The closed beta for Ghost Recon Wildlands will run from February 3 to 6, Ubisoft has announced. If you haven't been following the co-optional open-world PC, PS4, and Xbox One game up until now, you may not feel compelled to sign up for a slot. But as someone who still has fond memories of the alphas and betas for other Ubisoft games like For Honor, The Division, and Rainbow Six: Siege - just to name a few - please let me explain why I feel confident saying the Wildlands beta will be worth your time and hard drive space.
1. It's free
2. It will be broken, but that's okay
Ubisoft has some history with releasing games that don't 100-percent work yet. A lot of developers do these days, but from invisible faces in Assassin's Creed: Unity to disabled multiplayer elements in Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft's body of work may be the best represented among top-tier publishers. But the great thing about betas is that they're supposed to be broken! That's where problems get discovered by players en masse and solved before launch. Hopefully. And if server issues or whatever prevent you from being able to play the game, you haven't really lost anything (see point one).
3. Lots of people will play
There's no better way to get scads of people playing a game than to give it away for free. You won't need a full cost-benefits analysis to convince your penny-pinching buddies to give it a shot (every beta account can also invite three friends to join), and the limited time window will encourage folks to put down whatever else they're playing for a bit and give the new game a try. So even if you're not grouping with friends, you should have an easy time getting matched up with co-op buddies. Unless the servers are down, in which case see point two.
4. Nobody will know what they're doing
Open-world games like Wildlands are always at their best when the idea of an established "meta" is still just a twinkle in the theorycrafting community's eye. "What's the optimal way to approach this drug runner's compound?" Dude, I'm still just trying to figure out how to fly this helicopter without flipping upside down and slamming into a mountain. You can tell how good a systems-driven game like this is just by seeing how fun it is to play after your plans go pear shaped. That'll happen at least twice per mission when everybody's still new.
I bet Wildlands will be a good time once it's properly released on March 7, too. But there really is nothing like playing in a multiplayer beta for the next big Ubisoft game.
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