It's been about a year since we last had any substantial information on Ghost Recon: Wildlands, but with a March release date looming, it's about time we got a chance to play this one. Unfortunately E3 didn't do this game many favors, because the demo we saw looked rough, a game that was definitely months out, that was in need of some serious polish.
Our Ghost Recon: Wildlands demo started out with us in a field in the middle of one of the eleven different areas that are going to be explorable. If there's one thing that can be said of Wildlands, it's that it is absolutely massive. Other Ubisoft games like to tout large open worlds, and this one looks to be their biggest to date. A quick scouting of the area with one of the drones gave my team of four the chance to see that there were a few hostiles to take down on our way to grabbing our intel target. Flying the drone is a simple matter, but you've got to make sure you're far enough out of range so that enemies don't see it.
With our enemies tagged we made our move, going from third person movement to first person shooting while aiming down sight. This transition felt a little awkward, and the weapons didn't feel like they had any real oomph to them, just tag enemies and they'd drop with little resistance. Our high-value target was unfortunately able to get away, but we were able to track down some vehicles and the chase was on. Driving felt pretty smooth which made it easy to catch up to the target as he entered a gas station, with some back-up.
The back-up down, and our information gathered, we made our way to our next location via chopper, which gave us a long view of the map, and it is seriously a sprawling landscape, though objects at a distance stood out on the map which appeared flat, while the cars and NPCs moved along. The visuals in this game are definitely lacking polish at this point, and while the game was running smoothly, the level of detail distance was terribly short, making not so distant objects look very low quality, with a lot of pop-in. Even enemies were prone to just popping into existence, rather than typical spawn closets, they just appeared out of thin air at random points throughout the demo.
The next phase of our demo took us through a busier outpost, filled with enemies. While we were able to mostly sneak our way through the outpost, a missed shot by one of our scouts set the whole base on alert, turning things into a protracted fire-fight. Though we were able to cause a good distraction by freeing rebels that were trapped on-site, who were more than willing to fight for their freedom. After extracting more info from a laptop we were on our way.
We didn't get to see much of the open world choices that previously recorded demos showed in the past, instead this felt like we were simply moving from point A to B to C. The early visuals are definitely in need of a tune-up, and the gunplay could use some refinement as well, since each gun felt rather same-y. It looks like a lot of work has gone into crafting the world of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, but if the sand-box gameplay doesn't have much fun to it, then this game doesn't have much of a future. There's still a good six months of development time left to go on this one, but I think they could stand to let this one suffer another delay to make sure this game really shines.