Ghost Recon: Wildlands (PC) impressions: A beautiful, buggy world with no load screens

Far as I can tell, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a 30-50 hour game. PCWorld received a review code late on Friday (during GDC, no less) and I’ve only managed to play maybe 10 hours. So yeah, as you might expect we’re not reviewing Wildlands today.

Even so, I’m here to offer up my impressions from those first ten hours—mostly PC performance, but also an abbreviated section about the game itself.

Performance

If nothing else, Wildlands is a technical feat. I’m not going to say this is the largest map I’ve seen in a modern game, but it certainly feels that way at times. It’s enormous, with the game often asking you to travel upwards of six kilometers from one end of a province to another—and there are 20-odd provinces in the game, with no load screens as you travel.

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It’s stunning—and taxing. Even with a GeForce GTX 980 Ti I’ve had to dip certain settings to hit a steady 60 frames per second, and that’s at 1080p. At 1440p or 4K? Good luck. This game is brutal.

And I don’t think it’s Ubisoft’s fault. There will doubtless be some performance gains over the next few months, a bit more optimization both from both Ubisoft and the big graphics card companies. For the size of the game though, and the amount going on, Ghost Recon: Wildlands doesn’t seem poorly-optimized at launch. Just punishing.

For what it’s worth, I only saw major gains from changing two settings: Level of Detail and Vegetation Quality. Everything else netted me a frame or two extra performance, but dipping those two was enough to jump me 5-10 extra frames on average. Start there if you’re having issues, and make sure to take advantage of the in-game benchmarking tool. It’s accessible from the Options menu, and I found it a pretty reliable indicator of performance.

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Performance aside, the game is buggy as hell—some of which I first noticed months ago and which haven’t been rectified. Particularly in co-op, Wildlands seems to have all sorts of issues. I played about two hours this weekend alongside my colleague Adam Patrick Murray and in that time saw an error involving him repeatedly falling out of and respawning into a helicopter I was flying; an issue where he couldn’t revive me because my corpse had fallen under a pillar; a weird disconnect where I could see what he was doing but on his end my character had been replaced with an AI that was doing something totally different; and the list goes on and on.

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Zoom in, and you can see Adam standing outside this helicopter as I fly it.

One last note: I don’t have an AMD graphics card at home, and haven’t tested on one yet. There was a note with our review code though saying that AMD’s drivers would update on Monday. If we notice any widespread AMD issues we’ll be sure to let you know.