Ghost Recon Wildlands is taking the series into a brand-new direction. The open-world nature of the upcoming game will create plenty of gameplay opportunities for players. Not only is its world alive and versatile, but Wildlands will also embrace co-op in a significant fashion.

Gamers will be able to play with up to three other friends online. Working together to take out the enemy will be essential, but having fun is also at the heart of the experience. Ubisoft is building an enormous playground for gamers to express themselves through.

There are many, many systems in place in the world of Bolivia. Many of these systems will seamlessly integrate with one another, and that is sort of the beauty behind Wildlands. In an exclusive interview with We Write Things, Dominic Butler, who is the lead game designer on Ghost Recon Wildlands, spoke about what he believes is the biggest step forward for the game.

“I think it’s the way we built the systems that bring the world to life. It is the fact that we have a traffic system, weather, day/night. These things affect NPC agendas and gameplay directly in terms of visibility. You have different faction systems where you’ve got multiple factions that have different animosities and alliances. The world turns and you see things happen around you that aren’t player directed. You seem them interacting with other systems. That I think for us that is the biggest step forward,” Butler said.

A look at the dense, gorgeous world of Ghost Recon Wildlands (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

We hear all the time about how alive a game is, and there’s no greater proof of that than sitting back and observing NPCs as they interact without the player intervening. Wildlands creates a world that doesn’t necessarily rely on player involvement. It functions independent of the player.

Butler believes there will be many things that surprise players in Ghost Recon Wildlands. He spoke about one thing that could standout most to people. “I think from the player’s point of view, having lots and lots of systems will surprise players. [Even more], not being forced to learn about it all right from the get go [will be a surprise]. Those are things they can discover as they [play]. We have our main narrative and people who want that will be able to pursue it.

“There is also optional [content] where players can equip their loadout, pimp out their guns, get lots of attachments and different weapons. The game let’s you focus on that. You can go after support, raid convoys, steal helicopters or support the rebels. These are things where gamers [have absolute choice],” Butler said.

From the bits of Wildlands I’ve been able to play, it is clear how massive the game is. Everything from the size of the world to its density make this game astoundingly deep and large. Ghost Recon Wildlands feels like an experience that’ll keep gamers busy for dozens and dozens of hours.

Size and density are found both in its massive world and rich ecosystem (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

As players progress, they will be able to upgrade their ghost using the various skill trees at their disposal. How you choose to upgrade is of course up to you, but no matter how, Ubisoft gives you plenty of options. Butler spoke about how they decided to upgrade the already elite.

“The idea is you can upgrade your ghost. It is a funny thing that when you start building a system like this and we kind of reminded ourselves that these guys are ghosts and are already the best of the best. So how do you make someone like that better? What that came down to was more options. While we have all of these moving parts, we don’t want to overwhelm the player.

“As you find that you’re someone who likes when things go [deeper], we have all of these options for you in that skill tree. We’re going to give you C4, mines and grenade launchers. If you like to do more recon, then we have the drone and tons of upgrades there. Drones have these offensive options like an explosive payload and EMP pulse. We want players to build their ghost the way they want them to be,” Butler said.

The skill trees in Ghost Recon Wildlands are vast and deep for players to dig into. Much like what players of The Division found, there are a massive amount of ways gamers can customize their player.

Ghosts will be upgradeable in a serious way, but what comes first is up to the player (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

The chief villain in the upcoming game is known as El Sueño and he is one bad dude. Ubisoft researched how these sorts of organizations work and then put their own fictional spin on the game’s main antagonist. Butler spoke about how they went about creating El Sueño.

“[El Sueño] came from tons and tons of research on the way cartels work. The game is still a work of fiction, no matter how well we research it. All of the Tom Clancy games come from a realistic premise. We’re taking it to the next level by saying, what if these guys tried to take over a country? From that you have to wonder what kind of person would be able to do that?

“You’ve got someone who is terrifying and brutal, but also 100 percent believes in himself. He believes in the Santa Blanca and has managed to build an organization that is a multi-billion dollar organization. Not just a thug can do something like that. He is super smart, but he’s also a terrible human being. He’s not afraid to murder families or kill a lot of people. El Sueño is more based off of a cartel type, who could run a cartel into something like this,” Butler said.

Bad guys tend to have rules or ideals they abide by. Of course, these things aren’t exactly ideals you or I might abide by, but nonetheless, they are driving factors that motivate these individuals. Butler spoke about the motivations and background of El Sueño.

One of the houses of worship for the Santa Blanca cartel (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“For [El Sueño] a lot of it is about loyalty, but he’s also taken a vow of poverty. Whenever you see him, he’s got the extensive tattoo work. Beyond that, he isn’t someone who drives a gold car or super flashy. He’s extremely ruthless. Anyone who isn’t 100 percent committed to the cause, then you need to go in quite a brutal way.

If you were to take one quick look at any of the bosses or mini-bosses in Ghost Recon Wildlands, one common thing stands out among them: tattoos. They are so prolifically featured on El Sueño’s body as well as his underbosses’ that they have to mean something, right? Butler spoke about the meaning behind the inked up bad guys.

“[El Sueño’s] tattoos are based on his identity with the Santa Blanca. This is something we see a lot of with the cartel. They’re very proud of the organizations they’re involved in. In fact, they have a lot of tattoos on their bodies, but also around their faces and necks. Tattoos are meant to be seen, intimidate and scare people. That is very much in line with his thinking,” Butler said.

Gamers recently had the chance to play Ghost Recon Wildlands in an closed beta, but an open beta will be commencing shortly. Throughout both tests, Ubisoft hopes to learn plenty from player behavior and how the game functions with large player counts. Butler explained what Ubisoft wants to take away from the upcoming open beta.

Ghost Recon Wildlands’ Open Beta will run from Feb. 23 through Feb. 27 (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“It is really to see how people play. We do a lot of internal and external playtesting. Some gamers are new to the brand, some have been with it since the beginning. We want to see how people are playing because we literally do not know how you are going to play,” Butler said.

If you have not heard, Ghost Recon Wildlands will host an open beta from Feb. 23 through Feb. 27. The test will run on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting set to launch this coming March 7 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for much more on Ghost Recon 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.