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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 dariomeznari
dariomeznari

Definitily an 8, it feels great playing it and although it has it's moments of tediousness it ain't no snipperclips.

Avatar image for peterhorner1867
peterhorner1867

The meaningless story is a pro for me.

This game reminds me of the good old days when playing games actually had you...y know...playing it.

Sick and tired of spending half of my very limited available time for games watching endless cutscenes.

Really enjoying this. Another great job by Ubisoft.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

7 is too generous for this turd.

Avatar image for jkittleson
Jkittleson

@off3nc3: have you played the game?Do you like the genre of this style of game?Do you hate everything Ubisoft puts out?Do you hate when something or someone gets successful?Ubisoft didn't get to where they are churning out garbage.I can see if thier game don't appeal to you.But to be blinded by irrogance is the nature of stupidity.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@jkittleson: Yea I did actually , i got into the CBT beta was part of the early dicord Uplay/Recon crew. The game barely runs on 980TI superclocked poor optimization around the board, car driving sub-par , repetitive missions it's basically a rehashed Delta Force with improved graphics except DF was actually a legend amongst first FPS's. No PvP component at launch and who knows when and IF.

Did that sum it up for you fanboy ?

Avatar image for gaminsincepong
Gaminsincepong

Cool. Glad this one is getting good reviews. My friends here in town say they really like it. Ill give it a go since I have buddys playing.

Avatar image for BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

Ubisoft games are all 6's to me

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@BabeNewelll: you're being way too generous with 6'S when it comes to the Tom Clancy games.

They might as well just make them all Rambo games at this point.

Avatar image for UltimateBastard
UltimateBastard

@BabeNewelll: more of the same essentially

Avatar image for jkittleson
Jkittleson

@BabeNewelll: your a troll.FarCry 3,Rainbow 6 Siege,Watchdogs 2,Black Flag,SouthPark series,Rayman series,Splinter Cell,the list can go on and on.Your narrow minded and probably lazy.I can see you at work doing something you don't like half ass.

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

@jkittleson: Maybe that's his actual opinion on the subject?

Avatar image for BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

@Ezioprez9709: @jkittleson

It is indeed , i prefer the older Ubisoft titles, seem to have gone downhill these days , also i often forget South Park is published by them , Obsidian are a great team :)

Avatar image for SirNormanislost
SirNormanislost

@BabeNewelll: Obsidian are a great team but the actual combat mechanics were rather limited and lacking for them which trey and matt mentioned on stage when discussing the new game, i have high hopes for the next game seeing as they've highlighted my biggest concern

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

@BabeNewelll: Yeah Ubisoft don't make awful games but they're not as good as they used to be. I think it all started with that Rainbow Six Vegas 2 patch on the PC version, that locked out anyone who owned a digital copy. They've never looked back since then, and by that I mean they've added more glitches to the games they make.

Avatar image for bravenz
Bravenz

@BabeNewelll: I kinda agree. They have amazing ideeas but very poor implementation of them.

Avatar image for peterhorner1867
peterhorner1867

@BabeNewelll: look everyone. Another 'cool' kid

Avatar image for BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

@peterhorner1867: look everyone. Another 'uncool' shill

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iloveyourface

@BabeNewelll: ubisoft rules and you know it. eventually you'll buy a home built by ubisoft and it'll recycle your poop for next day's meal.

Avatar image for tevic
tevic

seems like an 8 to me. Boredom sets in after 20 hours...

But 20 hours, it's a lot !!!

Avatar image for livedreamplay
LiveDreamPlay

@tevic: Boredom set in after abour 4 hours on our end. There's no story to make you accept the repetitive gameplay.

Avatar image for GRADERBLADE13
GRADERBLADE13

@tevic: The opportunity cost of losing those 20 hours to something better is the real problem

Avatar image for tevic
tevic

@GRADERBLADE13:

:) yeah correct... but I'm attracted to these kinds of games like GTA, Just cause, Mercenaries so it's not lost time for me. I love huge, beautiful worlds.

I just spent 80 hours in Mercenaries 2 which received 5/10 here. I had a good time.

Avatar image for sadface1234
sadface1234

So exactly what EVERYONE expected it to be...

Avatar image for Karmazyn
Karmazyn

@sadface1234: just ultra realistuc ghost recon man, game where nightvision googles are not implanted in your skull.

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ChronicSleeper

Nice delaying the review for eternity gamespot, when every other review sites have pretty much said the same things you are saying in a shorter period of time. Well done.

Avatar image for jkittleson
Jkittleson

@chronicsleeper: well now you can get a good night sleep.Sleep little baby don't say a word mama gonna buy you a Ghost Recon.

Avatar image for timemasheen
timemasheen

@jkittleson: lol. thank you for that. I almost choked on my taco.

Avatar image for kachal
kachal

Ubisoft open-world games usually are big piles of chores and checklists with no particular meaning. It is not rewarding nor refreshing to get tempted to do all the chores. For some teenager, it might be reasonable to waste their time on this, but there is no way I put my precious time and youth in a game that an evil corporation develops and through massive advertisements and promotions tempts us to buy.

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

I'm disappointed, but yet again, not surprised. Ubisoft doesn't know (or care for that matter) to utilize the open-world design to its full potential.

The weapons feel like peashooters, the AI is as dumb as a brick and the generic Ubisoft quest formula is present here as well. The game plays like a subpar MGSV. At this point, I'd rather wait for SOCOM 5 to get the proper tactical experience that I want (if we'll ever get a sequel).

And "playing with friends is much better" is a moot argument. Evolve, Destiny and The Division can also be more enjoyable to play with friends; that doesn't make them great games. 7/10 is slightly overrated IMO.

Avatar image for ccgod
ccgod

@cboye18: Weapons I use seem ok. Yea the computer AI is awful teammates yelling at me that i'm about to be spotted or someones coming up behind me i'm like uh shoot the mofo then wtf.

Avatar image for GRADERBLADE13
GRADERBLADE13

@cboye18: I never got a chance to play the socom games.. :/ feel like I missed out

Avatar image for el_swanno
el_swanno

@cboye18: Interesting you mention MGS5. As I played the Open Beta I was constantly thinking of how MGS did this style of gameplay better or at least in a more enjoyable style.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ad5af79a96e8

To my mind game is a solid 8. Yeah it has problems, vehicles being a major one. But if you play the game as it was suppose to be played, then it works well. And a lot of enjoyment from the game has to come from you own imagination, coming up with inventive ways to complete your objectives. The most fun happens when things don't go to plan.

Overall this isn't the type of game that lends itself well to a review. Because if you play it at a given pace, to just complete the game for a review score, you are missing out. Game is more about finding out what works, what doesn't, and experimenting with different types of tactics. Blaze through a game like this and I don't think you do it justice and it will get monotonous.

Avatar image for DARREN636
DARREN636

not ghost recon

it's a 7 year old far cry clone

Avatar image for merwanor
Merwanor

Ubisoft are really good at making great looking open worlds, but they just have this problem of actually filling it with anything truly interesting. They are so formulaic that you can often instantly recognize how a game is going to play out by just a few minutes in the game. The impressions I got from just a short time in the open beta seems to have been spot on. I will get this in a year or so when it is a lot cheaper and play it primarily with a friend or two. As the only true fun I had in beta was playing it in co-op.

Avatar image for harpoleon
Harpoleon

Idk if yall hate just to hate or take ratings way too serious but this past 6 months I got more Into ps4 and got the pro as well as a 4k hdr set yes the game looks great and from the beta every complaint I had was addressed most complaints I've noted come from pc users damn shame that 500 dollar plus system ain't hacking it or whatever but I have lots of digital games and must say I enjoy playing this and play it more than any other game I have I never got into ghost recon but I feel I picked a good start for someone new to the series I like it a lot from the first shot I took on beta I was hooked

Avatar image for harpoleon
Harpoleon

@harpoleon: I lost interest in bf1 mafia 3 sold final fantasy sold uncharted sold played for 15 minutes

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bruta

generic trash, 7 is too generous

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

@moosli: Ironic post of the day goes to...

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Joker66

But ... but .... but ... what about the priddy graffix?

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

After the glut of 8s, 9s and 10s this seems a let down even being a decent 7, still will probably be the biggest seller being a pretty brainless shooter...and at the end of the day thats what the companies are after.

Avatar image for snaketus
snaketus

After playing this few hours I'd say 7 is what it is, it's fun and good but nothing amazing except graphics and on high-end PC (meaning you can top every single setting and get 60 fps) I'd add one point for the graphics alone. 7/10 game, with high-end PC graphics 8/10. Ansel is so much fun.

Avatar image for Acillatem1993
Acillatem1993

I'm surprised it got such a high score.

Avatar image for tr4newreck
Tr4newreck

wow an objective review...... gj mr. Concepcion

didnt think it was possible( a strike on your employers not you)

include all the bugs or the fact that player who buy this game at retail, are basically buying a beta test.

Avatar image for soarlozer
Soarlozer

Ubisoft are pretty much the kings at releasing games that I want to play but they are come up short so much I just wait till they are around $10-20 or less.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

@soarlozer: For Honor is a solid fighting game though first ubisoft game which I keep going back to play since Assassins Creed 2. Most other ubisoft games are you play once and never go back.

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