It's no secret that the Ghost Recon series has undergone a plethora of changes over the years, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands is no exception. This iteration takes the four-man Ghost team out of the urban jungle and places them smack dab in the actual jungles of Bolivia. Even though Ghost Recon Wildlands may resemble Just Cause, it retains the realistic feel of the franchise while providing players with a plethora of options as their Ghost team roams the South American countryside laying waste to narcos.
Let's talk about how this last weekend's beta went.
Players are tasked with the secret job of dismantling the Santa Blanca cartel and disrupting their ties with the corrupt government. This is accomplished by methodically taking out numerous cartel leaders and liberating towns without any help from the U.S. government. That's right, the four-man Ghost team is dropped into Bolivia without any backup. While this definitely doesn't speed up the process, there are plenty of other things to do while… ahem… on furlough in Bolivia.
It's always a good idea to make friends with the locals when visiting a foreign country, especially if you plan on overthrowing their oppressive leaders. Freeing local rebels held in captivity and performing certain rebel side missions not only makes them allies, but also opens up helpful features. For instance, players can have certain vehicles delivered, call in a mortar strike, or have rebels create a diversion. In addition, a useful tactic for taking over a narco territory is to sneak in and free captive rebels and let them join the battle as you all band together to fight the enemy.
Take in the Sights
Bolivia is a huge country with plenty to see, and players can hop in any vehicle to explore the countryside. This includes cars, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, boats, helicopters, and even small airplanes. One cool feature is the ability to order my team to open fire on enemies while we're all piled in a vehicle. It's exciting to see them poke their heads out of the windows and shoot at enemies. I also love positioning an airplane or helicopter over a town and then bailing out with my team as we all silently parachute into position before overtaking the town.
Sample the Local Goods
When in Bolivia, do as the Bolivians do, and shoot as the Bolivians shoot. Players begin with decent equipment, but who wants to use the same weapons for the entire game? Finding hidden intelligence and interrogating lieutenants opens up the locations for skill points as well as a wide variety of weaponry and attachments like machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, sights, and grips. In addition, players can tag various items, like medical supplies, for extraction, which then adds the supplies to their inventory. Supplies are combined with skill points to acquire certain upgrades.
Tag and Share
New experiences are better when shared with friends, and every player begins the game with their own flying drone. At first it's only used for tagging enemies, which puts a dot over their heads that my entire team can see, but it's also very handy for issuing orders while staying hidden. Fortunately, there are plenty of upgrades that include night vision, thermal vision, and even emitting EMP and explosive blasts. I ended up using my drone so much that I named it “8-bit” and shed a tear whenever narcos shot it down.
Don't Travel Alone
Everyone knows that it can be dangerous to travel alone, and the military has determined that the best way to go “on vacation” is in a heavily-armed four-man squad. Players have the option of playing the entire game in single-player (with three A.I. Teammates) mode or in two to four-player coop. I was surprised to find that my A.I. teammates can handle themselves pretty well, but having four real-life players is much more effective. Fortunately, players can switch between single-player and coop at any time, which is a great option because some online gamers simply don't work well with others.
We had a great time in the beta, and look forward to Ghost Recon Wildlands' release on March 7th.