Ghost Recon Wildlands Fallen Ghosts expansion is now available for all owners of Ghost Recon Wildlands. It’s free to season pass holders, and costs £11.99 as an individual download for non-pass holders.
Check out the Dante’s Inferno quoting launch trailer, with rain-slicked Ghosts under pressure from a new kind of enemy, then read on to find out more:
To celebrate Fallen Ghosts’ launch, we spoke to the Content Director for the expansion, Benjamin Dumaz, to dig into the details. First of all, what was the thinking behind the two very different expansions offered for Ghost Recon Wildlands?
“Ghost Recon Wildlands is a very large and diverse game, with a very diverse set of player profiles,” explains Dumaz, “We wanted to offer a Season Pass with two very focused experiences.”
“Narco Road is the action movies of the 90s, less serious, less demanding, but with this fresh fantasy and the main game’s strong systems and shooting mechanics. It’s meant to be a sort of ‘vacation’ for Ghost Recon players, who appreciate the mechanics but also want to fuck around sometimes.”
“Fallen Ghosts has a very different focus: a gameplay oriented, tactical and sombre experience. It’s aimed at core fans of the game because it’s much more demanding. Fallen Ghosts is our homage to the very first Ghost Recon.”
“So in short, when you launch Ghost Recon, you have this choice of a complete experience with the main game, and if you want a less serious, more explosive and silly experience, launch Narco Road, and if you want the focused, demanding, slower gameplay of the older Ghost Recon games, launch Fallen Ghosts and set your difficulty to Expert.”
Fallen Ghosts has been in development for over a year – with the first pitch written back in October 2015. “We think that it offers some of the best missions of the whole franchise, and we are very proud of the new challenge offered by the new faction, Los Extranjeros.”
The new expansion is positioned as a direct sequel to the main game. “As the Ghosts’ mission finishes (whatever your ending was in the main game), the void left by El Sueño is promptly filled by the Unidad, who issue a call to arms to ‘rebuild’ Bolivia. Of course, without a leader, a lot of Santa Blanca members join the Unidad, and they are joined by every mercenary, gang leader and thug South America has to offer.”
These new recruits are led by a former Mexican Army Colonel (Colonel Merlo) and form their own faction of skilled troops inside Unidad – Los Extranjeros.
The Los Extranjeros bring four new enemy types to the game – motion-detector-equipped Elite Snipers, the tank-like Armoured, the stealthy crossbow-weilding Covert Ops, and the Jammers with their portable electronic disruption gear.
“In the space of a few weeks, they gain ground and reform the Narco State. They’ve learned their lesson though: the Ghosts’ presence is now more than just a rumour, so they target every American agent they can find and consider them a direct threat. The Ghosts have to go back and extract as many agents as they can … and apply their sabotage experience once more.”
With these more skilled enemies and their increased awareness of the Ghosts, the Fallen Ghosts expansion is necessarily more demanding. Dumaz explains that it has to be approached at a slower pace than the main game, “Fallen Ghost’s first mission is more difficult that most of the main game’s missions. I mean, our dev-testers are very skilled, they’ve been playing both the main game and Fallen Ghosts for 18 months, every day; but our first dev-tester finished Fallen Ghosts on Expert difficulty 2 days before we had to submit it to quality control. It had never been done before.”
The team are well aware of the tactical expectations set by older games in the series. Dumaz mentions that the game takes inspiration from 2004’s Island Thunder, the second DLC for the first Ghost Recon game. “The main game’s core team is the same core team as Future Soldier, and many of them have worked on earlier Ghost Recon instalments. In the DLC team, we have a lot of people who worked on GRAW and GRAW 2, and most of us are hardcore FPS, milsim or airsoft players.”
Dumaz also says that players might find the game’s music reminiscent of past titles, “our composer worked on previous Ghost Recon games and used a lot of sounds and instruments from the previous episodes.”
The expansion offers players 15 new campaign missions and four new bosses. Players start with a level 30 character equipped with the main game skills. “Fallen Ghosts missions are harder, longer and more complex than the main game’s missions – with a lot of original modifiers and of course the new enemy types. Some of our missions take more than an hour to complete in higher difficulties.”
So what’s Dumaz’s favourite mission? “I don’t want to spoil major missions, but one of my favourites is one in which your objective is to extract an agent from a Los Extranjeros camp. It’s one of the game’s best camps, with many possible approaches, but heavily guarded by the new faction. The approach itself is the best part for me: it’s one of those missions in which, if you forget to tag one enemy, if you miss one shot, your chances of getting out alive are minimal.”
“However, when you finally arrive at the agent you’re supposed to save, remnants of the Santa Blanca cartel attack the camp in a desperate attempt to regain control of the region, and you have to extract this guy from what is now a battlefield. It’s a very simple yet profound and tactical mission, and we worked long and hard to perfect the enemy patrols, enemy placement, difficulty balance and playstyle diversity.”
Fallen Ghosts also brings new weapons to the Ghost party – mainly geared towards countering the new enemy types. “My favourite is the Serbu BFG, a monster of a sniper. We have six new weapons, and we know that fully customizable licenced weapons are a must in this kind of expansion. Of course, the DLC’s crossbows are a very good option if you have a stealthy playstyle: it’s deadly at a shorter range and very silent.”
As you work your way up to Fallen Ghosts level cap of 35, nine new skills become available – suited to the expansion’s outnumbered-and-outgunned narrative. These include physical skills (such as breathing longer underwater and having heightened senses that help you tag enemies faster), weapon skills (the ability to use explosive crossbow bolts, increased dexterity allowing you to reload weapons faster) and drone skills.
“In terms of skills, we wanted to add diverse options for every playstyle. My favourite is the gun drone when I play solo, and the flash drone in co-op. The flash drone is incredibly useful and fun when playing co-op, especially when assaulting a building.”
Weather also plays more of a role in Fallen Ghosts. “Something you might not know is that the enemies’ ability to detect you in Ghost Recon Wildlands depends on ambient lighting. So, in Fallen Ghosts, we’ve reworked every ambient setting – affecting the speed and reactivity of the enemies. We’ve also completely changed the weather zones to enhance the mood and the gameplay of our missions.”
So, with the promise of tougher more tactical gameplay, what’s the most challenging way to play? “The most hardcore experience you can have in Fallen Ghosts is on Expert difficulty without the HUD. When designing a game [for a broad audience], you need to think about accessibility and the feedback from your systems to the player. In Fallen Ghosts, choosing the expert difficulty actually modifies some of the feedback to offer a more realistic experience. It’s not designed for beginners.”
“An example I like is the Elite Sniper’s red dot: in lower difficulties, it appears as a solid, continuous ray – which isn’t realistic, unless you work in a flour factory. It was absolutely necessary for feedback though: without it, players could get frustrated by not spotting an enemy that could kill them with one shot. But in expert difficulty, the red laser disappears. You’re on your own: either you spot this sniper before he spots you… or you die.”
So what’s next for Ghost Recon Wildlands? “The whole team is working hard to give players the best experience. Have a look at the different Technical Updates [there’s a run down of title update 4 here]. We keep listening to the community and players, and the ‘Yeti‘ is a great result of this. We also have the second season of challenges coming up, and there’s PvP of course. Stay tuned for more surprises over the summer.”
For more intel on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, please keep an eye on ghostrecon.com and be sure to visit the game’s official forums, as well as the subreddit. To keep track of your stats and find other Ghosts to join your Taskforce, log-in to the Ghost Recon Network and download the Ghost Recon HQ app.
And – of course – stay tuned to Ubisoft Blog for all the latest news.