After five mainline entries and two full-sized spin-offs, you might be thinking the Far Cry train has run out of steam. But here, on its full next-gen debut, a South American world of carnage, chaos and crisp linen suits awaits.
But while it might feature the theme of revolution, Far Cry 6 isn’t a far cry from what’s gone before: for those who’ve played previous entries in the franchise, there’s a lot that feels familiar.
So does the epic carnage of the latest instalment do enough to differentiate it from Far Cries gone by? Let’s jump in to find out.
Far Cry 6 is absolutely enormous. The islands of Yara, the fictional South American archipelago where the game is set, are gargantuan, and completists could potentially spend 100 hours exploring its every corner (or should that be rincon?) – sniffing out loot, crafting materials or finding bad guys to machete in half.
But it’s not just the map that’s big (too big? Probably, in all honesty). Far Cry 6 has scaled up the action to unprecedented levels. This has always been a series where absolute chaos was only ever a few misplaced bullets away, but here misplaced bullets are pretty much encouraged from the get-go. Yes, there’s stealth, but it almost feels like it’s only there to tease you into messing up, and stumbling into the kind of conflict that would typically have the UN scrambling fighter jets to intervene.
Thankfully, the game-engine holds up to these constant stress tests very well. Unlike previous console Far Cry titles, numero seis runs at a smooth 60fps, making the action feel tighter and snappier than previous iterations. PC players won’t notice much difference, but the console crew has been battling input delay and choppy chopper flights for years, so it’s great to see this mammoth world (isn’t that Far Cry Primal?) running as it’s meant to be seen.
“Famous actor Giancarlo Esposito”, heralds Ubisoft’s promo material. We know who he is, guys, but it’s OK: we also know you couldn’t write, “It’s got Gus Fring in it.”
Unsurprisingly, Esposito, playing ruthless dictator Anton Castillo, tears up the digital scenery every second he’s on screen (which is not enough, sadly), and helps elevate an enjoyable and often brutal story about revolution and totalitarianism.
You play as Dani, either in male or female guise, and after Castillo’s goons take over your town, you join up with the Guerillas of Libertad to plot his downfall.
Yes, this ultimately results in a series of missions about shooting people and capturing checkpoints – it’s still Far Cry – but the cash Ubi must have splashed on Señor Esposito feels well-spent, and he clearly enjoyed snarling his way through every scene.
Far Cry has rarely left you feeling totally alone, whether it’s the not-all-that-trustworthy allies of Far Cry 2 or the brain-dead friendly soldiers in Far Cry 4. The fifth iteration introduced animal buddies that will happily terrorise the enemy while you sit in a bush, admiring the violence.
Far Cry 6 immediately takes that idea and runs with it all the way to its natural conclusion: within 30 minutes of the game’s intro, you’re rolling around Yara with a waistcoated crocodile called Guapo (yes, that does mean handsome). For a game that wants us to take its story and themes seriously – at times anyway – it’s also a game that has a little dog called Chorizo with wheels for back legs. And he can kill people. Someone told Ubisoft to stick to a lane, and they chose to just dig up an entirely new road.
The buddies are charming enough, but too often find themselves half dead on the floor within seconds of a firefight breaking out (turns out a crocodile isn’t that much use against a helicopter), so you’ll either be rushing over to help them up every few seconds, or ignoring them until a fight’s over. Still, they’re worth keeping around for the hilarity of watching a sole enemy go loco when Guapo strolls up beside him with a hungry look in his dead black eyes.
everything's bigger in Yara
Remember how Far Cry 3 had you skulking around in shrubbery, cobbling together a new quiver out of animal hide and carefully picking off enemies one by one in fear of getting found out? Well, Far Cry 6 is slightly like that. In fact, it’s a lot like the older Far Cries in almost every way – but it’s also…well it’s also absolutely insane.
Within an hour, you’re given a giant metal backpack called a Supremo, which is effectively a portable airstrike. That you shoot from your own back. There are lots of variations – one sets fire to everything and everyone around it while propelling you skywards, for example. And to upgrade them, you need to find uranium, which the enemies seem to be holding on to for some never-quite-explained reason.
This means that while Far Cry 6 is absolutely more of the same, it’s also very much of the ‘more-is-more’ school of thought. Stealth is in there, as mentioned earlier, but you might as well accept that if a game gives you an airstrike backpack and a giant flamethrower within its first 90 minutes, it is perhaps ‘gently’ encouraging you to lose your mind and kill everything in sight. Far Cry vets might not click with this new commitment to chaos, but in truth, how many bushes can one series expect you to hide in?
Far Cry 6 places a heavy load on weapon customisation. You can turn a creaky old Assault Rifle into a silenced, steady, scoped beast by finding enough scrap metal and wire out in the world. Crafting tables are absolutely everywhere, and the game encourages you to switch up weapons regularly depending on the situation.
And unlike previous games, there’s no skill tree. Instead, you’re expected to change clothes like some sort of Guerilla Clark Kent whenever you want to activate a different perk, buff or trait.
It’s hard not to feel cynical about this: there are all sorts of ‘premium’ clothing and weaponry options on sale for micro-transaction money, and it does feel like, once again. Ubi is letting commerce dictate specific in-game design decisions. Certainly, these changes do not improve the Far Cry experience. But they might make you part ways with a few more quid. Ugly business, this revolution.
Far Cry 6 verdict
Far Cry 6 is big-budget gaming in every sense. At best, it’s an impossible spectacle, with high production values, chaotic action, enormous scale and enjoyable acting.
At worst, it’s a cynical money-grab, with micro-transactions creeping into the customisation mechanic and gameplay that doesn’t depart too far from a well-worn template.
But in truth, Far Cry 6 settles down exactly where it is: as the sixth version of an enjoyable game you’ve played many times before.