Wow I spent a lot of time in this game. Interestingly this was one of the many March games that released and probably the one I had anticipated most, but put off buying after lacklustre mutterings about it started appearing.
In the end, I decided my mind was my own and picked up a copy and I am so glad I did.
This is very much a game that depends on you buying into it and making it what it is. If you want to then yes you can rush through it, do the whole game going point to point in a helicopter and then complete the required missions. However, if you do this then you will miss the fun from this game.
I played the game more akin to an RPG than a regular shooter, I changed clothing to better suit the mission area and time of day. I would try and scout the mission area before falling back and deciding on my approach. Loud or quiet, Day or Night, Lone Wolf or Pack Hunters.
This is what made the game enjoyable as the missions themselves other than a few exceptions are very much go here shoot these people or get this person. However, doing those extra steps turned some of those missions into real memorable experiences. One that springs to mind required my team to go and trash a Casino in a Lush tropical holiday resort area to put off holiday makers going there and essentially funding the Cartel through the Casino. As such I decided on making it look like a robbery, in my mind making tourists think that any old rabble is willing to take on the cartel and therefore it’s not safe to go on holiday there.
I kitted my character in jean like trousers, a beanie hat and a red hoodie. Stole an Armoured Humvee and as it was night time, hid in the bushes down the road and waited until morning. Throughout the night, I snuck onto the premises and did my recon, using the drone and binoculars to find and tag the enemies inside so I knew what I was walking into. I also planted C4 on to several cars in the car park while remaining undetected to serve as a disorientation tactic upon my arrival the following morning. (yes, the AI doesn’t care about that, but I did).
I retreated to the bushes and waited until around 1pm to make my move.
Silencers unequipped, my squad and I mounted up. Drove into the car park, gun turret blazing. Stepping out of the car I detonated the C4 causing chaos. Within moments all the enemies were down thanks to them being tagged so we knew where they were and explosives were being placed and detonated around the casino. Tourists running for their lives were off limits, we were there to scare but not harm. And then back in the car to make our hasty getaway.
That mission was amazing but I could have just as easily just walked into the area, shot the guards as they came at me and blown up my objective but I decided to make the best of the sandbox I was being given. It was worth it.
It is worth noting I played the entire game in single player, using jus the AI squad mates and I had a great time. However, I could tell the game would have been more fun with some friends to play alongside and plan the sort of mission I did. The squad mechanics are unimpressive and require you to stop moving in order to use them, and many times I did wish for real companions to co-ordinate a strike from multiple angles with.
The other thing I found playing this game is it made me go achievement hunting, something I have not done since way back in the days of Elder Scrolls Oblivion. Now ok I did not 100% wildlands (yet) but I did get some of the rarest achievements.
I have mentioned the squad mechanic negatives already so I should mention the few others I came across. The vehicle controls are rubbish, it took a good amount of game time to get used to them, once I did it was ok but I am concerned for the upcoming vehicle focused DLC, and finally while the story is there it is easy to miss if you don’t read collectible files or watch the videos sent to you via your handler. It could be very easy to not really feel anything is happening in the game other than go here do this a few times now go kill this guy, well done just 12 to go. I did read the collectibles and watch the videos and as such I enjoyed the story that was there but I would have liked it a little more pushed at me.
Oh, and at night, it really is night time and dark unless you turn up your brightness settings. I found it impossible to drive without my night vision turned on and a few times this made me change my approach to a mission as I just couldn’t see a darn thing and I felt I was missing out on a cool environment the mission was based in if I did it through the green hue of the night vision. The good news is I could still take my desired approach in the day time just it felt maybe a little less slick.
One final and very picky irritation is that to reply the game with your levelled-up skills (and feel like a proper elite unit) you must use the ‘reply mission’ feature as the game has no New Game plus option. This would not be so bad but for the fact that you need to leave the region in which the selected mission takes place in order for it to load. This leads to much fast travelling and extra load times and as a result of this, the experience is disjointed and not as enjoyable as one would hope.
And for those people shouting at me that I can start a new game and go find the equipment I want right away, your correct. However, it would take a lot of skill point finding and resource collection missions to level my skills and squad (an example would be squad efficiency) up to the desired level also.
Ghost Recon Wildlands is a good game, one with potential to be great but it depends on you. It relies on the player deciding to make it great. As such it is possible to see why the negative reviews and tales of wildlands exist but for me I can’t recommend it enough. In a way, it’s a bit like Dark souls in that the more you put into it and really ‘play’ as the character in that world then the better your experience will be and the more you will get out of it.
My score: 8.5/10
The Narco Road DLC is just not fun it’s much more of a pain.
In the first part of this review/conversation I stated how the squad mechanics were not great but that I never felt I could not enjoy myself using the AI. Well in Narco Road unless you play in co-op you are on your own without your squad. This makes several missions almost impossible, add to that some truly silly game mechanics such as one mission in which I turned up in a car and was tasked with staying within 200m of a helicopter in the air that did not follow the roads, it took me 5 attempts including 3 in which I followed in a helicopter across a SAM filled valley.
So far, my other bug bear is missions that expect you to have other squad members, it makes it blooming hard as the game mechanics are built on not being a lone wolf when in an all-out assault on your position.
Add to that the still questionable vehicle controls and give them some Nitrous just to make things ‘fun’ along with the now instant plane controls and in my honest opinion it’s a bit of a mess.
I still have further to go in the DLC so I have my fingers crossed this is just the early parts but I am not holding my breath. So far, I can only hope the second portion of DLC involving the ghost’s (plural meaning please let the squad come back – I still don’t get why the cover for Narco Road could not have been a squad of mercenaries and not just you, unless you’re on co-op of course) getting shot down and hunted by another special ops unit, will be better and more attune to the core game which I enjoyed so much.
I have now finished the Narco Road DLC and can comfortably say that it was not a strong addition to the core game.
While it had a few interesting moments, and missions the mechanics employed for many mission and even just world traversal made playing through this content a struggle. It felt much more like something to get through rather than to enjoy.
As initially thought the vehicle controls do not lend themselves to adding extra speed, manoeuvrability (but not control) or nitrous boosts, resulting in many crashes and mountainside tumbles in a simple point A to B moment.
The addition of following informants in certain missions is heavily hampered by the decision to seemingly increase the AI enemy’s presence and awareness. In the base game, I could drive pass an enemy vehicle quickly and be far enough away to not trigger an engagement, not so in Narco road. Many times I failed a tailing mission just thanks to the sandbox luck of having an enemy vehicle coming down the adjacent road at a junction and seeing me drive past. Or in one instance an enemy spot me from the adjacent hill over 300m away from me while I was lying prone in the pushes.
Add to this an uninteresting set of antagonists and a predictable ending and what you have is a piece of DLC that is certainly not recommendable.
My final gripe is that while the AI squad at your disposal in the base game could be tricky to use how you wished, it is much more of a pain to not have them at all. This led to some very frustrating and difficult moments and deaths that again just built frustration at the mechanics and mission scripting rather than at a challenge.
My score for the ‘Narco Road’ DLC : 3/10