Title: Far Cry 6 Released On: October 6, 2021 Genre: Action-Adventure Reviewed On: Xbox Series X Also Available On: PlayStation 5/4, PC, Xbox One, Google Stadia Developer: Ubisoft Toronto Publisher: Ubisoft MSRP: $59.99 USD / $79.99 CAD
You know what you’re going to get with a Far Cry game. Since 2012 the series has followed a very similar gameplay schematic, with a narrative that puts you at the center of solving an entire region’s problems; stealthing or blasting your way through various Outposts to liberate the region – all egged on by an evil yet charismatic warlord. It’s a gameplay loop that, while comfortable in its 9th iteration, has seen numerous changes and evolutions to this structure that have tweaked how the player engages with the world, but have not substantially overhauled any of the core mechanics that make the series what it is.
Following in that vein, Far Cry 6 is still very much Far Cry down to its bones, but it continues to evolve from its predecessors in some substantive ways that have streamlined many of the facets we’ve seen in previous entries. The narrative likewise tugs on some of the same threads, but through putting the player into some more realistic and uncomfortable situations it manages to ground Far Cry 6‘s story in a way that previous entries haven’t quite reached. Bolstered by the power of the new generation of consoles and graphics cards, it is also the best looking iteration that we have seen and Yara is a strikingly beautiful tropical environment. The culmination of these improvements is a story that you want to see through to the end, set in a world that begs to be explored, and carried by the refined over-the-top gameplay that is the best we’ve seen in the series.
Far Cry 6 sees the player take control of Dani Rojas, an unlikely rebel attempting to flee the island nation of Yara, which has fallen under the control of brutal dictator Anton Castillo, played by the Giancarlo Esposito. After a foiled escape attempt, Dani finds himself in the company of the Libertad Guerillas; a clandestine force aimed at uniting the rebels across the Yaran provinces in a revolution against the regime. It doesn’t take much to convince Dani to join the rebellion, and not long after the introduction you’re a full-fledged guerilla, taking the fight right to the military to take back control of the country. Yara may be a fictional country, but it has been created with Cuban roots, and it’s impossible not to see that permeating through your experience from the cultural side activities to the music that breathes atmosphere into the experience.
It’s a narrative like this that the series has been missing; coupling a revolutionary story alongside the series quintessential gameplay that has always been about taking back a country for its people. While Far Cry has never shied away from telling an impactful story, Far Cry 6 is a much more hard-hitting and brutal narrative. Even though the story is rooted in the fictional country of Yara, it’s impossible to not draw parallels to the brutal and oppressive regimes that existed, and still exist, in Latin America. There are not-so-subtle references to dictators such as Augusto Pinochet, as well as to guerilla leaders who fought back against them, embodied by characters like Juan Cortez and El Tigre.
What makes Far Cry‘s gameplay so much more fulfilling in Yara is that Ubisoft makes the player feel invested in the plight of the Yarans and the Libertad guerillas right from the very beginning. Far Cry 6 may be a story about revolution, but what it really tells is a narrative about loss. Anton Castillo and his FND (Fuerzas Nacionales de Defensa, the National Defense Force) came to power promising a New Yara for its citizens, and prosperity that the island nation had never seen before. Instead, he took everything away from the people of Yara and you can feel the suffering through every interaction you have. It turns Dani, and ultimately the player, from a would-be escapee into a protagonist that is driven to retake his home.
And it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the fervor of the revolution yourself.
What Far Cry 6‘s evolution shows more than anything is that Ubisoft has paid attention to what players want and expect from the franchise, and even though they may be playing it safe by not tweaking too much under the hood or changing this formula, it’s a refinement of what makes the game so much fun. Systematically moving through the map and turning all of the red checkpoints and outposts to blue guerilla bases is an extremely satisfying gameplay loop, especially when coupled with Far Cry’s malleable gameplay approach, and Yara is the most engaging playground of death that we’ve experienced yet.
Far Cry simply wouldn’t be Far Cry without a massive map to explore full of Outposts to capture and collectibles to obtain. Not only does Far Cry 6 have the largest map in the series to date, but it also feels the most varied and enticing to explore. The vast expanse of Yara never feels empty, and that’s not simply because of how much there is to do in the game; each environment and set piece feels much more unique than in past games, and you can tell that Ubisoft Toronto went to serious lengths to ensure that each province, outpost, and locale feels genuinely different.
The rolling farmlands of Madrugada, the tropical swamps and forests of Valle de Oro, and the mountainous region of El Este each feel unique and offer a wide variety of locales to explore that each feel organic. I never found myself coming across repeated set-pieces apart from where it made logical sense — such as similarly designed checkpoints — and the environment itself made the map worthwhile to explore, in addition to the fact that there are collectibles everywhere.
Outposts are also much more organically implemented into the actual infrastructure of the region than in past games, made up of factories, tobacco fields, or military installations. Taking these over didn’t just feel like you were claiming a new base, but like you were actually freeing Yarans from the grip of the FND and securing the resources or logistical operations for the guerillas. And it’s not just Outposts that you’ll be taking over: there are military checkpoints to seize to make your travel earlier and anti-aircraft installations to destroy to allow for ease of flight, with each turning from red to blue to mark that they have been wrested from Castillo’s control.
In Far Cry 6 you are also free to explore any Region you want in any order, and even though there are higher difficulty areas the game doesn’t go to lengths to keep you out of these areas; you’ll simply encounter marginally more powerful enemies. Each of the three main provinces has its own difficulty levels, so you could simultaneously work your way through all three areas assisting each of the factions, or carve your way through the map one province at a time. I enjoyed being able to explore the majority of the map at my leisure without feeling like certain areas were cordoned off to me. You can even walk right into the Lion’s Den, the capitol city of Esperanza, although I’d keep your weapon sheathed.
So long as you keep your weapon holstered as you’re travelling around, you won’t immediately aggro enemies as was the case in previous games. This allows you to move through enemy controlled areas — although not through hostile shoot-on-sight territory — without drawing attention to yourself. You can even drive right through an enemy checkpoint, so long as you’re not speeding, without alerting the guards. There is also a chance that an enemy NPC may be sympathetic to Libertad, indicated with an exclamation mark over their head, which means that you can approach and bribe them for information on an enemy encampment or cache. The sum of all of these little gameplay facets creates a much more organic feeling experience, rather than just having every single enemy open fire as soon as you’re within their sights. It also makes it easier to get the drop on them in some cases, and save civilians from their oppressive actions.
Perhaps the largest change to the series has been how Far Cry 6 handles gear and weapons, which have been completely overhauled in some substantial ways. Gone is the skill tree, with many of the previously unlockable upgrades — such as drop and chain assassinations, or the grappling hook — having been implemented into the core game mechanics. Other improvements are modified through your choice of weapon attachments and modifications, which have the usual assortment of increased reload speeds, damage, or various ammo types.
For players looking for some of the more unique weapons from the series, Resolver Weapons are Far Cry 6‘s answer to the experimental arsenal that we played around with in New Dawn, taking that destructive creativity to new heights. These weapons must be unlocked through finding special depleted uranium caches, and make for the most chaotic and entertaining weaponry to date. In addition to the game’s signature Tostador, a multi-purpose flamethrower, there is a handheld mortar that shoots fireworks, an EMP cannon, an explosive sniper rifle, and even a rifle that can shoot through walls. That’s not even half of the Resolver arsenal. Suffice it to say, I always carry at least one of these on me.
Crafting has changed many times throughout the series, from using animal skins to craft holsters and wallets, to collecting components to build homebrewed weaponry, and this has also been tweaked in Yara. The Workbench allows you to modify weapon attachments and mods, but every weapon and piece of gear in the game — apart from Resolver weapons — can be purchased from a vendor or found in chests, including a massive amount of unique weapons with a signature style and some preset modifications.
Your gear similarly determines the passive bonuses that you have, and each piece of gear comes with a modifier. These can be anything from improving your defense against various types of damage, increasing your ammo reserves, reducing noise, and a number of other situational effects. Each set of five gear pieces is attuned to a different playstyle, but you’re free to mix and match gear that you find to suit your own preferences. I had to get out of the habit of always wanting to have an entire set equipped, because often my perfect combination involved a mix-and-matched set.
There is a wealth of quality-of-life improvements that allow the player to keep the pace of the gameplay up. Being able to swap out to any of your owned weaponry may not be entirely realistic, but it’s extremely useful for the plethora of different situations you’ll find yourself embroiled in that require a different loadout. Other aspects, like being able to call your Ride to your location seem like minor details, but really improve the overall flow of the game. In addition to being able to summon land, air and sea vehicles at Pickup Points like in Far Cry 5 and New Dawn, Dani will collect several unique Rides that can be summoned right to the player and upgraded similarly to your weapons at a Workbench.
The other big gameplay change comes in the form of the Supremo: a modifiable backpack arsenal crafted for you by the man who wrote the book on being a guerilla, Juan Cortez. There are seven Supremos in total, each packed with an ability that can turn the tide on any engagement. Assault Supremos allows you to reign down destruction on your adversaries, while stealth and saboteur models can take out security systems or turn enemies against one another.
With the evolution of the Far Cry series, the question has often been asked if there is such thing as too much: too many collectibles, too large of a map, and too many distractions that ultimately pull the player away from the main campaign objectives. There is no argument that in Yara’s massive countryside you’ll run across a multitude of attention-grabbing distractions, they feel much more organically-implemented into the experience and at no point was it overwhelming or too distracting.
Any of the important collectibles such as new weapons, gear pieces, or items to decorate the dashboard of your Ride are marked on the map as crates which makes them easy to see and detour to grab on your way to your main objectives. Resources, on the other hand, aren’t marked on the map but can be found everywhere such that you never really have to worry about finding them. Folk who are looking for a more invigorating treasure hunt won’t be disappointed though; most of the best collectibles in Far Cry 6 are easily obtainable and there are special Treasure Hunts or Criptograma Chests that require a little more sleuthing to unlock and offer some of the games’ best tools.
As you work your way through each of the provinces and take back locations for the guerilla resistances you’ll be able to upgrade the three different Guerilla Camps to provide new opportunities and resources that will assist you in your endeavors. For example, choosing to build a Guerilla Garrison will unlock laptops that can be found near enemy outposts, and using one of these computers will tag security systems and high-value targets. Choosing the Hideout Network will give access to hidden bases scattered throughout the map, and upgrading any of these facilities will increase the bonuses they provide.
Liberating checkpoints, completing Yaran stories — which are some of Far Cry 6’s side quests — and interacting with some of the random events that you come across actually ties into your overall resistance against the Castillo Regime through providing intel on military installations or supply drops and additional recruits to send on guerilla runs. Saving hostages, destroying convoys and completing Yaran stories will net you some Los Banditos recruits, who can be used to procure special resources or weapons. It’s these types of things that help to tie Far Cry 6’s various systems and activities together, really making it feel like each improvement is helping the overall resistance to Castillo’s reign. Not only can you see these changes on the map, but they impact how you’ll approach situations.
You won’t be travelling alone either. One of the other systems that has been carried forward in Far Cry 6 but tweaked are the Guns For Hire, which are now exclusively Fangs For Hire. You’ll get your first recruit, a stylish crocodile named Guapo, fairly early into the campaign, with the other Amigos unlocked through various missions and even a special Treasure Hunt. Each Amigo has a small upgrade path which you can progress through simply by using that compadre, and they make for the best travelling companions out there. I’m just disappointed there isn’t a doggy-seat for Chorizo to ride along with me in.
Following Ubisoft’s trend towards making their games playable for everyone, there are a ton of accessibility and gameplay options that overhaul how the user interface or some of the key systems function. In addition to the more common accessibility options like colourblind mode or closed captioning, there is an entire menu broken up into six parts that allow for alterations to visual, audio, motor, cognitive, motion and colour accessibility. It’s quite an in-depth menu, and the ability to toggle presets or individual options for each of the categories will be a boon to those wanting to experience the game in a way that is accessible to them.
Far Cry 6 functions very smoothly and for the most part I didn’t encounter any serious bugs, but there were a couple issues that popped up over the course of my playthrough, which required me to reload a checkpoint or relaunch the game. The AI typically functions pretty well, but there can be some irksome instances such as when you are required to follow someone for a mission but they insist on running in circles and attracting every single bullet. In this particular example, the mission required them to lead me to an exit; the injured guerilla I’d been carrying on my back ended up dying, several times, and required a mission reload to kick the proper path back in.
In addition to this, I also encountered a quest bug that also required a checkpoint load. One mission where I had to speak with a preacher to progress a mission ended up with me stuck without a way to progress to the next checkpoint, requiring another reloaded autosave. By far the most annoying, and somewhat persistent issue, was a pop-up warning me that quitting to Main Menu would lose any unsaved progress, even though I had not tried to quit. This just popped up in the middle of my gameplay, and then didn’t give me the option to select “No” so ultimately I had to quit to the menu, and get booted back to a previous autosave.
Far Cry 6‘s revolutionary narrative doesn’t represent a revolution in its gameplay, it’s still the most entertaining and compelling game in the series. The improvements to the structure, gameplay loops, the addition of Revolver weapons and the Supremo all create a non-stop action-packed thrill ride of mayhem. Starting a revolution and taking back the nation of Yara from the Castillo Regime is the perfect setting for the series, and the gameplay’s tie-ins with the storyline serve to elevate both. And, while I’ve always enjoyed the Far Cry narrative, Giancarlo Esposito’s portrayal of Anton Castillo serves as another highpoint for the series as he helped to carry a strikingly powerful story of loss, revolution, and redemption.
Far Cry 6 represents a truly refined Far Cry experience. The new gameplay doesn’t break the mold or push the envelope in any substantial way, but it has refined the series’ systems reaching back to Far Cry 3 to present an exceptionally malleable yet streamlined experience. While it’s unlikely to attract many newcomers to the series, fans of both the series and first-person action adventure games will find a ton of substance here to enjoy.
Final Score: 9.5/10
While Far Cry 6‘s revolutionary narrative doesn’t represent a revolution in its gameplay, it’s still the most entertaining and compelling game in the series.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.