When “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands” was announced during the livestream of Ubisoft’s E3 2016 press conference, I didn’t think much of it. It was going to be yet another buggy open-world game that I assumed would follow Ubisoft’s checklist-like formula, just with a different skin. However, when I got the game in my hands and a few friends in my party, I realized how wrong I had been, for the most part. The true nature of this game began to show itself: it’s a massive playground for you and your friends.

At its core, this game is a third-person squad-based tactical shooter, and it’s well done in that regard. Scoping out and storming a base with your friends is not only satisfying but also a whole lot of fun. You either go in guns blazing or snipe as many enemies as you can before stealthily slipping your way into an enemy stronghold to reach your objective. Taking out enemies essentially makes you feel like a badass. Everything from the feedback after a long-distance sniper kill to a melee attack on an enemy you didn’t realize was behind you feels great.

Players hunt down members of the Santa Blanca drug cartel. Credit: Screenshot taken by JL Lacar

Aside from pursuing story-related missions, the world of this game is your oyster. Anywhere on the horizon that you see, you can go there. My squad and I spent a lot of time just finding the tallest mountain so we could base jump off it, seeing how far our skydiving prowess could take us. (The longest I went was 3.4 km.  Beat that!) The game world’s terrain is diverse, from deserts to snowy mountains and everything in between.

The single-player mode is where the game falls a bit flat. Though the core mechanics remain relatively the same, your squad members are swapped out for computer-controlled characters. Though they aren’t a bad substitute in terms of taking out the bad guys, it doesn’t make up for the banter and shenanigans that happens between you and your friends — and it tends to break my immersion when they are constantly showing up near you randomly.

The game is still a bit buggy — as expected for the first month after launch for a Ubisoft game — as there were several instances of clipping through objects as well as texture pop-in. There was even a point where my friend had to restart the game twice because of his character glitching out of the game. The driving physics make you feel like you’re driving on ice, sometimes leaving you rolling your car down a mountain — and even going up a wall at a near 90 degree angle with a dirt bike.

Despite the negatives, this game manages to be a great sandbox experience to enjoy with your friends. Whether it’s infiltrating an enemy base or jumping out of an exploding helicopter, there are many awesome memories to be made in the world of “Ghost Recon: Wildlands.”

Disclaimer: Ubisoft provided review copies of “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands” to The Lantern.

Jose Luis Lacar and Robert Scarpinito contributed to the video accompanying this article.