While I don’t count myself as a dedicated Far Cry fan, I have to admit that the series has an irresistible honesty at its core. It doesn’t tangle the heavens with the stars, nor does it naturally present itself as the “diamond” of gaming. With Far Cry you know what to expect from the start, and that’s what wins you over. Explosions, gunplay, violence, paranoid archons, plenty of black humour and all good. These are all true in the case of Far Cry 6.
Far Cry 6 is set in Yara, a (fictional) Caribbean beach country that is conspicuously reminiscent of Cuba. Yara is made up of a cluster of lush and fertile islands where the tropical climate overwhelms every aspect of the environment. The citizens are largely happy people, “out of heart” so to speak, and they love fun and carefree living. Ideally, everything points to a paradise on earth. Everything changes from ’67 onwards, a year marked by a bloody revolution against the authoritarian Castillos regime. The civil war lasts for years and ends ingloriously for the rebels, forcing Yara to cut itself off from the rest of the civilized world.
In the present, you take control of (or Dani Rojas (gender choice plays absolutely no role) who has spent most of her life in an orphanage and subsequently received military training like the rest of Yara’s orphans. So Dani dreams of traveling to Miami, USA and experiencing the American dream, away from the hardships and miserable living conditions that plague her homeland. Unfortunately for her, fate has a cruel game in store for her and leads her to enlist in the Libertad guerrilla movement, Yara’s last organized revolutionary group. Her ultimate goal is to unite the lost pieces of the resistance and, by extension, fight the dastardly dictator Anton “El Presidente” Castillo (played by Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame).
Legitimately I think we should dwell a bit on the personality profile of Anton Castillo for a multitude of reasons. Want a little bit of the too much of the villain in the Far Cry series? A little bit of the paranoia and psychedelia that has always characterized guys like Vaas or Joseph Seed? Make no mistake, Giancarlo Esposito’s Castillo has had the unprecedented opportunity to develop into one of the most iconic and otherworldly characters the series and gaming itself has ever known. We’re now talking huge credit to the Ubisoft team for convincing such a talented actor to personify the villain in their game. Did he pull it off though? The answer is ambiguous.
Undoubtedly, Anton Castillo does not go unnoticed. It’s not Pagan Min that you meet him in an opening cutscene, hear his voice one more time around the halfway point of the game, and meet him again at the end for the grand finale. He’s imposing, brilliant, absolute, with a permanent icy stare looming on his face and spurts of violence defining his character. In other words, he portrays with exquisite accuracy a cruel, brutal monarch. Here, Esposito’s source talent comes into play, where through a sickening rhetoric as Anton he pleads for lions and lambs, for the suppression of extremist violence and the imposition of order at all costs. The source of the Castillo regime’s power comes from the production of the drug Viviro which supposedly cures cancer to a large extent, using of course the local population as slaves to export it.
Nevertheless, the shallow development of the story, which is led along trivial paths, the limited screen time (the cutscenes with Anton total up to half an hour) and, more importantly, the superficial socio-political approach of the game, undermine Castillo’s role, limiting him to rather safe paths. I would also describe Anton’s coexistence with his son Diego, who at first at least seemed like a structural element in the story’s narrative, as completely unused. Even the scenes where the two characters are asked to emphasize the contradiction between immorality (Anton) and purity (Diego), ultimately seem too flat without giving the required space to the actors themselves to develop and express idiosyncrasies and emotions. Up close and personal you know the rest of the “mosaic” of characters in the title that includes an enviable range of personalities, with their presentation reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s cinematic pontifications. From the idealistic leader of Libertad Clara, the hilarious Juan Cortez, the combative El Tigre, the kaffir family of Monteros, the wacky inventor Philly, the hackers of La Moral to the lieutenants of Castillo. I really can’t remember another game in the series with such an emphasis on writing and character variety, which obviously favors the story-driven direction of the title.
Far Cry 6 closely follows Ubisoft’s well-known open-world philosophy. To begin with, we have a vibrant, giant, highly organic ecosystem, with art direction and level design that showcase Ubi’s skill in world building. Yara’s flora and fauna appear diverse, with its dense tropical vegetation and countless animal “inhabitants” blending harmoniously, composing a visual extravaganza for the player. Jungles, oases, bays, coves, islands, rivers, ravines, gorges, forests, beaches, highways, hamlets, and even the capital city of Esperanza (a first time city in the series’ annals), provide a realistic illusion of being somewhere around, with the turquoise Caribbean as a backdrop. An integral part of free-roaming the world are the various fast-travel stations you discover, important gear like the climbing hook and wingsuit, and the various vehicles you encounter along the way. From simple cars reminiscent of 60s Cuba, horses and farm trucks, to pigs, warplanes, helicopters and… tanks! If there’s one thing worth trying Far Cry 6 for, it’s definitely the chaotic plethora of vehicles and weapons (more below) that the title offers. In terms of vehicle handling, we have the familiar arcade driving behavior of Far Cry. Nothing complicated, nothing great.
In terms of content, Far Cry 6 settles for a standard and anachronistic formula, which is still entertaining. In addition to your main purpose, which is to make an alliance with the other resistance groups in Yara, you get to know several of the aforementioned caricature characters, from whom you also receive sub-missions. Beyond that, the game world has a ton of activities. From base retrieval, sabotaging anti-tank weapons, setting up entrenchments, assassinating high subordinate targets, hunting wild animals, collecting infinite collectibles, mini-games like Tekken-like cockfights (!!!), treasure-games that reward you with supplies/money, to specially designed cooperative missions that you activate from rebel hideouts scattered across the map. Finally, for the insatiable, there’s end-game content with insurgency missions, in which you execute regime officials after weakening their strategic power zones.
One aspect worth noting is the camera switch when you’re in such insurgent bases, which switches to third person as Dani wanders around the area. There you can unlock small services that upgrade the rebel network by recruiting Los Bandidos (whom you send on special missions reaping rich rewards), cartographers, small shops that reward you with various buffs, buying/processing weapons, small stations to summon a vehicle, etc.
In more pure gameplay matters, Far Cry 6 works traditionally like its predecessors. Namely, guns blazing but also stealth tactics. In those two, there’s no room for a third. Approaching an enemy group of soldiers you can either pick them off one by one with bloody stealth takedowns or take out the ‘hunchbacks’ and wreak havoc! The gunplay in the game is truly enjoyable! You know how “lousy” I am with it thanks to Call of Duty and I guarantee you that if you’re an FPS fan you’ll love it! Amazing design, you feel the volume, bounce, vibration, kick and grip on every weapon! To sum up, exuberant and solid shooting. check!
One major difference that you quickly realize while playing is the limitation of the RPG element. Every time you rank up, the only meaningful gain you get is unlocking new weapons. There are no skill points, skill trees, build-ups as is the case in the average open-world game today that bog down the player, which I particularly appreciated in the title because it invests in simplicity that way. Your primary concern is equipping Dani with uniforms/weapons and that’s it. Dani’s clothing is divided into sections of helmet, armor, gloves, pants and shoes, with each piece granting simplistic features such as damage, defense, etc. Your arsenal is without a second thought the strongest card in the game, and this is where we’ll dwell more on it.
To begin with, the workbench is where you set the weapon locations, modify and edit them, increasing their productivity (damage, bullet velocity, etc.) with the appropriate accessories unlocked from the supply collection. Mirrors, silencers, different types of bullets (piercing, blast), mods etc. You can even install defensive armor or a weapon system (rapid-fire automatic) on one of your vehicles. From there on, Dani has three weapon slots that you define, of which the types vary considerably. From automatics, semi-automatics of all sorts, to rockets, single-shot rifles, shotguns, crossbows, snipers, revolvers, and even specials you find loot-around. Then we have the supremo and resolve to prove you solemnly wrong. These “goodies” are special improvised weapons-assists that you gain by collecting large amounts of uranium. What should I prototype? For the troll CD disc ejector that simultaneously plays Macarena while slicing up enemies? The nail gun that hurls nails? The backpack that fires mortar missiles? The rechargeable electricity cannon? The machine gun that fires 100 bullets a second? There are of course more alternative options such as the healing backpack that brings you back to life, heal-ing your AI companions at the same time, etc.
Since I used the word troll earlier (and not unfairly I might add), don’t forget to mention amigos, your favorite “pets” that you switch between depending on the situation. There’s Guapo, a crocodile you let loose to be disposed of. Chicharon, a bully rooster who hits on anything that moves. The suave Chorizo (crying) who tags you for supplies, etc. The options are innumerable, offering alternative playstyles for each of you. In short, on the topic of “arsenal”, Far Cry 6 gets a 10 with a ton of points!
Let’s move on to Castillo’s military forces. Respectable range of enemies here as well. From simple infantry soldiers, mortar/flamethrower operators, snipers, juggernauts with heavy armor, Viviro poison launchers. In terms of enemy intelligence, things don’t change dramatically from what you knew. One piece of advice I can give you to enjoy the game more is to choose action mode over story mode, as the damage you take and enemy intelligence increases the difficulty factor, leading you to more strategic approaches.
Regarding, the co-op system I mentioned above, unfortunately I wasn’t able to test it. I tried a few times to find another player but the matchmaking was searching to no avail. However, it is possible to play with a friend who also has the game. One of the co-op missions I tried alone, I must admit it left a very positive impression on me. Specifically, I found myself exploring an abandoned Jurassic park full of Castillo soldiers with the main objective of retrieving a bomb that gradually arms itself as the temperature rises. No objective markers appear in this mission to grab you by the hand. You follow a route, consulting maps and park signs to reach your objective. Once you find the bomb, you must move carefully but swiftly, looking for shade or water sources in order to discharge it, keeping in mind of course to escape, with soldiers on the lookout at every point. Powerful!
Somewhere here, I wish to open a small parenthesis. I fully understand that the studios have been through a lot mercifully covid, with their game development lagging behind and even in the midst of the transition to the new generation of consoles. I read a lot of complaints about not developing games like Far Cry etc. I read but I don’t see any substantial ideas and suggestions. Far Cry does indeed follow a repetitive formula, but I don’t think it’s worth changing to make it more likeable. One can’t expect Far Cry to become Elder Scrolls or Witcher. For that reason, I strongly support what we call “each to their own”. However, where I have to sound the alarm on Ubisoft (and any Ubisoft) is in gaming recycling. Right now we’re talking Watch Dogs, Far Cry, Division, Ghost Recon, their four major brands are plagued by similarities in their mission structure and in-game content. I respect that each company has a certain philosophy that they want to imprint on their games, but in the case of Ubisoft in particular, it’s become dangerously stale, with people’s interest waning, and rightfully so. That’s it.
The technical aspect of Far Cry 6 is generally satisfying, if not impressive. It’s certainly a gorgeous to the eye title, but technologically it “screams” that it’s not a new generation title. Thankfully 60fps enhances the experience and I personally consider it a blessing to enjoy open-world games with a high frame rate, away from the hassle of 30fps and without interfering with instant loading screens. The Dunia graphics engine is functional and if anything gets the job done. It reproduces beautiful graphics, photorealism and a rich colour palette, but is betrayed by the various animations. The facial expressions in particular look dated to say the least, emphasising the cross-gen nature of the title. It’s worth noting, however, that in the 30-plus hours it took me to get to the end (if you decide to “clear” the map, I’m guessing you’ll easily exceed 80 hours of engagement) I didn’t encounter any particular technical problems.
Sonically, the game does an excellent job with the nature soundscapes and the deafening sounds of gunfire and explosions being masterfully rendered. The voice acting is also excellent, with all the actors delivering clear yet distinctive performances. On the other hand, the game’s music went completely unnoticed, not to mention uninteresting, for me. I didn’t retain any rhythm, note or melody that stuck with me. The soundtrack, while fitting and consistent with the concept, proved to be torture, at least to my ears. Latin-sounding RnB, trap, hip-hop tracks dominate everywhere. From a certain point on, every time I got into a vehicle, as soon as the music started playing from the radio, I would immediately turn it off. Away from us.
Far Cry 6 is another full and pluralistic open-world game from Ubisoft. It delivers plenty of action and adventure as a self-respecting Far Cry should. It offers an exuberant and vast map that lends itself to excursions and exploration, with a few activities that increase the hours of engagement. It rightly limits pointless and unnecessary RPG-ing. The arsenal and modification options are more than satisfying. Unfortunately, script-wise it moves overly sluggishly and predictably, using Esposito’s Anton Castillo as a decoy without making the most of him. Overall, Far Cry 6 is a well-crafted creation, but one that technically shows its cross-gen age. Either way, if you’re a fan of the series and the genre in general, you’ll have a great time with it.