This has been one busy weekend and not because I’ve returned to Rainbow Six Siege to prepare myself for the upcoming changes, but due to the testing I’ve done to upcoming games.
Thursday I got invited to Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 CBT which had a fraction of a rather small map to explore with a few missions and side objectives to do. My feelings after this beta are mixed. There are a few good gameplay elements like the multiple ways to approach a situation, the lethality, the freedom of movement or the sheer variety of weapons and upgrades gained or crafted tied to an internal economy that has you scavenging for resources. But the game cuts some serious corners on production value with sluggish animations, a questionable AI and numerous visual glitches. The graphics don’t look as good in game as in the gameplay videos with textures and foliage being quite underwhelming yet the game doesn’t shy away from performance problems. At least the gameplay and level design allows for tactical approaches and the ballistics are pretty advanced requiring a bit of patience and even some skill to pull off some shots. Too bad the AI isn’t more capable of countering the combination of drone marking and sniping from the distance, but if you get to cocky the enemies will kill you faster than you expect it.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 problems are out in the open and that’s a beta test for. The good thing is that the game is still 2 months away from release and there is time to fix some of the issues based on the feedback, something that cannot be said about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.
It’s hard to call Wildlands a Ghost Recon game, even harder to call it a Tom Clancy game, but both these “titles” have lost much of the meaning they had in the early 2000s. At its core Wildlands is just another Ubisoft game ticking all the boxes of the current trend of streamline game. There is the open world having a gigantic map filled with many trivial tasks and probably way less meaningful missions that take place in special locations and have unique objectives. The progression gives the exploration more meaning requiring some resource gathering and a hunt for collectibles to be able to improve your character with skills, some more realistic and others not so much, as well as gain new guns and customization, both being surprisingly detailed. The UI is well designed and extremely intuitive with a bit of spoon feeding, but that’s ok because Wildlands requires more keybinds than expected. The real problems I’ve seen this beta comes from design choices and the level of polishing.
Wildlands can be played in a team alongside 3 AI controlled members or in online co-op with friends or random players. The gameplay is quite straight forward, shoot or sneak your way through some encampments controlled by some pretty dumb enemies which can easily be outplayed with markings from the drone and by taking advantage of the many gadgets, weapons, vehicles and even special abilities your team has at its disposal. The available arsenal is overpowering limiting the actual tactics instead of expanding them because the AI doesn’t seem capable of keeping up with the players unless they gain overwhelming numbers through reinforcements. Even if the compounds are designed quite well with multiple access routes, lights which can be turned off and even with diversion opportunities, there is little need for these. The streamlining of the gameplay in order to be fast enough for co-op reduces the challenge even further as you can easily salvage a situations by teleporting on squad members, regenerating HP or resurrecting players without any losses. The Ghost difficulty does make things a bit more challenging, especially if you don’t have a full team, but mostly because you die faster as the AI doesn’t seem to get sharper reactions. Like things weren’t worrisome enough, Wildlands has the bugs and performance problems of an alpha test. Even on high end rig you need some pretty heavy tweaking to gain an acceptable fps and this game isn’t all that high on graphical fidelity. Bolivia might have beautiful landscapes from afar, but getting closer reveals textures with average quality, spasmodic foliage and skimpy animations. But while the performance can be fixed in time for launch, the sketchy controls when moving or driving, the weird physics, the vehicles extreme damage model and many other issues are most likely to stay. Wildlands can still be a fun game, especially in co-op, and if you try really hard you can get really tactical, but gameplay mechanics seem half cooked and there is a plague of technical problems.
It’s a sad day when you find out that a game with potential has so many problems just a month before release. It’s even sadder when you can find many striking similarities between a Ghost Recon game and Just Cause.
All that wait for this weekend just to be disappointed. At least Siege has some promising features in store for this year!