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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 sueman2
Sueman2

Um enjoyn the game but it does get irritatn and tedios at times grest job ubisoft at least your trying some like this nothing is perfect ive been waitn for a game involving cartels and all this game kinda reminds me ov the good old ps2 days for some reason ill give it a 8/10 all day

Avatar image for givenchy7
givenchy7

why the F*uck are the commercials before the video review so f*cking loud !!!!!! FUUUU*K !

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b

@givenchy7: Cuz Michael Baysplosions!

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adkcrazox

Me and a friend are having a good time with it. I got it for the Xbox one; the graphics is type bad but we really having fun playing it.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

Ladies and gentlemans This is final nail to the ubisofts coffin Hell yeah For honor, that overhyped graphic cut mmo ish garbage did not generated enough money as well, they can't milk out dry cow anymore.

Avatar image for mightofphobos
MightofPhobos

@wexorian: Do you know what an MMO is?

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

@mightofphobos: Teach me sensei!!!!! teach a Guy who plays 90% of TIME MMO RPGS.....

Avatar image for Fantomass
Fantomass

@wexorian: you might be playing MMO's and be surrounded by english speakers, but I have bad news for you - you know too little about them. And nothing's gonna kill Ubisoft, they are so big at this point, theyre factory-producing games like its nothing. And 7 isnt even a fail score. Its mediocre And Ubisoft is OK with that.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

@Fantomass: They are being bought by ivvendy if you live under rock, Division sales suck and it's a ghost town, Their racing game had low sales as well, For honor i mean for Ghostown had as well low sales, they wasted 120$ million on catastrophic AC movie if not more and Ghost recon wildlands is A gray non original 3rd person game that won't sell much either, ooh yes Rainbow six siege,Farcry 4,Farcry Primal had low sales not to talk about all games are BLAND and boring.

Avatar image for Fantomass
Fantomass

@wexorian: bought by whom!? LOL maybe i'm living under a rock, but it looks like you, my friend, get your news by beating your head with one. Stock price of Ubisoft has never been higher, they have never produced so many decently scored games in such small period of time. Even their shitty movie actually MADE them a lot of money (cost of movie 125Mil, Gross 238Mil). Division is 1 years old game, ofcourse not a lot of people play it (yet some still do). I agree with you that they are bland and boring. I regret buying For Honor as its only fun for a week. Sometimes I play Steep just to relax. But Ubisoft is going nowhere. Ubisoft is just getting started.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

@Fantomass: Ooh yea watchdogs as well, Scores does not mean sales, had you seen any article about their sales being good?? here or on other site NO i had not and look at comments first , attack someoen else who are sayng that their games are BAD.

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

It's a fun game specially if you play with friends just wish the game used the snow drop engine instead.

Avatar image for wrestlingdude
wrestlingdude

"Story lacks meaning?" Are you not informed about how evil the Cartels are? Are you not informed by the servered bodies which the Cartel "gets off" on? The bodies hanging in the streets? Did you not pay attention? Do you need a cutscene after every mission to remind you what "evil" truly is?

I enjoyed every moment of Wildlands because it was authentic. Do special forces need cutscenes in order to "operate?" Especially in a "Cartel" inhabited country?

Sure, in real life Bolivia doesn't have a "huge" Cartel issue, but they still do have a Cartel problem. If you don't understand what you were doing in the game, then I don't know what f'n cave you crawled out of. The fact that Wildlands didn't have so many cutscenes made the game have more purpose, it made you feel more like an operator.

8.5/10 true score. 7.0? (Liberal score)

Next time Gamespot, find an editor that doesn't have a crush on RPGs. And I don't mean rocket propelled grenades. Also someone with education on what goes on beyond the border.

Avatar image for Savage_Doom
Savage_Doom

@wrestlingdude: I agree with ya.

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

@wrestlingdude: dude, its his opinion. get over it. The game is just boring. It's just a place to chill out with friends, there's no real commitment in the story. And there is not enough action for an action game.

Avatar image for wrestlingdude
wrestlingdude

@Arguyle: You obviously didn't play it, or you only played it for 5mins. Or you have some other explanation.

An Opinion? Yeah tell that to "facts."

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@wrestlingdude: apparently you dont know what facts mean. Then again, your name is "wrestlingdude".

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@JEF8484: Just fucking with ya by the way

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wrestlingdude

@JEF8484: I'm actually upset I can't change my name, I created that name back in 04.

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

@wrestlingdude: Funny to see people angry because they don't accepting someone else's opinion.

And to your question, yes I did play it. Enough to say this is boring even just after a few minutes. You need more than just a big map to be entertaining. US military saves the day again, we've seen it all from every angle twice already.

It fails at bringing you the same satisfying freedom and excitement you get in GTA series. It fails at delivering a real story. Gameplay mechanics feels limited. So many other games from 2014-2016 have been a lot better than this. So why buy this crap?

Actually, the only reason to play this is if you are bored in life and look for a place to chill out with friends, killing people while making racist jokes.

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wrestlingdude

@Arguyle: "U.S.Military saves the day again." Then stop playing U.S. Military games. "Racist jokes?" Yeah you really need to avoid playing military shooters and if racism is on the top of your head then with all respect military shooters aren't healthy for your consciousness either. I'd recommend other games, Arma III, Squad, and the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Campaign is the best in the franchise...there are others. I'm sorry you feel the way you do.

Avatar image for km75sr
km75sr

Everybody is giving there reviews but they aren't saying what difficulty level they played on. Which is important for this game bcuz playing on the highest difficulty forces you to play a certain way (definitely can't go in guns blazing) than on easier difficulty levels. Would be nice if the reviewer included this info

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

@km75sr: Not to mention disabling the HUD. That is the single most important thing when it comes to a real review for Ghost Recon Wildlands to me. Difficulty levels mean nothing when you turn off markers and the like.

Though it still is not on the level of the early entries of Ghost Recon when it comes to tactical, it is still great imo.

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SaturatedButter

Been playing and enjoying the game. The biggest issue for me is the wide breadth of glitches and poorly designed features. So many things in this game are just broken or prone to break frequently. Sometimes in fun ways, but mostly in just annoying ways like missions not triggering properly so you can't complete them. or push-to-talk being disabled in various situations (like being inside a vehicle).

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Nakaruga

I've got so many good games to play so yeah, thanks for trying Ubisoft but I'll pass (again).

Avatar image for Louis
Louis

@Nakaruga: Bingo! My brother and I felt the same. Huge backlog of excellent games right now, no need to rush out and get this one.

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

@Nakaruga: exactly my thoughts too.

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CrusaderProphet

Well...at least Ubi$hit is consistent...in being mediocre. Must not have enough waypoints, towers and outposts or probably didn't send enough developers in Bolivia to recreate it.

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naryanrobinson

More generic US military save-the-day garbage. They know it'll sell by the truckload.

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Smosh150

@naryanrobinson: It's Ghost Recon, what did you expect Ubisoft to all of a sudden make Ghosts apart of another nation?

There are some cool premises with some other nations, but you wouldn't expect the UK or Israel to get involved like the US has with drug cartels in South America right?

Though it would be pretty cool to play as Israeli SF(I don't know much about the organization of their military outside of aviation, so just putting Special Forces) hunting Nazi's who escaped into South American countries.

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Cryio

The visuals are so eh given it's using Assassin's Creed Unity's engine.

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JEF8484

Miguel is one of the best reviewers on the internet. Decent score but apparently Ubisoft thinks its 2007, not 2017- this company needs to innovate.

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Leefx

@JEF8484: you are joking right?

Zero personality and he sounds like butthead off beavis & butthead!

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@Leefx: who gives a shit about personality- I just want a straight up review and his opinion, backed up by constructive criticism. You probably watch those fools like Angry Joe- **** that shit.

Avatar image for Leefx
Leefx

@JEF8484: no you're wrong again angry joe is a p rick

Avatar image for khjsaw
khjsaw

developers must have figured this out now that making game worlds bigger doesnot help thier game to get better...one of my most hatted news about games in recent years has been "game world is huge or 10 time bigger that previous game...just stooooop it.

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@khjsaw: Ahh The Witcher 3 really opened peoples eyes in terms of this- some developers get it.

Avatar image for clonitza
clonitza

This is Ubisoft direction from now on:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1316343

And mine ... no story, not worth full price, and by the time it drops to 20$ I'd expect them to finish patching the game, they are notorious for releasing them in beta state, so, win-win. :)

Avatar image for DuoMaxwell007
DuoMaxwell007

"The story seems to suggest that a cartel is only worth going after once theyve hurt one of your own. Despite all the numerous horrible things theyve done before that."

Ummm isnt that the way the world works/always worked? Correct me if Im wrong but the US didnt and wasnt gonna get involved with Hitler (despite all the terrible things HE was doing) and World War 2 until Japan messed with Pearl Harbor. So had Pearl Harbor never been attacked we wouldn't have been in that war. Thus even REAL LIFE seems to suggest "someone is only going after once theyve hurt one of your own. Despite the numerous horrible things theyve done before that."

Avatar image for TheBruuz
TheBruuz

I don't really like The Divisions bullet spunges, but at least the mechanics, especially cover mechanics, are pretty good.
I played the beta of this one, and it has some of the worst cover mechanics I've seen in recent years.

Avatar image for ptown58
ptown58

bought the game, agree with the 7, fun but not great (mediocre at best), love far cry series too

graphics look pretty good, but everything should be destructible in games by now, need better real world physics in games

Avatar image for iloveyourface
iloveyourface

"missions are tiresome over time." ugggh i just wish this game would end so i can complain about how short this game is and give it a 7 regardless because i'm a big cry-baby!!!

Avatar image for livedreamplay
LiveDreamPlay

@iloveyourface: He was a polite cry baby, he should've said "missions are repetitive and boring as fu*k!", but he decided to take the polite route and say "tiresome over time", we should appreciate that.

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

@livedreamplay: true. Because just the first mission itself is fucking repetitive. Go figure!

Avatar image for jkittleson
Jkittleson

This is a real good game if you like this genre of game you will like this.7 out of 10 is a solid score.Ive never understood people that think this is a bad score.Its like that can equate the scale they use.

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nyran125tk

This is the real issue i have and is making me want to wait for a giant price drop....everyone is putting MG5 and Ghost Recon in the same sentence. Thats not cool at all. Thats a real problem. I dont play Ghost Recon to get a Metal Gear experience or a Just Cause/MG5/Farcry experience. I would of preferred a calved up map in 20 or so sections. Complete tactical freedom within those 20 sections and a 1st person perspective. An improved Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Its really not cool, That people can literally compare a Ghost Recon and a Metal Gear Solid 5. Ghost recon Wildlands is WAY off track, if i can play it and think of Metal Gear. If you are looking for a true Ghost Recon experience. The only thing on offer..although complex. ARMA 3 online in ZEUS mode. About as tactical and believable as you are going to get.

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Daian

Every time I looked at this I just thought to myself that it would be a nightmare to play without great coordination with a bunch of friends and the world would feel repetitive quickly.

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Dari23

Wildlands AD before the review, seems legit.

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Mad_max911

I am giving this a 8 or 9. Having great fun in this game. Havent found it tedious yet. But it may come.

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.
    7.8
    Average Rating232 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