I’m a sucker for open world RPG games. The amount of time that I have put into games such as Skyrim and Fallout is a little embarrassing. So when I heard of The Division, I was hopeful for a current survival based RPG. It didn’t pan out however. Then I heard about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: The Wildlands. I was skeptical. I had been burnt once before, and didn’t want to go through the heartbreak again. Nevertheless, I took the jump into The Wildlands’ arms, and I tell you what: It held me. It held me tight.
Upon startup, I knew next to nothing of the game other than it was an Open World Tactical Shooter with RPG elements. However, the opening cutscene lays the scene very well. Bolivia has become the world’s largest producer of cocaine. You are a member of “the Ghosts,” an elite special ops unit of the Army. Your task is to drop into Bolivia, influenced heavily by the Santa Blanca drug cartel, and retrieve the US DEA agent Ricky Sandoval. Sandoval was captured and is currently being tortured by Santa Blanca higher ups. Your contact in Bolivia is the leader of the Kataris 26, Pac Katari. The Kataris 26 is the only resistance against Santa Blanca. Time to get your man back, and stop Santa Blanca.
That’s the exposition I was given, and 90% of my gameplay was not story based, so don’t worry, the remainder of this article will be about the game itself. Up first is the character creation system. I tell you what, it is what I wanted from Destiny and The Division. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to facial structures, hair styles, facial hair styles, and colors of each. After you make your “character,” you are able to dress them. The amount of clothes and accessories that you can wear was absurd. If you make a character that looks exactly like someone else’s, I would be extremely surprised.
I believe I spent an easy 20 minutes on the creation screen to make my character. I ended up creating Special Agent Macklejack, half Macklemore, half Lumberjack. I laughed and laughed with my friend at the fact that this was even a possibility, but thanks to the vast amount of options, he was brought into the world. Once finished, your character is deployed into the world. Here is the only glitch that I encountered in the entirety of the game. For whatever reason, Macklejack’s skin, headset, fleece shirt, pants, gloves, etc. were as black as they could possibly be. But his hair and beard are still blonde. Check the picture below.
The interesting thing about this, is that once he was shot, he got all of his color back. So it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was given my mission, and a waypoint, and was sent off. Instead of following the road, I grabbed an SUV, and drove down the side of the mountain. Not hill, mountain. By the time I made it back to the road, my car was almost destroyed, so I got out, walked up to a house, and got attacked by cartel members. So naturally I stole one of their cars. The feel that I got from the game was similar to a GTA meets Skyrim, but you are held accountable so no mindless killing sprees or your will get a game over. In that house, there was a document that allowed me to pick between three “side quests” to be revealed on the map. This documents is how you find new weapons, parts, and resources.
These resources are important. The game didn’t tell me “you need these” per se, but you learn quickly. At these houses and properties you can encounter, you can place trackers on certain caches to get these “resources” that include gas, medical supplies, comms, food, and more. These resources can also be acquired through side missions where a plane or helicopter is retrieved from Santa Blanca, and taken to a friendly rebel camp. These resources are used to upgrade your character’s skills. These skills will be carried over from session to session, so don’t worry, you won’t have to start over if you play in someone else’s lobby.
The actual gameplay works well. You travel in third person, with the ability to shoot in “aiming down sights” first person, as well as standard third person. The game encourages a more slow and methodical approach to confrontation. Each player has their own drone that they can tag enemies with. As you can imagine, there are many possibilities for tackling fights. I got stuck on one side mission for a while because I wanted to charge headfirst into the area, and the helicopter escaped. However, when I slowed down my approach, used the drone to tag enemies, and methodically took down targets silently, I was more successful. Once you change this outlook on how to approach problems, the game opens up.
Throughout playing the Beta, it didn’t feel like I was playing a Beta of a game, rather a full game itself. It ran well, there were not game breaking bugs that I experienced, and it was genuinely fun. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to play it with three other friends. While the resource collections are a bit grindy, having friends can make it an adventure with each area you visit. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon The Wildlands comes out on March 7th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.