Well, here’s something you probably didn’t expect from Ubisoft’s E3 event an open-world Ghost Recon game. The developer’s just-unveiled Ghost Recon Wildlands has you fighting a Bolivian drug cartel using whatever means you see fit, whether it’s sniping targets from a distance, sneaking in under cover of night or simply causing chaos.
Vehicles will play an important role, and it’ll also be important to get help from (or be wary of) locals. Ubisoft is saying precious little about when Wildlands will show up or what its mechanics are like, but it’ll have both co-op and solo play when it arrives on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Seeing the full game in action answered these questions, and in a memorable way. Ghost Recon: Wildlands does not fully escape Far Cry’s shadow, but after only a few minutes of game play, there was no confusing this game for the series that brought us Jason Brody’s drug-infused, tattoo-driven journey, or Ajay Ghale’s violent search for the roots of his past.
Where Far Cry maintains an element of goofiness, Ghost Recon: Wildlands’ fantasy is a self-serious military one in which you and up to three other special operations soldiers perform missions aimed at disrupting the Bolivian drug trade. These soldiers, of course, are the ghosts, and the hushed and dramatic way Ubisoft’s presenters referred to the ghosts at a behind-the-scenes gameplay demo set the stage for the dead-serious missions that followed. (Though to be fair, like the company’s incessantly affected seriousness when depicting player communication is more laughable than immersive.)
Bolivia has become the largest cocaine producer in the world. The vicious Santa Blanca drug cartel has turned the country into a narco-state, leading to fear, injustice, and violence. The Ghosts, a legendary US Elite Special Operations team, is sent behind enemy lines to wreak havoc and break alliances between the cartel and the corrupted government. What grabbed me wasn’t Ubisoft’s promise that Ghost Recon; Wildlands was the largest open world the company had ever created, but rather that the missions populating this world opened up so many opportunities for military role-playing. Far Cry supports stealth, of course, but these four-person tactics are incredibly appealing to anyone who’s ever fancied themselves special operatives in a political hotspot. Ubisoft’s presenters refer to WIldlands as a playground, but what struck me about the game wasn’t its playfulness, but its solemn earnestness. If Far Cry 4 is aimed primarily at cooperative comedians, then Ghost Recon: Wildlands is for straight-faced allies ready to believe in their cause.