Tom Clancy’s The Division was the first Tom Clancy-branded title I truly committed to in my gaming lifetime. While I did enjoy it for the most part, it fell to pieces the more Ubisoft updated it and tried to fix its broken gameplay, which led me to abandon it altogether. I hoped against hope that Ubisoft’s next entry, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, would be better and make up for The Division. I can say it does, for the most part, but not without faults which sadly come as no surprise.
Taking place in a fictional Bolivia in the near future, your goal is to lead a four-man, special op task force that call themselves “ghosts” and team up with some local rebels to initialize Operation Kingslayer. This operation involves taking down the Santa Blanca drug cartel led by El Sueño, a terrible and powerful drug lord with ties into just about everything, from religious leaders to businesses. This won’t be easy, as he’s got more connections than an ISP that you’ll have to take out one by one until you start to affect his operations and get his attention. The cool thing is that you can approach this from any angle you want, any way that you want. So if you want to take out the cartel quietly with stealth, or just go in guns blazing, the choice is yours.
Anyone who has played online, open-world games such as Grand Theft Auto Online will already have a good idea of what to expect here. You start things off by creating a character with some decent options for gender, color, scars, tattoos, gear, etc, and lead your three AI controlled team members to victory. There’s plenty of vehicles from cars to helicopters you can use in your missions, and there’s gadgets such as drones to help you scout for enemies and get a lay of the land before you take them down. These will come in handy, as the world here is detailed and huge, probably even more so than Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3 which is saying a lot. Combat is what you’d expect, with sight aim or hip shooting with machine guns, sniper rifles and more you can find, earn, and use with or without suppressors to quietly dispatch foes or let them know you’re there.
Unfortunately there’s a hitch with the combat in the form of the unreliable cover system in place here. Instead of having a button to press or hold to take cover like in The Division (which to this day is the best cover system I’ve ever used), you take cover by getting close to something and hope it allows you to do so. You can already imagine how annoying and frustrating this can be in the heat of battle as you try to quickly take cover only to get pelted by gunfire. Luckily if you die, one of your teammates can bring you back once per fight, and you can bring them back as many times as needed as long as you stay alive. You can also give commands to your team via an order wheel you can open and tell them to open fire, hold position, move to a location and such. One of the coolest orders that comes in handy is the “sync shot” that has your team taking out a specific target with deadly efficiency. You also can tag supplies like computers, medicine, and more you come across for the rebels which earn you points to summon some of them to help you fight, and get some points to level up your skills such as your drone’s battery and range, steadying your aim, and other abilities.
Those who go at this game alone will be glad to know your AI controlled team are pretty decent at following orders and not getting you killed. But the real joy in playing comes from grouping with friends or other players, which is easy to do via your friend list or opening the matchmaking menu. Once you team with someone, whether it’s one person or three, your AI members will disappear and it falls on you and your squad to complete the missions. I love online co-op and this is some of the best I’ve played as you and your friends can communicate with voice chat and tackle the missions however you see fit while having a blast doing so. The graphics and audio are pretty good, but have issues such as textures acting up, framerate issues even with high end graphic cards, and other things. They’re nothing game breaking thank goodness, but it does take you out of the immersion quite a bit.
If you and your friends are looking for a good online co-op game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands should fit the bill nicely. Sure it has some issues with its cover system and technical hiccups here and there, but there’s more than enough team based combat action to keep all of you busy, especially since there’s DLC coming down the line that’ll make sure you’ll be fighting the good fight for a long time.