GTA 5 is in its fourth year and yet it seemingly still inspires games to this day. A recent major release which was big enough to push GTA 5 down from the upper half of the game sales charts' top lists, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, is the latest game to get compared to the insanely successful open-world title from Rockstar.
Ghost Recon has been getting mostly positive reviews with a few mixed scores in the bunch, but while opinions vary one thing is almost a constant: the comparisons to GTA 5. Thing is, those comparisons tend to speak about how Wildlands should be more than GTA 5 in order to be a better game.
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The new Ubisoft release is an open-world third-person shooter based in a vast sandbox full of various activities strewn about the map - stop me if you heard that before. Of course, that's a tad unfair, since pretty much every open-world shooter title follows that formula.
Thing is, GTA 5 did pull off that kind of gameplay the best, even though we're talking about a four-year-old game. Being the top dog on the block, GTA 5 will inevitably be the basis of comparison for any title which follows this archetype. The game has been openly cited to be the source of inspiration of various open-world titles, including Fallout 4.
There are some obvious differences of course, such as Wildlands being mostly focused on tactical combat and stealth with an emphasis on co-op. While there is the option to play alone, most people deride the monotony of the game when played solo. The wilderness of Wildland's fictional take on Bolivia is vastly different from GTA 5's depiction of the state of San Andreas and the city of Los Santos.
That said, many feel that Ubisoft's team could have taken a few cues from GTA 5. Wildlands takes a very direct and no-frills approach to gameplay. The map is cut up into a few areas, each with the exact same structure. Do missions to take out sub-sub-bosses in the cartel, then take out the sub-bosses and then take out the regional bosses. Once you've killed all the regional bosses, kill the big boss. Win. There are few cutscenes in between, with most amounting to optional briefings that can be viewed at any time.
While presumably, the idea here was to make the experience as seamless as possible, it also makes it feel threadbare. Much of GTA 5's personality comes from the story, the character interactions, the banter and the writing. In Wildlands, this amounts to stereotypical gung-ho bro-soldier speak, which is the exact same thing we've heard in every other Ghost Recon title. And CoD. And Battlefield. And the list goes on.
GTA 5 constantly earns praise for its detailed and vibrant open world, for the variety of the activities players can accomplish, for the various different, interesting people you meet during the journey. You can go and explore a varied and detailed sandbox in countless different ways. On the other hand, Wildlands is a whole lot of jungle where all you do is shoot dudes.
That said, the game is far from bad. The shooting and stealth, which comprise the backbone of the experience, are mechanically sound and fun, and we all know that stealth and shooting mechanics aren't GTA 5's strong suit. That said, when it comes to a straight up shooter, we're well within our rights to assume well-polished shooting mechanics.
In any case, those of you burned out on GTA 5 might want to give Wildlands a look due to the similarities, but be prepared for an experience that will constantly remind you: "Well, GTA did this better".