The Ghost Recon series has been around for quite a long time now and Wildlands is its biggest diversion yet. While the series has always offered open maps with the option to approach any way you see fit, Ghost Recon Wildlands offers one of the largest open world games I’ve ever seen in a shooter giving you tons to play around with and do so with up to three friends. In the end, the game may have lost some of those intense operations but has been replaced by some of the most fun and dumb (in all the right ways) combat I’ve played in the series to date.
Set in Bolivia, you are tasked with taking down the drug cartel across 21 distinct areas. How you approach taking down these leaders is entirely up to you. Each region leader has a difficulty attached to it but you are free to go right for the biggest challenge from the beginning. This means the entire world is open from the beginning and it is massive in scale. Initially, it seemed like this huge world would be the game’s biggest downfalls and size would trump quality and eventually become monotonous as everything will look the same.
However, each region manages to feel different with different types of scenery keeping things fresh. One area may be mountainous with small villages littered throughout will others will feature massive salt flats and others feature bigger city-like locales. It honestly never gets boring throughout it’s 30-40 hour stint.
In true Ubisoft fashion, the map is littered with things to do and collect. Thankfully, everything means something and will offer you with either supplies to upgrade your character and team or will even unlock skill points that is also needed to upgrade. There’s something so easy about playing Wildlands where you can clean up the map, collecting resources, picking up skills points, finding new weapons and attachments, and ultimately improving your character.
The game can be played solo or with up to three other players online. When playing by yourself you are teamed up with three A.I. characters. They aren’t terrible but the dialogue during combat and scouting is pretty obnoxious. While profanity is fine, here it just sounds ridiculous, like trying to find new ways to call bad guys names by randomly putting two words together or adding a word onto a general swear word. It comes off as a teenager trying to sound interesting and it goes about as well as you can imagine.
Playing online with others though is where the game really shines. The developers know this too as you are prompted to join a public group every few minutes when playing alone. What’s unique about this though is that you do not have to stick together and can be on opposite sides of the map. Playing together also gives you access to the fast travel locations others have unlocked meaning it becomes a joint effort, even if you are not actively playing close to them. It also gives a chance to create to some emergent storytelling moments when things go awry.
And that feeling is amplified when playing with friends – just don’t expect some serious structure and execution. Ghost Recon Wildlands is at its best when everything goes to hell and this will happen quite often and the frustrations of failing to pull off a stealthy infiltration is mitigated almost immediately when it devolves into pure fun.
There are plenty to do in Ghost Recon Wildlands. While the story is laughably bad and the dialogue cringingly annoying, the core gameplay is a ton of fun. It does come with its list of janky movement and myriad of bugs but none of them detract too much from the fun and ultimately that fun is all Ghost Recon Wildlands has. It’s not the perfect execution but rather a few strayed bullets that’s hit an explosive barrel. You’ll clean up the mess that ensues but will probably be smiling the entire time.