For the second consecutive March, Ubisoft will release one of the most anticipated games of the year. Ghost Recon Wildlands marks a new direction for the series’ genre, setting and co-op function of the longtime series.

It has been since 2012 that the franchise saw a new iteration. That came in the form of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. This game marks what could be one of the last linear iterations we’ll see in Ghost Recon‘s history. With Ghost Recon Wildlands, the brand is moving from linear game design to wide open action.

This will be the first time Ghost Recon has gone open-world, and one could see how the game resembles a militarized version of Grand Theft Auto more than it will the previous installments we’ve seen. Vehicles and aircrafts are all fair game for players in Wildlands.

Contrary to other new Ubisoft IPs like Watch Dogs and The DivisionWildlands will be letting you take to the air. The Division simply didn’t use the feature as on-foot, cover-based gameplay was the focus. Watch Dogs allows players to take to the air with their aerial dronebut not with a helicopter or airplane.

Ghost Recon Wildlands will be handing you the controls to military helicopters and other aircraft. Not only that, but vehicles are going to be a heavily featured part of the game. Traversal sets the stage for the tactics you use. Whether you decide to parachute down from a helicopter above, or charge enemy lines with trucks galore, traversal is crucial.

Parachuting down on an enemy camp from above (Courtesy of Ubisoft).
Parachuting down on an enemy camp from above (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

Each player in Wildlands will receive a drone they can customize. Altering your device’s abilities will mean focusing on lethal or strategic combat, but it’s up to you. In an exclusive interview with We Write Things, Wildlands creative director Eric Couzian spoke about the drone and customizations players will be able to make to it.

“You can customize your drone depending on your playstyle and how you prefer to use it. You can upgrade the recon abilities by improving its autonomy, add different electronic views (night vision, thermal view, etc.), or change optics for better zoom abilities. You can also use the drone for diversion by putting devices which will generate sounds to lure enemies. You can also upgrade the engine to be more silent when needed, or implement an EMP bomb to switch off enemy electronic devices.

“And if you want to use the drone in assault mode, you can equip the drone with high explosives to blow things up, increase its resistance to bullets, etc. We wanted to provide a variety of combinations depending on how you like to use the drone. It’s always about freedom of choice and how you want to progress and use your gear,” Couzian said.

Contrary to a game like Tom Clancy’s The DivisionGhost Recon Wildlands will not level-lock the weapons you find. No matter how powerful a gun is, you will be able to use it right then and there. Additionally, the enemies in Wildlands will not require a clip and a half to kill, a simple bullet to the head will do.

Progression will be a major part of Ghost Recon Wildlands. For players who are worried about not being able to play a certain part of Bolivia because their level is too low, worry no more. Enemies don’t have difficulty levels attached to them, and Eric Couzian spoke about the game’s united progression system.

Ghosts take a stroll through the foes they laid waste to (Courtesy of Ubisoft).
Ghosts take a stroll through the foes they laid waste to (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“We looked to make the player’s choice of whether to play solo or co-op easier by creating a united progression system. All your story progression as well as all your character and gear progression are the same whether you are playing solo or co-op. Our progression system is largely focused on equipping the Ghosts with an arsenal that allows them to approach their objectives in the playstyle that players choose,” Couzian said.

It’ll be interesting to find out how this plays into your hour-by-hour experience. What implications will the progression system have? Will a level one player, who nets eight headshots with eight bullets, kill the same amount of enemies as a level 20 player, who nets eight headshots with eight bullets? The implications from Ubisoft point to yes.

Matchmaking is an essential element to any online game. For Ghost Recon Wildlands, having matchmaking connect you with like-experienced players is the goal. This will hopefully create a more seamless experience for you and the people you run into online.

“We were able to create a matchmaking system that connects players who have as much in-game experience in common as possible, like locations they’ve visited or what missions they’ve played. This was a focus of ours so we could stay true to giving players full freedom of choice. We will continue to test and tweak our system to maximize fun for players up until release, but yes our system is already up and running,” Couzian said.

Some of you may not have an internet connection, so offline will be where your gameplay is had. Ubisoft is aware that not all players will be able to connect. As a result, there will be a Solo Mode for players to enjoy. This mode will pair you with three other Ghost AIs, still giving you the four-player experience.

Lone-wolfing it among the tallest peaks in Ghost Recon Wildlands (Courtesy of Ubisoft).
Lone-wolfing it among the tallest peaks in Ghost Recon Wildlands (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“The game is also entirely playable solo and offline with 3 AI Ghost teammates. An order system will help players communicate in co-op mode, but is also used to give commands to AI teammates in solo mode. Sync shot is one example of these orders.

“The Sync shot is one of the most important actions to stay stealthy in Ghost Recon Wildlands. You can mark an enemy for your team – up to four enemies can be marked. Fire when ready to complete a sync shot, eliminating all the targets at once,” Senior Producer Nouredine Abboud said.

Whether you are playing with friends online or with AI companions, you will be able to play missions “as often as you want.” This certainly makes me wonder how XP will work the second time you beat a mission. Will gamers be rewarded with more or less XP for each time they beat a mission?

There is a rebellion that’s fighting against the forces of the cartel in Bolivia. You will have the choice of either helping the rebels or not. Those who decide on the former will earn themselves invaluable allies. Permanent support from the group will be given to those that help. Other factions in Ghost Recon Wildlands will also be reactive to your actions, according to Couzian.

“Unidad, which is the military force of the corrupt government can also hunt you down in frantic moments, depending on your previous actions. Here again, it’s completely emergent and the level of aggressiveness of Unidad depends on your short term actions.

Enemy forces pacing and guarding their stronghold (Courtesy of Ubisoft).
Enemy forces pacing and guarding their stronghold (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“Finally, you destabilize the Santa Blanca cartel by taking down the bosses and the guys who run the critical activities of the cartel. Through the freedom of choice in Ghost Recon Wildlands, you can solve situations as you want based on your playstyle. It is also about completing every mission in any order and strategizing with the different levels of power and presence of these factions in the world,” Couzian said.

For the team at Ubisoft Paris, they’ve been working on Ghost Recon Wildlands for years. Their long development journey is nearly done, and it will culminate with Wildlands‘ March release. Abboud spoke about what the team is most looking forward to when the game’s launches next year.

“We’re excited for players to learn their playstyles and see how they approach missions solo or in co-op with the freedom of choice offered. Ghost Recon Wildlands’ Bolivia is a beautiful and large open world full of emergent activities that we hope players will enjoy come March,” Abboud said.

Ubisoft will release Ghost Recon Wildlands this coming March 7 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Wildlands.

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.