Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is a tactical shooter game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective with an optional first person view for gun aiming. Players play as members of the “Ghosts”, a fictional elite special operations unit of the United States Army under the Joint Special Operations Command, similar to real-life counterparts DEVGRU and Delta Force. It does not feature the futuristic setting used in Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier, but instead adopts a modern-day setting, similar to the original Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. As a result, the equipment featured in the game is based on weapons and gear commonly used by military forces around the world. However, it features some original equipment, such as drones that can be used to tag enemies and show objectives. These drones have limited abilities until upgraded. The game is the first entry to feature an open world environment, which consists of nine different types of terrain, such as: mountains, forests, desert, salt flats, and also introduces a dynamic weather system as well as a day-night cycle. Completing missions during day-time allows players to spot enemies easily, while completing missions at night grants players a tactical advantage, as the night offers players better concealment and easier infiltration due to some guardsmen being asleep. Players are tasked with making observations before carrying out missions. A variety of vehicles, such as dirt bikes, helicopters and dune buggies are featured in the game. Unlike its predecessors, Wildlands features several side-missions.
When completing missions, players can reach the location where the mission starts through a variety of ways. Players can parachute from a helicopter, walk overland, or drive towards their objectives. Players are allowed to use multiple ways to complete objectives, such as utilizing stealth, melee combat, or using long-ranged or short-ranged weapons provided in the game. The game also features outposts that can be taken down by players. Players can grab enemies at close range with one hand for defense as human shields, while using the other hand to shoot.
When not completing missions, players can interact, and build friendly or hostile relationships with other non-playable characters, such as the citizens, officials or the rebels of the world. These interactions require strategy, as interactions will bring consequences and impact the game’s world, and change how players can achieve their objectives. Players can also gain experience points to level up. The playable character can be customized, and loot found on enemies’ corpses can be equipped by player characters. Weapons and gear can be upgraded as well. According to the creative director of the game, the AI of the game is unscripted and has their “own motivations and agendas”.
Each of the 21 areas on the map is controlled by a buchon, who is also associated with one of four divisions of the cartel’s operations: Influence, Security, Production and Smuggling. Clearing missions in an area and collecting key intel unlocks missions where players can target a buchon and eliminate him or her by killing or capturing the target (with some exceptions). Eliminating enough buchones in an operations division allows players to target that division’s underboss, and eliminating that underboss and all of the buchones in an operations division leaves the division head vulnerable. Capturing this division head cripples and destabilizes the division and makes the cartel boss more vulnerable.
It features cooperative multiplayer mode, in which players can be joined by up to three other players to explore the game’s world and to complete campaign missions. The game can also be played solo, in which the player will be accompanied by three AI teammates, which the player can give orders to. A competitive multiplayer mode will be released as part of a free update some time after the game’s release.