Developed By: Ubisoft Toronto
Published By: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 4 & 5 / Xbox One X, Series S & X / Stadia / Luna / PC
Reviewed On: PS5
There is a memory I have back when I played Far Cry in 2004. Sometime in the afternoon, I was playing it on the shared family PC and one of my brother’s friends came over to hang out and usually, they would just ignore me. This one time though my brother’s friend asked me what I was playing so being the huge dork I was, I jumped into a Humvee and went to find some enemies to take out. Then I went to a high spot overlooking the island and if he wasn’t that interested before I certainly got his attention then. I think Far Cry was the first game where you could pick a location far away into the distance (on the island) and go there because the draw distance was just so jaw-dropping. That really was a big deal back then and was an unforgettable moment for me.
Thanks to Ubisoft, we were granted an early review code and although I haven’t had the best track record with enjoying Ubisoft games (if you read my last few Ubisoft reviews) I am always grateful that I can play them early and share my thoughts with whoever is willing to read them. It was a challenge though as almost from the get-go, there was just very little for me to like about the game. I thought maybe it was because I had been playing/reviewing several games back-to-back that I was just despising the tight time frame or maybe it was the familiar Ubisoft formula that just wore me out. However, I always believe that being fair regardless is important and instead of rushing to meet the embargo I took my time with it. With that being said, at 41 hours and about 75-80% of all activities done in the game with end credits rolling, I felt that the game did improve but perhaps it is time for the Far Cry series to take a break.
When Tyranny Is Law, Revolution Is Order
Far Cry 6 tells the story of the fictional island of Yara (obviously inspired by Cuba) ruled by a ruthless dictator Anton Castillo. The people of Yara have been divided by his philosophy of how there are two different types of Yarans. The true Yarans are the ones who support his regime and the fake Yarans are the ones opposing him and his vision for how Yara can grow from a third world country to a first-world one. That path is laid clear with the miracle drug Viviro which can only be produced on Yara that stops the spread of cancer entirely. The ironic downside to this miracle drug is that the chemical PG-240 used to coat the plants causes cancer to the plantation workers and citizens of Yara who have close contact with it. After years of oppression from the Castillo family and with Anton’s ruthlessness knowing no bounds, pockets of resistance are founded on Yara.
Players take control of Dani Rojas (no, not the one from Ted Lasso. Also, football is life) and can choose either a male or female protagonist (I chose female). Her plans to escape Yara to Miami are foiled by a sudden raid at her neighbourhood that kills her two best friends. She then finds refuge with the resistance Libertad led by Clara Garcia who offers her a choice to fight and free Yara or go to Miami like she wanted to and put the past behind her.
The start of the game really sets the tone for how inconsistent the rest of the game is at every corner whether from a narrative or gameplay perspective. The amazing opening title sequence from Patrick Clair / Antibody just brought out such great interest in me only to immediately waste it with how by the numbers and convenient everything flows in the opening tutorial section (which went on too long btw). I mean sure, the set-up can always feel familiar but it’s just how it’s being set up that sets it apart. I mean why couldn’t Dani just be a regular citizen of Yara instead of conveniently having military training?
The game then toyed with me again as when leaving the tutorial island there was an interesting discussion on how overthrowing a dictator isn’t as simple as the collateral damage and what comes after is a much bigger fight. In my naivety, I thought that sounds great if we really are going to explore that aspect of it but they never do, at least not in any meaningful way and that’s just indicative or rather symptomatic of the rest of the game. A lot of interesting viewpoints, inclusions, and themes are brought up but the player is always ushered to the next thing so by the time there is something the player is meant to soak up it just felt hollow. I think the biggest part of that problem is just how the game itself doesn’t respect its characters enough but ironically anchors most of the narrative beats to them. I will be talking about spoilers so if you want to save yourself from that you can just skip to the next picture.
Most of the characters are just one-dimensional stereotypes with the illusion of having more underneath. Dani for the most part is just the typical hero who can do everything and everyone else gravitates around her like she is the sun. The game tries to humanize her by repeating she is always “the lucky one”, but she feels more like Supergirl rather than a survivor. It never really feels like she builds a legendary legacy as a guerrilla overcoming adversity in the oppression but rather a terminator who is a one-woman revolution that only moves when she does.
That really becomes apparent at the end of the game where Clara is disposed in a very insultingly quick way and Dani just takes over as the leader of Libertad. Clara is painted out to be a big deal with very forward-thinking philosophies but weirdly enough just disappears after you leave the tutorial island and barely features for the rest of the game only to die for Dani to take over. Even the circumstances of her death are suspicious but just glossed over because the player must be driven to the next thing.
I also feel that Giancarlo Esposito was wasted as Anton Castillo. The actor brings his usual gravitas and subtle but highly effective acting chops to his performance but only pops up sporadically as Anton during the game to provide minor story developments with his in-game son Diego. My issue with his characterization and the dynamics of his relationship with his son is how undercooked it all ends up being. As a villain, he just pops up to briefly do villainous things and the extent of his relationship is to educate Diego on how to be a ruling Castillo and the sacrifice that comes with it. In the end, there was an attempt to show a parallel in Anton’s own experience growing up and the life Diego will inherit with history inevitably repeating itself. Anti-climatically, he then kills his son and himself when he comes to the end of the line. My own takeaway from it is he probably wanted to spare his son the inevitable suffering and yet ironically took precedence on being a Castillo instead of being a good father. Diego ends up as just a prop to all the other characters even Dani.
Other side characters the player meets during the course of the game don’t fare any better as most of them are developed just enough or not at all giving me the impression that maybe the developers didn’t really know what to do with them. One example I can give is how on an early mission, one resistance leader asks Dani to rescue someone only for that person to immediately betray them right after and even though the game itself explicitly spells out how much of a traitor he was, for some reason he still went back to the very same hideout to admit it and be disposed of. It’s like they weren’t even trying.
I know that the Far Cry series has always been seen as having a B-movie level of storytelling, but this was probably one of the weakest one yet.
God Gives Victory To The Lions
PS5 and PC players can download a separate HD texture pack (around 20GB+) that is supposed to provide better textures on the visual front. When I first booted up this game, I really thought that I was being trolled because I had the HD texture pack installed and yet I thought the game looked unappealing. I really was thinking to myself If it looks like this with the pack, how much worse would it look without, but I just didn’t bother testing that theory. I’m lazy that way but the game did get better in some ways visually but remained inconsistent throughout.
The island of Yara is huge and the draw distance in this game is nothing short of impressive. That coupled with the HDR lighting in the game can result in some beautiful views. The HDR isn’t perfect mind you especially in darkened areas and ironically your own flashlight making it look incredibly washed out but when you are out in the open it can look great. Now I know that the developers have said that there is no raytracing in the console versions of the game but especially when it rains, the reflections and wet effects make the game look truly next-gen. Here is where it gets weird for me. Now obviously If something looks good, I want to use the photo mode to take some great shots however for some reason when you launch into photo mode, all the reflections and wet effects miraculously disappear. That is one thing I just can’t wrap my head around. Why would you remove the one thing that could result in players taking significantly better shots?
It was also very concerning how with the graphics looking dated at times that the game still suffers from performance issues and bugs. The cutscenes are probably one of the worst offenders as there is constant stuttering which affects almost all of them. While running around in-game though I did not suffer any lag or slowdown thankfully but there were other issues. Game assets can randomly just fall through the world (including me) or fly around but thankfully that didn’t happen too often.
If there was one consistent downside to Ubisoft games in recent memory also is how sound design can be a let-down and that continues here. The sound design in this game is kind of borderline laughable and I don’t say that to be mean. One example of how bad the sound design is if you are completely turned away from the source of a sound regardless of distance, it just cuts off. The only way I could tell there is a sound is from the subtitles. I did mess around with the sound settings but nothing I did fixed it. That’s one thing I hope gets addressed in the coming patches. When it came to the general game soundtrack, it was appropriate to the setting but largely just generic. I actually enjoyed the radio station music more and that was probably because of some popular additions like Ricky Martin’s Livin la Vida Loca. I found it was a nice touch that Dani herself would sing along to some of the songs as you drive to your destination.
When it comes to the PS5 enhancements, loading speed and fast travel on the PS5 was comfortably fast. Haptics was noticeable but on the soft side for me and I was actually pleased that adaptive trigger received attention. Driving or shooting weapons felt responsive and provided just the right amount of resistance and feedback with the triggers. One weird thing only was how if you pull the trigger on an automatic rifle the resulting vibration from the rattling and the resulting sound that comes out from your speakers don’t match up.
Once A Guerrilla, Always A Guerrilla
If you have played a Far Cry before then you will feel right at home but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Aside from the tutorial island, the island of Yara is divided into three major regions (Madrugada, Valle De Oro, and El Este) and the central city Esperanza serving as Anton Castillo’s base of operations. The general flow of the main narrative is Dani has to go to each of these major regions and assist the resistance there to get them to join up with Libertad and eventually fight Anton Castillo. There is a ranking system in place in which supposedly the higher ranked you are the less the military will mess with you, but it didn’t really feel like there was any difference.
There are several activities in each region that players can embark upon. Aside from the main missions, there are also Yaran Stories that are one type of side quest meant to just give a little more backstory to some side characters or just random adventures to help Yarans. There are also Treasure Quests where players have to navigate or solve a puzzle in order to get special loot as you guessed it; from a treasure chest. There are also the Gran Premio races where you can unlock vehicle customization options. The bulk of your time will be spent doing operations, taking over military targets and also stealing supplies to unlock more customization options or weapons.
There is a lot of familiar open-world mechanics that a lot of these games share. There is always some sort of currency or resource that you must collect and it’s the same here. There is also a multitude of weapons and armour types to suit your fancy also with its own star ranking system. Basically, the higher the stars the more mods and customization you can do on the weapons. Each region’s Resistance hideout also allows the player to add on optional buildings that provide bonuses or to send out Bandidios to conduct passive operations.
As you probably can already tell there is a lot going on under the hood in Far Cry 6 and to be honest I kind of wish there wasn’t. I don’t really see the need to rank the regions or weapons and armour just to artificially condition the player into thinking there is going to be something different because there isn’t. In my whole playthrough, I’m just doing the same thing over and over again with very little variation ironically with Vaas Montenegro’s words still ringing true until today.
Is it fun though? Yeah, I admit it sometimes is fun but more often than not it really just feels like going through the motions. Then there are also the strange design decisions that leave me scratching my head. It does seem like the developers have taken the criticisms to heart about Ubisoft games being an ADD player’s worst nightmare with the excessive icons littering the map and decided to make the exploration and discovery more organic which is good. What’s bad is how they sometimes overdo it with missions where they don’t give you any navigation icons at all and you only must search with your own two eyes. Then there was a specific mission in Madrugada called Sundown where at one point of the mission players are greeted with another familiar mission type; the car chase. This time though they decide to put the player on a truck with no barrier that you can shield yourself with so if you are like me and for some reason did not find any rocket or grenade launchers at that point then you are shit out of luck. I really do wonder who designed that and thought it was fun.
Why don’t you just lower the difficulty then? Good suggestion! This game only has two difficulty modes, Action and Story mode. Action is normal difficulty and Story is where there is a 90-95% damage reduction applied to you. I still died and you know why? It’s because the A.I in the game is also exceptionally dumb posing no challenge at all except to overwhelm you with numbers or being sharpshooters picking you off from a distance. If they can’t do that for some reason, they will also get themselves caught in your way causing the vehicle you are in to spontaneously combust killing you in the process.
So yeah, it is fun but it mostly also feels like an exercise in the banality that I had to really pace myself in order to finish the game because the more often I played it the more I actually disliked it. It was a much better experience when I turned off my brain and just took my time.
What I Liked
- Graphics – It can look gorgeous with impressive draw distance and gorgeous lighting and reflections especially when it rains
- Adaptive Triggers – I didn’t expect it to feel as good as it did.
What Should Have Been Better
- Sound Design – yeah it really wasn’t good with the disappearing sounds. If only real life was like that where you could just turn around and not hear anything.
- A.I – I’m not expecting it to have the most advanced A.I in the history of open-world games but when random civilians seem to jump in front of your vehicle for no reason it just feels reminiscent of previous gaming generations.
- Story – The way it ended made me feel like it was a huge waste of time. On one hand, the game has a side quest that pokes fun by saying Dani needs to continue being a psychopath and murdering people or she will get PTSD and yet they are also saying how Dani should be held accountable for the bloodshed in a random line.
It has been a long road for the Far Cry series and unfortunately, this series didn’t age as gracefully as it should have. When finishing the game, a new Insurgency mode unlocks whereby every week the player will have to take down an Insurgent leader that will take over a random area in the game. I immediately thought to myself “Why?”. It feels like the developers were really banking on the player base just absolutely loving the whole gameplay loop of the game, so they decided to expand on it and give them exactly the same “new but old” thing every single week. That’s just basically the problem with this series now, isn’t it? No matter how much they add, subtract, or transform it for some reason it still feels like Far Cry and at this point do we really need to see a Far Cry 7 or 8? Would I remember Far Cry 6 as fondly as the first one?
I’m not saying that Far Cry 6 is a bad game. It just feels so unnecessary and left behind? It also doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be most of the time. There is a lot of talented individuals at Ubisoft and I think that It’s time to just start looking forward to some fresh ideas and experiences. It’s hard for me to recommend this at full price but it’s definitely worth a purchase on sale.