12 things I wish I knew before playing Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ghost Recon Wildlands isn't the open world series revival we were hoping for, but it's still a pretty good co-op game if you've got a reliable group of friends. If you're running low on trustworthy buddies or feel a bit in over your head in Wildlands' massive world, don't sweat it. Use these tips to help you get your expensive tactically armored feet under you. 

Long distance relationship?

Find one of the best sniper rifles in the game from the moment you start playing with our guide. 

Helmets don't stop bullets 

Wildlands is more of a simulation than most open world adventures. Common design tropes teach us that a soldier wearing a helmet is capable of withstanding more than one headshot. Typically, the first bullet blasts off the helmet—don't think about the logistics of this—leaving the guard unprotected for a follow-up shot. 

Not in Wildlands. For a while, my infiltration plans were thrown off by helmeted guards, before I realised that a single headshot took them down just as easily as their bald brethren.

If you're detected, there's still hope 

If you're seen, or if a guard notices a dead body, you'll enter one of the alert states—either Hunted or Engaged. These aren't binary phases, though. If an enemy spots you, you've got a split second to kill him before his return fire alerts nearby guards. If you miss a shot, giving away your position, you've got time to take a second and save the situation. 

It's even possible to take out more guards than a standard Sync Shot would allow. If a square contains five guards, but you can only Sync kill three, taking out the remaining two quickly enough will cancel the Hunted state and keep you undetected. The only exception is for missions that explicitly state you can't be seen.

Go prone

Is a guard about to spot you? Is a helicopter hovering overhead? Is that sniper turning your way? Tap 'C' to go prone, and it will significantly reduce your visibility, helping you stay unseen in otherwise hopeless situations.

(Not that it's a key binding we encourage, mind you.)

Picked something up? Press 'Ctrl' 

This is dumb, but if you tag resources or pick up a skill point while crouching, you'll be reset to standing once the animation finishes. If you're deep in enemy territory, remember to press the crouch key again before you go sprinting off like a big, clumsy idiot, attracting everyone's attention and getting yourself killed.

OK, I confess. I've only added this tip in the hope Ubisoft will fix it in the next patch.

Always go blue when using intel

When you first enter an area, you'll see exclamation marks on the minimap denoting minor intel. These mark new events and items on your map—raids, rebel ops, skills and weapons. The rebel op sidequest unlocks the ability to call in resistance fighters and support—rarely that useful. The Raids offer more resources, which you'll already be collecting at a good rate. But skills, weapons and attachments are almost always useful—even just for expanding your potential tactical options. When you find some minor intel, be sure to pick up the middle, blue option first. And, if you see a blue icon on the minimap, always check it out.

Leave no supply behind

A skill point isn't enough to unlock new abilities. You'll also need resources, picked up from supplies that are marked green on your minimap. There are loads of these to be found, and so you'll naturally find them in the outposts you are constantly infiltrating. Always grab them, even if you think you've got loads. You'll be thankful for it when you've progressed to the expensive advanced skills.

Do your reconnaissance 

I don't know if you've noticed, but the word 'Recon' is in the title of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands.* And Recon you should: scout each location thoroughly before you enter. You get a heatmap of guard locations by default, but that isn't enough information to successfully enter unseen. Grab a few drone and binocular upgrades, and take the time to tag threats, items and other interesting features.

*The word Tom is also in the title, but doesn't appear to be relevant.

Shoot the alarms 

One of the worse situations you can find yourself in is a firefight in a hostile base as the alarm is blaring—signalling to reinforcements that they should drive on up. Unlike in Far Cry, you can shoot alarm panels from afar without anybody becoming suspicious. Make this a priority. With the alarms disabled, even a messy infiltration becomes easier to contain.

Wait until night 

Struggling with a mission? Wait until it's nighttime, or go in as the rain starts pouring down. Despite the AI in Wildlands being questionable, they do respond well to the environment—going to sleep at night, or taking shelter in buildings during a shower. This should reduce the number of patrolling guards, who will also have lower visibility. Hit 'N', and you'll enable Night Vision, and an optional skill gives you access to Thermal Goggles, too. Just take care around sleeping guards. Shoot one, and you'll likely wake his nearby friends.

You don't need to kill everyone 

It can be tempting to assume you should clear out a base before completing your objective. Sometimes, though, this is a mistake. By being so methodical you increase your risk of being spotted—bad in normal missions, but disastrous in the ones that ask you not to be detected. Ensure a clear path from your insertion point to the objective, and then do what you're there to do—leaving the other guards none the wiser.

If you're playing solo…

You don't need to wait for your squadmates to enter your car, or even secure a four-seater for them to all pile in. Just drive off in whatever vehicle you fancy, and your squad will teleport into your vehicle. If there isn't space, they'll be left behind, but teleport to you whenever you exit the vehicle.

Off-roading is fun 

The minimap's GPS would have you follow Bolivia's twisty, turny roads. But the network of dirt tracks are complicated enough that you can add many more miles to your journey. Just point in a direction and go—most of the vehicles are tough, rugged off-roaders, and able to handle steep climbs and rock formations. Alternatively, drive by some bases, and check the minimap to see if they're hiding a helicopter. It's an easier ride, and, as long as you land a few hundred meters from your mission point, they'll be none the wiser.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.