We're no stranger to multi-player, nor co-operative play in some games' story modes. But Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes things a step further by being playable from front to back of its story with four players throughout - whether friends, or other invited players.

The concept of that might sound offputting if you like spending a little solo downtime when playing a game, but the way that this dynamic has been introduced in Wildlands is rather special. Indeed, if you don't have three additional mates playing then the additional characters can be played by the computer AI, as confirmed to us by Ubisoft, and you can effectively play as if it's a solo experience anyway - there just happens to be other real-life players in your game world.

Shown off behind closed doors at E3 2015, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a sprawling open-world adventure game where you have to take down drug barons, often by upsetting the balance between two opposing factions on the brink of all-out war. Be tactical, or be a gun-toting maniac and see what you get away with.

Three years in the making, the game is a graphical echo of Far Cry 4, but with plenty of additional gameplay elements and environments all of its own. We've seen snowy mountain tops traversed by truck, sandy deserts kicked up by motorcycle, jungle-like wetlands, and even realistic salt flats. And it all looks great.

Fly planes, pick up co-op players who can then command weapons like machine guns - no need to try desperately to control the direction of travel while also shooting - or even jump out and parachute their way to a target. Communicating to get the best results from teamwork will be a skill to this game.

It all happens so seamlessly that it's not like playing a multi-player game in the traditional sense though. You don't have to wait for all the setpieces to fall into place, for example, you can instead go rogue and shoot up a target before your buddies are in place (which might mess things up, but that's part of the fun) or, if you're playing ball, time everything to perfection for a synchronised team effort.

In the live four-player demo we saw the Ubisoft team knew their goal and how to execute it with precision. Tasked with locating Luis "El Chango" Alvarez, a high-ranking drug peddlar in Bolivia, the vast free-to-roam landscape - the largest that Ubisoft has ever made, which is no small statement - offered a variety of optional points to aid the mission. Choice is a crucial factor in how you decide to execute.

So load up, go stealthy, go gun-heavy, go in with your co-op players and prepare to enjoy what looks like a total thrill ride. Ghost Recon: Wildlands looks to be an open-world epic that'll be one of 2016's special gaming moments.