There is a fine line between keeping tactical co-op fun and engaging, and tripping over its own gameplay and single player experience. Ghost Recon manages to not only keep the two play styles seamless, but feels rewarding at whichever pace you chose.
Throwing you straight into the mix right after character creation, Ghost Recon is pretty much your personal playground from the get go. Either alone or with friends, though the latter is clearly the intended option, you can set off in any direction and just play the game how you choose. The aim of the game was clearly just giving the reins to the player from the start and letting them loose, free to tackle the story missions and side quests at their leisure. Bolivia is not lacking for choice either, because it’s one hell of a big map, and there’s a lot to do in it.
So what is the goal of the game anyway? Kill people, basically. Reminiscent of the Mafia games, Ghost Recon is all about researching targets and breaking apart a boss’s defences before taking down the target for good, with the ultimate goal of dismantling the drug cartel piece by piece. The gameplay and the story are merged as one here, kill boss’s to kill boss’s to kill even bigger boss’s. This is a little bit of a double edged sword though, as while the core gameplay is a satisfying mission to kill your way up the chain of command, that really is the whole game. Taking apart the multiple operations of the gang, one boss at a time, is a methodical and enjoyable measure of your progress. Each link in the chain is another set of events to complete as you grow stronger and unlock more to do. Yet while not inherently bad, there is little else going on despite the size and scale of the options you could have, and sometimes it can feel hollow to simply repeat the same gameplay till the end. That said, Ghost Recon knows what it is and feels justified in doing so especially with friends, giving a freedom to just enjoy the open world for what it is.
Speaking of open world, Ubisoft’s iconic towers are actually absent for once, but all the upgrading and customisation you’d expect are still there. When you’re not hunting targets you will largely be hunting supplies, new weapons or skill points and medals. On top of leveling up there is a whole range of options in terms of customising your gun’s load out or character abilities, adding new gadgets or simple improving abilities. Add these options to the open style of the map and you can really approach missions however you like. Be it scouting an enemy base with your aerial drones before sniping out targets, or setting mines across the road and sneaking in to disable as many defenses as possible. Get enough friends together and you can even use a helicopter assault as a distraction while you run in or flank from all sides at once. Multiplayer really lets you be as creative as you want to be, but going single still has the charm of running solo. Your AI buddies will even snipe marked targets clean through walls just to keep the mission clean and quiet. Is that broken? Probably, but it’s satisfying enough to make up for real cooperation.
Outside of this though, there isn’t a ton else going on in the world. The world in question though, does look and run pretty great. You can really go as far as the eye can see, and when you’re skimming across mountains with your buddies on dirt bikes and swooping across the next drop point via parachute, it really is a great looking sandbox of content with little to no issues going on under the hood. The soundtrack didn’t stand out to me as particularly special, but it definitely has its own special flavour as music and talk shows can be heard blaring through towns and car radios. It goes a long way towards keeping an ambient tone running through each mission, or simply giving more flavour to the world and its events.
On top of visuals and gameplay there is surprisingly more character than I expected, with each boss standing out as a different character to get to know, or the banter that goes on between you and your AI buddies. Slowly sneaking through a large compound while the ghosts tell each other long jokes or make small talk is a charming little addition, even if they constantly get cut off mid-sentence. The story is less about the end goal and more about all the characters and factions surrounding the Cartel. Be getting to know your next target or simply the build up to all the big bads you know feel every blow you deal to the gang.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a solid experience and a fun co-op game. It doesn’t really push any boundaries or step far outside the Ubisoft open world factory copy paste model, but they do always push out something entertaining if not ground breaking. Get some friends and try to play with all the tools the large map of Bolivia offers you, there’s plenty of hours and people worth killing here.
Worth a Go?