I had a chance to play the Ghost Recon Wildlands beta and here are my thoughts. Again this isn’t a review because I really hate reviews; these are major complaints with major compliments.
So to start, I loaded up the beta and having not played a single Ghost Recon or anything Tom Clancy I saw the Ubisoft logo and grunted. I’m not a big fan of Ubisoft for a few reasons (I might get into those later) but the negative stigma still sticks with me. I was however quickly impressed with how fast I could link up with my friends and jump in the game. They started off with a full squad but a player left just as I logged in and it only took about 2 minutes for the squad to become available again. I was impressed with the server at that point.
I’ll say this, going from BF1 to Wildlands was actually quite nice. I was a little worried because I might have had to learn a whole new controller scheme but nope, almost everything was keyed in the same and everything else came quickly. I’m a huge fan of the 3rd person view but I was worried about how the transition would look going between 3rd to scope and back and I will say that I had absolutely no issues with it. It was quick, responsive, and felt natural. The controller response was AMAZING! I was fine tuning a head-shot and it felt really nice to be able to make small tiny adjustments without over-blowing on the joystick. The whole process felt super analog (which is a good thing) and I didn’t even notice the aim steps, you know, when you push on the joystick a little and there’s a fine line between aiming slow and aiming fast? This joystick aim felt like it didn’t have that, it was all relative. It was all excellent. When you have precise control of the character, it’s harder to blame the controller, or the game when you fail. Every death instance, was clearly my lack of skill and reflex. There were no surprises, at least not for me.
So the controls are great, and I really liked the sound too! They did a really good job with bullet hits and the different sounds they make when striking different objects (sand, trees, concrete, bodies, etc…) and the graphics were, for a beta, really well done. I played it on a PS4 Pro (I’m not sure if there was a difference) but the jungle was dense and everything looked nice. I really have no complaints in that department.
On to the good stuff.
So after about an hour of playing this with my buddies, I started to notice some things like… one of the players was in a sitting position on the outside of the airplane… or, he would be forever frozen in a falling animation regardless of what he was doing, or he would be walking around halfway in the ground and when he crouched or laid down he would completely disappear underground. I was killed once because an invisible motorcycle ran into me… It was KDog… I just didn’t see him. Over group chat, everyone was asking me why I was still inside of a base when on MY screen I was right next to them. I had been describing all these glitches to them and they haven’t seen any until I hopped into a helicopter and took off. On their screen there was no one in the seat, and the helicopter just started floating. No mechanical animation, no sound, no nothing. It looked like someone tied a string to a toy and just started flying it around. It was hilarious. Which actually made the beta super enjoyable!
So the glitches aint bad. But the quests got really old, really fast. There were a lot of “Collect” missions or “Tag” missions that felt really plain. If I’m doing some sneaky shiz, I prefer to do it all Metal Gear Solid style. It was fun until I realized that sneaking was really boring and all of the missions could be easily done by ramming a car into a building and running to “Tag” the stuff and then sprinting out the opposite end. There was no real alarm call and the bad guys didn’t rush me all that much. There were a couple of death traps that involved GTA style police/military personnel and they were easily shaken by simply walking away a little distance. They did NOT pursue for long at all. If you kill civilians, you fail a mission, which… just requires you to go back and start it again… (again, this might change from the beta)
Towards the end of our time playing we stopped taking it as seriously and strategically as it was probably designed to be and just hijacked helicopters and airplanes and pretended we were in Rambo or Chuck Norris movies. Guns a blazing, C4 everywhere, throw caution to the wind type of shit. When we all died we just kind of re-spawned somewhere and started the menace again. If you take the game seriously and do everything with caution, it tended to be more difficult, but when we went into our missions full speed the game mechanics and gimmicks were exposed. The bad guys were dead before the system got to load in their “scouting/defense/offense/tactical” program and route.
Some interesting things:
A helicopter can fly up over 3km in elevation, which you can skydive from.
You can release a drone and mess with the pilot by flying the drone into the helicopters blades.
You can land an airplane on a short runway, like a small roof of a building.
If you crash a motorcycle into a rock, you will get ejected like a rocket. (I did that off of a large cliff side… it was great. They found me and revived me)
You can get shot dead and your teammate can revive you, but if you fall from 500m… you are beyond revival.
I counted two revival animations. 1. voodoo hand waiving over the body and 2. adrenaline needle straight to the heart followed with a pat on the shoulder.
I like the beta, I do. It’s fun to sit down and so some tactical shit with your tactical buds. There are TONS of cool features like marking targets, sync shots, … uhh… parachutes… skill trees… uhm… I’m forgetting a lot, but there are cool little features that made me say “oh! that’s neat” and honestly I probably didn’t even get to explore the whole beta. I didn’t sit down and play through it alone and that might be a whole different experience than with a full squad. I only got to explore half of the map before I got bored for the day and then life got in the way and I just didn’t have the time to explore thoroughly. The beta release was also on the Superbowl weekend which made it impossible to play with my friends on Sunday so I spent my day watching Netflix instead.
If the missions and side missions have considerable variability and if the glitches improve, I will most likely give the final title a shot for a while. I’m always looking forward to the next high. If I blast through Nioh, then I’ll probably give this a shot.