Watching the opening cut scene to Wildlands made my skin tingle with excitement; with my headset on and controller in hand, I was ready. Ready to lead a covert operation into the heart of Bolivia and end the regime of the infamous Santa Blanca cartel, who have ruthlessly taken over the country and are using it to run their drug empire.
How you choose to do this is entirely up to you from the outset as players are free to explore the vast and often stunning open world. Dense jungles, mountain ranges, barren deserts, caves, quarries, lakes and salt plains are all found across the 20+ provinces and each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to completing key objectives.
If stealth is your game, the thick foliage of the jungle - combined with a ghillie suit - provides the perfect opportunity to silently take out enemies from cover. If stealth isn't your forte, there is, of course, the option to run in, guns blazing. Whatever your strategy, Wildlands allows you the freedom to make the tactical decisions yourself.
Where the game falls, though, is its rather repetitive mission sequence. Each province has its own cartel leader that can be taken down, but only after learning their location through stereotypical ‘lure out the bad guy’ tasks. This could be blowing up a cache of drugs, stealing something valuable, interrogating a high priority target or just shooting their best friend. For the first three or four provinces, this is brilliant but can get slightly frustrating and repetitive.
Without a doubt Wildlands flourishes when played cooperatively. The AI teammates when playing single player are steady enough, despite lacking combat initiative. But nothing quite compares to having a full squad of real players trying to be tactical. With ‘the great outdoors’ as your playground, the game captured that feeling of being a kid again, having imaginary gunfights in the playground.
There is something incredibly satisfying about launching a ‘co-ordinated’ assault on an enemy stronghold with two guys on the ground, one sniping from a hidden vantage point and one providing aerial support and extraction from a chopper. Not to mention this quickly expels the repetitive nature discussed earlier. In addition, the instant drop-in/out system is slick and saves having to wait around in loading lobbies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a notorious drug lord to take down…
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- Ghost Recon: Wildlands