This is not a classic review. It’s more like a What-Do-You-Need-to-Know-Before-You-Buy-It kind of review, from a consumer perspective and a personal experience. The Gaming Boutique kind of review. Things that can make you buy a game in a second – like a good story or stunning cinematics -, but also to put it on the maybe, or even nope-never-bye, lists, in the very next second – overpricing, overpromising, or any other over-something you might find unacceptable.
Short disclaimer, although something tells me that you’ll love the game anyway, Ghost Recon Wildlands is on my top 3 favorite video games ever. So it might seem like I am trying to sell it to you, but I am not. After all, Breakpoint will eat this game alive this autumn. So let’s start with this trailer, one of the most what-you-see-is-what-you-get trailers I have ever seen.
Ghost Recon Wildlands – General Details
Released on April 18, 2017, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is a tactical shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris and published by Ubisoft. Wildlands is the first game in the Ghost Recon series to feature an open world environment, and it can be found also on Windows and Xbox One. By the way, have you seen The History of Ghost Recon?
Today, there are two Ghost Recon Wildlands editions available on PlayStation Store: Standard Edition – the main campaign that you can play with AI or co-op (PS PLus membership required) and Ghost War, the Wildlands PVP-, and an Ultimate Edition, that contains the Standard, the Season Pass, Year 2 pass and Quick Start Pack.
If you decide to buy it, my recommendation is to go for the Ultimate Edition. Even you might think it is too late to play it – after two years away from its launch, I think it worth the difference because it gives you the entire experience of the game (also in PVP mode), and it will be a good training session for the upcoming Breakpoint. If you’re still unsure, just stay tuned on this blog and wait for the next discount period.
I bought Ghost Recon Wildlands on the same day with Shadow of Mordor, a few days after its launch, and 2 months after I bought my PS4 Pro, in search for games recommended for PS4 Pro, with graphics in 4K resolution. And both knocked me down, but I finished Shadow of Mordor first. Since then, I got stuck with Wildlands, and after I finished the campaign and also the two DLCs that came with the Deluxe Edition – this is how it was named back then – (Fallen Ghosts and Narco Road), I just got stuck with its PVP: Ghost War.
The full game contains:
– Wildlands campaign
– Fallen Ghost campaign
– Narco Road campaign
– Ghost Mode
– Guerilla Mode (PVE)
– Ghost War (PVP)
Ghost Mode and Guerilla mode came as part of the Year 2 pass benefits (if I am not mistaken), but I didn’t enjoy them much. The first one is basically the main campaign but with only one life available (the death is permanent and progress is lost), and the Guerilla mode is a PVE that I have tried but I got killed in the first 20 seconds almost every time and I decided that’s not for me.
Here is an unedited video from Narco Road DLC played in co-op (that means it has the speed I was playing), filled with a nice of cool stuff like taking down a helicopter on a beach full of people.
Ghost Recon Wildlands – story and gameplay
The game takes place in (a virtual) Bolivia in July 2019, a year in which a Mexican drug cartel known as the Santa Blanca Cartel gained so much power and influence within the country that turned Bolivia into the world’s largest producer of cocaine. The United States government is compelled to act when a bomb targets the American embassy in La Paz and undercover DEA agent Ricardo “Ricky” Sandoval is executed by the cartel.
A Ghost Recon fireteam is deployed to Bolivia as part of Operation Kingslayer, a joint operation between the CIA, DEA, and JSOC. Players play as members of the Delta Company, First Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, also known as “Ghosts”, a fictional elite special operations unit of the United States Army under the Joint Special Operations Command.
You will enter Bolivia with your CIA contact, Karen Bowman, who was also a close friend to Sandoval (two names that you’ll hear a lot during this game), with only one final objective: dismantle the Mexican drug cartel known as the Santa Blanca Cartel and kill El Sueno, a man with a dream that almost came true until you and the rest of the ghosts have been deployed in Bolivia, and only one rule in life: never lie.
The map is split into 21 areas, Bolivia being controlled by buchons, underbosses and heads of operations, associated with one of four divisions of the cartel’s operations: Influence, Security, Production, and Smuggling. Above all? El Sueno. Clearing missions in an area and collecting key intel unlocks end-missions where players can target, eliminate or capture all the bad characters of the game. Intel is also available by interrogating cartel lieutenants or even police forces, information being one of the keys of the story of Wildlands.
Here is a real taste of the game, a mission that took place during night time: killing El Gato. The bonus of the video is the melee kill of El Gato (one of the buchons in the game), a rare cinematic of this game. Unique, we might say, according to the results on Youtube. Haha. That’s pretty awesome. 😛
The equipment featured in the game is based on weapons and gear commonly used by military forces around the world, but it also features some original equipment. For example, you will have access to special drones that can be used to tag enemies and identify objectives, but also to execute some actions based on different abilities (diversion, explosion, EMP, medic).
My favorite gun in the game is an AK-12 (the Pointman class has it on PVP), a Russian assault rifle designed and manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern. The AK-12 project began in 2011, and throughout its development and evaluation stage, it has received multiple modifications to meet the Russian military’s standard and to address the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the cost and issues in the fully automatic fire of the earlier prototype models.
The game features also an AK-12 Victory assault gun (see all the weapons starting here), a special variant of the Russian AK-12 that you will find it in one of the packs (Pointman pack for sure) or buying the full game. You may see it in action by watching both Wildlands missions that are video-featuring this review (black/white thumb).
Wildlands’s open-world environment features nine types of terrain (eg. mountains, forests, deserts, salt flats, etc) and also a dynamic weather system and a day-night cycle. Use the environment in your advantage, as well as the vehicles you’ll find in the game (cars, boats, helicopters, or airplanes). The only thing I couldn’t stop to drive it was the train (and, boy, I have tried a lot!). There is a huge railroad in Wildlands, but no way to use it.
Ghost War, the Wildlands PVP, is a 4vs4 combat with two types of games: Quick games (best of 3), and Ranked games (best of 5) – that will rank you up from Bronze to Elite. You can play with yo to 3 other friends in a squad, and the rest will be chosen randomly by a matchmaking system. The game is featuring enough military classes (with different guns and abilities) to make it hard, but interesting. I totally recommend it.
Here is how a class is shown in the Loadouts menu. It has a main gun that you can change, and also change its components if you want something else as a scope, for example, and a secondary gun, usually is a pistol, but there are classes with submachine guns or shotguns. The perk is the active ability that you want, but each class has also a passive ability, the Poiontman’s being Focus under fire, as you can see it in the next images.
Also, you may carry extra gear as grenades, mines, flash bangs, C4s and gas mines, depending by the class you choose.
Wildlands PVP is the second game in my list of games I play the most in my life, although I think it overpassed Need For Speed Hot Pursuit, with at least one hour per day on average (I had a sabbatical year :-D), in the last 2 years. It was fun also to edit and publish videos on youtube, I think I have almost 50 videos published, most of them playing Pointman. Here is one with the most views, maybe for being recently published and better edited. I think is awesome, but please share your opinion in a comment. 🙂
The video has a fast pace because I used to play Wildlands like this. It also contains a lot of melee kills, as an example of the patience you need to have in the game. Rounding the map with your squad even behind the enemy lines, developing surprise actions and never hesitate shooting anything that moves are the keys for pretty violent rounds, but also a great evening with your friends.
Here is the point where if you go further I will know you are more than interested in this game. This being told, here are some things I liked in Ghost Recon Wildlands and its PVP, and some things I didn’t. Sort of some pros and cons, but not necessarily like this.
Ghost Recon Wildlands – What I’ve liked
- The graphics. And I think we all can agree that Wildlands is the most realistic shooter ever made. It’s amazing to play the Wildlands’ campaign on a huge 65′, 4K, curved Samsung TV, but it sucked on playing PVP and made me go back on a regular monitor for playing it (or any other shooter).
The Cinematics. Melees are crazy. I was not such a fan for that on the campaign, but once I felt the Sam Fisher’s gloves on my hands my gameplay changed. Also, the jumps over the fences, the climbings, the runnings, the mine deployment, the… all this are amazing and, most of the time, pretty realistic.
Here is a video that contains also the moment I was surprised by the knife I have in my hands when I meleed an enemy, fact that made me melee another enemy in the same round to see if I was imagining things, or that sh*t really happened. =))
- The Pace. Wildlands can be played at your own pace, both with AI or in co-op. There are moments when things might go wild, but with a little bit of training, patience and a lot of droning, everything will become nice and smooth. In PVP, the pace is brought to you by all of the participants, a total of 8, counting you. All humans, with no patterns to learn, but with weaknesses. 🙂
The open world. Man, it’s big. I remember flying helicopters and airplanes to discover it, and doing that for a couple of days until I got it in full. First time I was playing the campaign I didn’t use the fast travel option too much. It was too damn cool to fly and parachute myself anywhere I wanted.
The PVP. Wildlands’ PVP is a team game. A difficult game to play because everyone is thinking about K/DR, not W/LR. On top of that, just imagine you need another 3 grown-ups, God knows from which part of this world, and have that kind of chemistry to synchronize all actions in a common tactical objective. It’s tough, but when it’s happening it worths any penny of that PS Plus membership.
The people I played with. I had some curious strong connections with guys from all over this world. I like to call them factions, and I even created other accounts to play with them in the funniest way possible. The Spain faction (I was playing with NadaFueUnError account – play this), the Greeks, the Portuguese factions – with them I’ve played the most brutal rounds ever, they are crazy-fearless lol -, the south America guys (I also met a guy from Bolivia!), and, of course, the Nordics and UK/Ireland. Not many guys from the US, but the best of them. 🙂
The Cross-gaming benefits. I was mentioning about that recently when I published the lists of rewards you can get in Breakpoint if you play Wildlands and its PVP. I even wrote about the Division costume in Wildlands, or the Dying Earth costume, and how you can get them.
The Wildlands HQ mobile application. This is something not many players know about, and guess what! You can transform your mobile device into a minimap for your Wildlands adventures, both PVE and PVP modes. Like the one that is placed in the right-down corner of the screen, but as big as your mobile device. Yeap, I have tried also on the iPad, it’s awesome. 🙂 Here are the links: Android | iOS
Ghost Recon Wildlands – What I’ve didn’t like
- The conversations. In every region, every city, every military headquarters or sicarios mansions, local people and enemies are having conversations. Even on the mountains, you will find locals that will say a few words, mostly being scared of seeing a military guy in the middle of nowhere. In 1 month you will know every word. You will be able to repeat the lines at the same time!
Matchmaking System. I understand the idea to separate the players by regions. Really. Even the commercial one. But it’s not normal for log and impossible waitings if you change your region because there is almost no one in yours because of the time. And if you are playing with a guy from that region in the same squad, the waiting time is disappearing. Pufff. What waiting time?
Graphics glitches. Stupid crashes into the wild (motorcycle anyone?), AI teammates blocked for reviving you when needed, or all the moments when your character remains standing up even when he is slipping off a rock/hill, slowly to the bottom of it. This is how you’ll get stuck between a rock and your helicopter, for example. Anyway, I saw some changes in Breakpoint.
The train. Being unable to ride the train was the only real frustration in this game. You can ride anything else, from helicopters to motorcycles, but not the train. It could be an interesting update to Wildlands, or a cool feature in the upcoming Breakpoint, being able to discover the land pretty fast and use it in the missions – by blocking a road for example, on one of the numerous convoys side missions that you will encounter.
Matchmaking System (again). In Ghost War, the only way not to get stuck into the same group of players that you’ll get to play with or against over and over again is to quit the game after you finish it and restart the matchmaking. Don’t believe me? Just register a second account and give it a try. Don’t play with your friends, they will come with their matchmaking wings also. You will meet totally new players.
When a campaign dies. After finishing the campaigns and discovering the PVP, I was not impressed anymore by the main game. And, boy, they have tried. I hate pressing the circle button in the main menu every time a new operation is launched and everybody needs to know it EVERY TIME THE GAME LOADS. It’s just stupid.
Now, if you got it this far, you are already half convinced to buy it (or you already have it), so here is something extra for you.
Ghost Recon Wildlands – Tips & Tricks
Being a tactical game you must take into consideration that Intel is the most important thing. Upgrade your drones and abilities, don’t forget to upgrade your weapons too and try to act as stealthy as you can. Rushing like a team of four Rambos will only complicate things and Unidad Police or Sicarios support will not take long to counterattack. Use drones to mark all the enemies and points of interests (alarms, electric generators, etc) first, and then use your AI teammates to clear the path, by synchronizing the shots. Be also aware of the fact that the enemies might be alerted by dead bodies.
If you are the type of gamer that wants to discover a game bit by bit, I recommend playing the campaign alone, at least until you advance and understand what is going on. Those 3 AI teammates that are coming with you are very helpful, and you can count on them more than you can count on some random guys that are in the same position as you, without many clues about what to do.
Part of these recommendations you may find watching again the video with that unique melee kill. 🙂
Take also into consideration that a deadly strike on the enemy might work, but you need to be a good shooter and NOT to hesitate at any moment. You will understand what I am saying after you’ll watch this video killing La Plaga, an underboss of El Sueno. I believe that 99% of the players are killing La Plaga after he leaves the mansion using the tunnel. Few thought to scare him (a normal human reaction) in any way, to buy enough time to break the door and put him down.
Here is the entire action.
As for the PVP, I would recommend first to find other guys to squad up and play with (you can send me a message – PSN: CostinLive – and I can introduce you to a chat with GW casual players). For me it was fascinating, and I have met interesting people around the entire world and spend some awesome moments in this game. Learn about the abilities for each type of/or class, be aware of your teammates’ locations at any time and do not lose the enemies locations, once you discovered them.
Ah, and stay alive. Don’t die so many times like I did until you’ll understand that this is the only way you’ll win the game. 🙂
Here is a little taste of the PVP game also, a movie I have edited a long time ago, called The Recruit because I forgot to choose a class and the rookie is all that you get in this case. Timju’s voice, one of the coolest persons I have ever found on PSN (he’s from the US), is featuring the video, helping me to wipe the entire enemy team. It was an awesome day, as many days with my teammates back then.
There are many other players that are uploading videos on Youtube using footage from Wildlands, and I can think fast on players like Rob, Chris, Pablo, and many others, Wildlands being quite generous in terms of creating video content. You will need a little bit of talent and that’s it. 🙂 Last night, for example, a PSN friend from a chat channel we use for finding people to squad up, posted the following video. Ok, maybe it is too long, but it kept me there for the entire 1st song.
Final conclusions and ratings
Starting with this game I will introduce a new rating system, a little bit extended, and I will try to implement also a rating vote for the users (if someone knows some WordPress and might help, just say hi!). Before this article, I was looking at the Brain, the Looks, and the Muscle (story, graphics, and gameplay), but the new extended rating system will include the story, the content, the sound (music, dialogs, and other sounds), the graphics, the cinematics, and control.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (2017) – Gaming.Boutique rating
|Story:||(4.5 / 5)|
|Content:||(4.5 / 5)|
|Sound:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Graphics:||(4.5 / 5)|
|Cinematics:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Control:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Average:||(4.2 / 5)|
It’s definitely not a game for kids, it has a PEGI 18 stamp on it, and as far as I played, the average age is somewhere around 33-35 y/o, but Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is a must-have game in any PlayStation Library. It’s one of its kind, a unique shooter at so many levels. The tactics involved, the realism, the diversity of the situations a co-op or a PVP game can provoke are making Wildlands and its PVP one of the best shooters of this decade to end.
And judging by the news and leaks, the future looks even more interesting and promising. On top of that, you will get different rewards if you finish Wildlands, or do some actions. Read more about it: 😳 Ghost Recon Rewards Program: What You Will Get In Ghost Recon Breakpoint If You Play Wildlands.
Personally, I wish for a VR compatibility edition! After that… thanks to the Tech God for delivery apps. 🙂
So, this is Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, my friends! I hope this review is useful not only for the guys who are searching for more info before the purchase, but also for those who are at the beginning of the game and are wondering what the heck is going on around it. For the rest of you, be sure you’ll get all the rewards. See you when you’ll have a… breakpoint, buddy! 😉
What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts in the comments zone below, and make this blog, and this review also, a better one.