Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands preview

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon WildlandsThough we gave our best game of E3 2015 title to Star Wars Battlefront, it was a very close call between it and Ubisoft’s next big thing, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, with the force and Jedi adventure the only thing keeping it off the top spot. It looks like it’s going to raise the bar for third person first person shooter hybrids as it throws everything from stealth missions, blazing gun fights and blistering vehicle chases into the mix to create what’s shaping up to be a very special game to play.

Created by the brilliance of Ubisoft’s Paris development team, it’s one of the most exciting prospects on the cards, stealing a lead on their own front runner, The Division. It’s being touted as the first military shooter set in a massive and responsive open world and who are we to argue. It could be marketed as the first game to actually rock your world while playing it and we’d still buy it with the sheer mind bending class of the pre-alpha gameplay trailer below.

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Release date

An official release date hasn’t been announced as of yet for TCGRW as of yet, which is a pretty big indication that it won’t be anytime soon, which means you can undoubtedly rule out 2015. That puts it into next year, unless it’s mired with similar delays as Ubisoft’s other big upcoming Tom Clancy title, The Division, which would nudge things all the way into 2017. However, with so much pre-alpha footage already available following E3 2015, we’re assuming that things are quite far advanced in terms of the development of the game, so we’d expect it during the Christmas period in 2016 at the very latest.

What we do know for sure is that when the release date does roll around it will be coming out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox ONE and PC, and if the gameplay trailer is anything to go by it could be one of the best titles we’ve seen on any of them.

Story

It’s all about the Marching Powder in Ghost Recon Wildlands with US Elite Special Operations unit, The Ghosts, heading into enemy territory to clean it all up once and for all. The game is build around a Bolivia overrun by a criminal underworld that has spearheaded a drugs operation that spans the entire country with many tendrils around the world.

The country has become the world’s biggest cocaine producing nation and it’s all controlled by the brutal Santa Blanca gang, which rules with ruthless retribution at its heart and a complete lack of anything resembling fear of death. With the operation spreading fear, oppression and pain throughout Bolivia, South American and the rest of the world, the Ghosts are sent in to sort shizzle out, crush the operations, play the cartel bosses against eachother and break up the stranglehold Santa Blanca has over the government and reduce the protection of the Unidad forces.

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Wildlands night scene

Gameplay

If you’ve skipped ahead and watched the trailer already you’ll know that this is going to be a game with a whole lot of options for gameplay fuzzy tingle times. The coolest for us is that you’ll be able to switch between third person and first person action, which will come in handy when you’re looking to hit the firefight playbook. It’s a system that we’re surprised to be so rare, but the reality is that most games only let you play in one or the other, so it’ll be a lot of fun having the flexibility to change things up when you need to.

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Fundamentally, it’s a massive scale open world military shooter that is broken up into a stockpile of missions to complete in order to decimate the ranks of the Santa Blanca and bring back a bit more order to Bolivia and the rest of the world. With the death-toll high as a result of their actions, you’ll need to redress the balance more than a little, so even the stealthiest of missions will require a fair few kills to get the job done, which is more a reflection on the mindset of modern warfare than a damning indictment on Ubisoft’s penchant for bloodletting.

The game will have a single player option to tackle the game head on alone, but there will also be a 4-player co-op option and it’s here that it’s pinning its hat, making it a big feature of the potential gameplay fun. It’s been built from the ground up for four players to work together to make it through the missions, so if you haven’t got three gaming buddies to rely on you might want to start trawling the streets and game forums to find some if you want to get the most out of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

If you aren’t that socially interested, or you just prefer to go it alone, the good news is that Ubisoft has thought of you too and build in three AI controlled Ghost teammates for you to run in a pack with. You’ll be able to upgrade their skills, weaponry, armour and tech as much as your own, and they’ll be with you every step of the way, dishing out stealth kills, providing cover fire and hailing the opposing ranks with bullet fire whenever you take the fight them head on.

It’s an open world title, but not as we know it Jim, because it’s foofing massive, covering ground from the infamous Death Road to the Bolivian salt flats and beyond. There’s also a lot of variation in the landscapes you’ll have to explore along the way with snow capped mountains to climb, lush emerald green jungle forests to disappear in, rain soaked cartel bases to infiltrate, stinking drug factories to raid and cactus strewn deserts to manoeuvre. While they’ve stopped short of creating a life size equivalent of Bolivia, they have delivered something that will feel very close to it and you’ll be to explore its vastness to your hearts content.

There’s no pre-designed path to completing the game, which fits in well with the open world expances of Wildlands, so you can choose what order you go at smashing up the Santa Blanca operations. However, every decision you make has consequences with ramifications for the people within the game as reprisal civilian killings can come from your previous exploits, gang members and bosses can become more erratic as the stability of their relationship with the government starts to crumble and allegiances you form earlier in the game can help you out just when you need it later on in your progression through the mayhem.

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Wildlands jeep

You’ll also be able to deploy a number of different mission strategies depending on how you want things to play out. If you want to live up to the Ghosts name then you can adopt more of a stealth plan of attack, if you want a ground and air team you can parachute two Ghosts in and leave the other two in a chopper to provide air support and cover fire, and if you want to run head long at the Santa Blanca blasting everything to smithereens with merciless inefficiency you can.

There are a few tells along the way though if you want to pursue them, which can give you a little intel on the setup of a gang hideout or drugs run, helping you decide how to approach them. These come in the way of smaller targets who you can make a play for, giving you the opportunity to interrogate them to find out more about what to expect before deciding how you’re going to tackle a particular portion of the game.

Ubisoft are also up to their “living environment” tricks again, which we’ve always been a fan of, and with so much experience at crafting settings that genuinely feel alive, they’ve honed it to what appears to be near perfection here. The people, landscape and wildlife all combine to present a credible open world setting for the Bolivian marching powder exploits of the game. Little villages dot the landscape, fluffy lamas roam the hills and the people of Bolivia go about their lives as best they can with so much drug cartel control in place. The weather and time of day will have a big impact on all of this, while also changing the way you approach any situation with rain and nightfall providing the perfect cover for your missions.

It’s not just the environment that you can admire and interact with in unique ways either. The enemies present a lot of options too, especially with the loose and easily manipulated arrangement between the Santa Blanca gang members and the government’s Unidad forces. A well placed sniper shot can see the two blasting the ever loving snozzcumbers out of eachother, providing the perfect distraction to sneak past undetected. The human dynamics and political situation is a feature that Ubisoft have been vocal about encouraging gamers to work out how to exploit, taking a defining role in the gameplay.

If that’s not enough action for you to take, there will also be a number of vehicles and other modes of transport for you to get to grips with and use to your advantage. Jeeps, helicopters and parachutes are the tip of the iceberg and with so much game to explore they’re going to come in handy as you go from one cartel decimation to the next.

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Wildlands jungle scene

Graphics

One look at the pre-alpha gameplay trailer below is enough to tell you everything you need to know about the graphics for Wildlands, but in case you’re not 100% they’re going to be epic. Every element that features in the über-slick, visually eye gouging action is rendered to near perfection in a way that we’d have to say is unrivaled to-date. It’s got more detail than The Division, as much, if not more scale when stacked up against Just Cause 3 and the kind of style that’s as close as we’ve seen to an improvement on reality itself.

The environments and characters look very lifelike, and though when you look at the detail of a gameplay still you can see that it’s a computer game, it’s the animation effect that make it look so credible. Motion is slick and realistic, which adds to the effect and the sprawling expanse of the open world stretches out to the horizon with some of the best draw distances we’ve ever seen.

First impressions

To cut a long story short, we can’t wait to get to play Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. It looks inventive, without taring up the rule book as such. Instead, it takes all the best plays and combines them in what would appear to be one awesome game. If that isn’t enough Ubisoft have announced that it will feature their biggest openworld setting to-date, which for them means it’s going to be mind bogglingly enormous, and this only adds to our anticipation for the action packed military shooter.

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