After that first mission to rescue the old guy at the farm, the game opens up completely and leaves the player to fend for himself. “Take down El Sueno by any means necessary!” Bowman growls. Then the game basically tells you to go wherever you want and hit the cartel’s bases in whatever order you’d like.
If you go into the game map, you can hit a button to bring up a relationship chart of the Santa Blanca cartel. The lieutenants portraits have another hidden button to bring up little intro briefings for each of them. I have no idea if these movies pop up later in the campaign as part of the story, but you can watch them all right there at the beginning of the game if you dig into that screen.
This is sort of how the whole game works. Stuff is there. It’s just buried or hidden in favor of presenting an unrestricted open world to the player. For some people, that’s going to be great. They want game stories to get out of the way of their emergent playtime. For others, this makes the game world seem aimless and grindy.