E3 2015: Braving The Wildlands In The New Ghost Recon
The end of Ubisoft's E3 press conferences always leave a megaton for the world to digest, and this year it was all about the return of Ghost Recon. Ghost Recon Wildlands is a very ambitious venture, boasting seamless four-player co-op gameplay in the "largest action/adventure open world in Ubisoft history," and what was shown at the Ubisoft E3 booth was indeed impressive. If they can pull this off it could end up being a defining moment for the new console generation.
The demo starts with all four players in different areas of the map doing different things. One player is walking through a mountaintop surveying the landscape, another is driving through a salt flat heading toward the mountain, but the action starts with a player sneaking up on two enemies at what looks like a guard shack, taking out one before interrogating another for the location of a high-value target. It seems a cartel member has been labeled a snitch by his peers, and the Ghosts want to get him out of there so he can indeed be a snitch.
Once the location is learned, all four players move toward a nearby airport in order to commandeer a chopper for the rescue. As two players sneak through the camp unnoticed, a third mans a sniper rifle on a nearby ridge and watches them. Once the two make it to the chopper they see a group of people nearby representing two of the game's enemy factions, the cartel and the "Unidad" military force working for the corrupt government, and two of them are arguing. Needing a distraction the sniper takes out one of the two arguing men, starting a faction fight between the two without involving the Ghosts. The fourth player arrives via jeep and takes out the remaining enemies, then all four jump into the chopper and head to the prisoner's location.
Once there, two of the players jump out in impressive BASE jump fashion while the other two stay in the chopper for recon and air support. The two base jumpers land and fight their way to the prisoner, eventually securing him and stealing a jeep to make an escape. Unfortunately they set off an alarm while doing so and their escape is a bit messier than they'd hoped. As they drive to a flat area to drop off the prisoner, they're confronted on the road by another vehicle filled with enemy reinforcements responding to the alarm the two players just raised. A swift turn into the vehicle makes it spectacularly crash, letting the Ghosts meet up in a desert area, drop the prisoner into the chopper, and go their separate ways with the chopper players going to drop off the target while the other two go find something else to do.
The amount of player freedom throughout Ghost Recon Wildlands might be the most impressive thing about it. Even though this is a co-op game with four players on one squad, the four of them can be at any point on the gigantic world map doing whatever they wish before coming together and completing missions. It's a fascinating concept, a hybrid of teamwork and individual freedom that could lead to a whole new approach to open world gaming. The developers also promised seamless drop-in and drop-out co-op, so players can come and go as they please with no penalty to the rest of the squad. It's an amazing thing when I really think about it, and I'm hoping that this ambition doesn't get limited during development.
Ghost Recon Wildlands looks to revolutionize the open-world genre with a massive playground and up to four players venturing through it at once. Given Ubisoft's recent track record I would understand some skepticism, but this could be one of the most impressive games of the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 era right from launch if done correctly.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is currently billed for a 2016 release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.