Going into Far Cry 6 I was ready to be disappointed, or at least underwhelmed. While Far Cry 3 remains a bonafide classic the subsequent sequels have all struggled to capitalise on the same potent mix of solid gameplay, compelling game world and colourful characters. After quitting Far Cry 5 before the credits could roll I wondered if Ubisoft had simply misplaced the bottle it was keeping that lightning in, but it seems that someone at the Ubisoft Toronto office was digging around at the back of the stationery cupboard and found it. The spark is well and truly alive in Far Cry 6.
Set across an entire country in the fictional Caribbean island nation of Yara, Far Cry 6 sees players in the role of Dani Rojas (as either a male or female). Dani begins the game with designs to escape life under crushing dictatorship in Yara and start fresh in America when a series of events leads them to falling in with a local guerilla organisation. Libertad aims to bring down the fascist El Presidente, Antón Castillo, whose iron rule includes enslaving those he doesn’t consider ‘true Yarans’ to work in plantations growing a very sketchy tobacco-based cancer cure called Viviro.
And that’s it, really. Antón Castillo is a bad dude with too much power, which is a good enough reason to absolutely wreck his shit. Castillo isn’t quite a caricature of a villain, but he’s definitely a fairly standard take on a dictator figure. Giancarlo Esposito delivers him with just the right combination of poise and madness to sell the bit, at least. Then there’s Castillo’s teenage son, Diego, who’s more sympathetic as he wrestles with his father’s expectations and own conscience, which serves as a catalyst for a lot of turns in the narrative. Without giving anything away, Diego’s arc is far more interesting and pivotal than Antón’s, all the way up to the game’s bombastic final moments.
I completely expect a portion of players to be disappointed with Far Cry 6’s limp political readings, and once again Ubisoft’s marketing has probably oversold its narrative chops. But the key this time around is that the series’ (usually) grating self-indulgence has finally come full circle to a point where it’s genuinely entertaining in a ‘shoot first, critique later’ sort of way. Yara is definitely more 80s action movie backdrop than the stage for any sociopolitical commentary – if there are messages here they’re very surface-level. Dictators are bad. Slavery is bad. Dog on wheels. That sort of thing. Which isn’t to say that Far Cry 6 doesn’t offer up some truly dark and confronting events, there are plenty of those. And in a lesser game these might have clashed with the tone of its lighter antics, but every brutal or gut wrenching moment feels earned thanks to its strong character work.
Dani and the allies they make along the way are every bit as compelling as the game’s central villain, especially now that Ubisoft has let go of the idea that everything in a Far Cry game needs to happen in first person. Having a deliberately written protagonist as well as cutscenes and story beats that show events outside of their immediate experience does wonders for Far Cry 6’s storytelling.
Earning the trust of Yara’s distinct groups by helping liberate their respective regions is Dani and Libertad’s key to approaching Castillo with any kind of force, and it makes for Far Cry 6’s primary goal – make allies in each region of the map and then assist them in solving their problems until they become allies. It’s a standard formula, but with characters as compelling as these and a world just begging to be explored it works just fine.
Something that Yara has in spades that felt missing from the last couple of titles is depth and personality. It’s a big place, enormous even, but more importantly it’s packed with unique sights and terrain that make it fun to simply exist in. Verticality is a huge focus and it’s mirrored by a huge helping of tucked-away paths and secrets on the ground, meaning little surface area is wasted, a definite win for any open-world video game. There are no Ubisoft towers in sight here – you’ll learn about Yara from the Yarans themselves, or the things they leave behind. That, or you just blow shit up until it belongs to you.
Yara is an entire country with all of a nation’s natural and social diversity, from white sand and blue ocean to dense jungle, and from opulent manors and grand cities to slums and plantation communities. It’s a vastly different feeling from the abstracted locales of previous games, it’s something more complete, more believable and engrossing. A big part of that comes from more simulated urban centres and civilian populations. Being able to walk around Yara’s capital city of Esparanza with your weapon holstered and pass by Castillo’s forces and regular civilians peacefully makes for a markedly different feel than prior games where nearly every gameplay interaction occurred at gunpoint.
The sheer scale and depth of Far Cry 6’s game world is absurdly impressive, and whether you’re walking through city streets or gunning it down dirt roads the lush scenery, lighting and animations create a fantastic sense of place on current-gen machines. My experience of the game on PS5 was generally excellent, running at a stable 60fps with few issues, which more than makes up for the lack of ray tracing support on consoles. Being able to look out across the entire country to recognisable landmarks never gets old, and the sheer attention to detail in the nation’s landscapes is incredible. When you’re indoors or in close quarters the game’s last-gen roots can start to show, with things looking a little sparse or flat, but those moments are few and far between.
Far Cry 6 is a lesson in pitch-perfect open world game design. It’s packed with content without ever feeling tedious, it knows when to funnel players into scripted moments and when to ease back and let beautiful, emergent moments arise, and most importantly it’s fun to simply exist in. Even when it comes to the more ‘expected’ diversions like racing and base takeovers the rewards are almost always worth it. A growing collection of guns and gear is reason enough to spend time on side activities because each new piece adds exponentially to the playstyle options on-hand.
Gunplay in the Far Cry games has always been excellent, and that’s no different here. Ubisoft Toronto has built on the existing legacy with a bevy of new systems that expand gameplay options and give progression a slightly more RPG-like feel in the same vein as the modern Assassin’s Creed games.
A fair amount of noise has been made in the lead up to the game’s release about the new Resolver and Supremo weapons, and they’re a great addition to the usual Far Cry arsenal. Both play on the rebels’ appropriately DIY approach to gear and resources, something that informs the crafting and modifying elements for your regular weapons but also results in the superpowered Resolver weapons that do cool shit like fire barrages of nails or copies of the Macarena on CD. Meanwhile, Supremos are your tricked-out guerilla backpacks with their own unique abilities. Those are on a cool down that you can recharge faster by killing soldiers. How does killing soldiers recharge a weaponised guerilla backpack you ask? You don’t ask.
One of the big shifts that this breadthening of systems in combat creates is that it’s significantly more fun to ‘go loud’ when infiltrating enemy stations than ever before. The silent and stealthy route is still mighty rewarding, but for the first time in a long time I felt more inclined to go in guns blazing every now and then. Whatever your style, Far Cry 6’s new gear options are there to support it. Resolver weapons, and especially Supremo backpacks, aren’t just offensive tools. Some offer new capabilities for stealth, defense and even sabotage, so there are options to suit almost any playstyle. Just like your ‘traditional’ guns can be further customised with mods using crafting parts found throughout Yara, making your chosen Supremos and Resolvers truly feel like your own personal revolutionary weapon.
Going in I had concerns about the game’s increased focus on RPG-lite elements like gear buffs and enemy resistances, worrying that it would muddy the Far Cry gunplay I know and love, but in practice those things merely serve to augment your preferred playstyle as opposed to altering the flow of play. No The Division-style bullet sponge enemies here.
The only slightly disappointing new addition to gameplay are the Amigos. Hard to fathom when you’ve got allies like the social media darling, Chorizo, or the cuddly killer croc, Guapo, to take with you on adventures but as cute and ridiculous as they are they’re not overly useful in most combat situations. Still, the game’s lack of narrative depth means it gets to pull off things like these tricked-out animal comrades or the over-the-top Street Fighter-esque cockfighting minigame without feeling tonally dissonant, which rocks. After a year packed with games that have pushed the boundaries of design and storytelling I didn’t realise just how much I needed to just fuck around and ride an ATV off of a cliff before wingsuiting two kilometres to land, machete-first onto an unsuspecting soldado.
Far Cry 6 knows what it is and I love it for that. This isn’t a fresh take on the staple Far Cry or open-world FPS experience by any stretch, but it’s a smart distillation of the series’ best traits into a balls-to-the-wall action experience in an enormous, flavourful world packed to the brim with exciting content. It might be revolutionary by name more than nature, but if you’ve fallen off the Far Cry wagon, now’s the time to get back on – and then set fire to that wagon and ride it into war. ¡Viva la revolución!
Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher
- Ubisoft Toronto
- PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC
- October 7, 2021