Game Rant goes hands-on with Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, the game that could very well be the quintessential four-player co-op game of this generation.
Shooters in general seem to be a dime a dozen nowadays. This is the case so much so that many fail to standout, but Ghost Recon: Wildlands is one that immediately struck me as something different when it made its existence known at E3 2015. The world the game claimed to immerse users in didn't seem all that spectacular in and of itself at the time, but it was the four-player co-op elements that made me genuinely intrigued to see more. Fast forward to 2016, I've finally had the opportunity to go hands-on with Wildlands, and I'm happy to report that it's as over-the-top as I'd envisioned all of those months earlier.
Attending a recent Ubisoft event, I was immediately thrown into a demo with the latest Ghost Recon. Alongside me were several other journalists eager to test the product out, but they greatly underestimated one key aspect about demoing this game – they were demoing it with me. As it turns out, being a horrible teammate is something that has always come naturally to this writer, and I was able to fully embrace that mentality near the tail end of my hands-on session. For that moment, however, I would have to go along to get along. As I waited for the game to boot up, my itchy trigger finger twitching the entire time, I spawned near a herd of llamas. No, you can't ride them.
Devastated, I turned my attention to the task at hand. I'd have to infiltrate a camp and interrogate a gang member. Sounded simple enough, so my teammates and I surrounded the compound. Taking note and marking the bad guys, we systematically began to pick them off. At least, until we got a little too comfortable and alerted the other guards. As the CPUs opened fire, the target took off in a vehicle. We quickly cleaned up the mess we'd created and began to give chase to the baddie – winding up at a gas station. I shot up the gas pumps a little while leaning out the window of our illegally-obtained vehicle, and hopped out of the car to get a better angle on the baddies.
Working in tandem with my colleagues, I was nearly mowed down by gunfire before getting the drop on a pair of villains. Planting them in the dirt, my squad mate secured the VIP and got some precious intel before brutally knocking the man unconscious – or possibly even murdering him right in front of me. Regardless of intent, the man didn't move, but we did. Back to the vehicles, stopping to finish off the gas pump which was already ablaze. As it exploded we peeled out of the parking lot, but we didn't get too far before we saw it... a glorious black helicopter.
Piling into the whirly bird en masse, our four-man team went up hundreds, maybe thousands, of feet before the size of this environment began to sink in. Ubisoft has created an absolutely immense in-game rendition of Bolivia that features a wide range of locales. The stunning red cliffs of the area, paired with the residential landscape and sprawling environments play into what makes this game so enjoyable. There is going to be a lot to do in this title, and my friends and I would be at the forefront of these shenanigans throughout the game's entirety. Of course, since we were in a helicopter at this point, plenty of tomfoolery was about to unfold.
As I took in the scenery once more, one of the devs instructed us to jump out of the chopper and parachute down onto a recently decimated village which was emanating smoke. The countdown began and as we hit zero, I bailed from my airborne friend. Hurtling towards the earth, I pulled out my parachute to see every other member of my team spread out across the environment and land in different places. After attempting to rendezvous, we set about attacking the enemy camp nearby. During this, I was blindsided by an enemy chopper and killed – forced to wait for a teammate to revive me. It would have been better to simply die in this instance rather than wait for what felt like several minutes to be revived. But I waited patiently and was eventually brought back to life.
We eventually found our target and carried out our mission, so I nabbed a nearby truck that would act as our getaway vehicle. Two of my allies hopped in with me, but the third awaited on top of a hill off in the distance. Hoping I'd swoop by to pick him up, I floored it and flattened him. He went down, desperately needing to be revived, so one of our squad mates hopped out to lend a hand. As this happened, I reversed, and promptly ran him over as well. Feeling the demo coming to an end, my final passenger exited the truck to help our team out. As the on-hand developer lectured me on the value of teamwork, I helped restore the ability to walk to one of the downed players. We then hopped into the car and drove off into the sunset before the demo came to an end.
It's not just the gunplay, the teamwork, or the environment that makes Ghost Recon: Wildlands so entertaining, it's the way they all compliment each other to give players the freedom to tackle missions any way they want. Add in the spontaneous nature of each individual user, and Ubisoft has created a melting pot filled with sudden happenstances and inevitable hilarity. It's an incredibly exciting dynamic that makes it feel like anything can happen, and it's all thanks to the insanity that is its co-op.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is set to arrive on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on March 7, 2017.