'Ghost Recon: Wildlands' Hands-On Review: Tom Clancy's Latest Feels Anonymous At E3 2016

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands
The latest action shooter in the Tom Clancy line is a bit too bland. Ubisoft

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is the among the latest Tom Clancy branded bro-y tactical shoot em ups. Scheduled for a March 7, 2017 release, the E3 2016 demo followed a squad of special agents as they do a bit of bounty style justice in South America. My hands-on demo took me through a basic mission where my squad first had to find and capture an informant, interrogate him then use the intel to raid a cartel stronghold.

Like previous Ghost Recon games, squad communication is key. My demo went pretty smoothly as we were guided by an Ubisoft staffer who knew how to keep everyone talking and on the same page. Obviously, the game will play a little differently on release depending on who you play with. But if you have a competent team leader coordinating squad moves and assignments is rather easy.

I got to look at the game map a bit and it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite games, Mercenaries. The map is carved into different zones, and each one is controlled by a different cartel boss. In Mercenaries, players hunted terrorists out of a deck of 52 cards and although there aren't quite as many here it seems to be the same concept. Find a bad guy's home turf, scout for intel then track him down.

This was the format our mission followed. The recon portion felt quite smooth. Players can scout with either a pair of binoculars or a drone. The drone is cool, but it's the exact same mechanic as the drone in Watch Dogs 2. This isn't necessarily a bad thing it just felt a little cheap, and made me wonder if there were other mechanics from ubisofts other games. The map layout and atmosphere definitely had a Far Cry feel, with our mission practically mirroring the stronghold takedown experience from Far Cry 4. Although Ghost Recon: Wildlands played well, I didn't walk away with a feeling like it had its own unique brand our identity yet.

One standout for me was how traffic and civilians feel present and alive. People cowered from gunshots and frantically scrambled through gun battles. Traffic on the streets moves with purpose and chasing after vehicles is thrilling and unpredictable.

My other nitpicky complaint is the lack of a cover mechanic. Having to crouch behind environmental objects for protection felt imprecise. It seemed enemies were able to get odd angles on me no matter how close I tried to get against a wall or car bumper.  This is understandable in a game that places an emphasis on recon and stealth, you're not supposed to turn every situation into a frenetic fire fight. But that doesn't mean it won't happen, and I found myself running like a headless chicken when the bullets started to fly, crouching at random looking for safety.

Overall, my hands on with Ghost Recon: Wildlands felt like an Ubisoft potluck. Familiar themes and duplicate mechanics delivered a game that seemed satisfying, but lacking any original flavor. Let's hope the full game offers more distinct content and a story that carries fans through a game that already has a solid foundation of stealth shooter fundamentals.

 

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