Vast lands sprawling with lush green
forests, mountains that kiss the sky, beaches with shimmering clear water for
miles and miles. While this might sound like the perfect holiday getaway, it is
also a narco-state ruled by a ruthless and influential drug cartel. Welcome to
Ghost Recon Wildlands' Bolivia.
Ubisoft's latest open world offering boasts
to be one of their biggest maps ever and you will realise it the moment you
drop in the game and look around. But is this open world tactical shooter as
grand as it looks?
The expansive geography of Bolivia allows
the devs to perfectly display the graphical capabilities of the game. You get
to wander across, snow covered hills, tropical suburbs, beach side resorts,
salt lake etc. The sheer amount of graphic options available to toggle or
change in the menu, itself prove the amount of visual fidelity the game offers.
Little details like how the night rain scatters light when it comes in front of
a light source, the water colour changing as you come closer to land and the
climate changes all add to making the game look spectacular. But that is not to
say that there aren't any rough spots here and there. The eyes of pedestrians
and rebels look as if they would pop out of their heads at any moment, vehicles
look flat and don't get near as much detail as the main characters and the
terrain. Also all of this visual richness comes at the cost of high
requirements, especially the amount of VRAM consumed. It is easy to use more
than 2.5GB of VRAM at high settings even on HD resolution.
The story of the game is actually very
simple. The state of Bolivia has been taken over by the Santa Blanca drug
cartel led by El Sueno (a character that feels like it has come straight out of
a Saints Row game) and the cartel has become so powerful that even the
government does not want to mess with them. It is when these mobs torture and
kill a DEA agent, the US government sends four of their best covert ops
officers a.k.a Ghosts to replace the coke in the bodies of these baddies with
lead. While the story sounds simple the way in which the games picks apart the
Santa Blanca empire is most charming and makes you want to keep going.
At the start of the game you get to customize your character and there are a decent amount of options at available and I liked the fact that you can change your appearance anytime during the game through one of the menus. The start however can also feel overwhelming as the game throws a crate full of information at you in a very short span of time. It was only after playing for about 3-4 hours that I came to know and understand the various controls and mechanics of the game.
The way you progress in Ghost Recon Wildlands reminded me of the first Assassin's Creed game. You have an x amount of bosses spread across the map and you must do y amount of tasks to get to them. Seems straightforward but Ubisoft has tried to make it as exciting as possible by giving different types of missions like planting bugs without being detected, stealing information or vehicles, scaring people and even framing some bosses. There is also a skill tree allowing you to make your character more competent as the game progresses. There are tons of side tasks to complete which reward things like extra information, or resources to increase your skills. It is not just you that gets upgrades, your weapons do too. You can find various upgrades throughout the game to soup up your arsenal. Thankfully the missions do not have any additional objectives that need to be completed, thus you can approach mission as you please without feeling bad about not having completed a task that was not even necessary. Your friendly AI character behave well most of the time and in my playthrough I found them to be the perfect distraction/tanks while I completed the objective. Co-op mode on the other hand makes things more dynamic than they already are. With human error and stupidity added to the equation you get scenarios where serious missions can easily turn into a comical massacres. Still the sense of accomplishment you get once you finally complete the mission is more than enough. One major issue I had with the missions was the amount of ease with which you can complete seemingly tough missions.
Since the map is so big you do get a range of vehicles to traverse it. These include bikes, cars, choppers, boats, planes and even a tractor because why not! Now I agree that this is a tactical shooter and driving is not the main focus of the game but still that is no reason for giving us vehicles that just float in unpredictable ways specially considering how some missions require you to chase someone or outrun the mob. Thankfully there are fast travel points across the map and the airborne vehicles and boats handle well enough to save the day.
For the people who are confused whether they should or should not play Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands if they have not played the earlier games, you are not missing anything major and the game is very much unrelated to the previous entries in the series. All in all it offers a decent experience when it comes to single player campaign but shines when it comes to the flexible and fun co-op mode. The game in my opinion also has some replay value in it due to the freedom of playstyle you get. You could stealth your way through your first run and unleash hell on the Santa Blanca cartel during your second visit. So if you have a few friends ready to roll with you then you will have an explosive time in GRW's Bolivia.
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