The Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta has been the talk of the video game community for the better part of the last week. When news got out that the beta code emails were going out last Wednesday, the excitement began as those anticipating a code refreshed their email every five minutes. This was amplified by the fact that each person selected was able to invite up to 3 friends into the beta as well.
Rather than sending three additional beta codes, Ubisoft forced people to add their friends on Uplay and send the beta code invites through the Ghost Recon Wildlands website, a difficult and clunky method of inviting friends to play to say the least. As if this wasn’t bad enough, many had issues getting their code invites through this convoluted system, leading to lots of angry, frustrated gamers, some of which never even got a chance to play due to these issues.
Needless to say, the Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta invite fiasco was not a good first impression when many in the gaming community already feel burned by another Ubisoft title, Tom Clancy’s The Division, which has been plagued by glitches, cheaters, constant rebalancing, and more. The Ubisoft connection along with similar looking character modeling, 3rd person game play, and 4 player coop have led many people to write it off as just a reskin of The Division. Yes, this game does have a few similarities to that much maligned game, but Ghost Recon Wildlands is a very different experience with its own redeeming qualities and issues.
First, let’s talk about the good things. The character customization system was robust for a beta. I found myself really taking my time to get my Ghost’s look just right, even though I knew he’d be gone after the beta ended. There were various beards, hairstyles, tattoos, even headsets, vests, and backpacks you could equip your character with. Some options were grayed out so it’s safe to say that the full version will have more options available or unlockable as you level up your character.
More importantly, this beta was fun. It’s actually a lot of fun, especially when you are playing with your friends. The beta may have been restricted to Itacua, one of the total playable regions in the full game, but it still provided a huge open world sandbox to play in. With such an expansive world comes a wide array of vehicles to traverse it. The vehicles included airplanes, jeeps, helicopters, boats, tractors, dirt bikes, sports cars, military vehicles and many more!
Wildlands is an open world sandbox that really shines when a group of buddies just team up and do whatever they want. There were six main story missions and a ton of various side missions to complete in Itacua. There were also collectibles such as skill points and medals, supplies to mark, and rebels to free from Santa Blanca Cartel jail cells.
Going from mission to mission isn’t the only thing you can do though. Thanks to the vast array of vehicles I mentioned earlier, you can simply ride or fly around looking for trouble to get into! You can attack roaming groups of cartel goons, or if you really want a challenge, poke the hornets’ nest that is a Unidad base. What are the Unidad? Well, they’re a more elite type of enemy to fight. They are trained soldiers of the Bolivian government that are in the cartel’s pocket. They have more advanced vehicles, military grade weapons, and body armor. If you don’t use proper tactics against these guys, you’re going to lose! Especially as they send wave upon wave of troops at you.
Honestly, I don’t have many bad things to say about the beta, but there were a few issues. For starters, even though solo play is possible, the AI teammates you get are nearly worthless. You can do a sync shot where you mark a target and they will snipe him for you, but otherwise you can’t really coordinate attacks too well with the AI team. At least, I couldn’t! Their only redeeming quality was they could eventually revive you even if you died in the middle of a swarm of enemies!
As I said previously, the beta was a ton of fun, but I could see the game play loop getting repetitive. A lot of the side missions are similar to each other and much of the game is: Go here, kill these dudes, mark these supplies, collect these things, rinse, & repeat. There are a few missions where you have to steal a vehicle of some sort to mix it up a little. In order to prevent this from getting stale, the mission types will have to get more diverse and the added challenge of different ecosystems will need to come into play more.
There were also some bugs and glitches. At one point, the game showed one of my group was several hundred meters away when he was actually in a vehicle next to us. He proceeded to pretend it was a ghost car and wreaked a little havoc! Another time, someone else in my group was in a vehicle but it showed him standing on top of it on my screen. As he drove, it looked like he was running in place! Most of the issues were more funny than game breaking, except for one. On the final night of the beta, one friend couldn’t join the group. All three of us tried inviting each other, joining each other, rebooting our systems, but only two of us were able to group up.
The vehicle physics were not very realistic at all. Most of the cars, trucks, and bikes were seriously fun to drive around, but you could crash them and flip them with very little issue. I drove my dirt bike through some crazy terrain down the side of a mountain and never got thrown off or killed. This made them a blast, but it takes away from the realism a bit. The air vehicles were very difficult to fly as well, but that’s probably not a bad thing. Landing the airplane for one mission was quite an adventure for me to say the least!
The Final Word
The Ghost Recon Wildlands beta was extremely fun. So fun that I was seriously disappointed when I tried to log on one last time on Monday and got the notification that it was over. I just wanted to keep playing it! There is definitely a possibility of the game becoming too repetitive and boring, but with 11 different ecosystems spanning across 21 regions of Bolivia, mountains, jungles, snow, rivers, and more, I don’t think it will. If not for an insanely large backlog of games to play and Mass Effect Andromeda also coming in March, this would be a definite preorder for me. Right now I am on the fence, but even if I don’t buy it day one, I will buy it eventually, as long as I have some cool cats to play it with!