I’m guessing you all got to see the gameplay demonstration of Ghost Recon Wildlands during Ubisoft’s E3 2016 presentation. If not, check it out above and come back to me. In short, it shows a group of four Ghosts tracking down and kidnapping one of the leaders of a drug cartel that took over Bolivia.

Well, I recently got the chance to try out the game for myself, together with our own Avi Kaisermann. I have to admit I didn’t have high expectations when I picked up the controller. After seeing the game at last year’s E3, I though it looked kind of empty, and therefore rather boring. While my hands-on experience with the game did not prove to me there’s a rich world of content just behind the nearest mountain, it did set my mind at ease. Any amount of content Wildlands will end up offering will be fun and exciting to play through, especially with a friend or three.

The reason I brought up the E3 gameplay presentation, apart from an excuse to include it in this post, is because the demo I played took place a little before the mission in the video. In fact, it was the mission that lead to the short introduction video about the Stew Maker. We, a group of four players, were tasked with capturing an informant, squeezing him for intel, and then infiltrating an enemy compound and retrieve even more intel about El Pozolero himself. We ended up accomplishing our mission, but at a great cost.

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That cost was learning that we are shit at planning ahead. We started well enough – with relatively synchronized sniper shoots that took down four bad guys. I was surprised to learn that, just like in real life, you don’t have to score a head shot to immediately kill someone with a massive bullet from a massive sniper rifle. Tip one: aim center mass. Taking out the rest of the henchmen guarding the informant was just a matter of stealth, which we of course screwed up and had to storm into the camp guns blazing. The shooting in Wildlands is tight and incredibly fun to pull off, and we took the bad guys with little effort. I personally even managed to snatch our target just before he managed to get into a vehicle and escape. A short interrogation followed, all the while enemy soldiers kept coming at up in an attempt to rescue their boss. Once we got the information, I promptly executed the man (after all, a man who so easily turns on his friends cannot be trusted), and we left the scene in various vehicles.

There are no predetermined loadouts or classes to choose from when starting the game. Every player can choose to equip any weapon or gadget they wish. The idea of player freedom is one that guides the team at Ubisoft Paris throughout the entire development process, be it with the gunplay or exploring the world. Unfortunately, we were all carrying the exact three weapons – a pistol, an assault rifle and a sniper rifle. However, we did get to see more of the game’s world, albeit only from afar. On our way to our second objective, we decided to take the scenic route and pile into an helicopter. While in the air, we could see a huge part of the game’s map, which again appeared a big empty; empty, but beautiful. We could see the coast, a snowy mountain range, farmlands and a forested area – all completely open to us if we wanted to go explore them. However, we were on a mission – and our group leader was flying us to a small hill above a rather large enemy compound. With very little time to spare, we jumped out of the chopper and parachuted down together.

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Once on the hill, we took a few minutes to come up with a plan of action, where one team would infiltrate the compound through a hole in the wall, while a second team will cover them with sniper fire from one of the guard towers. Long story short – it didn’t work out like we planned. The group leader and I climbed one of the towers, took out the sniper, and started dispatching other snipers. Avi and the fourth player entered the compound and immediately triggered the alarm. What followed next was a haze of bullets, screaming and explosions as we tried to grab the documents and get the hell out of there. Somehow we managed, but not before we had to revive each other multiple times, because the amount of enemies that came pouring down on us was insane. Our victory against all odds is either a testament to our improvising skills, or to the low difficulty level of demo. However, it does serve as a proof that even if your plan doesn’t work out perfectly, you can still complete the mission and get out in one or several pieces.

Playing through this demo with a good friend and two other strangers was fun, chaotic and intense. Playing as a group of four friends committed to execute complicated tactical plans and bring the Santa Blanca Cartel to its knees will undoubtedly be even more fun. Still, Wildlands doesn’t look like a good single-player experience, from what I’ve seen so far. There’s too much space between one mission to the next, and just moving through the world without company can become very lonely and tedious fairly quickly. Bear in mind that what I saw was an early version of the game, one that was created especially for this presentation, so things might be different in the final game.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is scheduled to be released March 7, 2017 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That should give you enough time to brush up on your military lingo and decide whether or not to invest in one of the game’s special editions.


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