E3 2016 Preview: Ghost Recon: Wildlands
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E3 2016 Preview: Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Hands-on with Ubisoft's biggest open world game.

Ahead of E3 2016, Stevivor had a chance to go hands-on with Ghost Recon: Wildlands, in a different co-op mission to the one shown during Ubisoft’s press conference. It’s early – E3 has only just begun – but we already have a strong contender for game of the show.

Multiplayer has become integral to Ubisoft’s vision for games this generation. From the MMO flavours of The Division, to the close team bonds of Rainbow Six: Siege and the quick co-op of Watch Dogs 2, it’s clear the French publisher envisions a future where the lines between single-player and multiplayer are blurred. But there’s one thing missing from that line-up: a co-op action-adventure game set in a massive world.

Enter Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Welcome to Bolivia.


With our four-man squad of elite ghosts split into two units, we converged on an enemy compound from two directions and deployed drones to scout the area to identify a target. We were seeking intel on a Santa Blanca cartel boss, and knew a cartel lieutenant held the critical information.

After marking him, we decided to coordinate an attack at range on the four goons offering lackadaisical protection. I equipped a sniper-rifle and set sights on a lowly soul leaning on a motorbike. On our team leader’s mark, they all simultaneously hit the ground before any of them realised an attack was imminent, as the lieutenant was left alive to be apprehended and interrogated.

Such coordination is hard to garner in the current crop of multiplayer games that dominate the charts. While Ghost Recon: Wildlands can be completed as a single-player experience – you won’t be penalised for going it alone – it’s nearly impossible to play as such a tight-knit unit with random online dwellers. But with three friends, in such a sprawling, massive open world, it will be one of the most rewarding, and at the same time accessible, multiplayer games of 2017. There is no need to worry about level stats or gear restricting how you can play with friends. If you’re ready to complete the same mission, simply buddy up and play. If not, continue in single-player.

Watch me play 15 minutes of Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Developer Ubisoft Paris proudly announced Wildlands is Ubi’s biggest open world game yet, boasting more than 100 story missions. Impressive in its own right, it goes beyond numbers with the freedom to play them how and when you want. The broad problem with co-op games is losing touch with your gaming buddies. Life gets busy; one player moves ahead of the other, and you’re never able to resynchronise. Wildlands should solve that conundrum by removing the restriction of story progression. While objectives need to be completed with linear direction, the story missions themselves can be played in any order you choose.

The world looks enormous, as you would expect from what is touted as the first military shooter to embark upon such an ambitious 4-player design. Taking to the skies with our entire squad in an attack helicopter, the region of San Mateo was a sight to behold; then I zoomed out, and it became obvious this is only a small taste of what Bolivia has to explore.

Back to our mission, we had learnt the location of more critical intel hidden deep within an enemy stronghold. Deciding the quickest and most covert method of entry would be to skydive to a vantage point, we all bailed out of the chopper…and in true E3 demo fashion, it all went wrong for me, as I tried to be a little too clever, and slammed into the ground with a parachute that might as well have not been deployed.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Fortunately, the benefits of a team-first mantra meant my colleagues were able to assist with instant medical attention and we were back on our way. Playing with stealth-minded individuals, there weren’t as many explosions as I’m normally prone to causing during our first playthrough. We ran through the compound almost undetected, disabling alarms and picking off enemies with systematic intent. On a second attempt, all hell broke loose. Reinforcements were called several times, as we set fire to anything and everything insight. It lacked a certain element of finesse, but against a drug cartel holding a nation captive for profit, there’s no denying it was effective.

While I’d like to pretend I’ll focus on the stealth route when I play Ghost Recon: Wildlands next year, it’s merely a pipe dream. Intentions to do the “team thing” with a methodical approach quickly go out the window when I get my hands on some grenades and the controls of an airborne vehicle — and it was totally my fault things got out of hand at the petrol station during our second attempt; I tossed several grenades as soon as we arrived, before the stupidity of such an act dawned upon me.

Yet, somehow, it still worked out. We completed the objectives, despite one player (me) going off-book and blowing shit up. This is why Ghost Recon: Wildlands is so compelling. We played very well as a team, but still played well as more of a disjointed collaboration.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

After about 30 minutes of gameplay, Ghost Recon: Wildlands left me with an eager taste for more. The open-ended mission structure and optional co-op design is more than promising, but it’s the lure of a besieged open world desperate for emancipation that is most intriguing. Exploring Bolivia with your mates by joyriding in helicopters and finding new, inventive ways to complete objectives – perhaps a combination of the two with an ambitious leap from one chopper to another – is where Wildlands will make its mark.

While games like The Division and Destiny have changed how we approach multiplayer this generation, Ghost Recon: Wildlands provides an alternative for action-adventure fans who just want to have the option to play with their mates without the hassle of committing to a long-term group – and still have the optional to play any mission alone.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands will be released on 7 March 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Stevivor was flown to E3 2016 as a guest of Ubisoft to cover the entire event. This relationship does not prevent Stevivor from covering other publishers’ titles, nor does it impact the E3 2016 opinions of any of our authors.

Ben Salter

Ben Salter

Ben is an Australian games writer and pioneer in the use of the term "current-gen" to actually refer to the current-generation of consoles. He joined the Stevivor team in 2016 and has been to E3 five times, but can't really remember any of them. Gamertag / PSN ID: Gryllis.