Ghost Recon Wildlands: Fallen Ghosts Expansion Feels Rote Despite Its New Challenge
Ubisoft has a unique relationship with expanded content for its campaign-focused titles. Rather than simply extend the storyline of the base game, it frequently challenges the status quo with unconventional approaches like the retro-futuristic Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or alternative American-history storyline in Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington. Ubisoft took this approach with the first expansion for Ghost Recon Wildlands, Narco Road, but the rally races, nitro boosts, and monster trucks felt more like a sad collection of abandoned Grand Theft Auto missions. Purists will likely prefer the latest, more straightforward expansion, Fallen Ghosts. Just don’t expect any drastic improvements on the base game.
Fallen Ghosts opens after the events of the Wildlands campaign. With the Santa Blanca cartel in turmoil and the CIA involvement exposed by a data breach, the rogue Bolivian special operations division Unidad hires a high-tech mercenary group called Los Extranjeros to hunt down the American agents. This collection of opportunists is just as terrible for the local population as the cartel, but they prove more formidable against the Ghosts thanks to their cloaking and jamming devices, motion trackers, and plated armor.
Ubisoft touts this expansion as the hunters becoming the hunted, but the minute-to-minute action unfolded just like my campaign playthrough – gather some evidence of enemy activity, scope out an encampment with my drone, and pick away at the defenses with sync shots before barging through the door to neutralize (or interrogate) the target. The cloaked enemies are much tougher to track, and the presence of drone-neutralizing jammers adds a layer of complication to your surveillance, but otherwise the action rolls out the same across many template missions you've done before. The May game update allows you to turn off some HUD elements to make the experience more challenging, which helps the tactical element of combat shine if that’s your preferred play style.
If you experience déjà vu while playing Fallen Ghosts, it’s because you’ve been to almost all of the locations of this map before. Remember the submarine base and the lift bridge? Those serve as centerpieces to critical missions yet again. Given the immense size of the original game’s open world, it’s a shame these missions weren’t centered on less traversed areas. I’m not sure why Ubisoft chose to lock you out of the wider map, but you’re limited to the three regions where Los Extranjeros set up shop.
Instead of carrying over your campaign character, as with the Narco Road expansion Ubisoft instead gives you a level 30 character. A new skill tree allows you to add new abilities like being able to hold your breath for a longer time underwater, explosive bolts, and an attack drone that lets you take pot shots at enemies or alarm systems. The attack drone is the star of the expansion; being able to sync shot four enemies without leaving the perspective of your drone is an empowering feeling. Ubisoft also added a handful of guns, weapon parts, and side missions to accompany the 19 new missions.
Fallen Ghosts doesn’t do much to improve on the base Wildlands experience, but if you played through the entire campaign and are starving for new content it’s worth a look. The new enemy type alters your tactical approach to encounters, but the familiar settings and lack of interesting new missions are wasted opportunities.