In the fullness of time we fully expect Ubisoft to reveal details on player versus player multiplayer for Ghost Recon Wildlands, but in the meantime the focus is totally on single player and 4 player cooperative gameplay, with live drop in for joining players. At E3 Ubisoft presented a behind closed doors 4 man co-op mission that displayed the sheer amount of options open to co-op teams when undertaking missions; unlimited approach options (including the air), weapons, vehicles and squad formations give the players a totally free hand in how to execute their plans.
We were extremely impressed with the demo, as were the other journalists present, however what we want to know now is what the single player and co-op gaming community think of this new openworld gaming experience that Ubisoft have come up with for Ghost Recon. So to gauge initial single player campaign reaction to Wildland’s reveal at E3 we sat down with Nick Calandra of single player gaming site Onlysp.com and Nick Puleo of co-op gaming site Co-optimus.com to get their first impressions of Ghost Recon Wildlands!
Have you played any of the earlier Ghost Recon titles and on what platforms?
Nick Calandra: I’ve played through the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter series, as well as Future Soldier, all on the Xbox 360. I’m only 20 years old, so back when I first started gaming I didn’t really get a chance to play through the original Ghost Recon games, all that much.
I think I played, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder with a few of my friends and we enjoyed that as a co-op game. But, most of my time with video games was spent either playing Star Wars: Battlefront, or Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.
Nick Puleo : I’ve been playing Ghost Recon games since the first game and its three expansion packs on PC. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter on Xbox 360 was probably the one I put the most time into as we had a large group of friends that played the co-op terrorist hunt mode OVER AND OVER AND OVER.
What were your first impressions after seeing the E3 reveal trailer for Ghost Recon Wildlands?
Nick Calandra: When I first saw the trailer I was really excited about it. I love military games and have been awaiting an open world military game that’s a bit more accessible than something like Arma 3. I mean, sure, I could probably spend some time learning how to play those games better, but running a website full-time and going to college doesn’t allow me a whole lot of time to focus on one game.
However, I was worried after seeing the trailer that it was another shared world type game, and would rely on an always-online connection. I share a distaste for the way those games are designed as much as my readers do on OnlySP, so I was happy to hear it was a co-op experience that could be played solo, with AI squadmates.
I like the premise of the storyline, and from the looks of it, the world is going to be absolutely huge and diverse, which is something that also really excites me after finishing up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I love exploring huge open worlds, finding new locations and the such. I’m just hoping that Ubisoft diversifies their side quests approach for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, instead of using the same formula that’s used for the rest of their open world titles.
Nick Puleo :I’m definitely excited for it. It looks like a solid mix of the open world Far Cry type stuff (which is more reminiscent of classic GR) and the addition of vehicles and of course campaign co-op are going to make this a really fun experience with friends
What aspects of co-op/single player gaming are most important to gamers, in your opinion?
Nick Calandra: This is sort of a hard question to answer, primarily because every game is different, and it’s hard to base what aspects are important outside of a genre. In terms of what I look for in a single player game, having a good story is probably my most important aspect. Too often, I’ll put down a game simply because I find the story very uninteresting, which in turns makes the gameplay tedious and boring.
That doesn’t happen with every game I play of course, Alien: Isolation being a prime example. The game’s narrative was pretty straightforward, but the gameplay was incredibly engaging and I couldn’t put the game down because of that. Far Cry 4, on the other hand, I’ve yet to finish because the main storyline just bored me to death, and as I said in a previous answer, I don’t have time to be a completionist in most of the games I play.
Nick Puleo :For co-op gamers they want to feel like they have an impact on the game, not just a third wheel. Giving players the ability to fall into defined roles, whether that’s in a tactical shooter or a puzzle game like Portal is very important. Of course for co-op there are just as many folks that want couch co-op gameplay as online, and usually a developer can only do one or the other.
What do Ubisoft have to do with Wildlands to make it a popular with single player/co-op gamers?
Nick Calandra: In a previous answer I mentioned that Wildlands premise sounds rather intriguing, but with a lack of details on the game’s main storyline at the moment, it’s hard to say if the game is going to be more of a sandbox like Just Cause, or have a narrative that builds up around your squadmates etc.
As I’ve already said, I’m hoping Ubisoft can increase the diversity of their sidequests with Wildlands, especially considering just how good CD Projekt RED did with The Witcher: Wild Hunt’s sidequests.
I think the game is already on the right path to being a popular single player title, just due to the fact it’s not an always-online game like The Division. A single player option in The Division is actually one of the most searched items on OnlySP, as is a Destiny offline mode.
I think developers should always include those type options in their games, just for the sake of the consumer who doesn’t want to play the game online.
Nick Puleo : Basically what I said above. Make sure everyone can contribute to the story and mission progress and make sure all players are equally rewarded.
Ubisoft have already stated support for live drop ins during co-op play, what challenges do you think this presents for co-op gaming?
Nick Puleo : Since bots are taking over the other characters when players aren’t present, it should be pretty seamless. Honestly this is one of the pillars of co-op. Don’t make me HAVE to start in a lobby, let me invite a friend at anytime.
The single player experience relies heavily on the plot, with Wildlands Ubisoft are taking to Ghosts to Bolivia in a fight against the drug cartels.
To make this as real as possible, some of the Ubisoft dev team were actually flown to Bolivia to witness first hand the desperate situation and draw upon the visuals and atmosphere. On the other hand, there are gaming metrics that show some players routinely skip past pre-mission briefings preferring to jump straight into the action. Whether it is co-op or single player, what are your thoughts on the importance of a cohesive, compelling and convincing plot line?
Nick Calandra: The Ghost Recon titles have always had pretty interesting plotlines in my opinion. It’s been quite a while since I’ve played Advanced Warfighter or Future Soldier, but I think they were a bit more mature in terms of the themes presented. Then again, when I played those games I was still in highschool and probably took them at base value, so my opinion might change if I were to revisit them today.
Considering Wildlands is an open world game, I’m not really sure how much importance Ubisoft is going to put on the main storyline, but based on the topic material they could easily make it a pretty interesting story, but knowing Ubisoft I’m not holding out much hope for a thoroughly provoking storyline here. More than likely, it’s going to be another cliché action heavy storyline, with a focus on gameplay. And that’s completely fine with me to be honest.
Nick Puleo : In all honesty, for co-op games, I think story is less important. Sure it’s nice to have a good setting or some sort of motivation, but most players just want to have some fun with friends. Lay out the objectives, point an arrow, and off we go.
There is a proliferation of in game achievements in gaming these days, do you feel these improve the single player experience and encourage long term commitment from gamers or are gamers starting to feel a slave to achievements?
Nick Calandra: With what I do, I’ve never really had time to put much focus on obtaining achievements in games, and even when I wasn’t doing games journalism, I still didn’t put much focus on them. Other people take them very seriously though, as it gives them a real sense of accomplishment, which I think is pretty cool. I don’t think anyone really feels like slave to achievements, as they’re just offering an incentive for people to keep playing the game.
Nick Puleo : I feel it’s an improvement. It allows game designers to gently steer gamers towards things they may have typically ignored. In a way I feel they are like easter eggs.
Finally, excited or not for Ghost Recon Wildlands?!
Nick Calandra: Yea, I’d have to say I’m pretty excited for Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I like open world games, I like Ghost Recon and just the footage of the Ghosts moving through the woods in the trailer to take out an encampment had me oohing and ahhing. I love playing these games with my friends, even if I’m running a single player only website 😉
Nick Puleo : Definitely excited.
Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on Ghost Recon Wildlands, we will be checking in with you both once you’ve played through the Ghost Recon Wildlands single player campaign, hopefully sometime late next year!