We’d suspected as we started to get closer to E3 that Ubisoft might be getting ready to bring Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell into the new generation of consoles at this year’s E3, and it looks like Ghost Recon was the one to get the nod.
We had a chance to check out a hands-off live multiplayer demo of Ghost Recon: Wildlands and while the flavor is undoubtedly Ghost Recon, Ubisoft takes elements from their other games as they so often do. This makes is a bigger – absolutely huge – game, but I’m not sure yet if it works in the game’s favor.
Ghost Recon games have always been, in previous versions, more mission-based affairs heavily based on tactics and strategy. With Wildlands, the core focuses seem to be on multiplayer and choice, though strategy plays a role as well.
Wildlands takes place in Bolivia with a small team trying to take down a massive drug cartel. This gives the game an opportunity for an open world game that has some visual variety, though it takes away the globe-hopping that games like Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell often engaged in. Ubisoft seem to want to make everything it can into an open world title these days, and while Wildlands looks like it has its charms, it feels like a step away from the core focus of the series. That doesn’t stop the Bolivian landscape from being gorgeous, though.
The demo I watched had four players playing. At the beginning, they were distributed around the map. One was on a hill, another hanging out in the middle of some salt flats, while a third was deep in the forest. They took on a mission to capture a snitch who might have some good information for them, and started to move into position to start pursuing the goal. This allowed the developer to show off some of the variety of approaches a mission can have. While the game is perfectly playable solo, cooperative play is the focus, with missions providing a variety of approaches that work best when applied together. Instead of having to hunt down someone to interrogate, scoping out the base, and procuring weaponry one at a time, you can be doing all of these at once as the players spread across the world after one end goal.
Wildlands looks like it’ll be a great multiplayer experience (provided Ubisoft has their multiplayer situation in better condition when the game releases). It’s a huge world with a variety of vehicles, weapons, and tons of missions.
What remains to be seen, though, is whether the soul of Ghost Recon is still intact or if Wildlands ends up being another game in the Ubisoft formula that has given us the all-too-similar gameplay hooks of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs.