Ghost Recon Wildlands is Great, But Single-Player Details are Slim

Ghost Recon Wildlands is Great, But Single-Player Details are Slim

The next Ghost Recon is shaping up nicely, but single-player is still a big question mark.

E3 is over, but you can catch all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

Ghost Recon Wildlands is taking the franchise in a new direction: open-world. This time the Ghosts are in Bolivia looking to dismantle the drug empire of El Sueno. To do so, they have to take down El Sueno's operation piece by piece, hitting his lieutenants. This means using anything at your disposal and handling situations how you see fit. Across 11 total environments, you'll plan attacks on El Sueno, using a ton of weapons, 60 vehicles, and even turning the time of day to your advantage.

Ubisoft's presentation of Ghost Recon Wildlands onstage seemed overly serious, playing up the hard tactical angle. And the game can be played that way. Ghost Recon Wildlands allows for drop-in, drop-out cooperative play for up to four players and progression is shared between single-player and online play. If you have a super-serious hardcore group of friends, you'll get that Ghost Recon experience.

But it's really fun to just go all out and see what you can do.

The first time I played through Ghost Recon Wildlands E3 2016 demo, my group of media professionals finished the two available missions in record time. The first mission involves interrogating a low-level criminal about some information, first taking out his bodyguards. Then it's up to your team to infiltrate a compound and steal that information. When we finished, the Ubisoft team leader even mention that he had tried to sabotage our mission, but had failed because we adapted.

The second time, we went in weapons hot. While our Ubisoft team leader is marking targets with his helpful aerial drone, I run in and start firing. I believe he's yelling something about "Civilians", but I'm too busy with shock and awe. The target gets in a truck and bolts, so I chase him on a bike while the rest of my team commandeers a Jeep and SUV. I run full tilt into the gas station our target is trying to hide in (why would you do that if you're being chased by men with guns?), slam the bike chest first into a guy and throw a grenade into the balcony above. That's three enemies down.

I find our target and interrogate him. Reinforcements arrive and in the firefight, one of my team lights the entire gas station on fire. (Ghosts are silent and deadly?) We bail out in a helicopter, heading to the second mission site, which is some distance away. Our Ubisoft tour guide is pointing out different nearby regions and from above, digital Bolivia looks great.

Our helicopter starts to take a nosedive and fall out of the sky. Before we crash, I figure out that's because I'm the pilot and while playing with buttons, I have switched to the passenger seat, meaning no one was flying the helicopter. We survive though, thanks to my quick thinking. (Read: Hitting the button so I became the pilot again.)

From the helicopter, we skydive into an advantageous position near the compound. I think I was supposed to land the helicopter while everyone else parachuted in, but where's the fun in that? Where did the helicopter go? Did it land on some unwitting citizen of digital Bolivia? Maybe a sheep? Ah well.

Last time we handled this compound, there was a lot of sneaking. I sniped the guards in towers, snuck behind enemy lines to disable the mortar, freed some rebels, and ultimately recovered the data we came for. This time, one of our team gets spotted immediately, touching down on the wrong side of the compound. I try to help with with my sniper rifle, but that paints a big target on my head. Alarms go up and we're all in. What follows is ducking in and out of buildings, taking shots at enemies with my assault rifle. Ghost 2 goes down in a hail of bullets, but Ghost Leader (our Ubisoft dev) comes to the rescue, bringing him back to life.

The cartel calls in its own reinforcements in the form of an attack helicopter. From behind a building I lob a grenade inside of the heli. Boom goes the dynamite. Ghost 3 gets the data, while I acquire a nice truck for us. Our exfiltration is as loud and explosive as our infiltration, with our truck careening through a stone wall into a farm. I think we're supposed to be helping the citizens?

Ghost Recon is a ton of fun with people who are on the same page, like your group of friends. The big question mark is what if you don't have a ready-made group of friends for the game? Explanations about Ghost Recon's AI and control schemes for single-player have been missing in action. There's drop-in, drop-out coop, but how do you handle the other Ghosts if you have a group of friends that may not player Ghost Recon: Wildlands? Will it have a Mark and Execute system like the previous few GR titles?

If I get the chance to play Ghost Recon Wildlands with a full compliment of friends, I will, but when it's 2am and I'm all by myself? I'd like to be able to count on fellow Ghosts, even if they're controlled by the game itself. The squad is the Ghost Recon experience, so Ubisoft has to let me know if the squad will work regardless of human/AI composition.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on March 7, 2017.

E3 is over, but you can catch all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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