Death of the Critic

Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


There are so many things that should have been great about Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Having a four-player co-op game set in an absolutely massive open world with free-form mission structure and tactics based combat? It sounds like the perfect storm, a game to suck up all of your time. And while it can very much eat up your time, the way it does feels cheap and unearned. There was too much to do and no real reason to do any of it, and more than once I found myself questioning why I was even playing.

I had enjoyed the beta, with one major caveat. In the beta, the game was unstable as hell, hard crashing as much as every two hours. Luckily, I can say that they did fix that, one of the few things that they managed to fix in the short amount of time between the beta and the launch of the game.

Buried underneath all of these layers is a fun game. The combat, especially on higher difficulties is solid, and playing with friends is a damn good time. The feeling of sneaking around a massive base, sniping guards and coordinating shots and movements to take out and avoid patrols is both intense and supremely satisfying to pull off. But then you walk away from one of these bases, pleased with the silent chaos that you’ve left in your wake, and all of the guards quickly spawn back in.

No matter what I did, how many cartel henchmen I killed or bosses that I took out, it felt like I didn’t matter. Even after I had 100% completed the game, killed El Sueño and all of his underlings, collected all of their shiny loot and taken out as many convoys as I could handle, the world was still full of sicarios. It made me wonder why I was even doing anything within the game besides checking off collectibles or achievements.

There was so much stuff shoved into the game that it started to burst at the seams. Over 20 areas, each with their own set of collectibles to find, objectives to complete, and missions to track down and finish. At first, this felt great. The world was as huge as any that I’d been in before and there was actually some variation in the regions that you are running through. Having to collect your weapons and attachments meant that you were constantly shifting your loadout, and the ability to bounce back and forth between different sets of missions and targets was really fun.


The problem comes in after you do a few of these areas, you start to get the feeling that everything is the same. The buildings look the same, the enemies feel the same. You find the best set of weapons and stick with it, and at that point, the next 20-40 hours are repetitive. The missions fall into the same basic templates, where you either kill someone/destroy something, kidnap someone, or rescue someone, and it just cycles through the set over and over. Clearing out bases alone becomes an exercise in marking targets as quickly as possible with your drone or rebel support abilities and then letting your omniscient AI allies shoot as many of them as possible while staying in stealth.

Stealth itself is overpowered, as it turns all of your enemies into one shot kills. Combine this with your rebel abilities and being able to mark targets for elimination through solid walls and bunkers, and it makes most enemies a breeze. It’s odd that the game is harder when playing with others then it is playing alone, and it makes the really cool parts of the game feel more like a chore instead of the fun challenge they should be. Something you need to do instead of just wanting to do.

The story didn’t compel you through either. It has serious subject matter handled super poorly. Four dudebros running around a foreign country killing all of the locals, joking about stealing and doing cocaine in the middle of missions. This wouldn’t be so bad, if they weren’t trying to be so damn serious all of the rest of the time. Characters telling stories about children being beaten to death with hammers and bodies dangling in elevator shafts next to a couple of torturers joking about how a captive’s penis looked like a “banana dropped on the floor of a barbershop” while the female torturer said the male was jealous.

I wish that the core of the game could be made into something else, because right now it is a bloated mess, full of tonal inconsistencies piled on top of a lackluster story. Despite that, I did still sometimes manage to have fun, mostly when I ignored all of the myriad of things they gave me to check off and instead just had fun playing with friends.


Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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