Ghost Recon Net

Throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Ghost Recon franchise functioned as one of Ubisoft’s mainstays. Alongside Prince of Persia, the game reigned supreme – until the development of Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed, anyway.

Upon the introduction of these two new titles, Ghost Recon took a step away from the spotlight, languishing in its newly unloved state, but it wasn’t destined to stay there forever. In a move that was nothing short of genius, Ubisoft chose to revive the franchise in March 2017, with the introduction of Wildlands.

Coming complete with a seemingly mandatory requirement for all big budget PC and console games – an open world – Wildlands initially earned only lukewarm reviews, yet it now stands as arguably the most successful Ghost Recon game so far.

So, what’s the secret to its commercial popularity? We consider some of the most important factors below.

An exceptionally detailed open world

Image may contain: sky, mountain, outdoor and nature

Source: Facebook via Ghost Recon Wildlands

At the time of its release, one of the most talked about features in Wildlands was its immensely detailed open world environment. Marking the first time this had been done in the series, it changed the franchise fundamentally – and all for the better.

The attention to detail in terms of story and world building was unparalleled and marked a clear intention to appeal to every major gaming audience out there. The developers would specifically comment on their drive to ensure absolute synchronicity between narrative and gameplay, so that no matter the individual approach taken to a mission, the person or team’s unique handling of each situation would always be accommodated.

Dominic Butler, the lead game designer at Ubisoft Paris, specifically explained that: “What this meant in terms of the way we approach[ed] the design, especially within the mission design, is that it is a lot more goal focused. Then the players add their own story in how they complete that.”

Such efforts inarguably paid off, helping Wildlands to become not only hugely popular but also possessed of a universal appeal.

A hands-off approach

Image may contain: 1 person, night and outdoor

Source: Facebook via Ghost Recon Wildlands

The world that Wildlands created was far more detailed and open-ended than anything that had come before, and it was the interplay of these factors that almost certainly contributed to its appeal. These went hand-in-hand with the new, more independent-minded approach that it adopted, with Butler suggesting this was the biggest shift between Wildlands and earlier games in the series.

Rather than providing detailed guidance on how to complete missions, for example, the decision-making was left in the hands of the player. In one sequence, for instance, the mission involves destroying a land-based casino. Though one could argue that the inclusion of internet slots such as those available at UK based online casino Mr Smith might have been more apt in our modern day and age, and no doubt less vulnerable to destruction, the point nonetheless remains – that the means of executing the mission is left entirely in the hands of the player.

It is undoubtedly this – the ability to shape the game into whatever the individual would like it to be whilst still telling a nonetheless compelling story – that has helped to not only garner attention and praise but has kept players coming back to it over and over again.

Wildlands is, in short, a perfect example of how games must adapt and evolve to accommodate their audience and what they want. If only all franchises could follow its lead, similar successes would be shared by all.