next gun fight and objective. But this, unlike other games of similar caliber doesn’t get boring for some reason. Action is what Ubisoft has done so right. It’s exciting to be able to jump into a helicopter or car, zoom around the Bolivian landscape and take on enemies from several different angles.
One of my favourite, and most used aids to your character is the drone which detects “tangos” in the area for you to track on your map. It’s very similar to Ubisoft’s owl in FarCry Primal. Once you’ve detected the enemies, they appear as orange dots on your HUD. It’s a nice touch to an already difficult game, and a definite advantage if you want to play stealth.
The tech tree again is a nice touch, being able to upgrade various attributes such as the amount of damage you can take before dying, how long the battery lasts in your drone and how many grenades your character can carry. Although again, this didn’t seem to do much to change the scale of battle. You could easily get through the game without ever touching your drone’s stats. Likewise I’ve never even fired a grenade from the launcher I unlocked for my assault rifles. It just doesn’t make much difference.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is beautiful, and full of action. It’s a shame that parts of the game feel very empty, like the tech tree and certain missions. But with that being said, I still found myself going back again and again. I don’t want to put it down, and I certainly am aiming for a full completion, collection all of the documents and intel as well. The game is currently available through Steam for around £39.99 for the entry level game.