My thoughts and opinions after playing Ghost Recon: Wildlands closed beta (Feb 3-6)

I would like to start by thanking Ubisoft for the invitation to GRW closed beta. I played the game via Uplay on PC using a keyboard and mouse setup (no controllers at all). I am hoping to shed some light on areas of the game that I felt were lackluster, broken, or just odd.

  • Tagging supplies This feels cumbersome in more than one way. Supplies don't share with squad, forcing everyone to go to each one manually and also cluttering chatter to let everyone know they are there. You share EXP and supplies when you complete missions, however you can't share supplies? This causes a break in continuity and immersion. Sometimes the supplies are gathered but the mini-map still shows them as there (bug).

  • Helicopter controls Flying a helicopter is one of the most awkward systems in the game. Ascent seems fairly slow compared to Descent (which is insanely fast). Descent has a lag from the release of the key to the point that it actually stops decending that is way above that of ascent controls. Even the turning controls have some lag, but not nearly as much as decending. The forward controls (which the hints suggest is "pressing and holding acceleration and pitch down key") does not work. Eventually the pitch gets too great and you start to dive, however as soon as you let go of the pitch forward key it immediately flips to pitch up, causing you to slow incredibly fast. This causes flying the helicopter to be a series of quick pitch down then release and auto-pitch up maneveurs. Using mouse pitch to control the helicopter made it so bad as to be unplayable. If the keyboard pitch controls would stick, I think this would go a long way to making the forward movement of the helicopter work better, as you could set your acceleration and use pitch until you hit the speed you want. Either that or change the pitch controls to forward and reverse, and setup the ascent and decent keys to throttle keys. Fixing the lag from letting go of the decent key would help as well.

  • Vehicle destruction and damage I spent a good amount of time gathering data and testing on a multitude of vehicles, and I found the damage model completely garbage. You could drive any vehicle off a cliff with pretty much no worry about it blowing up, however a clip or two from an AR would cause it to blow up. The size of the car didn't drastically affect how much damage it could take either, although some armored vehicles just seemed to resist a lot more damage. The instant a vehicle took damage the graphics of the car had massive damage, as if the value of the looks was completely binary (no damage vs. any damage). You could completely destroy a vehicle by shooting at the tires (and only the tires). Vehicle manueverability was affected (slightly) by damage to the vehicle, but the location of that damage did not matter at all. Tires would visually go flat, however that didn't cause the vehicle to slow down, lose max speed, or affect its manueverability. Aircraft were affected the same way, as shooting a tire out from a plane didn't affect its take-off or landing at all. The two skills that make your vehicle more indestructable seem to be barely useful, since other than mini-guns it was near impossible for NPCs to take out your vehicle. I can only imagine what they would be like with those skills maxed to 75-80% reduction, let alone that those skills make no difference to a vehicle hitting something or falling down a cliff (which again, barely does anything to the vehicle).

  • Drones The drone spotting skill feels very inaccurate at some points, and insanely hands-off at another point. Even increasing the mark skill within the line seemed to make things even more wishy-washy. I could point the center part of the reticle on guys and it would not trigger, because it had already tagged a guy near him, yet as soon as someone entered the side of the view they would be instantly tagged. I would suggest that it tag more clearly on a direct reticle sweep, and as the target falls further from the center the chance should drop quickly with the skill adjusting that effect better. Binoculars didn't suffer as hard from the reticle center and I could target much cleaner with them, almost to the point that they were too clean considering the binocular recon skill. I think that the drone spotting and binocular spotting should be more consistent and the skills that affect the marking should work much cleaner. Also I found the drone cooldown/recovery incredibly fast. There was no reason to spend any points on the cooldown skill, as it was back in seconds. The first point of the skill a reduction to 35 seconds, but I never had to wait more than 3 to 5 seconds to use it again. Cooldown should start ticking when the drone is put away, not when its initiated, and the duration should be 2 minutes or more.

  • Difficulty scale I found that across the board the difficulty of enemies was incredibly easy. The detection radius, accuracy, damage, and tactics seemed to be soft at best. Without having to spend any real skill points on bullet resistance and squad resilience, a person could soak a fair amount of damage. The skills to offset things (quieter walking/running, bullet resist, etc) just seem to make you a god. Bumping up the difficulty scale raised the difficulty a bit, but still didn't make the game feel incredibly tactical since a few skill points here and there would make you feel invicible, and didn't seem to affect the NPC tactics at all.

  • Rebel vehicle side missions I don't know exactly how to explain how unrealistic and immersion destroying these missions felt. You get a mission to go grab a helicopter or plane and drop it off at the airfield, and the instant the pilot gets out the mission completes. Everyone gets their supplies instantly, then the pilot gets back in the same vehicle and flies away. During the capture of the aircraft felt awkward, because the pilot NPC could be killed at any point until he started the animation to get into the aircraft, at which point he became invulerable (you could not even shoot him through the window or door or the craft. Convoys were the similar because you could tag the vehicle and instantly get the supplies, but then a second later the vehicle explodes or you die. You didn't even have to worry about the escort if you could get the tag off. I think that having a rebel run over and grab the vehicle before the supplies could be delivered would stop people from immediately taking the vehicle away, and having the players hold a convoy until a rebel truck came along would go a long way to bringing back that immersion.

  • Ammo retention skill I never took this skill, because it is completely useless. Not once did I respawn in which I never had full ammo.

  • Control menu problem There is a blank setting (no text) at the bottom of the controls menu. You could adjust the setting, however I have no idea if this did anything or not.

  • Picking up weapons from ground/fallen enemies There were many bugs in this mechanic. If you had a cut-scene, or looked at your load-out, it would immediately erase the gun you aquired and replace it with your default loadout setup. You had no way to compare stats between the new gun and any of the guns you had unlocked.

  • Crouching and running There was some small issues with crouching and doing a transition over a wall or obstacle. Once the transition completed you were left in a standing position, when you should have returned to a crouching position. Running and trying to transition over obstacles was almost impossible.

Overall, I enjoyed the closed beta. I think the story we saw was decent, the graphics were decent, and the immersion at points was awesome. There was a lot of fun times running co-op with people. I was amazed at how well the engine let us feel the depth of the different biomes as we looked out from a mountain. The world you created and the story you want to tell is there, and I think it could be massively enjoyable, but some of the play systems seem to want to plant a wall in front of that experience. I am somewhat hoping to see an open beta with a bunch of issues addresssed.

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