Game name: Far Cry 6
Release date: October 7, 2021
Available on: Ubisoft Connect
Genre: Open world first person shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
It’s been a while since the last Far Cry that massively changed how the series worked, and if that’s what you are looking for in the sixth main entry in this popular franchise, then you’ll probably leave disappointed. On the other hand, should you be looking for your next fix of the now classic (or should I say “iconic”?) Ubisoft open world gameplay loop, Far Cry 6 will be a godsend, gifting you with dozens and dozens of hours of fun. There’s outposts to capture, a dictator to topple, and all sorts of crazy tools to augment your capacity for chaos generation. In many ways, this is a game that out-Just Causes Just Cause (especially the past few installments) with its sheer commitment to insanity in the name of fun gameplay.
All of this chaos takes place in what is probably the biggest Far Cry map yet, the island nation of Yara, which feels suspiciously similar to Cuba, though as Ubisoft constantly reminds us, this game is anything but political. A brutal dictator (played by the incredible Giancarlo Esposito) is currently conducting a campaign of terror in order to get enough slave labor to grow the tobacco required for the Viviro cancer treatment he’s selling to the world, and it’s up to us to join the local guerrillas and try to topple his regime. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but it isn’t hard to find memorable moments as we complete missions, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by Esposito’s performance. In a series packed to the brim with memorable villains, his Antón Castillo stands tall above the competition, thanks to the renowned actor’s talent and passion.
Unlike the last few games in the series, our playable character not only has a voice, but we also get to see them in third person during cutscenes and while staying at friendly camps. At the start of the game we’ll have to choose between playing as a male or female version of Dani Rojas (sadly, I have to report that the male option is not played by Cristo Fernández) and while we can’t customize their face or body shape, we can wear different clothing found in the wilds, received as rewards from completing missions or bought from shops (and there is a transmog system so we don’t go around looking super ridiculous, since the clothes we wear give us useful perks). I feel that this approach works better than the silent protagonists of old, since our character finally feels like someone with their own motivations and personality instead of just some sort of strange “yes man/woman” who silently follows their leader. Dani’s thoughts on the revolution will evolve over time, giving them a far more interesting character arc than someone like Far Cry 5‘s Deputy, who just blindly followed the mission marker, never questioning why or how they got there. I get that it isn’t something that has an impact on gameplay (Ubisoft didn’t go for a multiple choice storyline here) but it still feels like a massive improvement over past titles, and I’m really glad they chose to go this way.
Of course, charming protagonists and charismatic villains can only take you so far, and Far Cry games aren’t exactly the sort of stuff people play for the story, so we should probably start talking about the gameplay. There are a number of new features available for us to play with, and a lot of changes on other areas. The progression system that would usually let us unlock skills and passive upgrades as we leveled up has been completely revamped, for instance, ditching the skill tree in favor of a gear-based approach. This means that rising in rank will only unlock new stuff to be purchased in shops, instead of giving us skill points. While that sounds like a loss, these skills now live on as gear perks, so if you for instance enjoyed being able to silently murder someone and then use their weapon to chain a takedown on another enemy, that is still a possibility, should you be wearing the correct clothing item (and there is no penalty for just swapping clothes on the fly). I feel that this may not be as organic and easy to use as the old system, but even though I was ready to hate the changes, I ended up feeling mostly indifferent towards them, and maybe even a bit relieved, since skill trees are a bit too played out in Ubisoft open world titles nowadays.
The most noticeable new addition is the introduction of Supremo backpacks and Resolver weapons. The former are a sort of superweapon that recharges as you inflict damage on Castillo’s troops, and the latter are makeshift weapons that, while useful in the right context, will mostly be relegated to their status as cool toys to play with. Supremo backpacks are on a whole different level though, as every one of them can change the outcome of a mission if used properly, and there’s stuff for everyone in their design. For instance, the first one I got was a portable rocket battery, which quickly dealt with masses of enemies, or tanks, or even helicopters. This is great for situations where you have an open battle with an army of goons, but perhaps not the sort of thing you should be taking on a stealth mission, right? Good, because there’s also an EMP device of sorts, which lets you short out security systems and disable vehicles (you wouldn’t believe how many tanks I’ve hijacked with it). Not your thing? A flame-spewing contraption has your name on it then (and it even lets you sort of double jump!). Still not sold? There’s also a medic pack that lets you self revive, effectively granting you a second life while playing solo, or a poison gas launcher that makes sneaking through crowds of soldiers a breeze, or a supersoldier-serum injector of sorts that turns you into a rage-fueled machine. If you are persistent enough, there’s even a secret Supremo that’s even more useful than all the others, but I’d rather not spoil how it works. All of these backpacks can be upgraded with resources scavenged on the field, and they have slots for the usual Far Cry supporting tools, stuff such as throwing knives, Molotov cocktails, dynamite, etc.
The Resolver weapons are sadly not as useful, as most of them are just quirky versions of other guns, with very few notable outliers. I enjoyed using the Tostador flamethrower to burn tobacco plantations, but instead of it being on its own “Resolver weapon slot” it occupied a weapon slot that I’d rather use on a sniper or a rocket launcher. The same goes for stuff like the Clavadora crossbow, or the El Besito poison launcher, for instance. Why spend a valuable slot on a weapon that is situational at best? Stuff like the El Muro shotgun/shield combo worked out a lot better, and I used it plenty of times when I decided to launch frontal assaults on some of the late game compounds, as it offered a great balance between all out offense and personal protection.
Still, normal weapons offer the most bang for your buck in this game, especially due to the customization systems on offer. Thanks to weapon workbenches available on your hideouts or strewn across the island, you can quickly add scopes, suppressors and other cool stuff to all your non-Resolver weapons, making them ideal for a far higher number of possible combat situations. There’s also a new ammo type mechanic, where certain enemies will be weaker to armor piercing rounds, while others will go down faster if hit with soft-target ammunition or blast rounds, for instance. At first, I thought this system would get annoying quickly, but in practice it’s a valuable addition to the franchise, and it let me snipe baddies to my heart’s content, as their helmets couldn’t protect them from the wrath of my armor piercing sniper rounds.
As we progress through the story, we’ll get access to different Amigos, animal buddies who’ll join us in our battle against Castillo’s totalitarian regime, contributing to its downfall in different ways. The first one we’ll get is Guapo, a relatively small alligator who has a penchant for biting people’s limbs off, and soon we’ll be able to get our hands on a few more, with the absolutely epitome of cuteness that is Chorizo topping my chart (he’s the cutest dachshund I’ve ever seen, and enemies seem to share the sentiment, as they get distracted by his antics super easily). As far as I know, there’s five Amigos that can be obtained ingame without any extra requirements, and then two others come as part of DLC, so if you are missing some, it might be because of that. While their addition isn’t exactly game changing, and they sometimes screw up during stealth missions, I’m 100% onboard with their existence even if it is only based on their adorableness factor. I know that some of the human Guns for Hire from Far Cry 5 were far more useful gameplay-wise, but at the same time I didn’t feel like I lost anything with their omission from this game.
All of these tools/animal friends will be incredibly useful every time we have to take on a fortified outpost, since this is the most frequent activity we’ll be undertaking whenever we aren’t playing a story mission. As usual with Far Cry, there’s all sort of enemy camps to be conquered, ranging from small checkpoints that once liberated will be populated by the resistance, giving us access to vehicles and other facilities, to full on bases that can become fast travel points and much-needed resupply areas. Remember the tanks I’ve mentioned in passing while talking about the Supremos? Well, Dani can hijack those and bring them back to a friendly pickup point, and then take them out for a ride anytime they desire. The same thing goes for planes or helicopters we might find on enemy bases, though we’ll probably need to get rid of the anti-air emplacements that control Yara’s skies before taking off in an aerial vehicle. Oh, and if everything else fails, you can ride a horse!
Something that I found quite refreshing coming from previous titles is the ability to blend in as a normal citizen, holstering weapons and walking around towns unimpeded so long as we don’t start doing anything suspicious. While this may seem like it’s a very small change, it makes the game world feel a lot more realistic, and I welcome such changes, considering that they don’t affect gameplay negatively in any way. This also means we can sometimes approach enemy soldiers and bribe them in exchange of information on dead drops or other interesting stuff, something that we wouldn’t be able to do if we were running around the place with a gun in our hands at all times.
Should you be thinking that guerrilla operations need more than one fighter in their roster in order to be successful, Ubisoft Toronto had something else up their sleeve, as this game has two features that fill in that potential gap in its logic. One of them is the cooperative mode, which lets a friend (or a random stranger, should you choose to search for them) join your game and help you complete the campaign, or take on Special Operations that have their own objectives and rewards. Sadly, while guests do get experience and weapons out of this endeavor, any campaign progression they might have made while playing in your game won’t get saved (this was also an issue in Far Cry 5, so I’m guessing it’s a technical limitation of the engine). Still, blowing stuff up with a friend is always more fun than doing it solo, and I recommend playing the cooperative mode anytime you feel like it’s time to unwind after a long work day.
The other aspect that enriches the guerrilla campaign you are conducting against Antón Castillo’s forces is the Los Bandidos system, which lets you send small teams to complete missions in search of more recruits, or resources, or even weapons. While this system is very similar to others featured in previous Ubisoft games, I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a choose your own adventure-type mechanic that lets you direct their movement, reacting to situations that emerge as they complete their mission. It’s simple stuff, but it works really well, and it gives an otherwise very mundane activity a more personal touch.
And of course, should we really need to unwind, there’s stuff like fishing or playing domino, or even taking part in cockfights, which play out like some sort of Tekken match, complete with super meters that lead to OP attacks being unleashed on the unsuspecting foe that had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the screen (I suspect that the cockfighting minigame had a LOT of development time put into it, as it has a lot of moving parts, and it even features an announcer, and a reward system).
Moving on from gameplay mechanics, I feel it’s time to take a look at the technical aspect of the game, which is sadly the part where I feel some stuff could have used more time. I played Far Cry 6 on an above average system, running an AMD Ryzen 5 5600x with 32gigs of RAM, an Nvidia RTX 3070 and Windows 10×64. On this machine, playing at 1440p, I got an average of 80fps running things mostly maxed out but with ray-tracing and HD textures off, which feels pretty nice but not out of the ordinary. Turning RT on led to weird low-res textures appearing in some areas of the game (weapons, characters’ faces, etc.) and I also experienced framerate drops while entering crowded areas. Considering that the RT implementation in Far Cry 6 isn’t exactly stunning (Watch Dogs Legion comes to mind as a far more interesting example) I was a bit disappointed, to say the least. This is not to say that the game looks dated (it looks really good with RT on and off, and some of the vistas I enjoyed would probably have been waved off as bullshots a year or two ago).
Of course, one could say that this is a result of my hardware being not enough for RT at 1440p, and I was fine with that idea, and turned it off for the majority of the game. Sadly, during my final hours (and after the release of the day one patch) I started getting a very annoying “Low amount of available VRAM” prompt that wouldn’t go away in spite of the game not even being close to filling up my 8GB of VRAM. Some stutters here and there also somewhat hampered my enjoyment of the adventure, but those seem to be related to the way the Dunia engine handles content streaming, as they were present in Far Cry 5 as well, and aren’t as annoying as the little “out of VRAM” message or the low-rez textures that appeared when I turned RT on. Once again, I must stress that I wasn’t using the HD textures pack (which claims to require 11GB+ VRAM, so it wouldn’t have been a good fit for my system).
Other than that, I didn’t run into any crashes, and the only other issue I had was that I got disconnected a few times while playing co-op (but that’s understandable since I was playing right at launch and everyone else was trying to do the same, thus hammering Ubisoft’s servers with constant requests). I hope that Ubisoft will fix the low VRAM message (so far, my only solution to the issue was turning off the Ubisoft Connect overlay) because it will drive way too many people mad for no real reason that I can discern.
So, what do I think of Far Cry 6? In many ways it’s more of the same, but I don’t feel that’s a negative point in this case. While too much repetition of a successful formula will eventually lead to people wanting something new out of it, I think that there’s enough new mechanics for me to have fun with the game’s crazy sandbox, and while I didn’t particularly love the story (and as someone who speaks Spanish natively, I think that the constant mix of Spanish and English every time a main character speaks is horribly overdone), I enjoyed the campaign a lot more than I did Far Cry 5/New Dawn‘s. Giancarlo Esposito’s villain will remain at the top of the list of Far Cry bad guys for me for a long time (sorry Vaas, but your time has finally come) and there were enough memorable missions that I’ll be coming back to this title to play it in co-op with friends for a while.
9/10 – Great.
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