The open-world genre of gaming has grown quite a lot over the past seven or eight years, and when you consider the new potential PS4 and Xbox One have provided, that growth is only going to continue. Publishers have recognized that open-worlds are games that many players demand and look for, causing some traditionally linear games to step into the open-world fray.
Ubisoft is perhaps most known for its stellar ability to create outstanding open-world games, and they reinforce that each year with Assassin’s Creed. However, one of the company’s biggest upcoming games happens to be an existing franchise that has never ventured off into that segment of gaming.
Ghost Recon Wildlands was surprisingly revealed at E3 2015 and the big takeaway from it was that the series was now going open-world for the first time. What was more of a traditional, linear shooter is now an open-world shooter, however, Ubisoft Paris didn’t just want to copy and paste an open-world formula with a Ghost Recon skin on it.
“When we looked at the open-world, the biggest thing was not creating an open-world for the sake of an open-world,” Ghost Recon Wildlands Senior Producer Nouredine Abboud told atombash.com.
The key for them was to maintain the heart and integrity of what has made the Ghost Recon franchise one of the most respected shooters in gaming. Over its history, the series has accomplished so much and trail-blazed a magnificent path for other tactical shooters to follow, so it was important for Ubisoft to not lose sight of that.
Ghost Recon Wildlands Creative Director Eric Couzian talked about the foundation they hope to build upon. “Yes, we’re with Ubisoft and we have a strong relationship within the company. We mastered previous games and all of the basic elements of a core military shooter,” Couzian told us.
So with that foundation and base, Ubisoft Paris wanted to build something new and innovative that players hadn’t seen before. It has become a more and more difficult task for developers to create something gamers truly haven’t seen before, but Ghost Recon Wildlands could end up capturing that.
AI seems to be a major part of the potential experience for Ghost Recon Wildlands, and if AI turns out to be as reactive and intelligent as it sounds, then this game could be something special. “We know from player feedback that they love the way the cartels are behaving, the shooting mechanics and all of these things. The first thing was how can we live and interact within this open-world. We’ve spent over three years making this game and took the core elements of the previous game and tried to bring it to larger maps to see what happened,” Couzian said.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain did a fantastic job of showing what an open-world can mean for a tactical shooter. So much of that game is and was about intelligent gameplay that forces players to be creatively strategic. If the same can be accomplished with Wildlands, then Ubisoft Paris will have created an invaluable element to its experience.
It’s one thing to create something based on a concept, but it’s another to see players actually get their hands on it. Couzian spoke about getting the game into the hands of testers to see if they were on point with what they were aiming for or if they were a bit off.
“We had some play-tests with four-player co-op to see how they interacted and what was important. We also made some prototypes with the trees to see what types of tactical things they created. Then based on how people are reacting, we got to think about how we can extend this little bit in order to make a larger one,” Couzian said.
Player reaction is always crucial to determining how impactful a system really is, especially with AI. Studios often talk about learning from internal reactions versus external reactions (i.e. gamers), and the latter always seems to be more eye-opening. Ghost Recon Wildlands will be launching on PS4, Xbox One and PC, though we don’t have a launch date quite yet.