Ghost Recon: Wildlands review: One hot mess of an open-world game


Of all the publishers out there, it’s Ubisoft that has most affectionately embraced the open-world. Costly and time-intensive to create, open-world games are a risky proposition, even for a company the size of Ubisoft. That it has transformed an existing, and largely well-received franchise into an open-world game is riskier still.

But Ubisoft has, for better or worse, crafted something of a template for the genre with games like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs, into which slots Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The result is a truly enormous and frequently beautiful game, but one that often feels like a disorganised muddle of things to do. It lacks a coherent narrative thread to pull you through its cookie-cutter co-op content, and it regularly condones some poisonous ideas through lazy writing.

As an unnamed member of an ultracapable quad-man (or woman) squad, you’re tasked with creating your own persistent online “Ghost” (read: character) from a huge list of options before heading to Bolivia. Wildlands’ rendition of the country is a vast sprawl of all kinds of different landscapes. There are mountainous peaks that offer great sniping opportunities but little cover, desert flats that offer neither cover nor the elevation for a tactical advantage, and tundra and verdant vegetation, which provide ample space to manoeuvre unseen. There are a multitude of different outposts, too, both militarised and civilian, which give you urban spaces to navigate.

Your reason for being in Bolivia is explained in the first couple of minutes: the country has been turned into a narco state by the merciless Santa Blanca Cartel, which is headed up by the ludicrously tattooed top dog, El Sueno. Your job as the Ghosts is to systematically destabilise the cartel’s presence in the nation, going up against the corrupt private military forces that police Bolivia. The plan for doing so is painfully familiar: repeat similar if not identical missions––killing goons, tagging drug supplies, interrogating lieutenants, and tailing convoys––with the aim of taking out the gang’s low- and mid-level leaders, before slowly working your way up to the big boss himself.

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Ars Staff

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