Last year's impressive debut of Ghost Recon Wildlands has us wondering if it could be the next blockbuster shooter. The concept of throwing four players into the open world of the Bolivian countryside and sicking them on the wicked Mexican Santa Blanca cartel that turned the country into a narco state is promising, and this year we got to go hands on with the third-person shooter. Here are 23 things we learned after playing through one mission and chatting with the development team.

  • Players can seamlessly drop in and out, and all of your progress in the game is preserved whether you are playing single-player or co-op.
  • When you play solo, you have three A.I. teammates. These CPU-controlled soldiers generally follow your lead, staying out of cover and out of the way until you engage. You can also issue general orders via a comm system.
  • A.I. teammates are only present if you are playing solo. Whether you are playing two, three, or four-player co-op, you won't have to worry about managing the A.I. The difficulty scales to the number of players.
  • No tethering exists between co-op players. You can be on the other side of the map from your compatriots if you want. 
  • The Ghosts have a CIA handler that will offer advice and provide intel.
  • 60 types of vehicles are available to drive or fly.
  • You can tackle missions in any order you want. 
  • Every Ghost has binoculars, night vision, and a drone. Ubisoft says the drone is a player's best friend, allowing players to spot and mark enemies.
  • The drone is upgradable as you move through the player progression. You can weaponize it, improve its capabilities to distract, disable technologies, and recon longer.
  • The drone operates on batteries so you can only use it for a limited time. The battery is upgradable.
  • The cartel is organized like real cartels, and players must target its security, smuggling, production, and influence operations. Each operation has unique missions for the Ghosts to tackle.

  • Gathering intelligence is a critical component of tracking high-value targets. You won't likely just stumble on their locations; instead you must find evidence and interrogate lower-level cartel members to discover their whereabouts.
  • The Santa Blanca, Ghosts, and civilians aren't the only factions in the world. A group of rebels have taken up the cause against the cartel as well, and a mercenary group of soldiers called the UNIDAD work for the corrupt government as well.
  • Each high-value target has unique behaviors. While some may flee, others may engage in a gunfight. 
  • The Gunsmith weapons customization suite returns for Wildlands. You can find new weapons and attachments scattered around the map.
  • The ghosts have several gadgets at their disposal, like C4, mines, and flares. Savvy players can use these tools to create traps, diversions, and ambushes.
  • All the characters in the world have schedules they adhere to day-to-day, and the Ghosts can use this to their advantage. For instance, if you notice a white van makes a lot of supply runs to and from an entrenched position, you could hijack the truck away from the base and drive right through the gates with no one being the wiser.
  • Ghost Recon has some sort of leveling mechanic that Ubisoft plans to talk about at a later date. We do know that rewards for leveling up include some new item options, drone upgrades, and general character stats.
  • Wildlands has no cover mechanic, which I found problematic when rounding the corners. Popping back and forth around a corner doesn't feel like a tactic a special forces soldier would use. 
  • The demo may have looked easy, and Ubisoft says this was intentional to make sure players could experience it in full. Ubisoft promises the game will be much harder when it releases, and plans to offer customization options for hardcore players like limiting the HUD options.
  • The game is still in a rough state. I had problems going prone on uneven terrain, we saw lots of pop-up foliage while flying in a helicopter high above the ground, and we ran into more than one glitchy soldier.
  • Ubisoft has plans for competitive multiplayer as well, but is saving the details for a later date.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 7, 2017.