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Thoughts on Wildlands


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For anyone who knows me, it's probably not a secret that I deeply disdain later iterations of the game series and hold only Red Storm Entertainment's Ghost Recon from 2001 in highest regard. I've expressed the reasoning for my preference in these forums countless times and in much detail, so I'll try to just briefly sum it up here in a few words.

Ghost Recon (2001) is not just any tactical realism squad-based military first person shooter, it is THE KING of tactical realism squad-based military first person shooters. It's the first one, the progenitor of the species. It boldly went where none had dared venturing before. It opened the doors. It set the standards. It laid the course for an entirely new genre.

The "sequels" deviated from this course more and more on their frantic pursuit of cash-grabbing "broader market appeal" through "narrowing the player skill gap", and they eventually got completely lost on their way, forever stuck in the nether realms of cheap console-centric cinematic on-rails action, amongst a host of other COD-wannabe also-rans, desolately void of identity, character, and heritage.

With Future Soldier and Phantoms, the series had reached a new low, and I simply cannot overstate my absolute contempt for those titles. Not necessarily for the kind of gaming they represent (there's plenty of room for all kinds of flavours out there, and that's probably a good thing), but for their spineless betrayal of heritage, for their coarse abuse of the Ghost Recon name.

Just as its recent predecessors, Wildlands once again throws the Ghost Recon name on a package and promises, once again, a return to the series' roots, to its original values. By now I have heard these Sirenes' songs too many times to be lured into false optimism, to take these promises at face value. My hopes have been shattered too many times to be raised by this kind of marketing talk ever again.

No more talk. No more promises. Just show me! Show me that you mean it! Show me that you understand, that you grasp the concept of what Ghost Recon used to stand for, that you finally realize what a tactical realism squad-based military first person shooter true to the game's magnificent heritage has to be about! Put your money where your mouth is and take a risk by daring to be different once again!

Now, from what I've seen of Wildlands so far, there is potential. (Damn, there's that optimism again!)

The nonlinear open-world aspect is the first and most obvious sign of life, and contemporary settings without sci-fi fantasy gear, as well as the lack of a cover system at least hint at an honest realism approach. Cooperative play with and against formidable(!) AI (including squad-control and avatar-switching) is, of course, an absolute must-have, as are realistic ballistics (one-shot-one-kill), severe wound impairment, permadeath, and full selection of character stances, including lean and peek.

And there absolutely(!) has to be an option to use first person view exclusively. I know you love showing off your character models, but there simply is no third-person perspective in reality, so there cannot be one in a true tactical realism setting. The same goes for all those overbearing HUD elements. Unless there's an option to turn them all completely off, this is going to be a deal breaker.

In conclusion, against all odds I'm willing to give Wildlands the benefit of the doubt at this time. Let's see what the future holds and hope for the best, once more. And if the developers should fail us again, there's always the old King to return to.

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Ghost Rrcon was the king.

Arma 3 is now king.

And from what I just saw in the Tech Test, that ain't going to change.

And meanwhile, Arma 3 has now introduced stealth  coefficient to the fray and tac ops on the roadmap for next year.

IF you haven't figured out where the future of GR lives yet then your loss.

Edited by Lightspeed
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Oh come on, Lighty. Haven't we done this before? :)

I'll state, for the record, that Arma 3 is a hell of a full-scale war simulator for mechanized land, naval, and air combat - probably the best there is today, and one of the very few titles that keeps the flame of tactical realism burning (and quite brightly, I might add), and for that simple fact alone, I honestly and deeply respect Bohemia Interactive very much. They also never fell into the greed trap of catering to the bottom feeders just for the sake of corporate profits, and that earns them another absolutely huge plus in my book. But the game simply still cannot quench my thirst for the gritty blood-sweat-and-tears boots-in-the-dirt infantry combat that the reigning King provides.

ArmA's combined arms aspect and all of the size, complexity, and scale simulation minutiae this entails squarely stands in the way of that unbridled excitement caused by immediate immersion only Ghost Recon can provide. At least for me, and maybe I'm way off in my sentiments here, but no matter how hard I've tried to befriend the ArmA series in the past, I never felt quite as directly connected to my character, to my squad. I'm neither talking about nor shying away from a steep learning curve, there's just too many things reminding me that something is being simulated here, in a strangely abstract way, while I sit at my desk and stare at a screen, and I cannot quite put my finger on it with absolute certainty whether it is the cumbersome UI and somehow oblique controls, the rather clumsy character animations, the occasional glitches, or the somewhat unconvincing AI manoeuvring that kills immersion. But for me, it does.

Maybe, if I forced myself to spend a whole lot of additional time to play ArmA, one distant day the dam might break and I may eventually feel a little more at home. But why would I? Why would I want to force myself to jump through countless non-enjoyable hoops for this game, just to potentially achieve some enjoyment at the end of that journey, when the thing I'm looking for is so much more readily provided elsewhere already, and from the very moment I launch the game and step onto the battlefield. I still remember exactly how it felt when the Ghost Recon demo came out, and me and my squad approached that Ossetian castle for the first time. That unbridled enjoyment was there - right from the very first second of gameplay. For me, this enjoyment is still there today, and it probably always will be. 

Sorry, but for any game to ever de-throne Ghost Recon, it will have to be able to push all of its buttons with the same ease, and it will have to do it a whole lot better.

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I couldn't agree more Apex. 

I once forced myself to play through BI's original Operation Flashpoint Cold War Crisis.  And I can't emphasize "forced" enough. Even at the end of the game and having somewhat mastered all the various challenges in the game  I still felt no sense of accomplishment nor could I recall any moments of pure fun. Fast forward to ARMA 2 and within the first 5 minutes of the first level I was reminded of the dull experience and realized what I was about to endure.  I then uninstalled and haven't looked back since. 

I'll never forget the first time GR's score graced my ears nor will I ever forget the range of emotions I felt maneuvering through the South Ossetian Autonomous Region for the first time. No game, not even any of the Rainbow Six titles grasped me the way GR did. 

Edited by shakealeg1212
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After the series' recent history, I wonder if they could steep any lower. But then they really managed to pull off just that, time and time again. :)

But sad? Please don't be sad. We are all here for you, mate. And good old Ghost Recon isn't going anywhere, either.

Long Live GhostRecon.net!

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OFP had to many bugs but was really fun. Gave you that im in over my head feeling pretty quick. 

GR was just extremely well balanced. My biggest gripe was not being able to climb over objects or up ladders.

 

I've said it once I'll say it again. Dont fix what isnt broken. GRs balance was perfect.

GRAW2 really got close to the multiplayer aspect but once again was short lived due to bugs and lack of content (multiplayer server options etc) 

 

UBI could really step up their game and reintroduce GR back to its roots but. It isn't. 

Badlands looks like farcry IMO and probably going to be even shorter lived. 

Who knows though. I've been surprised before. 

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I'm paying attention to Wildlands. Put off a bit that it is limited to 4 player co-op.
The Far Cry series has had some good titles notably FarCry3 so if it is good as that I'm in for a romp.

I've gotten my moneys worth out of the Arma series and OFP. Some of the user made campaigns were and are very well done.
Friends and I tried the OA demo for co-op gameplay. Some of us liked it but others had no interest.
So we are in our 13th year of playing GR co-op on Sunday afternoons which would have been impossible without dedicated server files, modding and 9 slots for co-op.

Maybe Wildlands will be good. Arma series definitely has legs and a wide range of gameplay. GR is just so nice for the ease of use, the character movement and gunplay and relative ease to mod it.

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Apex (and others of course),

 

I just bought Squad which is still in an Alpha phase. This game could bring back that GR-feeling. No HUD, 1st person only, tactical. Apparently I am looking for the GR replacer as well...:-)

Hence I am into Arma 3 as well and I think it's the best replacer out there as far as tactical realism, however...the game for me gets killed by the mind blowing amount of mods: at some point you need to have 14 mods to play a single mission. Hmmm. But I have had great GR -like- sessions with friends with that game.

Can't we start a crowd funding to polish up GR and bring back the KING of all tac. shooters? We start to sound like the Lost Souls...maybe a good title: Lost Recon.

 

Best,

Koel

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Played Squad for around a year now on and off, while it can be truly fantastic with a squad of friends working together, really don't think its something similar to OGR, of course there is a tactical elements with and again as its  important a working squad, it has none of the OGR features outside that and as far as I am aware they are not planning SP/Coop which is the bread and butter of OGR. Played last night for a few hours recorded a bit below, again some great moments, while I understand its a free weekend so new people came in I've experienced the below many a time pre that:
 


With arma 3 and I think lightspeed is a ver big advocate of this, it can be very OGR like, the feeling's are there (particularly in lightspeeds missions) but the capabilities are expanded vastly, of course arma / OFP has had its issues a plenty over the part 15'ish years of which I've played around 10 it really can be a decent alternative to OGR. However probably known by few that I am a big advocate of Ground Branch and having one of the Devs on OGR working on a small squad based tactical shooter does bring back those 'feels' and I think once the financial and working constraints are dealt with it hopefully will be a direct 2017/18 alternative to OGR. If for whatever reason your not a fan of GB (of which I know there are several and some on this forum) that fine then I would suggest maybe keep an eye on the 'remake' of insurgency on UE4, which is to feature SP campaign and of course Coop and TvT ect, it certainly has my attention not that we have really seen anything of it yet. 

However the best remedy really is.......in just over a days time DL the new heroes unleashed and go back into the real thing :)

(Forgive me for not mentioning wildlands once, although I suspect it will be fun no doubt I really don't count it in the same bracket of any of the above mentioned). 

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Of course I agree with the general sentiment of just about everything said in this thread: Ubisoft dropped, let all the air out of the Tom Clancy/Red Storm ball, then literally gave it away to anyone that wanted it.  BI and indie developers picked it up and are making hay with it now -- and with all the action realism games loosing steam; Ubisoft is as late as ever to understanding what's going on, and still seems to have absolutely no idea what happened...

While ArmA and Squad are ambitious well conceived games; Ghost Recon remains unsurpassed in very important regards to tactical realism scale, AI design, and quality of features that even with the amazing steadfast talent at BI, and the labor of love behind games like Squad -- Ghost Recon offers depth of play to this day absent these more 'modern ' games.  

I (and military professionals) find both Squad and the ArmA games caught on the slippery slope of too much granularity; where you have game features, interfaces, and functions that require far more time, knowledge, and attention then they would for real world experienced Operators -- this is a problem in trying to be all things to the enormous and thoroughly enamored fan base these games have grown.

In the compressed time and finite game space this aspect of game design become a wrecking ball to bespoke tactics, and realistic emergent game-play. When you're on the end of a 'Tactical Shovel ' for ten minutes, or have to take the equivalent of a 'Tactical Crap '  and there are interfaces, feature granularity, detail and controls for folding or wadding the 'Tactical Wiping Instrument ' -- for many this goes too far; it becomes game design lost in a morass of complexity, fiddling and waiting at the expense of actual game-play and realistic tactical depth...

With respect to the trademarked franchise(s); I'm over it, and seriously doubt Ubisoft will ever connect with the depth of adult game design that drove the Red Storm game development. I can live with that; it's Ubisoft's ip, money, company -- to take in any direction they want. I am of course disappointed, but they're not playing ball anymore it's badminton and costume Barbies for millennial helicopter children I expect.

It's ironic that there's an adult demographic that's more monetarily endowed to purchased lavishly expensive and well developed games (that Ubisoft has almost entirely lost) many for example that I played Ghost Recon with have absolutely zero interest in anything from Ubisoft after just a few minutes of looking at what the games don't have to offer; they consider it a kiddie parade float of crap.

With the demanding 50-70 hour work week I have now -- I can enjoy some of the games Ubisoft grinds out as casual games, and will probably get more out of a game like Wildlands then most OGR fans. What I can't stand is the misleading hype, the complete misunderstanding of what constitutes a tactical realism game, and the absolutely abysmal code the PC iterations of Ubisoft games arrive on; they literally have the worst net-code on any PC FPS realism game made in the last ten years, by any metric, as well the insistence on console derivative MMS does far more damage then good...

The good news is Ghost Recon still stands as the high water mark and as a sort of Rosetta of high concept game design that any one willing to make the mental effort can explore and learn from.

Edited by 101459
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/25/2016 at 13:30, Kurtz said:

Is it unfair to say that Wildlands is basically going to be Future Soldier in an open world with some graphic engine enhancements. I don't play online so I assume the AI will be autonomous as in FS and not controllable.

 

I wish we knew more, what I see doesn't look like state-of-the-art  nav-mesh autonomous AI, but that doesn't mean that's not what they're doing. I really hope there's more information forth-coming about actual game design, but it looks like the game's development is in crunch mode and all 'Ubisoft is talking about ' are marketing talking points...

Edited by 101459
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Indeed nothing but extremely cringeworthy marketing fluff as of late. What I'm hearing through the grapevine doesn't bode well for Wildlands, at all. No hardcore mode, no first-person-only option, no modding support, no advanced AI for either friendly or opponent NPC. Basically, this title promises to become the ###### child of a watered down Far Cry and shadows of The Division, with bits and pieces of cheap off-the-lowest-shelves middleware novelties thrown in for effect.

What a shame, Ubisoft had a real chance here to make good on their endlessly regurgitated promise to "return to the series' roots" and for once create a tactical FPS with some potential for longevity, but just like their short-lived Phantoms and Future Soldier console fodder shovelware, after preorders by incorrigibles have ebbed down, Wildlands will find itself in the bargain bins within days of release, with no chance whatsoever for its lifespan extending beyond a few weeks.

Another nail in the Ubisoft coffin, and one step closer to a Vivendi-led burial. Good riddance, the future owners couldn't possibly deliver any worse.

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On 11/26/2016 at 20:43, ApexMods said:

Indeed nothing but extremely cringeworthy marketing fluff as of late. What I'm hearing through the grapevine doesn't bode well for Wildlands, at all. No hardcore mode, no first-person-only option, no modding support, no advanced AI for either friendly or opponent NPC. Basically, this title promises to become the ###### child of a watered down Far Cry and shadows of The Division, with bits and pieces of cheap off-the-lowest-shelves middleware novelties thrown in for effect.

What a shame, Ubisoft had a real chance here to make good on their endlessly regurgitated promise to "return to the series' roots" and for once create a tactical FPS with some potential for longevity, but just like their short-lived Phantoms and Future Soldier console fodder shovelware, after preorders by incorrigibles have ebbed down, Wildlands will find itself in the bargain bins within days of release, with no chance whatsoever for its lifespan extending beyond a few weeks.

Another nail in the Ubisoft coffin, and one step closer to a Vivendi-led burial. Good riddance, the future owners couldn't possibly deliver any worse.

I really want you to be wrong, I want to be wrong -- but that is the way it looks... We even could  be wrong but now with the all too familiar news blackout with 'we're not discussing that at this time ' slippery speak it's looking more and more like another one just like the other one where we're due for another neck-down, broken, kiddie toy that appeals to the lowest common denominator...  

I'd love for Ubisoft to pull a bunny out of the hat and deliver; even on 1% of the hype and it could be an impressive game. But coming from a top-down company that mismanages it's own stock issue and then whines to its paying customers about hostile takeovers, and before that abject cry fest is even digested by the public, officers of Ubisoft are accused of insider trading; issues here go way beyond game development and all the way to the top of the company.

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If any part of Ubi deserves to survive, its Red Storm. And not just because of their history. They are the guys that bring a lot of weapon authenticity to games like The Division and Far Cry, even if most of the other elements don't do it justice.

I hope Wildlands  is a bit more...grounded. The situation is a good start, just look at the show "Cartel Land" (its on netflix). The world looks promising with size, depth and variation. But the gameplay seems to have too much run and gun potential. I don't think that people would mind playing slow and tactical, they just need incentive to do it instead of feeling forced to. I look at games like The Last of Us and Splinter Cell Blacklist as modern games that did this well. The gameplay encourages avoiding risk, but when things go bad the controls allow for good combat without feeling overpowered or overburdened. You have to play smart, even with the best loadout. It makes surviving a firefight that much more satisfying.

For example, player and enemies could be more similar on a health standpoint, where moving under fire is a bigger risk, and flanking is a serious concern. Instead of Superhumans vs 100 rookies it would feel more like the ghost's training and gear gives the advantage, even if it only means you can take a few shots extra. What is the point of having all of the cool tech and ability to be stealthy if you can just roll in and gun everyone down anyway? That goes both way though. I don't want them to go down if they stub their toe, but not have bullet sponges either. Just tweaking a few numbers can change the whole experience in a game. Thrown in good, flexible AI and you could have a recipe for a good time.

Fun and fluid gameplay should be a top priority of games, because that is part of what makes a game fun. But it should be easy to learn and hard to master, like Ghost Recon. The game controls are simple enough that I could teach my younger cousin, who never played a computer game before. After a two minute explanation, she cleared the Heroes Unleashed bank map on firefight by herself :). It is accessible to people like her, but still challenging for people like me.

Wildlands has potential, more than any Ubi game I have seen in quite a while. And that is good! It can be the exellent blend of ease of use of recent Clancy and Far Cry games and the tactical gameplay similar to ARMA and Squad. However I fear overcorrection to appeal to a wider audience.

 

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55 minutes ago, Proximity_13 said:

Wildlands has potential, more than any Ubi game I have seen in quite a while. And that is good! It can be the exellent blend of ease of use of recent Clancy and Far Cry games and the tactical gameplay similar to ARMA and Squad. However I fear overcorrection to appeal to a wider audience.

Well said! I'd add that it's the things with the most potential to impress also have the most potential to disappoint. To some extent I'm trying to over correct in negative anticipation to avoid repeat of past disappointment -- Ubisoft's marketing is very misleading, and is a big part of the problem that can't be helping their sales any...

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Well said, my friend. Very well said, indeed. :)

I pretty much try out every single "tactical" shooter upon release, only to find that with each new iteration, basically all of them are moving further and further away from anything that would invite realistic deliberate gameplay, and I often wonder if there are either no developers or no players left out there willing to engage more than a dimly flickering solitary brain cell. The irreversible harm that CowADoodie and its herds of domesticated console cattle have caused not only to the genre but game development in general cannot be overstated.

This may sound somewhat elitist or like an old fart rambling on about the good old days, but I remember a time when games used to be rather clever, made by clever people for clever people. Nowadays it seems like they are increasingly made by greedy incompetent morons for fools and simpletons, or people who simply just don't care, hurriedly gobbling up anything "new" served to them again and again, never standing still to wonder why the continuous feeding frenzy ultimately still fails to satisfy any hunger.

So an underground niche it is then, to ask for more then mindless cursory distraction and instant gratification in a tactical shooter. Well, fair enough, I guess.

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I think you need some balance in the judgement. you need to keep in mind that we (original ghost recon fans ) are the minority and that Devs n publishers are seeking to appeal to the largest audience.

Sounds like a good business approach so we shouldn't criticize them for that. End of the day, we need to adapt our play style to fit the game or move on.

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