Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Beautiful yet callous, Wildlands is a serviceable open worlder with strong co-op that doesn't quite put the Ghosts back on the map.

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Once upon a time, Sam Fisher and Solid Snake were top of the gaming tree, stealth operatives in their prime. Times change, of course. Fisher hasn't starred in a Splinter Cell game since 2013's Blacklist, and the future of the Metal Gear Solid series looks uncertain after series creator Hideo Kojima left Konami to go it alone.

Ghost Recon Wildlands' second season of free updates starts next week

Ubisoft has announced that Ghost Recon Wildlands' second season of free updates - collectively known as Year 2 - will begin next week, bringing with it new missions, items, rewards, and "community-requested features".

Year 2 will consist of four free updates - what Ubisoft is referring to as Special Operations - and the first of these, due on April 10th, will introduce Sabotage, a new PvP game mode.

In Sabotage, the attacking team is tasked with capturing and holding an objective target before the timer runs out, while the defending team tries to stop them. Sabotage will come with five new mode-specific maps, the first of six new PvP classes, and new perks.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting loot crates

Will have "zero impact on gameplay and player's progression".

Ubisoft has announced that its popular tactical open-world shooter Ghost Recon Wildlands will be getting loot crates in its next update, due to arrive before the end of January.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands' 4v4 PvP mode coming autumn, open beta this summer

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands is finally getting a player-versus-player mode, called Ghost War. It's scheduled to launch in full this autumn after a beta this summer.

Ghost War is a four-versus-four fight, one team against another, in classic Ghost Recon style.

"Teams will choose from a roster of varied classes that fill specific roles on the battlefield, as they navigate large-scale, open maps and take down their enemies," says Ubisoft. "Ghost War will also integrate new PvP mechanics, including suppressing fire and sound markers, to create a true military strategic, team-based multiplayer mode."

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands bests Zelda in US sales for March

Ghost Recon: Wildlands bests Zelda in US sales for March

Mass Effect Andromeda sales are the second-best in the series.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands took the top spot in US sales for the month of March, according to analyst firm NPD Group.

The stat-tracking company noted that Ghost Recon: Wildlands had the best launch of any Ghost Recon title and the second-best launch of a Tom Clancy game, after The Division.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came in second, even though it shifted 1.3m units in its launch month, making it the fastest-selling Zelda title ever. Over 900k of these were on Nintendo Switch, a system that's seen stock shortages since its 3rd March launch.

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I wasn't the biggest fan of Ghost Recon: Wildlands - you might say I thought it was a ghastly neoliberal wargasm joined at the hip to an unimaginative open world action game - but I am, oddly enough, rather fond of guiding people through it, chaperoning squadmates to waypoints and doing my best to keep everybody upright in the face of inevitable idiocy. This probably says more about me than it does the game itself. Perhaps it's just that I'm in my early 30s and secretly want to be a dad, a yearning unproductively manifest as an over-protective attitude towards sweary randos who dress like a Halloween edition of Guns 'n' Ammo. But there's something about Wildlands - its blend of rigour and scale, cold-blooded Clancycore ruthlessness and spec ops fancy dress competition - that creates a kind of squad play I'm not entirely sure the game's developers intended.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands biggest launch of the year so far

Ghost Recon: Wildlands biggest launch of the year so far

While Horizon, Zelda continue to sell strongly.

Ubisoft open-world shooter Ghost Recon: Wildlands is the biggest-selling launch of the year so far.

Wildlands is also the second-biggest launch for any game with the vague Tom Clancy moniker attached - which covers everything from Ghost Recon to Rainbow Six: Siege to Splinter Cell. The only Tom Clancy game launch it didn't outsell? The Division.

PlayStation 4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn, 2017's previous biggest launch, continued to sell well in second place.

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands review

Wildlands is that familiar glossy contradiction, the "gritty" quasi-realistic open world blockbuster - a work of great craft and care that's also a work of macabre war tourism, wowing you with its geography even as it casually up-sells the bankrupt fantasy of playing global policeman. Aside from being another Ubisoft love letter to icon-studded map screens, it reprises the fond Tom Clancy daydream that the answer to every festering international dilemma is a squad of all-American roughnecks armed with a list of names and a relaxed definition of collateral damage. It's a game about extrajudicial murder whose creators have taken the time to animate children playing hopscotch in schoolyards, a realm of soothing splendour in which you'll kick in the door of a village church to retrieve a laser sight accessory from the altar. It is by turns plodding and vivid, entertaining and abhorrent.

I can't quite bring myself to loathe it, but it says a lot that I keep trying to escape it - or at least, to escape the part Wildlands expects me to play in reshaping its coked-up appropriation of Bolivia (whose government has lodged a formal complaint with France over the country's depiction in the game). While crossing the landscape I typically eschew fast travel in favour of a helicopter or plane, seizing my chance to slip the surly bonds of yet another bloody mass of Ubi-brand emergent distractions - resources and gear items to gobble up like plankton, convoys to pester, patrols to waylay or be waylaid by. Up there, all you have to worry about are power lines and the impetuous handling. And the occasional surface-to-air missile.

On reaching the majestic salt flats that extend beyond the world's northwestern perimeter, I immediately leapt aboard a nearby dirtbike and roared off towards the horizon - hoping to break free of both the game's effective but desperately routine activity design and the Clancy franchise's moribund obsession with grizzled wetworkers changing the fates of nations by knifing anybody with a funny accent. Perhaps there is something outside of all this, I thought. Perhaps it'll be like that scene at the end of the Matrix 2 - a burst of radiance, a room walled with television screens and a chair swivelling to reveal the avuncular figure of Yves Guillemot, there to explain the Ubiworld's ultimate purpose. Alas, I was rewarded only with a loading break and a trip back to the nearest campsite, where I spent five minutes painting a rifle pink, tossed a grenade at a passing minibus, then climbed into my chopper and smashed it repeatedly into the ground.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta begins next week

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands will be free to try next week in an open beta for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The beta begins Thursday 23rd February and will last until Sunday 27th.

You'll get an exclusive mission to play through, "Unidad Conspiracy", where you spark a war between drug gangs.

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If you had any expectations that Ghost Recon Wildlands would play anything like its predecessors in the tactical shooter series, it's probably best to put them to one side. This is a very different take on the formula.

Ghost Recon Wildlands gameplay shows off open-world co-op

Ubisoft revealed Ghost Recon Wildlands gameplay during its E3 media briefing today, showing off the expansive, open-world four-player co-op.

In the video, below, we get a sense of what it's like to play a mission co-op with some friends. Warning: scripted banter alert.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is set in Bolivia, which is controlled by the Santa Blanca cartel. The country has been transformed into a narco-state. You play ghosts who are sent in to sort it all out.

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Ubisoft closed a typically idiosyncratic E3 showcase with a typically spectacular finale: an extended video of a new Ghost Recon title, which dumps up the cosy, dusty locales of 2012's Future Soldier for a vast open-world setting that looks to be even more gigantic than last year's The Crew.