If Ghost Recon: Wildlands turns out to be everything people are saying it is right now, it could be one of my personal top debuts of E3 2015. I’m serious, even after everything I’ve gotten sick and tired of from Ubisoft. I’m not ready to say the publisher’s games are turning a corner and that new hardware is actually letting them innovate a bit, I’m just saying at least one new game looks like the evolution I’ve always wanted to see.
Since Ubisoft started ending its conferences with nice stingers I always imagined Ghost Recon eventually becoming one. I even wanted an open-world Ghost Recon, but that was assuming Ubisoft would just copy and paste the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry 3 formula onto the franchise. I expected a game where you and a squad would randomly wipe out bases spread across the map to reveal more “content” for you to “consume” while also doing a main story full of linear Advanced Warfighter-style missions. Even after Ubisoft unveiled Wildlands I still first assumed it was just about wiping out similar bases in a huge open world. It couldn’t possibly be trying to resurrect the actual open-ended mission design that made the original Ghost Recon what it was could it?
I secretly wanted this admittedly predictable idea of a traditional Ubisoft open-world Ghost Recon because I thought maybe I could wrangle some kind of ArmA-lite out of the deal. The ArmA franchise (and Operation Flashpoint before it) has often been called the only true successor to the original Ghost Recon. The first Ghost Recon was about dropping your squad into wide open terrain where you’d make your own path towards seeking and eliminating the enemy. Emergent gunfights would then ensue. The Advanced Warfighter games and Future Soldier were regular corridor shooters where you’d command a few other guys to move a few feet away from you and sometimes use some swanky technology. The ArmA franchise brought back the idea of big squads being dropped into emergent gunfights, but brought it into absolutely massive open-world maps. It’s just not a very accessible game. I was thinking that maybe a typical open-world Ubisoft game with military squads would contain some sliver of the franchise’s original spirit and feel kind of like ArmA but not as complex.
What people are claiming Wildlands actually is seems to be much more. Dan Stapleton’s preview at IGN reads almost like the ultimate fantasy open-world military shooter I’d want to see get made. Right off the bat he writes, “I’m happy to report there wasn’t a single capturable tower in sight during the impressive co-op demo shown at E3 2015.” And then proceeds to say this: “The freedom it promises and the scale Ubisoft implies reminds me of Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA games, though much more streamlined and accessible.” A game that takes even some of ArmA’s ideas and retools them properly for the console audience could be big if you ask me.
The mission described in the demo immediately sounds like the game will have more variety than “kill all the guys at this location.” Simply having to find and extract a character already implies a multi-stage process of insertion, investigation, conflict, and extraction and a mission that could go haywire at any of those steps.
For the first part of the mission IGN and GameSpot describe an objective where the co-op team stole a helicopter by sneaking into a village and sparking a gunfight between two opposing AI factions. That brings up a lot of questions right there: In this mission do you have to take the helicopter or is it simply one option? Do you have to get involved with that event with the AI factions or can you ignore it? Are there other ways to steal the chopper or other extraction methods entirely?
IGN also claims Ubisoft made some pretty bold promises in regards to how Wildlands handles towns and civilians. “Ubisoft says that the map will have hundreds of towns and landmarks to find, and every civilian and cartel inhabitant keeps a schedule and reacts to time of day and weather.” That sounds like an Elder Scrolls or Fallout-style world in which you conduct air, land, and sea missions. I’m still skeptical about how it works in practice though.
One last tidbit mentions an event that was a direct result of a previous mission. Does this mean certain choices you make could change the situation in later missions? If so it seems like Ubisoft is trying to make the ultimate open-ended military game. Honestly, these previews make Wildlands sound like everything Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is doing, but much bigger. For an example of what’s possible in Metal Gear, just look at this video. The mission IGN and GameSpot describe from the Wildlands presentation sounds like it could even have been inspired by Ground Zeroes.
I wonder how much of what’s in these stories is information morphing as it filters through PR and journalists, and how much of it is promises Ubisoft has yet to actually implement into the game. It’s still a ways off.
- Apparently Bohemia Interactive has singleplayer and custom servers planned for DayZ. All of a sudden I’m interested in it now.
- But I’m more interested in seeing if the ArmA III expansion pack and DirectX 12 bring actual quad-core rendering to the game. They say it’s going to include DayZ’s new renderer.
- That said, DirectX 12 and Windows 10 is starting to sound an awful lot like a Windows Vista and DirectX 10 situation where Microsoft is trying to tie them together along with exclusive games.
- One of those games Microsoft is dangling in front of me is the PC version of Gears of War Ultimate. The only thing I really care about in regards to that is getting horde mode on PC.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn looks dope, and apparently one of the writers from The Witcher 3 is working on it.