Ghost Recon Wildlands' open beta is currently underway, and continues through this weekend until early Monday morning. Despite there being a few server issues yesterday, it seems that things are now running quite smoothly. Hopefully it'll stay that way over the next few days.
Mike and I played the closed beta a few weeks ago, and despite feeling that the game is technically a little rough, we nevertheless enjoyed ourselves. From what I've experienced so far, the open beta feels very similar to the closed beta. I think that's largely because it features the same opening zone of Itacua, and I've essentially been retracing my steps as I've worked through its missions.
What I'm looking forward to is checking out the Montuyoc zone, which wasn't available in the closed beta. I did ponder about going there directly after starting the game, but since its missions seem a lot tougher than the ones in Itacua, I thought it prudent to stick to the starting area and level up there before moving on. Since I'm familiar with Itacua and know how all its missions work, it shouldn't take too long before my squad and I are ready to jump into a vehicle and drive over to the new area.
Speaking of driving, I was intrigued by a Reddit thread posted by mozEXE, who feels that the game's driving has been improved over the closed beta. Like many others who responded on the thread, I don’t particularly agree. From what I've experienced, vehicles largely feel the same as they did before - which isn't brilliant, but they're all drivable. Vehicle dynamics seem to range widely: Some SUVs and off-roaders feel very vague and bouncy as you try to drive them down the road, while other cars are far tighter and can take corners reasonably well.
Regardless of their handling characteristics, I find most vehicles are easy to drive, and Ghost Recon Wildlands is generally very forgiving when it comes to traveling from point to point. As I noted in a feature about driving like an idiot in open-world games, the game enables you to drive off-road and down steep mountains without damaging your car, which is great when you want to take a shortcut to get somewhere. It's not exactly realistic, but it's fun.
What I do have a little trouble with, however, is flying helicopters - and it seems I'm not the only one. I don't have problems getting from place to place – it’s just that I can't seem to fly in a straight line, and instead follow the trajectory of a rollercoaster as I repeatedly climb and descend in an attempt to maintain forward motion. Part of the issue is that there's not much of a sense of speed while flying a helicopter, so sometimes it feels like you're not really moving forward, even when you are.
It seems that the open beta has around seven hours of gameplay, if this Reddit post by 5hoe is anything to go by. He says he and three of his friends worked through both zones, completing every mission and side mission that's available on the Ghost difficulty level – which is pretty impressive. According to his rough calculations, he believes that adds up to a potential 190 hours of gameplay for the final product, but I think he's probably a little off. There are actually 21 zones in the game, rather than the 27 he noted, so based on the assumption that each one takes roughly three to four hours to complete, that adds up to some 60-85 hours of content. That's still pretty impressive.
He goes on to give a really good critique of the game, much of which I heartily agree with. One thing he does say that I found quite interesting is that he feels that the game is too easy. That's definitely not my experience – but then again, I'm playing solo. I'm sure that with a quartet of human players coordinating tactics and strategies together, the game is a lot easier to tackle than it is using AI squad mates, who are sometimes not particularly useful in battle.
Indeed, AI was the subject of another thread that caught my eye, with Belrox complaining that the behavior of some enemies is problematic. I agree with some of what he says. Enemy intelligence can sometimes be a little inconsistent, but for the reasons outlined above, I'm still finding the game challenging to play. That said, enemy AI is very much on my radar, and is something I'll dig into more when I review the game.
What's clear when looking at the Ghost Recon Wildlands community's feedback on the game's open beta is that opinion runs the full gamut from the highly critical to the very positive. While I think that's pretty much normal for a beta, it's obvious that the game isn’t without its flaws. The issues I've outlined throughout this piece are definitely salient and on-point, and with only a couple of weeks until the game launches, Ubisoft Paris has very little time to address them. Still, despite its problems, I'm nevertheless really enjoying the game, and am looking forward to exploring Montuyoc over the weekend.
Look out for our full review of Ghost Recon Wildlands closer to its March 7th release date.