Ghost Recon Wildlands
Developer/publisher Ubisoft (Paris) Format PC, PS4, Xbox One Release March 7, 2017
When it was revealed at last year’s E3, Ubisoft’s apparent Far Cry- cum- Just Cause treatment of the Ghost Recon series felt like a jarring, rather disrespectful transposition. In action, however, the switch to an open world – Ubisoft’s biggest yet – is revealed to have been handled more sensitively than that brash first trailer suggested, and the expanded spread of tactical choices that emerge from the game’s sprawling slice of Bolivia make for a good fit.
But it’s the game’s focus on freeform co-op that remains its most appealing draw. You and up to three other players can descend on this cartel-controlled underworld and raise merry hell from the shadows as you extract and eliminate key figures. There’s no player tethering, nor any stipulations on how or in which order you should approach your targets, and the scale and range of possibilities makes planning and executing a daring mission an enjoyably involved process.
Set just a few years from now, Wildlands reins in the series’ recent futuristic leanings and returns to its near-future roots, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of gadgetry to deploy. Chief among the toys in your kit bag is a Future Soldier- style drone that can be used to scout out mission locations and mark up enemies. The device has a limited battery life, but can be upgraded over time, allowing you to stay in the air for longer. Flying too low will alert enemies to your presence, but you’ll also be able to add offensive and disruptive capabilities, including the ability to take out power sources.
Our target this time is the unpleasant-sounding El Pozolero, known as the ‘stew maker’, who dissolves the bodies of cartel victims in acid. But before we can reach him, we need to gather intel on his whereabouts. To that end we head to a ranch and gather on a nearby ridge to scout out the place with scopes and drones, then time our first volley of shots to drop four enemies simultaneously. Our target hops into a car and makes a dash for it, leading to a car chase and then a shootout. After interrogating the individual we head to a larger compound and split into two teams – a pair of us remaining in the mountains to provide cover while the other two head inside. Predictably, the stealth mission descends into chaos as we frantically try to take out alarm towers and sniper towers, but we get our man, and manage to escape in a burning 4x4. It’s a promising first showing, but we’re keen to see if Ubisoft can engineer enough variety to ensure that its 100 or so missions remain entertaining.
Vehicles play an important role in Wildlands due to the daunting scale of its world map. Targets and their henchmen all have daily routines and can move freely, so observing objectives can reveal tactical opportunities