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Review

Ghost Recon: Wildlands Review

  • First Released Mar 6, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Mar 10, 2017
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • PC

Safety in numbers.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a squad based Tom Clancy game that plays by the numbers. It stays true to the series' Rainbow Six-inspired roots, emulating the cold and calculated nature of organized infiltration and coordinated stealth kills. Whether you're syncing shots with friends or an AI companion, there's gratification in taking down targets efficiently. Unfortunately, the adherence to this specific kind of gameplay gets lost and diluted in Wildlands’ vast expanse of Bolivia.

By Tom Clancy standards, Wildlands' story--a revenge tale disguised as a narco-state destabilization operation--is low hanging fruit. Worse yet, the narrative perpetuates the notion that a cartel is only worth taking seriously when one of your own has been tortured to death, ignoring the thousands of locals who've suffered similar fates.

It's easy to tell that Karen Bowman--your CIA field handler--has a personal vendetta against the Santa Blanca, the drug cartel that rules Bolivia. When you ultimately come face to face with El Sueno, the cartel's kingpin, you can spot the payoff a mile away. At the end, there's no poignant message or lesson regarding this latest Tom Clancy episode in American interventionism. El Sueno himself has the privilege of introducing his side of the story right when you launch Wildlands. His introductory monologue and his subsequent speeches justifying his twisted sense of morality sounds like the rationalizations of someone who grew up in a bedroom with posters of Michael Corleone and Walter White.

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The pursuit of a single lead that Karen provides conveniently results in a series of other clues and each one of those tip-offs blossoms into others. Enough successful missions eventually results in confrontations with underbosses and lieutenants who are less than six degrees away from El Sueno. Wildlands is as much about gathering information on your targets as it is about picking what leads to follow down their respective rabbit holes. With a keen eye (and enough luck), you can avoid having to complete every missions related to a given boss and eliminate them ahead of schedule.

As you travel from lead to lead, you're exposed to the various factions that pepper Bolivia. On your side are the rebels, known as the Kataris 26. Enforcing El Sueno's rule are the Unidad, Bolivia's military police. These groups add character to your surroundings and how intrusive they are with your mission goals depends on you. You can curry favor with the rebels and gain their support by completing side missions and marking valuable resources for them. And as long as you're flooring it in a vehicle, any Unidad you drive by will sit tight, rather than follow in pursuit.

Some of your intel will reveal locations of weapons to add to your collection, though amassing a stockpile of firearms is purely optional. Compared to the multitude of games where the acquisition of guns is a major selling point, Wildlands’ selection is serviceable. The problem is that you can easily complete the game with your initial load out. This is because you regularly earn skill upgrades by completing missions, and you gain access to the quintessential stealth weapon--the silenced sniper rifle--early on. There's little incentive to hunt for other weapons unless you're a gun nut or you enjoy the experience of mixing up different weapons.

Along with the obvious discretionary benefits of the aforementioned silenced sniper rifle, the drone--even before you've upgraded its capabilities--is an exceedingly helpful tool. It's the catalyst to Wildlands' mark-and-execute mechanic, the same feature that's been the hallmark of last few Tom Clancy games like Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.

For the fans who've been hooked on Ghost Recon for the advancing technologies--which has been integral with the series' brand--the lack of gadgetry in Wildlands will prove disappointing. The novel appeal of drones--particularly in Tom Clancy games--has long since expired. While you can upgrade it with a handful of offensive and diversionary capabilities, its default function as a target-marking device is all you need.

While the drone marks your targets, it's your squad's responsibility to pull off the kills. The need for coordination underscores the team-based appeal of Wildlands, which can be experienced with AI-controlled teammates or, preferably, with other players. When playing with skilled friends, there’s comfort in knowing that you’ll most likely be on the same page. Playing with AI has it’s own benefits, like being better bullet sponges when they’re out in the open healing you. The one puzzling omission to multiplayer is the ability to form a mixed squad of friends and AI; if you're playing only with one buddy, you're stuck as a pair. Even so, it's wholly amusing that the whole squad's ongoing situational story-driven banter persists even when you're just a duo.

Wildlands' most gratifying moments come from playing the ghost. It means having the patience to spend minutes surveying a stronghold from a distance and arming yourself with that visual information to confidently infiltrate the base. There's a rush in leaving the base quietly with the intel you're assigned to uncover or--even more challenging--the VIP you're sent to rescue. And it doesn't get any better than pulling off these stealthy missions on your first try.

Equally thrilling are the moments where you have little time to adapt to changing circumstances. When the best laid plans go wrong, when you've been spotted and a base is on high alert, you're treated to one of the few instances where your squadmates' moment-to-moment updates are actually useful. When a high value target is fleeing, your team will let you know. Suddenly, a foot pursuit ensues and you're left ignoring all the chaos and gunfire around you. The resulting car chases prolongs the excitement, unless you're lucky enough to grab the target right before he finds a getaway vehicle.

At the outset, its appears that Wildlands' strength is in its diverse mission types. For every assassination, there’s a capture or rescue assignment. Any given sortie might involve hacking, sabotaging, or even stealing a plane. You might even find yourself pulling off the ol' switcheroo with two similar looking trucks. It’s never a dull moment, at least for the first 20 or so hours. By the time you've experienced each of these kinds of objectives a handful of times, boredom starts to set in.

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This encroaching sense of monotony feels more apparent as the poorly written squad chatter starts to repeat itself. When your teammate complains about not being allowed to man the boat, it’s mildly amusing the first time, so you can imagine how annoying it would be hearing the same gripe the twentieth time. Even incorrect situational commentary, say when you’re alerted to a patrol chopper while you’re deep inside a mine stops being funny before long.

Ubisoft's reimaging of Bolivia is tailor made for goal-driven excursions beyond the story. Often times, it's photo realism is eye-catching, like when the sunlight glistens off a watery tire tracks. Other times, seeing nothing but jungle or an endless ridgeline of beige rocks brings out the blandness of some regions.

The mix of dense vegetation and barren mountains echo the environments of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, just less accommodating. Navigating your way down a rocky cliff on foot is as unpredictable as climbing one. Instead, you're left using vehicles as your most reliable means of traversal. Yet for a map that should be more off-road friendly, this interpretation of Bolivia often encourages you to keep to the beaten path, lest you wipeout after a sick cliff jump on a motorcycle.

One unsurprising benefit of the open environment are the myriad avenues for infiltration into any enemy stronghold. No matter how fortified a four-sided base is, there is always a backdoor, whether it's a broken fence and a convenient stack of boxes next to the outer wall. Finding and using these alternate entrances can be as satisfying as any frontal assault.

Despite the country's vastness, it's a mixed blessing that you don't need to visit every region to take down El Sueno. Whether you take the most direct route to the boss or you systematically cross off every underboss and lieutenant first, you'll confront a rogues gallery of diverse personalities, whether that's a social media savvy Santa Blanca evangelist or an American military ex-pat who found purpose in El Sueno's cause.

As only the second open world game in the Clancyverse, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a middlingly safe tactical shooter and a slightly wasted opportunity given the ambitious scope of its seemingly boundless map. While its main strength is its mission diversity, it doesn’t take long to lose the motivation after reaching El Sueno's doorstep. Even with a foursome of highly trained friends, Wildlands eventually reveals its diminishing returns. The feeling of positive immediacy and dopamine hits begin to wane sooner than you expected from a game with such a large and diverse world.

Back To Top
The Good
Superb stealth gameplay
Emergent situations invite stimulating improvisation
Open environments create many infiltration opportunities
The Bad
Missions feel tiresome over time
Story lacks meaning
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Miguel needed 40 hours on the PlayStation 4 version to take down El Sueno while also making time for numerous side quests. The PC and Xbox One versions were played for a couple hours as well. Review codes for all platforms were provided by Ubisoft.
327 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for prince__vlad
prince__vlad

It's a stupid game, a failure brand-name UBISOFT, as usual. A great chance to make a great game passed by them. It seems that , from movies to games, all these people behind them got suddenly stupid or idiot. Why didn't they made a real day/night cycle or let me tweak it the way I wanted ? Why a helo as AH-1 Cobra doesn't have chaffs ? Why are there those idiots spawning in the same place of enemies everytime ? And so on. I guess these idiots from UBISOFT never learn from mistakes. I will never pay for their stupid games.

Avatar image for EQl33t
EQl33t

this game looks fantastic on the x1x!!!! im loving it so far and got it on sale 28 deluxe edition. The animation is dope. And the travel is great i love off roading in a buggy with a minigun, played last night my teammates on point with the chopper. The gun play is crisp and the nades are lovely have not played gr in years glad im back now. the very best exp is with friends in co-op. the reviewer saying the story doesnt have a message and we only care about cartels is when one of us die is shortsighted, people really dont care and that is real refreshing actually .(spoiler maybe?) i beat the last guy he got immunity the lady cia agent killed him in rage sounds about right. the war on drugs is a shame anyways , i have to complete the rest as i got him without taking any underboss out says ill get a diffferent ending. they missed some things like being able to drag bodies out of sight, couldve employed more tech, had tanks, etc. BUT what this game gets right is awesome and co-op with mics will have you playing foor hours feeling like your really on a mission in the bolivian mountains which is gorgeous on a 4k tv x1x enhanced. also the best feature of the drone is remote healing. recon can be better done with a heli they cant jam those just watch for SAM'S. i would give this an 8.

PS play with light hud you cant mark and track ai thru walls its more intense.

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spyder_pk

Fun game and love the concept of it. Rated 7/10 and took away 3 points for following 3 reasons.

1) The AI gameplay is not good. Team members cannot be issued complex commands like lob a flashbang there or clear that entire area like in previous GR games.

2) The team members are always so far away or even if they are standing right next to you they take an age to revive you if you go down. Most annoying during timed missions as they take 15-20 seconds to revive the player and the timer runs out.

3)SAM sites are ANNOYING. If you spot them they are lost again (removed from the map). If you destroy them they still fire missiles at you. Happened to me several times when I destroyed the SAM sites and then stole the plane or heli and still the SAM site fired at me somehow. They should have made the spotted sites appear on map permanently or not respawn destroyed sites till the base respawns.. as it happens the base is clear of enemies but SAM respawns..

Otherwise like the game.

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Divisionbell

Fun game but things broke with Narco Road for a lot of players and there seems to be no attempt to fix these issues from Ubisoft which is incredibly depressing. Right now this game is completely broken for a lot of people.

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grant-12

6/10. Wasn't happy with the wway this played out!

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ghara_dar

I LIKE THIS GAME MY SCORE IS 9

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legendaryh1tman

@ghara_dar: I bet you like No Mans Sky also. Right on

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justerthought

I disagree with this review score because it does not give the game credit for everything on offer here. It's a huge immersive game.

The game may be a 7/10 on standard PS4 and XB1 S, but on the PS4 Pro it truly is something really special worth 9/10. The solid performance and lack of any screen tear and drastically reduced frame drops, makes the game very immersive with a huge sense of presence. The huge amount of bases are extremely varied and brilliantly designed, making them a lot of fun to tackle. Think Far Cry outposts, but hundreds of them. Massive amount of content.

Playing with friends is fun, but I find the more people you have, the more chance someone will mess up and break stealth causing a guns loud situation. That's not the games fault, that's a fact of life. Coop is best played 2p because you can keep a tight handle on things and think as one.

But I find the game really shines when you play solo with 3 AI. It's much easier to keep things under control because you set the pace. Any mistakes are you own fault and you can easily see what you did wrong. The sense of exploration is more intense playing solo because when playing with others, you tend to race to each new conflict as competition kicks in. Patience is key to playing this game properly so you're constantly trying to keep your natural instinct to shoot the first guy you see a bay.

To prevent things from going into a messy guns loud situation with Unidad swarming all over you:

1 - don't kill the first guy you see

2 - lie prone and mark everyone with the drone

3 - only kill people who cannot be witnessed

4 - use sync shot opportunities to take out groups who would witness each other dying.

Driving the beautifully crafted roads is a lot of fun in itself, so I find it silly to drive down a mountain towards a destination as the crow flies. Such GTA style romps put stress on the system, leading to glitches in such a vast open world, so they should be kept to a minimum. I only drive off road if an escape requires it or you're doing a timed mission that adds variety. The less you do such activities, the less glitches you have, resulting in a solid game.

Some gamers get bored very quickly and then act soft because they think it will inject some fun, but that's very shallow and short lived. Ghost Recon Wildlands supplies a solid gaming experience for the long term if played properly using all the tools at your disposal.

As with all open world games, avoid chasing the main campaign too early before you have matured your character. Live the world first, harvesting skills and weapons as you explore. That way when you do take on the campaign missions you play them like a pro using all the features. That makes the game more fun because you can keep control of the situation better and recover more effectively from errors you make.

But you will still get impatient gamers, or gamers who lack creativity to make stuff happen, or gamers who want to just lark around GTAV style. In those situations the game won't be at its best and a low score is perceived.

Ubisoft did a great job here with the emergent sand box model. Far Cry never fails to deliver so that was used as the base. Hopefully all their other games will follow the same route, making Assassin's Creed relevant and fresh again. If they can do Egypt like this world for the next AC, I'm up for it.

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rcoffey

@justerthought: Fantastic write-up!

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Lizard_King89

@justerthought: Great post

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cjtopspin

Whats funny is the average user review doesn't match the vocal distaste on these boards.

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ZERGIOSS

Not is good, is borred!!!

Avatar image for justerthought
justerthought

@ZERGIOSS:

The thing with sand box games is that it's the gamer that makes the story, using his or her actions. You need to be creative. Do nothing and nothing will happen. Then boredom sets in.

No Man's Sky was the perfect example of this because that game bravely went total sandbox with no linear story at all. It divided opinions and generated a lot of hate from gamers who's lack of creativity was exposed in all its glory. In sand box games, nobody is going to lead you by the hand or feed you from the t!t with a linear story telling you what to do.

Thankfully most gamers are not grunts and have enough creativity to allow them to enjoy emergent sand box open world games, where you are just given all the tools and the overall objective.

There will still be a place for a well crafted linear story like The Last Of Us, but emergent sand box open world games are the future of gaming.

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nomadie

A 7? How much money did they pay you guys? It's literally the same 4 missions on every map.. You still get stuck in and on things like rocks, trees and other things. The story is boring and cliche as hell. This game is the most generic Far Cry knock off I have ever seen with less in the game. Far Cry 1 came out what 13 years ago? It still has more stuff to do than Wildlands! That is just sad 13 years later Far Cry has more content than a 2017 game.

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Lizard_King89

@nomadie: You either didn't play the game or you didn't play it for very long. Yes, it has the same 4 rebel missions to level up the rebel support skills but the story missions are vastly different. I think people like you are blindly hating on this game because it's from Ubisoft.

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justerthought

@nomadie:

The Far Cry series is a classic and has never failed to deliver. Don't knock a classic just because of age. A classic always remains a classic and good gaming never changes.

You don't need a powerful story in these types of game. The story is merely a framework to host the emergent sand box style gameplay. The stuff you create yourself is worth far more than the stuff the devs create for you in a linear story based game. Agency is a powerful tool because it personally rewards the gamer. I actually feel cheated and frustrated when a game channels me down a pre-scripted agenda.

Example: I remember playing Battlefield 3 and being locked down by a sniper early on. I thought if he can kill me, I can kill him by sniping, but I died 100 times until I realised the devs wanted me to use the rocket launcher to blow him up. The devs had removed all my freedom because they wanted to impress me with a cinematic of the building collasping. I was not impressed and stopped playing the game.

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TheWatcher701

As some have mentioned here as well. Changing the difficulty level of this game makes quite the difference in how you play the game. It's because of this that I've been wondering whether reviewers should take that into account into their reviews. I haven't seen reviews yet that talked about this, but if I would take that into account it would certainly change the way I feel about the game and how I would rate it.

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rodstarr27

@thewatcher701: Extreme difficulty makes the game a lot more fun; one wrong move could easily result in a failed mission or death for everyone in the squad. My friends and I put as much time as we can together into this game and we always have a blast.

Avatar image for nomadie
nomadie

@thewatcher701: Changing the difficuly level changes how you play? Honestly to me it makes no difference at all. This game is stupidly easy on any mode. Get a sniper and just kill everyone because the op marking system you know the location of everyone at all times... This game is not hard at all. If you want a hard stealth game play Splinter Cell. The only "hard" thing about this game is people who can't aim and miss targets. If you play solo with AI this game becomes even more simple. Get a heli tell AI to fire at will and gg! If the place has a sam in the area blow it up first with an air strike from your rebel friends, then get a heli and enjoy the easy mode on any difficutly level.

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Dawg9000

@nomadie: Well, it does sound like you played the game in single player with the AI......... How's those sync markers working out for ya?

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TheWatcher701

@nomadie: I finished all (except one) Story missions on Extreme with Coop friends and for me it hasn't been that easy in some missions. There's situations where you needed to stay undetected that required quite some coordination. There have also been locations that were deeply located in the forest (in the South) where basically only Thermal Vision was able to help you due to the awareness and lethal kills of the enemies. Though you can use binoculars, if you can't use your drone in some areas (initially), you need to be on constant guard should you wish to complete such missions. There have also been some Unidad bases that took a number of tries before being able to get fully in. If you play on Normal you can take a few hits, but on Extreme, if you don't know where the enemies are and they get into your back your either dead or nearly dead. I sincerely question your comment when you say that it makes no difference at all to you. Maybe your some highly skilled FPS player that is able to deal with any situation and that's fine. However, if you play Coop you're still dependent upon others, and if they mess up, you may actually get into a situation that may not be so easy for you to get out of. There's also situations where you may actually team up with people that play on Normal while you play on Extreme and you go through some missions like it's nothing because they're OP compared to you which can also be deceptive. Maybe you need to play without HUD and without the marking system; let me know how you do then.

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p1p3dream

I'm kind of mad at myself for continuing to buy Ubisofts games. Ubisoft is like the AAA equivalent of GAMELOFT. I swear Ubisoft has the equivalent of like RPGMaker 7 that it uses to make all of their games. It feels like all they do is take the Ubisoft OpenWorld Game Maker 3.0 and input a bunch of variables like "Far Cry" or "Assassins Creed" or "Watch Dogs" and then out pops an open world ubisoft game with the appropriate theme. Ubisoft is overly fixated on releasing a certain amount of games per year, rather than the quality of said games. They could really benefit from trimming down their company, and slowing down.

Although, why would they- we continue to buy all their crap up, because really what choice do we have 8 out of 10 games are UBISOFT.

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RomeoTheBeast

@p1p3dream: The last Ubisoft game I bought was Rayman Legends. Trust me you have other options unless Open World games are your favorite. If people keep buying then they have no incentive to change.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@romeothebeast: Honestly, open world games are my least favorite. And as far as AAA games are concerned, I would say that the majority of games that are Narrative/Adventure style are some flavor of Open World...

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JimAbadon

Feels like Ubisoft was a bit scared to push the boundaries of an open world Tom Clancy game, which is weird considering how well they do with Far Cry. Maybe it'll serve as a stepping stone for them to progress further next time. This game seems like it could have been so much more.

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yeknomdab

Rough edges and bugs aside, if you play this like the sandbox that it is--as opposed to its linear predecessors--and remember to bring some friends along, it can be loads of fun. The secret is to NOT take anything you see/hear in this game too seriously.

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legendaryh1tman

@yeknomdab: Yeah that is why the this game falls a bit flat. Its supposed to be a serious and mostly authentic experience. Sadly it implement its new direction very poorly thus its low scores across the board.

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ArtFull47

@legendaryh1tman: Yep that's one of the major point of why i can't get into the game, completely kills the immersion. Got to say though the map is real great.

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deedoubleyou814

Great game idk what ppl are talking about..play it on the hardest level stealthy w no hud doubt you kids would do much

Avatar image for legendaryh1tman
legendaryh1tman

@deedoubleyou814: Your point, you can do the same thing with COD and BF. Game is badly designed. You don't understand that well I could tell you why or just don't comment about it.

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Morphine_OD

AHAHAHA "story lacks meaning". Just like your life writing pretentious articles in Gamespot. Glad to hear that a Miguel didn't like the story - it must've hit close to home.

Avatar image for jimabadon
JimAbadon

@Morphine_OD: You realize saying that he didn't like the story because "it must have hit close to home" makes you sound bit of a douchebag? And why? Because you don't agree with this man's opinion? It's just an opinion. Grow the hell up.

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Gelugon_baat

@Morphine_OD: You call someone else pretentious but spam a "10" on this game.

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XenomorphAlien

The game can be fun, especially with friends, but it's still kinda boring. That's the thoughts I had when I played the beta at least. I'll wait on this.

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se7en1989

Ubisoft is so washed up at this point they should just stop making games...unless it's far cry.

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cknobman

UbiSoft recycled to much crap from their other games.

Quit trying to use the same crap over and over and mask it with a different coat of paint.

All your games end up being the same thing!

I've already bought FarCry, Watchdogs, and Assassins Creed. I dont need to buy another version of the same DANGED THING!

Would it really have been so hard to make a modernized Ghost Recon: Desert Seige???

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salty101

@cknobman: Ya, they pretty much just add one gimmick to each sequel and try to call it innovative.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

As with 99% of Ubisoft games, it looks incredible until you actually play it. Not saying it's necessarily bad, but it's definitely not great. The potential this game had was huge, but again, Ubisoft failed to execute. I'm a fan of their game ideas and I appreciate their ambitious ideas, but they can't ever seem to get it quite right. I played through it and enjoyed parts of it, but overall, I was disappointed with the overly obvious plot, bullet sponge enemies, and horrific handling vehicles. I would personally rate it a 6/10.

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aolaru

Began to play Wildlands three days ago and I'm like meh. The world is beautiful, killings are fun but everything else looks & feels artificial, the guys who designed it hasted a lot to finish it. I give this one a 6 / 10. Kinda wanting to go back to GRAW 1 or 2. Those were way better games.

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xolivierx

Both this game and Snipperclips got 7.

Interestingly enough, I think I would have more fun playing Snipperclips.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands More Info

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  • First Released Mar 6, 2017
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Facing an almighty enemy in a massive and hostile environment, the Ghosts will need to make critical moral choices and engage in tough battles to complete their mission – their grittiest and most dangerous operation to date.
    7.7
    Average Rating230 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs