Review: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon – Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225214411I’d like to start off by pointing out how miraculous it is that since his death in 2013 former game designer and novelist Tom Clancy seems to be able to still put out a new game every year. I hope I’m that active when I pass away.

As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.
As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.

Right off the bat we need to make one thing clear about Ghost Recon: Wildlands, it’s pretty much The Division. At least it’s everything The Division should have been. It’s also a little GTA5 when you drive anything, and feel very Far Cry with the missions and factions, but we’ll get to that in good time.

The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC's popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC’s popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.

The character generator for the game is where you start off. It’s actually nicely dumbed down from other games Ubisoft has made recently, which is quite nice. I of course opted to make my character looks as much like Sarah Connor form Terminator 2 as possible. Looking at the options I was provided, it seems like this can only be what the developers had in mind, so I went with it. I did have the option of fancy backpacks, ghillie suits, and fancy pants, but I opted for simple all black. I was disappointed I couldn’t get the aviator glasses right away, which would have made my character look uncanny to her T2 counterpart. I think I did pretty good anyway.

The game looks and plays a lot like The Division
The game looks and plays a lot like The Division

The game engine itself looks very much like everything they rolled out for The Division, which is about 6 months old at the writing of this article. You’re in a third person viewpoint until you look down sights, and the world around looks fairly pretty. I have zero complaints about how this game looks, and surprisingly little about how it plays.

The Squad leveling menu. If you're playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you'll be playing online with friends.
The Squad leveling menu. If you’re playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you’ll be playing online with friends.

Moving your character is easy, targeting and aiming are the same. Which is actually a huge step up from the fumbling around in recent Ubisoft shooters. It feels somewhere between The Division and Tomb Raider, smack in between the both of those. Switching weapons is fast and easy, as is targeting enemy characters.

What I find unique in this game is the AI which follow you around and help you complete missions. They aren’t as stupid and dependent on you as previous Rainbow 6 games, they move semi fluidly with you, and if they don’t I found they just sort of appear where they need to be. It’s nice to have a mechanic in game that works as well as this does, because the game is really meant to be played online with friends or strangers. I’ve been prompted several times in games to join a “random” game or invite friends, but it’s nice to have the option to play solo.

Here's a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
Here’s a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.

The gameplay on the other hand I cannot praise as much as the aesthetics and mechanics. It plays just like every other game of the genre, all of the missions kind of feel the same. There are multiple things to do at any time, multiple factions you can murder people to impress, and all kinds of small kill and fetch quests to gain XP for the inevitable character leveling. There’s just nothing that makes it stand out, it’s very formulaic, and for that it hits all the right notes, but had it hit some new ones it would be more worth the initial price tag.

Doom Multiplayer Beta – First Impressions

Doom Multiplayer Beta

It’s Quake. It’s not Doom. Can we just get that out of the way? The story mode may be Doom, and the property may be Doom because they killed off Quake, but for all intents and purposes this beta is an updated Quake 3 Arena. I have also heard a lot of the Internet saying it plays very much like a Call of Duty clone, but I don’t agree with that. I guess that’s a sign of my age, and I’m not supposed to be able to put that together, but Quake is clearly what’s going on here.

Having said that, Quake 3 Arena was a great game, and this new Doom version of it too has that same feeling to it. So much so that it feels like I’m playing a game from a decade ago.

The beta itself has a couple of PvP game modes, which are essentially a team death match and capturing a point. There’s not much more to it, and there doesn’t need to be. This game type has always been about getting together with friends and blowing them up. It doesn’t need the same back-story of a Halo or Destiny.

DOOM Beta_20160415164221You also have some options to make your space marine your very own. You can change his outfit to a limited number of other generic space marine outfits. You can also customize your colour scheme, with the same generic colours as every other space marine. And if you want a very special and unique snowflake of a murdering space jockey you can add levels of grime and scratches to your totally not generic space monkey.

DOOM Beta_20160415164203The gun load outs are similar to the outfit choices. There’s the launcher (from Quake 3), the rifle and the shotgun that everyone will use because they are quick and deadly. And a few other fancy weapons like the lightning gun, which no one will use because it’s silly and you have to follow your opponent hitting them constantly with it to get a kill.

DOOM Beta_20160415164147Then there are the Hack Modules. These are items you win randomly at the end of a match. You can hold a certain number of them, and when you die you can activate them for a temporary advantage. So you could die and come back with bonus armor, or be able to see the person who killed you on the map and get revenge. Most of them are borderline useless because you’ll die before you get the benefit of using them, it’s the advice of this writer that you stick with the ones that get you more XP, because that will unlock things for you faster.

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The game looks good. Not great, just good. It plays very fast, which is likely why they didn’t go for the mind blowing, server crashing graphics of other games in the same genre. It doesn’t look like a next gen game though, not even close considering it’s coming out 2 years into the reason of PS4 and Xbox One.

It plays a little sluggish as well. The turn speed – both vertical and horizontal – can be adjusted in the menu, but even so it never feels like your character is moving and turning at the pace you want. If you’re used to playing Halo or Destiny you’re going to feel a little slowed down for sure. There is a speed boost item you can find in the level, but maybe that should be replaced with a short term sprint that each character has natively.

DOOM Beta_20160415164714

The damage system also leaves a little to be desired. Your health starts at 100%, armor [without a modifier] starts at 0. Every weapon deals damage based on distance and impact. What I don’t understand is how I can stand next to someone and hit them point black with 4 rockets and they don’t die?! How is that a thing? And it’s always the case. There is also way too much health and armor everywhere, which re-spawns far too quickly. You may as well just hold the fire and move buttons down and not look at the screen, you’ll be just as effective as everyone else.

The Daemon Runes are the game changer, literally. If you get one, you change into a monster for a minute (or until you die). In the beta it’s the skeleton fellow from the poster of the game known as The Revenant. Every hit from him is a 1 hit kill, and he can fly. His health is also 300HP. Pretty much the team with him the most is going to win. And that has been the case every time I play, no matter if it’s a team death match or the capture point round. Maybe they will either nerf his power or increase the weapon damage, but something has to change before launch.

DOOM Beta_20160415165639

Having said all that, the game is still fun to play. The biggest issue I have with it is on day 2 of the open beta I’m struggling to find people playing the game. Last night at it’s midnight launch I could start a match almost instantly. Now I find myself waiting sometimes over 10 minutes for it to find the minimum player count to start the game. Not a good sign on only day two of the beta release.

For a free beta I say download it and play, but for an $80 game with some undefined season pass already available for purchase I think this game is a pass. I don’t think the novelty of the Doom franchise is enough to get anyone to buy this game, and that seems to be what Bethesda and ID are banking on.