A dark horse is coming around the bend. The game you didn’t expect to be on top is. Started from the bottom now its here, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands has managed to achieve an almost impossible feat. It has topped some of 2017’s biggest and most popular games. The March 2017 sales figures are in from the NPD group, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands was the best selling game. It beat out The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn, not to mention major March releases like Mass Effect: Andromeda and MLB 17: The Show.
It suggests that there’s more to Ghost Recon: Wildlands that meets the eye. While it’s been largely overlooked, due to the misfortune of launching at approximately the same time as so many other big games, it seems as though it could have an unexpected staying power. In spite of controversies and a slow start, this game is finding an audience. That demand has pushed it to the top in one month.
In a way, it’s easy to see why Ghost Recon: Wildlands would have potential as a sleeper hit. It is part of the Tom Clancy line of games. There’s a fanbase there. History has pulled people toward this open world game, with its opportunities to explore and take on missions against the cartel. It’s set in a large world with a variety of missions. People are familiar with the gameplay and mindset that goes into such a product. Its large Bolivia map, team of Ghosts, opportunities to play alone or with friends, and even two endings depending on whether or not you beat the cartel.
Speaking of the multiplayer, that’s a big reason Ghost Recon: Wildlands could end up pulling ahead and remaining memorable. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn are both single player adventures. While there will be opportunities to go back with DLC, that takes a while to appear. Meanwhile, Ghost Recon: Wildlands immediately lets you explore its world with other people. You can work together to complete objectives in Bolivia. That’s a pretty big deal and a good way to keep a game relevant. When you can alter the experience slightly and make it more of a community effort, you get more of a reason to head back in.
Let’s go back to the notion of DLC, though. Ghost Recon: Wildlands already has one of its add-ons available. Narco Road is out. While some people have taken issues with it, since it requires a new character, forces you to use specific weapons, resets skills, and basically uses a blocked off version of the same map, it is an entirely new, standalone expansion for the game. That’s a great way to revive interest and make something interesting again. This is in addition to a 4v4 PVP mode, which will be free, and an upcoming Fallen Ghosts expansion. Meanwhile, we don’t know what’s happening with DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Horizon: Zero Dawn yet.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands may not be the best Ghost Recon or Tom Clancy game. It probably won’t be named “game of the year” at the end of 2017. But that doesn’t mean it won’t end up being one of this year’s biggest games. You have to have something special going on if you can outsell titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn. It may end up proving more important than people realize.