Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands and its extended DLC, Narco Roads, are the latest in the Ghost Recon series. This series is known for its high quality and great attention to detail regarding realism. Fans will be happy to know Wildlands is no different. While playing this game, it became apparent very quickly that time and effort were put into making the experience as real and fluid as possible. The gameplay feels very grounded and reminiscent of past Ghost Recon games. That is, except for all the RPG elements.
Let me be clear here, this isn’t a criticism. I think these RPG additions lend very well to the tactical shooter styled gameplay. Specifically, the game feels like a perfect blend of what makes tactical shooters and RPGs great. Massive maps, bosses, loot, quests, zones, and even talents are present all while being displayed alongside the hardcore tactical shooter gameplay we have come to know from Ghost Recon. My only complaint regarding these additions is that some feel shallow and could be more fleshed out.
Specifically, the talent system. While a successful and well-designed talent tree gives the players the ability to customize their playstyle and change their interaction with the world, this talent tree system merely feels like a linear path to increase your character’s overall effectiveness. While it does make your character better at specific things, like sniping or explosives, there is no spark or uniqueness to any set of skills.
On the other hand, there are many things that Wildlands does very well. Firstly, the map is absolutely massive. Easily rivaling, if not dwarfing, the maps of Fallout 4, Breathe of the Wild, and other similar titles. As well, the map is absolutely full of things to do; it has a few differing zones, each has their own quests and boss so you never run out of things to do. I should mention though, while the game is full of activities, after a bit, they begin to lose their wonder. Most zones are extremely similar with little variation on enemies and strongholds. While the bosses do add some unique flare when you get to them, and the quests are all decent, nothing about these interactions are extraordinary.
Regardless, the visual quality of Wildlands is very strong. At the highest settings, the textures, light, and 3D assets were nothing short of astounding. The game’s designers understood this, as well, and crafted a wonderfully vibrant world to explore and take in. Alongside the visuals, the sound design also works very well for the setting and is completely serviceable. One personal note, I appreciate the hyper-realistic gunfire sound effects; few games take the time to get these right, and Wildlands does so.
After playing for a while, I took a stab at the DLC titled Narco Road. This DLC is an odd departure from the main game both plot-wise and design-wise. While the gameplay is extremely similar, the theme and feel of the DLC are completely different from that of the main game. While I didn’t play much of Narco Road, what I did encounter seemed off and felt out of place in regards to Wildlands as a whole. Nothing is particularly bad about it, it just seems unnecessary.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. While I don’t think it merits a second play through, I do think it’s worth a buy, especially on sale. With the sheer amount of content and enjoyable gameplay, it’s well worth picking up. But more importantly, I think this game may set some important trends for future game designers. With this game’s massive size and proper blending of genres, it shows there’s room out there for more styles in MMOs. I personally think it’s a great starting point for the MMO Strategic Shooter.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Crimson Gaming and Ubisoft for supplying us with the key to this game. This review is not sponsored or paid and is the author’s sole opinion.