E3 Reaction: Ghost Recon Wildlands Takes the Franchise to Bold New Ground

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I have fond memories of playing the original Ghost Recon games. In fact, there was something about their simplicity that really made them fun in their time. The ghosts have long been absent from the gaming world, but now Ubisoft is bringing them back and bigger than ever in Ghost Recon Wildlands. The game is set in a near-distant future where Bolivia has become the world’s largest cocaine distributors and the cartel has partnered up with the corrupt government. Naturally the only solution to this problem is to take highly-trained operatives and plant them inside the country with the purposes of eliminating the drug lords.

The demo I witnessed had four ghosts given the objective of retrieving a member of the cartel who had been imprisoned after they realized he was a rat. All four of the ghosts were on different areas of the map, this was on purpose so we could see how the game can be played alone or with a group. In fact, the ranges of the map are very diverse and flow well. From mountains to deserts to forests to lakes, there’s everything you could imagine in a whole country. One ghost, who was running around a farm for some reason, was the closest to a cartel member that could provide intel on their target. Single handily he took down guards and apprehended the lieutenant, successfully gaining the information.

Ghost 1 then met up with Ghost 2 and they drove to a nearby town. Meanwhile, Ghosts 3 and 4 were approaching from the other side of the map in a buggy they had stolen. It’s strange how different “Wildlands” is from previous Ghost Recon titles, it’s far more in line with the likes of Just Cause or Grand Theft Auto due to it’s gigantic map (the largest open world in any action Ubisoft title) and that if there is something you can drive in the game, be it a car, boat, or plane, you can take it. Players also have the option of dropping in or out of the game at any point in time. Is your friend in a pinch and needs a hand? Hop in the game and give him one.

The four ghosts approached a helicopter they needed to steal from the government from two different directions. Upon their arrival, they noticed that a cartel representative and the military officer were having a bit of a spat and used it to their advantage. Ghost 4 got in position on a hill and took out a cartel member with his sniper rifle, forcing a firefight to erupt. In the confusion, the ghosts were able to take out the remaining soldiers and successfully take the helicopter.

They flew the chopper into position and two ghosts parachuted out. The pair landed near the target and got him from his cage. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of the area and were surrounded by guards. In that situation, the good news is they have a ton of bullets on their side. They managed to take out the eight guards and find a nearby car, stuffing the target into the trunk before hopping in themselves. Their little expedition had sounded the alarm, though, and more guards were prepared to meet them on the hill nearby.

The squad drove through, dispatching enemies they encountered and providing a bumpy ride for their passenger. Their car’s radio played the song “Apocalypshit” by Molotov from the pilot episode of “Breaking Bad” as they descended the heavily-armed hill too, which couldn’t have just been a coincidence. Meanwhile the other ghosts in the chopper were preparing to land on the nearby salt flats, kicking up A LOT of dust as a result, and they handed off the target.

Ghost Recon Wildlands looks like the kind of game I could get utterly lost in. There’s so much to do and the possibilities are endless. You can go anywhere, do anything, in any order, with no restrictions. If you’ve been reading the rest of my E3 coverage, you’ll notice a trend that I’m kind of over robots and aliens in shooters, so the simplicity of Ghost Recon’s “Hunt the cartel” has me sold.