E3 2016 – Hands on: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Leading contender for longest video game title at E3 Ubisoft’s latest Tom Clancy branded venture, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, was one of the first I saw this year. On display at both Microsoft’s and Ubi’s booths the game was clearly a major drawcard for many attendees and reminiscent of The Division’s early showings in alpha builds in years gone by.

Set in modern day Bolivia Wildlands places you in an enormous open-world environment where you and your elite Ghost team are at war with a military backed Colombian drug cartel called “Santa Blanca”. It’s open world is a far cry (no pun intended) from the series’ former direction and in changing tact allows the player the opportunity to approach each mission from a variety of different angles.

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The size of the game’s map is ridiculous. It’s daunting size and sheer magnitude makes the introduction of a variety of vehicles more than welcome. Cars, trucks, motorbikes and even the odd chopper are all at your disposal to facilitate your travel amongst the amazingly diverse and gorgeously rendered Bolivian countryside.

The game is damn gorgeous too! I feel like I’ve said that about everything I’ve seen this year but what they’re able to do with years-old tech that’s in current-gen consoles is incredible. What The Division has done for inner-city Wildlands is set to do for the country side and they’re certainly not short on environments to tackle. The Bolivian setting is said to include everything from mountains to rainforests, deserts and even island archipelagos.

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In my play through I was teamed up with another two show-goers and one member of the dev team who acted as a quasi team leader of sorts and guide through the demo. Having the dev act as our lead was helpful. Quite a bit actually, in fact I’d almost say too much and that worried me a little. Earlier I’d watched a group of four go through with no dev or any real communication between them or one acting as a team leader. What ensued was a mess of typical internet-like proportions and nothing short of a helicopter ride to nowhere and barely short of a CoD spin-and-shoot spammer. Don’t worry, you won’t need to co-ordinate the impossible in organising four people to play or stuck with randoms, you can enjoy the game all by your lonesome with AI playing the absent roles. Thank god.

The game mechanics are solid, as you’d expect from a title in the Ghost series, but still to be refined. Superficially awe-striking details in minutia became evident as the gameplay continued. Kill boxes in need of adjustment, headshots no resulting in insta-kills and alike. With the title still heavily under the Alpha banner though it’s what you’d expect.

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Most importantly it was fun! The vehicles are awesome, the shooting feels good, the parachuting out of a chopper you’ve just decided to stop flying mid-air is exactly as much fun (and chaos) as it sounds. Elements from a bevy of games all seem to have an influence beneath the covers of what, if played in the right way, is an advance and very tactical squad based shooter.

I’m really excited to see the final product. I think for those who enjoy the team based action of last year’s Rainbow Six: Siege and can put together a group of friends you’re likely to be the ones who get the most out of Wildlands. If you’re a little more aloof in your matchmaking and want an open-world to go shoot up for the sake of it this may not be the one for you.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is set for release March, 2017.

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