This past weekend the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands beta took place. I have had my eye on this game for months now. You know me, give me a co-op game I can play with my friends, and I am sold. The problem is, the last Tom Clancy entry in the series left me scarred. The Division was awesome at launch, but it died very quickly for me, and by the time I was actually interested in playing everything it had to offer, the player count dropped drastically and I was left with no one left to play with.
So what is the big deal about Wildlands, and how does it compare to last year's Tom Clancy game? Well Wildlands is very different in a sense that it is not an MMO, and does not rely on players to be enjoyable. The game is set in the magnificent open world of Bolivia, and the areas you play in are spectacular. I could not get enough of the sheer beauty in the game's visuals and captivating world I found myself in. Wildlands will have 21 different ecosystems at launch, but the beta took place right smack bang in the middle of the map.
But first things first - how does it play with a connection from South Africa?
Latency is Everything & Local is Lekker
- Tested: MWEB ADSL with 10Mbps download speed & 1Mbps upload speed
- Tested: SKyFi Fibre with 30Mbps download speed & 10Mbps upload speed
- Tested: Webafrica ADSL with 4Mbps download speed & 512kps upload speed
(Please note: we did not do intensive testing but focused on the overall gameplay experience).
As the game is co-op based, the connection is vital to the game's success, and I have to say that other than an odd bug in the game, playing with friends, and even on a public server with randoms, was flawless. I played on the PS4 version, and all I needed to do was join my partner through the chat party. I was instantly taken into their map, and we then completed actions together.
There was an odd bug where after I had joined, I was unable to see my partner in front of me, and it told me he was on the other side of the map. Meanwhile, he was standing right next to me. Another odd bug was when he tried to revive me after I was hit by a car, he saw me standing next to him, but I was still dead on the floor on my screen.
I take it these bugs will get ironed out before the main game releases, but regarding connectivity and lag, we faced no issues at all. No enemies killed us while we were behind cover due to latency, and we never rubber banded once while playing together alone, or in a public lobby. I was pleasantly surprised by the great net code that the game runs on, a huge improvement over The Division, which I remember had major issues with lag for me.
At the end of the article is a gameplay video showing you some action, a lot of driving and just some fun times during the beta. As you'll see, it was a fun ride. Below is a short clip showing some of Wessel's Xbox One gameplay with the WEB Africa ADSL line.
According to Wessel, he did not suffer from any connection issues either, and his gameplay was pretty smooth in general. "Connecting to the Ghost Recon Wildlands servers where an easy and smooth experience on the Xbox One. All I had to do is press one button, and I could join a co-op session where the game matched me with three others players. I was a bit dumbstruck at the size of the map and didn’t know where to go, but thankfully I met some players who spoke Afrikaans, and I just followed them around.
The game’s latency was fantastic, as I saw no rubber-banding and during a firefight, it felt like I had almost no delay. The game’s net-coding is very impressive"
Lastly, MWEB's server master, had this to say about the PC version and connecting from the MCave: "Overall I found Ghost Recon Wildlands to play surprisingly well even on SA's less than stellar internet
I did a mission with a random group and had no issues at all, and didn't notice any teleporting NPC's or players. I also didn't miss shots that were clearly on target. I once again grabbed traffic signatures, which is with the engineers who are working through the data to see where we can optimize the experience for our gaming customers.
My overall impression of Ghost Recon: Wildlands is that it's an incredibly fun experience. The one thing that needs some work is the ground vehicles; they are very "slidy." I love slidy on powerful rear wheel drive cars, but a 4-wheel drive should not be sliding like that. Having said that, it's by no means game breaking, as it's not a racing simulator.."
Seems like he suffered from the same poor car handling that I did.... don't judge when you watch the video. All three of us connected with South African players, so the matchmaking seems to be another thing that works well in the Wildlands.
Creating a character suitable for The Wildlands
Starting off the game I was able to create a character, modify his appearance, change his clothes, and even give him some cool accessories to stand out. It was fun knowing that this was the characters I would be using for the entire game, but the options to change certain appearance tweaks like clothes and accessories was available at all times after I created him. Many customization features were not available at the time, as they required certain missions to be completed first. I take it this will be a nice way to stand out when playing co-op with other players.
When Ubisoft creates an open world, they really do a great job. The developer knows what they are doing, and Wildlands' world is alive in every way. The lighting system brings the environment to life, and as the sun rises you see fog in the distance that gives you that feeling that you are in an area with mountains surrounding you. Rain fills the road with water, and roads look and feel muddy when walking through them, this also affects driving and visibility. Night time comes, and it is so dark that you have to play the game using night vision, as naturally in the real world you would not be able to see where you are in the dark.
Co-op is the shining star in Wildlands
Wildlands might have a serious tone to it, but it is far from it. Missions I played in co-op left me with sore cheek bones from laughing as my team and I messed up so much, and could not fly a helicopter to save our lives.
The map is filled with different activities that will keep you busy while exploring the vast open world. Gathering intel in different towns unlock main missions, and each zone on the map has a set amount of missions to complete before you can move onto the next zone. Speaking to informants gave me locations of awesome hijacking side missions, that instructed me to head up a mountain, kill all the drug cartel members, and fly away in a small plane which I had to deliver to my base of operations. While all this is happening, my co-op partner is with me screaming at me while I almost crash the plane into the side of a mountain.
The co-op is the shining star in Wildlands, and I know you don't have to play the game with friends, but I don't see myself playing it alone after all the fun I had. When it came to the main missions, these were bigger and required a large amount of team work. I would fly above the stronghold in a helicopter as my partner launched his drone to scan for enemies. He would then parachute into the base, and slowly take down as many as he could while I parked the chopper and infiltrated the base from the side.
There are many games that attempt stealth and fail terribly, but Wildlands makes it so that you can actually choose to go into a base in stealth, and get out without anyone being alerted. I went through the side of the base, tripped the power, and with my handgun equipped with a suppressor, took all the enemies down without anyone being alerted. It was refreshing to see that this system worked so well.
Skills to Master
We then have the deep skill system that lets you focus on different aspects of your character. These upgrades range from increasing the duration of your drones range and battery life, to muzzling your footsteps while running. I take it that once the main game comes out, everyone will have their own preferences when it comes to the way they handle their character. My brother opted for a sniper, so he immediately focused on skills that helped his "scout" build. These skills focused on improving stability while using a sniper, and the time it takes to aim down sites with large scopes. I went for a louder build and focused on hip fire accuracy, and bullet resistance.
Skills are automatically unlocked as you level up, but you will need resources and skill points to buy them. These are found in the world, and can be obtained by completing supply raids, like the one I mentioned where I had to steal a plane and take it back to my base. The only problem I had, was that finding these supplied and tagging them was a tedious process. There is a handful in every main area, and it means you will have to search the area, and then hold down a button and wait for your player to open up the box and throw a tag in. After the hundredth tag it becomes monotonous.
Tom Clancy's: Ghost Recon Wildlands is a great game, one that I think will be more casual than that of The Division. It is a ton of fun to play with friends as you explore the world and mess around. Mission looks exciting, and gameplay is smooth. The only thing I worry about is the story, which takes the back seat behind all the fun co-op we were having. Radio broadcasts and intel we collected did not matter at all to us. Cinematics and who is who in the game, was unimportant. Sure we are taking down the third biggest drug cartel in the world, but we could not care less because we were just enjoying the game's awesome gameplay, and exploring the beautiful world around us.
Watch what we got up to below and see for yourself just how fun the game is. Drop us a comment about your time as a Ghost of the Wildlands.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands releases on March 7 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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