Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands Review

Richard Walker

For some reason, the Bolivian government has a problem with Ghost Recon Wildlands' representation of its country. I'm not entirely sure why. The game's version of Bolivia is a vast sweeping landscape of verdant green mountains, snowcapped peaks, pristine deserts, sun-dappled forests and spotless salt flats, all blue skies and tangerine sunsets. It's also a place overflowing with drugs, corruption, oppression, and an entire criminal network that it's up to you to sweep away. Perhaps that's the bit the Bolivian government doesn't like. The horrendous drugs bit.

Regardless, Ghost Recon Wildlands' world is huge and packed to the rafters with stuff to do, even if a great deal of it is the typical range of collectibles synonymous with Ubisoft's open worlds. For the most part, however, Wildlands' Bolivia takes in all manner of side missions and other objectives, on your way to digging out the violent cartels that rule the various territories with an iron fist. At the top of the tree is the fearsome El Sueno, an unscrupulous, tattoo-faced psychopath who runs the whole show, growing vast amounts of coca for the mass production and distribution of cocaine across the narco state.

The Ghost Recon lads in full effect. You can be a woman too.

You play as a member of the eponymous Ghost Recon squad sent in to sort things out, armed with a drone and a whole bunch of customisable weapons, tasked with bribing key agents, eliminating important targets, destroying drug production facilities, all in a bid to loosen El Sueno's stranglehold on the region. Operation Kingslayer is your mission and destroying the cartel's security, production, influence and smuggling branches is the name of the game. And since Bolivia is such an enormous space, El Sueno is surrounded by lieutenants, sicarios, corrupt politicians and all manner of other flamboyant characters you'll have to dispatch in your journey to take down the Mr. Big himself.

Best played with a full complement of four players, Wildlands is predictably at its best when you're all working together and communicating. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable playing solo with the AI. It's fine; although your AI-controlled squadmates can occasionally make some questionable decisions, they never miss a shot when you command them to take someone out. In fact, they're so accurate that I once lined up a synchronised shot with my teammates that somehow managed to penetrate a solid cliff face to reach its target. Hmm.

Ghost Recon Wildlands has more than its fair share of glitches then, whether it's having trouble getting into boats for no apparent reason, NPCs running into walls, crosshairs on mounted weapons appearing then disappearing, and most annoying of all, some seemingly arbitrary mission failures. These are especially galling during objectives with a time constraint or a mission where being detected events in instant failure; it seems odd that these kind of mission objectives even persist in games likes this. There are other bugs and issues too, but I'm not going to list them all here, because that would be really boring.

Yet, in spite of its litany of irritating flaws, Ghost Recon Wildlands is still an incredibly enjoyable open-world squad-based shooter, its sprawling sandbox a diverse playground in which to wreak havoc with gleeful, reckless abandon. Weather conditions and a day/night cycle can also dynamically alter the way in which you approach missions, as some guards sleep in the evenings and you're harder to detect amid darkness and lashing rainfall. A variety of vehicles, meanwhile, make tooling around the map deliriously fun, thanks in no small part to the ridiculous, almost arcade-style handling that enables you to throw cars, trucks, jeeps, helicopters and motorcycles around like a maniac.

"Let me help you get that wobbly tooth out."

Realism isn't exactly a concern for Wildlands then, meaning it's a far cry from the series origins, which, to be fair, it left behind long ago. The latest game is even more of a departure for the Tom Clancy branded shenanigans, although RPG-style skill trees and an almost endlessly customisable arsenal of guns make Wildlands a deep and satisfying experience, even if the various components don't really hang together quite as well as they should. Factor in a fairly by-the-numbers narrative, and essentially this is a game that boils down to being all about its open-world and robust gunplay, which is never anything less than gratifying.

You can fly in a helicopter, parachute into action, carefully coordinate infiltration tactics or go balls-out gung-ho with a mounted minigun or a tank; Bolivia is your oyster. Playing solo isn't nearly as bad as you think it might be, while enjoying the game with three buddies is invariably a blast, despite its frustrations. And like Mafia III, systematically picking apart Bolivia's web of cartel villains is its own reward, even if the storytelling doesn't really deliver, failing to engage despite a wealth of files, intel, videos and other stuff to collect and digest; if you can be bothered, of course.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is a good, solid, if somewhat flawed open-world shooter that's worth delving into, especially if you have a bunch of friends to bring along for the ride (the game works equally well with 2, 3 or 4 players banding together for co-op). Otherwise, you might want to think twice before heading into Bolivia alone with only dopey ally AI for company. Ubisoft Paris has crafted a rather beautiful environment to explore, uninhibited by the need to unlock each of its 21 regions. Just collect the intel, explore the area, and get stuck in. Ghost Recon Wildlands is nowhere near perfect, but it is mighty good fun.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands

A solid but glitch-riddled open-world tactical shooter that falls agonisingly short of realising its full potential, Ghost Recon Wildlands is the very definition of a 'nearly' game. It's so very nearly brilliant, but there are a few too many problems with it that mar the overall experience. Shame.

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Funky Latino tunes on the radio, the occasional nice little guitar cue that kicks in at the right moment, and some half-decent voice acting make for a fine, if not particularly memorable soundscape.


The game's representation of Bolivia is gorgeous and varied, taking in forests, snowy mountain ranges, salt flats and desert wilderness. It's a shame then that bugs and glitches often show up to ruin the party, like a turd in the punch bowl.


There are niggles, sure, but overall, Ghost Recon Wildlands is incredibly robust, boasting great shooting mechanics and a fairly smooth, enjoyable set of mechanics. RPG systems add extra depth, meaning it only gets better as you level up your character.


There's no faulting the sheer scale and scope on show in Wildlands, but the number of bugs, glitches and other issues that plague the game conspire to ruin what should have been a genuinely great shooter.


A fairly bog standard list with a few clever achievements peppered in. Collecting absolutely everything – and there's a lot – is a grind, especially as Ubi stablemate Watch Dogs 2 asks that you only grab a few of its collectibles. A list that's only okay. Just.

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