Bad Man in the Wildlands

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is awesome.  It is obviously not perfect but the imperfections that exist DO NOT make it a bad game.  This isn’t a review, more a question of criticism about a decent game.

For instance, there is a great amount of repetition in this game.  I’d imagine a certain amount of boredom could set in as it could with any other repetitive task, but I’d argue that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands has a need to have a repetitive nature for the player to experiment with.  Wildlands is the most annoying or frustrating when things go south.  The problem with the situation going bad is that it depends on my actions. Was I spotted? Was I heard? Did a patrol see a body? Is it worth me waiting out these reinforcements?  There are a lot of ways a mission can go wrong after going completely smooth.  The idea of repeating a task allows you to get better at it.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands_20170318155303.jpg

Province after I nearly cleared it out… apparently.

Some tasks are fun. The game has side-missions that double as cover for gathering large amounts of resources or unlocking back-up from the Rebels.  Two of these repetitive tasks are “Steal the plane” and “Steal the Helicopter”.  Doing these missions requires you to do nothing more than steal the aircraft.  You could do it the exact same way every time but is that way the most effective?  I enjoy those side missions the most because every escape makes me James Bond.

The game does it’s best to mix it up but generally, every single mission is “go here, do this thing.” and it is dependent on the player to have fun within the parameters set. The games is just a sandbox.  You can’t say “This sandbox sucks” if you’re the uncreative bucketless bastard that doesn’t know how to build a castle.  I’m not defending this game because this is the best creative box of sand ever.  I’m defending it because there are too many bucketless bastards criticizing it.

Simply put, this game’s lack of creativity is on the player’s lack of imagination. Every mission is a puzzle with many answers.  One answer that will always work: kill everybody.  The game is the LEAST amount of fun when you succumb to base instinct, scorch the Earth, reset and go that route.  The most fun you will ever have is trying to do each mission without killing anybody or with the least amount of casualties.

One mission directing me to extract a target alive, required me to do it during a rainy sunrise. The darkness and rain made it harder to be spotted, so using this to my advantage, I advanced close enough to take out a sniper and hop over a wall. Staying quiet, I continue to move closer to the warehouse where the target is and approach him from behind. I swiftly grab him, stuff him in a cartel car and escape unseen.  One of the most satisfying executions of a mission, ever.  I made it look so easy.  Rather than even shooting AT an enemy, why not shoot near one to lure a whole bunch of enemies to the source of the shot? That action might empty out the area you need to investigate.  Diversion is just as effective a tactic as extermination.

The topography is beautiful and the environment is a combat tool as much as it is a breathtaking location. Every province has its own subtleties as well as a large amount of content to consume.  This is another thing that confuses me.  I completely understand that this isn’t the traditional “Ghost Recon” game.  But those games were 13-15ish missions and then “Roll credits.” I’m not sure how many Story Missions there are but it is more than 15. Then there are dozens of side missions and dozens more “instant missions” that pop up when you need to acquire a collectible or piece of weaponry.  Doing anything becomes a mission.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands_20170312074501Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands_20170312074509

In order to acquire new weapons or enhance them, you will need to collect the weapon or the part for it. Doing this is busywork I found enjoyable.  It lead to a sort of weird lottery I would unlock every time I went to a new province.  If a province had a weapon or upgrade of interest, it would be the first thing I would attempt to do upon discovery.  Enhancing my rifle became a lot more fun after I got used to using it. Wildlands makes me never want to give up a gun I’m used to using as much as it makes me want to find a better weapon, then make sure I have the upgrades to suit my tastes.

The story gets criticism because it doesn’t attempt to say anything substantial about geo-politics.  Oh No. A game didn’t have a message or an ideology attached to it. Shame.  Look. You’re in Bolivia taking down a drug cartel ran by a dude named El Sueno.  There are four underbosses and 4-5 bosses below them overseeing a province each, which means that there are at least 16 provinces. Plus 3 or 4 provinces without a boss overseeing it that have a bunch of side quests. There is A LOT of game here and you’re free, at any time, to start whipping through it when you start getting bored. You’re in Bolivia baby and the US government won’t officially acknowledge your presence.  That’s all you need to know. You’re playing a video game.  Follow orders and get to shootin’ soldier.   Quit overthinkin’ shit.

The Jaded Gamer

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