One of my most favorite game series has got to be Arma. I’ve always loved the attention to detail, the vast enormity of the play area, and the focus on teamwork and tactics. The problem is that Arma is definitely an acquired taste. If you can make it past the obtuse and inordinate list of controls, the weird interface, and the stodgy gameplay, you’ll still have to deal with a never-ending plethora of bugs and just general weirdness - and then, you’d have to convince a lot of other people to play with you. Arma is one of those things that the more time one invests the more rewards it bequeaths. The Arma series hides its greatness away for safe keeping and only the intrepid ever get to see its overwhelming beauty.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands shares some of the Arma blueprint in that it is a large detailed world with a variety of objectives and open-ended gameplay. However, it distills the complex tactical nature of Arma into a ready to consume mainstream product. If Arma was Bad Brains in all its hardcore punk glory, Wildlands is Blink 182, the mainstream pop product for everyone. Gone are the multitude of controls with variations of stances and different movement speed. Gone are complex and individual controls for vehicles. Instead of having multiple squads and the possibility a large amount of human-controlled players, Wildlands stays with a four person co-op experience.
While Ghost Recon: Wildlands could be a poor and vacuous experience like so much pop music, it is ultimately fun especially with friends. Instead of trudging through miles of terrain and a stupid interface, Wildlands is immediately visceral and exciting. And honestly, that can be a great thing. Something like Arma is dense and complex, but sometimes it is just enough to shoot some mans with friends. Like some of the best pop music, it tries to cling to some of the best aspects of the unsung progenitors of the genre.
Wildlands can be extremely tactical and rewarding just like Arma or Operation Flashpoint. At harder difficulties against overwhelming odds, teamwork, battleplans, and adaptation are really key to surviving encounters. Unlike the more hardcore games of the genre, Wildlands is content to letting the player dictate pace and the level of realism.
My only concern would be the amount of content in the final game. The closed beta was limited to only one small part of the map so I breezed through the story missions and side objectives. Milsim tactical games normally feature a full fledged mission creator and editor so people can continually add content forever. (I just made my first Arma 3 mission last year!) Ghost Recon: Wildlands will probably never have this feature. I wonder how fun and dynamic the game will be in three months or even three years.
Perhaps Wildlands will end up like The Division: messy and bereft of content in the beginning only to become a larger and more entertaining product months after release. I really like the promise of Wildlands and can’t wait to play more.