Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta Thoughts

Hey guys, Karthas here! As some of you may know, the latest installment in the Ghost Recon franchise is set to be released in just a few days. Over the weekend I found some time to play the Beta and I thought I’d write down my thoughts! Please keep in mind this is not a review of Ghost Recon Wildlands, this is simply my thoughts on the open Beta. This is still the Beta, it is not the complete game. That is why this is not titled “Ghost Recon Wildlands Review”. For those of you who are interested, here are my thoughts on the Ghost Recon: Wildlands Open Beta.

Plot Summary

Let’s face it, you don’t play Ghost Recon for the plot, you play it for the tactical gameplay. But never the less, you need a plot for a game to move along. Well Ghost Recon Wildlands, like many of the Ghost Recon games, starts out by revealing that the country of Bolivia is in trouble. A drug cartel known as Santa Blanca has basically taken over the country and the Ghosts are sent to dismantle the organization. I can at least appreciate the effort Ubisoft made to change things up with the plot to make it somewhat relevant. As a veteran of the series, I was tired of hearing about Ultra-nationalists terrorizing some eastern European country. You are part of a team of four who are part of Operation Kingslayer. Some of the other factions you encounter are the Rebels and Unidad forces.

Operation Kingslayer, Rebel Forces, Santa Blanca Cartel, Unidad Forces
I think we can all agree the rebels look like they would be the most fun at a party

Gameplay

This is probably why you are here, because after all the gameplay is the meat and potatoes of most games. Well to be frank, I was a little let down by the gameplay. I wasn’t able to really put my finger on it, but something about it just felt…off. Maybe it was because I’m coming from playing Destiny which is a first person shooter compared to Wildlands which is a 3rd person shooter. Either way, the game didn’t feel as smooth as I would like it to be. Perhaps this is because it is only the Beta and they will be tweaking some things before the game is actually released.

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The game definitely plays more like Mercenaries or Just Cause rather than a Ghost Recon game, and I’m not sure I am a huge fan of the direction it is going.  But nevertheless I still had fun. While the game can be played aggressively, players are rewarded for thinking tactically. By planning your attack you can minimize reinforcements as well as time.

I do wish the game punished you a bit more for playing aggressive though. In the old school Ghost Recon games if you took damage, you couldn’t heal up. So you had to be careful in each firefight not to get hit. Otherwise by the time you reach the end of the mission, your team may be on their last leg. But this does not happen in Wildlands. It uses the heal over time mechanic, but you can only be revived once per firefight unless you take some perks to change this.


Driving

Driving, believe it or not, is actually a big part of Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Most of your missions are on the other side of the map and you need to find a way to get there. This usually means finding a car for you and your squad and hopping in. Unfortunately the driving mechanics are just lack luster. Now, I am by no means an expert at racing games, that is a series I usually don’t play. But whenever there is driving involved in a game, I am usually the first to jump in the driver’s seat and I’m pretty good at it. But for whatever reason it was terribly difficult to drive in Wildlands. And it doesn’t help that most of the landscape that I visited made me feel like I was in an episode of Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads. 

The vehicles just seem to slide everywhere and are very difficult to handle. I did enjoy the ability to shoot out of the window while driving as it prevented you from having the awkward “Let me get out of my car before I kill you” moment. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a good old car chase!

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Gunplay

The gunplay in Wildlands is pretty good. There wasn’t anything that stood out or set it apart, it was just good. This is certainly not a bad thing because I think it’s actually more difficult to deliver a game that has good gunplay. When aiming down the sights, the game lets you choose between a 3rd person perspective or a 1st person perspective, which I thought was a nice addition. The enemies did seem pretty intelligent, trying to flank you and your squad. And there weren’t bullet sponges, just a few shots was usually enough to kill an enemy.

Customization

Now this is a feature that Ghost Recon: Wildlands nails. There is so much to customize! Literally everything on your ghost can be customized. Hair, helmet, gloves, pants, shoes, beard, backpack, shirt, you name it. All of it could be changed, and there were multiple different options for each. I actually skipped some of it because I just wanted to play the game. Now I am not sure if there will be more options released down the road, via a DLC or free update, but with the popularity of skins and customization on the rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do release more options.

The customization doesn’t end there, you can actually customize your Ghost’s skills! Your Ghost has a few skill tress that you can enter skill points into. These skills range from Weapons to your Squad.

 

Gunsmith

Now this goes along with the customization, but I wanted it to have its own section. Mainly because I am so glad Ubisoft carried this over from Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Personally, I am not a fan of Ubisoft. To me they are the masters of coming up with great ideas, and then completely dropping the ball when it comes time to delivering.

Future Soldier was a great example of this. They had an amazing ARG leading up to the release of the game, the gameplay looked cool, and the technology at your disposal looked like a lot of fun. But, for me, the game just felt like a 3rd person Call of Duty game. One of my favorite features of Future Soldier was the gunsmith. It let you customize everything about your gun, very similar to Army of Two. And I was glad to see they brought it along in Wildlands.

Get out and explore!

In Wildlands you actually find pieces for your gun in the world. Maybe on a side quest or a mission. Basically, it gives you incentive to explore. And there are so many pieces to be found and guns to use. From scopes to stocks, the Gunsmith lets you do a lot. If you like customizing your gun, Wildlands does a good job with it.

Cover Mechanic

I was not a fan of the cover mechanic in Wildlands. In fact, it made me realize I actually enjoyed the manual cover system of games like Gears of War 3. The cover system in Wildlands is suppose to be seamless, which means if I run up to a wall, my Ghost will put his back against the wall instead of me having to push a button to get him to take cover. But I couldn’t tell you how many times this did not seem to work out for me. Or things I thought I could take cover behind would not allow me to.

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Another thing that confused me was whether or not my bullets went through certain materials. For example, in some games you are able to shoot through “thin” material like wood. I would think this mechanic exists in Wildlands but I’m not sure. At one point I was shooting at a guy who was taking cover in a tower, and it didn’t seem like my shots were going through his cover. So I ran up there and took care of him. But then some of his buddies showed up and I had to take cover behind the same material he was but I kept getting hit.

Exploration

Wildlands did a very good job with the setting. The map seemed pretty expansive and it was easy to find something to do. The player is rewarded for exploring by finding weapon parts, skill points, or just getting into a fun firefight.

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Replayability

One of the good things about these open world shooter games like Wildlands, Mercenaries, or Just Cause, is that there is a lot of replayability. If you are ever bored you can just drive around and you’re certain to find something to do. Now I say this only having played a few hours of Wildlands, so this is just an assumption, but I could certainly see it being true. I had some fun encounters just driving around and doing some side quests.

Co-Op Play

Ok, so this is where Wildlands shines. Playing by yourself is just ok. But this game was made to be played with 3 friends, as are most Ghost Recon games. Communication and teamwork are vital to Wildlands and AI teammates are not the smartest. But with friends, you can become deadly. Wildlands still has some tactical aspects to it, but less so than earlier Ghost Recon games.

The game tries to give you ways to be tactical with the AI, but it just doesn’t compare to having real teammates. In all honestly, if my friends were willing to pick up this game, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. In a game like this, I’m not really interested in joining up with random people, I prefer to play with my friends. So if you have a close group of friends who are looking for something to do, you will love this game.

Final Thoughts

I was really hoping Wildlands would be a great game in the next installment of the Ghost Recon series. But the game just didn’t really feel like a Ghost Recon game. It felt like Mercenaries or Just Cause with friends. Unfortunately I think a lot of people will be let down because this game has the Ghost Recon name tied to it. Its not a bad game, in fact it can be quite fun. But I think a lot of people will pick it up expecting the old school Ghost Recon games. For gamers like me, the Ghost Recon series was the tactical shooter. If you got hit twice, you were dead. So you had to take your time, you had to plan, and most importantly, you had to be good.

Overall, I enjoyed Ghost Recon Wildlands, but I am not sure I will pick it up. Maybe in the future once it drops in price and if I can convince my friends to buy it as well. But if you have 3 friends who are willing to buy it, I’d say pick it up. As I said before, this game was made to be played with friends.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave your thoughts on the Beta below, we’d love to hear them!

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